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1980 Harley XLS “MX” – Lucid Customs

Posted on April 18, 2013 by Andrew in Other. 47 comments

In life, you’ll see plenty of things that seem pretty good from a distance but just don’t stand up to scrutiny once you have a closer look. Take, for instance, cheap tools. Or your local politician. Or just about any film James Cameron has made. Similarly, custom bikes can sometimes look great at first glance, but upon closer inspection they just don’t impress. Well, here’s a bike that kind of reverses the equation. Now, that’s not to say that it’s crap from a distance. Hell no. See, what the latest build from Kevin Clarkson and the Boys at Lucid Customs in Calgary, Canada manages to do is to fool you into thinking it’s a rough-and-ready parts bin special. But get up close and, well, just take a look for yourself.

Here’s Kev.As far back as I can remember, I grew up around BMX, skate boarding, dirt bikes and custom cars. In my late teens I tried to wrench on anything I could get my hands on, from a 1964 Comet, numerous VW bugs to my dad’s beat up old Datsun truck; I had a passion to make them faster and different than anything anyone else had.”

“The Iron MX was born out of a vision I had in my previous career as a software designer while working on a project at the 2010 ESPN Summer X Games. While watching one of the Moto-X events, I pondered the idea of a big twin in a dirt bike roller pulling a 50 foot jump and doing a tail whip. In 2011, after about a year of this idea ticking in the back of my mind, I started to do some looking at vintage hill climbers and some of the bikes being built at shops like Bling, Nash and Detroit Bros and the concept started to evolve.

Many months later I gave in to a 1980 XLS Ironhead that had been collecting dust in the coroner corner of my garage at home; one I picked up for a few bucks and just didn’t want to deal with.”

“The 1980 Ironhead; an AMF-era Harley. They are generally bad news in my experience. Knowing a bit about what I was dealing with; an oil leaking, fix every ride, cheaped out on so called ‘Harley.’ We rebuilt both the top and bottom end on the 1000cc motor just to be sure.

Once we had a useable drivetrain, we started to fab up our version of a drop seat frame by chopping off the rear section about ½ way under the tank; it’s now a 6″ stretch from stock with a 19″ seat height so that the rider doesn’t feel like they’re on the bike; it feels like your actually in the bike.”

“Getting it to a roller, we ordered a set of 21 and 18″ DNA wheels, powder coated the rims and spokes; and mounted Kenda’s new Big Block adventure touring tires (F 21/90 – R 18/150) to give the roller an aggressive dirt look.

For the gas tank, nothing other than a late 60’s Harley Rapido tank would do (thank you Detroit Bros). I managed to find three of them on eBay in a batch deal and snagged them with original functioning petcocks. The one we used is off a 1969 125cc with the stamped side plate. We installed a low pressure fuel sight glass and a pop-up gas cap, re-chromed the side plate, brushed them with scotch bright to knock down the bling and did a nice, clean medium metal flake silver paint.”

“From there it’s a who’s who of ideas and concepts from other builders, bikes and late nights at the shop after too many beers. Custom made handle bars with inverted risers, internal throttle, Joker controls and $8 BMX grips. Also, there’s a custom oil reservoir shaped from split exhaust pipes to look like a dirt bike side cover/number plate; with a secondary reservoir for the filter built into the same box as the battery and electrical box.

For a bit of ride comfort we fabricated a pivoted shock system under the seat using a 6 inch mono shock off a mountain bike and, yes, it really works. Other than the front half of the frame, forks and drivetrain, everything on the bike is custom made.”

“So far I haven’t actually jumped it or climbed any dirt hills, but it’s mean, nasty and by far the coolest bike I have owned/ridden. Special Thanks to Tim Atkinson for fabrication and design support, Dan Banister for the Photographs, Dave Baxter for the artwork, and my wife Teresa for supporting my often ridiculous ideas.”

  • BoxerFanatic

    Somehow, I have the feeling that this makes just as little sense as it looks.

    And it looks like it would cause burns to the rider’s nether regions, with the seating position right near the rear head, exhaust, and the rest of the accoutrements, and legs and feet wrapped around the engine, and trying to reach forward to grab the bars.

  • arnold

    Now, there’s something you don’t see every day.

  • The Lolsmith

    American bike, Japanese riding position 😀

    • Number 2 (no pun intended) must be the suicide shift?

      • The Lolsmith

        No suicide jokes! That’s insensitive.

        • Tony does not equal politically correct, or correct about most other things for that matter.

          • arnold

            I like the advantages of living in America, when it comes to comfortable porcelain design.

        • arnold

          Inferred scatological references about a builder’s work, especially this early in the morning, is insensitive.

          • Potty jokes when some of the readers here may be constipated is very insensitive.

  • That’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.

  • Tanshanomi

    The workmanship is definitely top-shelf, but a 6″ stretch and 19″ seat height…with knobby tires? It’s as if somebody threw a chopper and a trail bike in a crusher together, and this is what was pulled out afterwards — the worst of both worlds. This bike’s sole raison d’être seems to be as an overwhelming expression of too-hip-for-you irony. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for aesthetic crossbreeding and remixes and such, but that alone isn’t enough to make me like it. Daring experimentation such as this does not in and of itself guarantee a cohesive or pleasant result.

  • durp

    I absolutely love it. breaking the mold.

  • MotoTrooper

    It’s like the ‘Iron Croc’ to the ‘Gurney Gator’. I think a Gator would be pretty cool but I don’t know what to think about this. Does it not look good from the front? I’d like to see what visage the rectangular headlight presents. Admit it though, it’s hard not to look at it. So that says somethin’. I wonder what it looks like ridden, someone filling the voids of the bike. Might be cool.

  • A quick apology to Kevin – it’s actually Lucid Kustoms, not Customs…

    • I’m glad you straightened that out. I was all confused there for a minute.

  • Kevin@Lucid

    First, thank you all for even looking. Yes, this one is not for everyone and almost anyone who has seen it first hand says things like “you can’t actually ride that, can you?”, or “aren’t you going to get burnt on that pipe”. I invite them to have a seat on it and immediately they get this “hmm” look on their face and say things like “I never would have thought for a second”, “wow, not what I expected”, “it actually a really nice ride position” etc… just seems like you have get on this one to “get it” but admittedly its not meant for long hauls or the faint of heart.

  • Troy

    +1. and thats what makes it a ludicrous, lucid, ridicule, whatever custom.

  • We’ve all seen cafe, brat, super, bobber…this just happens to be recumbent.

    • Norm Deplume

      True. Don’t see too many recumbent mountain bikes. There’s probably a good reason for that.

  • ccc40821

    “…coroner of my garage….”? And what’s this thing with James Cameron?

    • With the condition of my vehicles, I think my garage could use a coroner.

    • MotoTrooper

      I know -right? Aliens (effing great), the Abyss (yeah, the ending but still), Terminator (!) Terminator 2 (!!), True Lies, and some movie about a sinking boat. And he wrote them too! I would love to have his track record. And I bet he could make a cool bike too. If he had any time.

      • Sure, some of his early stuff was pretty good. but once he made Titanic, all bets were off. Did you see that thing? Jeebus…

        • Never saw it, and I’m OK with that. But just in case I decide to, don’t ruin the ending for me…

          • You find out that they were actually dead all along!

          • revdub

            Too soon.

          • Bastard. So Leonardo could see dead people???


    Lucid Dreamers

  • love it

  • Zundap

    Lots of original thought in this one. Nice ride. ..Z

  • I like the tank with the sight glass – easiest way to check the fuel level.

  • Andy

    There is never a concept more at odds with itself than a big air ironhead

  • This is a bad ass bike made by a bad ass bike company. They not only make awesome motorcycles they make great custom, hand made, parts. Great people to work with… Just a great company all together.

  • Drez

    Nope, nope, nope… this is the most pointless exercise in motorcycle modification I have ever seen. No attempt to make a rideable machine, a mish-mash of unrelated design cues and to even consider jumps with a rigid rear and your feet at the same level as your arse, well…. a nomination for the motorcycling equivalent of the Darwin Awards. The workmanship looks great, but really, this is art, not a motorcycle.

    • Nope, nope, nope… this is the most pointless comment in motorcycle modification I have ever seen. Seriously though, why should this bike be wedged into your preconceived notion of what a motorcycle is “supposed to be?” It has two wheels and a motor, it’s a motorcycle. I’d have no problem riding this thing any day of the week.

  • $30724656

    The workmanship is quite good but I’m confused as to how anyone could question whether this riding position is viable. The Dan Gurney machines have proven that more than adequately. However the utility of the feet forward posture would be very limited off-road (just like a recumbent bicycle) as the ability to shift your weight around is severely constrained. As far as the “Big Air Ironhead” concept goes apparently some people have never seen an XR 1200 backflip,

    • Andy

      Xr1200 did not use the iron head motor. One head from an iron head weighs about as much as most complete top ends from the same era.

  • That’s the thing about the AMF Harley’s, they weren’t terrible bikes, they just didn’t have any quality control trying to crank them out fast enough to keep up with the Japanese. If one takes an AMF apart and puts it together with a little TLC, it’s as good a bike as any from that era.

  • barney

    I was never a fan of the Detroit Bros. look or any of the radically dropped seat designs…but it’s fun to look at. Nice parts and paint. Thanks for posting.

    • Cliff nothreefifty

      I see dumb people….

  • Cliff nothreefifty

    I see dumb people…..

  • giovanni

    hardly’s suck !!! BMW’s are supreme.

    Hardly’s = dont stop – dont go – leak oil

  • Great bike! I’d like one for me!

  • Otis Surratt

    your a fag if you ride a bmw

    • Otis Surratt

      Nice hill climber. Like the nostalgic 71-72 rapido tank too. And to the BMW rider above aBMW has no style no class and just plain ugly!

  • awesome

  • JC

    May I know where can get the low pressure fuel sight glass ?