This replica of an Evel Knievel jump bike is going for sale at auction in the UK. Silverstone Auctions describe is as an 'exact replica, before going to explain it isn't an exact replica, because it's an XLCH engine and modified XLCH frame, not an XR750 like the iconic stuntman was jumping at the time. Still, it's interesting.
The owner/builder, John Timoney says, 'Many, many years of collecting parts and information went into this bike, as well as an insane amount of money to get it hand-built and worked on by the right people - Andy and Sav at Pacoima Motorcycles in Norfolk, and Baz Church, who did the engine. Help was also sought from Lathan Mackay at the Topeka Museum in Kansas, along with other noted experts, including John Steele in the USA, who met Knievel and did a deal to sell licensed replica Knievel XRs.'
John continues, 'The bike is road registered and road legal, although during daylight hours only, as it has no lights or electrics. As a historic vehicle, it’s also free from road tax, so you can legally avoid paying tax, unlike Knievel, who got caught for doing exactly that. It’s registered correctly as a 1966 XLCH, and the original frame is included in the sale. The original XLCH donor bike was a basket case and has been rescued. It was a perfect base, as it already had numerous parts that weren’t original, so I had no qualms about chopping up an original bike. The reason the frame wasn’t used, and is supplied as a spare, is because I sourced a 1979 Sportster frame, because the rear geometry and castings on the rear of the frame for that year, are very close to the dimensions and look of an XR750 flat tracker. The front end was then cut out and new parts fabricated, to the exact dimensions of an XR750 (using factory blueprints). Many people make XR-replicas and street trackers, but nobody goes to the trouble of copying the headstock and rake of the bikes… and I’m not surprised; it’s a lot of work. But to me, that’s one of the magical ingredients that gives the bike it’s aggressive stance. Many original 1970s XR race parts were sourced and imported, including waffle grips, fork-stops, kill switch, and an ex-race XR750 oil tank.'
About the paint, the owner says 'The petrol tank and tail were completed by two artists that I persuaded to collaborate. The base colours are airbrushed, and the graphics, lettering and gold leaf was all hand-painted by a guy known as Nefarious; an unbelievable talent who has now sadly passed away. There’s no vinyl or stickers, and this has been done as faithfully as possible to George Sedlak’s original design (Evel’s painter throughout the 1970s, who was responsible for customising his bikes and helmets). There’s a correct vinyl pinstripe seat which replicates the jump bike; Evel had his driver and mechanic, John Hood, bring three XRs to Wembley: A jump bike, a wheelie bike, and a spare. The wheelie bike had seat pinstripes which ran 90 degrees the other way, to give Evel better ’shoe-grip’ for standing wheelies.'
The Harley is in the auction at the NEC Classic Motor Show on 12th November. For more info visit www.iconicauctioneers.com
If you like this, you'll probably love the monster cover story we have on a very special Harley XR750 project in Sideburn 53.