Vintage Shovelhead Racer: Krugger’s LADD

Belgium Fred “Krugger” Bertrand is a well known custom builder with a strong reputation for being a problem solver, both in terms of motorcycle design and engineering.

Never afraid to challenge conventionalism and to explore the unfamiliar, his creations are always very unique, getting him plebiscited by his fellow builders when he competes in the AMD World Championship Of Custom Bike Building (he has been World Champion and several times a very close contender) and comissioned by major manufacturers for the production of brand concept bikes. With ease, he jumps from Harley to Ducati to BMW and to Yamaha platforms, working his magic to create each time simple solutions to quite complex motorcycle architectures.

All Fred’s customs have a racing pedigree, most often with a vintage DNA, all carrying the name of a well known or obscure race track. The one featured here is called LADD, a drag strip in Alaska belonging to the US Air Force and used by speed freaks during the late 50’s. And I guess, Fred had in mind the machine he could have raced there, at least in terms of design. LADD was commissioned to Krugger as a corporate custom bike by Sansen & Gangi, “The Belgium Jewelers”, and built to be ridden by Oliver Gangi one of the partners, himself already individual owner of one of his customs. In the Krugger’s mind, jewelry and a custom motorcycle share the same objective of apparent simplicity in the final appearance, but require a high level of finition, of details and many hours of labor.

Although the Harley Shovelhead appeared only 1966, it’s the motor platform that he chose for this 50’s racer, but preferring the modern, more powerful and much more reliable block version offered by S&S Cycle and that he conventionally dressed with a S&S E carb and stack. As he dit it with former project “Overmile”, Fred Bertrand installed a 6-speed Harley battery vertically, hiding the starter and finding extra room for a small but powerful lithium battery. Open primary and final drive are chain driven.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the racing spirit, first was hand-fabricated a rigid featherbed type frame with a 29-degree neck rake (as a KRIT and XRTT 750) For backbone, another tube structure is bolted, giving the illusion that the bike is cut in half, made of 2 independent halves never joining each other. The 2 hand-made steel tanks are independently rubber mounted on their respective tubes, and are in fact 3 reservoirs: left side and bottom right are for gas, top right is for oil. Behind, the split seat created by Italian Hog Wild follows the left and right 2-part design, of course not comfortable for the long run but that you can swap for a more traditional one-piece. The one-off stainless tail section is the only place where the 2 halves of the bike seem to “join” each other.

Such custom requires one-off wheels. So, Fred ordered solid blanks from American Wheels, then had them machined in Belgium following his own 5-spoke 5-handle design with air valves exiting from the right side of one spoke in each wheel, not the rim itself. The front 21 & rear 20” wheels are respectively dressed in 120 and 200 mm with Avon Cobra tires. For front suspension with a racing look, custom fabricated tree plates hold a Suzuki GSX 600 front end whose reputation is to offer unparalleled performance for all riding levels, both at the track and in the canyons. Bars were one-off, with not risers, looking like belonging to the suspension tubes. Hand and foot controls, including master cylinders were sourced at Beringer, the specialist in high performance braking.

And for a final jewelry touch to their corporate bike, the 2 partners Cedric Sansen & Olivier Gangi used about 2 1/2 lbs of silver (950/1000 pure) and of Weirdum (a jewelry material they created or their business) to create the Krugger logo on tanks, point and clutch covers, clutch cover and frame front tube. And to start their machine, a key made of 3.2 grams of rose gold sandwiched between 2 silver plates and attached to the ignition with “a never-lose” chain. Custom silver mix paint job was sprayed by Xavier Counotte. It took 1300 shop hours to complete LADD and Fred Bertrand considers it a simple project. And to not lose his skills at mastering complications, he is currently building a “very serious” 6-cylinder BMW. Can’t wait to see it. Krugger Motorcycles. (photography copyright Thierry Dricot for Cyril Huze)


Report by Cyril Huze for Cyril Huze Blog

Tags from the story
,