Hot Custom Bike
In the competitive world of custom bike building, the only rivalry that builder Roger Goldammer can contemplate is competition with himself. Goldammer goes beyond mechanical artist, incorporating highly technical engineering with virtuoso talent, as displayed in his award-winning 2004 custom board tracker motorcycle.
Inspired by the golden era of “board track” racing, his rendition pays homage to the riders and racers of the early 1900s, who risked it all for a chance to run wide open on the “boards.” Patterned after bicycle velodromes, motorcyclists raced on poorly maintained wooden tracks that were covered in oil from the total-loss lubrication system of the engines. The clear and present danger assured a capacity crowd as bikes thundered around the track without headers, void of luxuries such as brakes, helmets and, often times, rules.
An admirable tie to this colorful historical lineage, Goldammer’s blend of nostalgic styling and the latest technology certainly embodies the essence of yesteryear’s daredevil racers and the machines they rode.
Goldammer BTR3, a tribute to the early board trackers. (Click image to enlarge)
The BTR3 project was set into motion with a healthy challenge amongst Goldammer and three other cutting-edge, custom bike builders. Having more than his fill of fat-tire bikes, the board track concept became an enticing project to Goldammer. And to contend with his peers, the name BTR3 served as the appropriate moniker for the build. As it has turned out (at least until now) the others still have not built their bikes.
Taking the basic parameters from the 1910s and ’20s, Goldammer explains, “I wanted to capture the fundamental elements of the board track racers, the distinctive loop of the frame, the bicycle-style seat and rear section, exposed top frame rail, turn-down bars, large diameter wheels and tires, etc. It was important to perfect the geometry so the bike could retain the styling cues of the racers, yet actually be a functioning machine that can and will be ridden.”
The goal was to create an aggressive stance with low, sleek, modern aesthetics and to incorporate this into the spirit of the past. Larger diameter wheels were of great importance, however the dimensions needed were not an off-the-shelf size. Starting the build and in search of the tires, prototype Vee Rubber 23-inch Monsters were finally located, and, as of this writing, are just becoming accessible to others. Goldammer went international for the rims and had them specially made in the United Kingdom for this project.
To resemble the board tracker’s lack of suspension, meticulous craftsmanship worked hard to ensure the frame on the BTR3 would be a “rigid,” however there is more than at first appears to the look of the heavy wall DOM tubing frame. Suspension is painstakingly concealed (it’s hard to imagine that a full-size Progressive Suspension shock absorber lies hidden beneath the gas tank), while added comfort is offered with the rear frame fork, which forms a single tube that enters into the top tube of the frame.
The swingarm design creates the rigid illusion, however the fabricated suspension is one of many details that convey the in-depth forethought that went into this venture. Within the frame, a reservoir lies between the gas tank halves, where four liters of oil are contained. Oil lines routed inside extend up to the top for venting, while a return and an oil filler plug are installed in the backbone above the gas tank. The fuel tank has two super-mated sides in an angular, flat-side fashion to capture the look of the original board trackers. (Click image to enlarge)
Succeeding at maintaining the board tracker’s traditional look, Goldammer’s imagination, talent and artistic ability is superbly displayed in the motor of this flashback to the past. The engine is an evolution-based bottom end and billet twin-cam top end that is machined to resemble a shovel-head design. Machined from solid billet aluminum, the barrels, heads and rocker covers exhibit a high-tech impression, yet perfectly blend with the qualities of this historical project.
Engine displacement is 100 cubic inches and has a 9.6:1 compression ratio. The engine and transmission are tilted four degrees to give the bike a more aggressive look, allowing room for the gas tank in between the neck and the engine and also raising the transmission to keep the drivetrain aligned. The transmission is a six-speed unit with fully back-cut gears and its case modified to delete the starter. The primary drive started out as a Primo/Rivera enclosed system and is modified to incorporate a slender belt that continues with the typical look of the era. Under the belt side cover are the voltage regulator, oil filter and shifter components.
The swing-arm pivot point is in front of and below the transmission. The top of the swingarm enters into the frame as the suspension is compressed. Attached is a hidden linkage and support shaft that connects to the shock, while a custom-made belt tensioner maintains constant final drive-belt tension. To retain an exposed and open look above the transmission area, the bike is kick-start only, so no bulky battery and starter motor need apply. Important to Goldammer was maintaining the smaller, contoured bicycle-type seat. Sparse in appearance, it is surprisingly palatable given the camouflaged suspension system.
The Springer front end started out as a W&W VL reproduction. A five-degree and 0.75-inch offset top and bottom tree-set was built to correct steering geometry. The traditional turn-down handlebar configuration is designed with a clean unobstructed appearance; the handlebars house an internal throttle assembly and a master cylinder for the brakes. The rear master cylinder is borrowed from a Honda dirt bike and was mounted to the left side of the transmission. The authentic two-piston calipers come courtesy of Performance Machine, the hardened and ground stainless rotors are 20.5 inches in diameter, a size large enough for plenty of stopping power. (Click image to enlarge)
For lighting, Goldammer utilizes exceptionally bright LEDs. The housings (two for low beam, one for high) also serve as heat sinks for the lights. At the rear, flush-mounted brake lights, running lights and self-cancelling turn signals are set into the back edge of the seat—present-day amenities integrate well into its minimalist theme.
Approaching all fabrication as a sum of the whole, the BTR3 is truly an outstanding example of determination and award-winning vision that sparks the spirit of history in an elegant, contemporary two-wheel portrayal.
Horsepower: 120 crankshaft | Weight: 500 pounds