Bike in Black

Sometimes it takes an outsider to shake things up.

German bike builder Marcus Walz challenges the American notion of custom motorcycles with his hand-built one-offs, injecting a European perspective to a tradition born and popularized in the United States. “We’re the total opposite of the norm,” explains Veny Zorilla of Walz Hardcore Cycles. “Americans love chrome and bling, orange and green flame paint jobs,” he says. “We focus on race themes.”

Educated as a mechanical engineer, Walz competed in motocross racing during much of the 1980s, until he was sidelined by injuries. Bike building evolved out of his decision to abandon racing, though he gravitated back to the track after moving company headquarters close to the Hockenheim Formula 1 circuit; there is, after all, something motivational about the roar of F/1 cars. After implementing an innovative drag-style seating configuration into his custom bikes, Walz competed in the modified drag racing motorcycle class. He has since tackled the European Touring Car challenge in a Porsche 911 RS, and keeps in touch with his fast side by tracking his Ducati 999R.

The Mille Miglia is Walz’s latest two-wheeled expression of a racing theme. Named after the roughly 1,000 miles of riding required for the Discovery Channel’s Biker Build-Off, the bike’s radical styling and mechanical solidity edged out Michael Prugh’s one-off creation, winning the episode’s title of Best Custom Bike. (Click image to enlarge)

Low slung, bare and functionally single-minded, the Mille Miglia appears to have earned the title not just because of the cohesiveness of its overarching design, but also for the inventive details that complement the whole. Clad with matte black paint, the unassuming finish allows the eye to settle on the bike’s uncluttered silhouette. The Mille Miglia’s Grand Prix frame offers structural support not functionally dissimilar to those of typical custom bikes, but oval slots cut out of the downtube recall the distinctive skeletal structure of aviation components. Similar slots on the backbone offer a vertical peek-a-boo view of the 103 cu in Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle V-twin.

Celebrating the old tech aspects of the carbureted powerplant is a carbon fiber-shrouded air filter element that juts forward with the optimism of a 1960s-era street rod. Though retro in spirit, the twin-cam powerplant has the ability toconform to strict emissions requirements set forth by American and German governments. Exhaust is thumped through custom-made, baffle-free pipes, providing clean looks and beautiful sounds, at the expense of legality in most territories.

The bike’s visual form is wonderfully unpolluted, and sharpened with Rick’s wheels measuring 18” x 3.5” at the front, and 18” x 10.5” at the rear. The massive rear assembly makes the bike’s already dramatic stance all the more threatening, and a Walz manufactured single-sided swingarm showcases the wheel, which wears a pleasantly nostalgic spinner-style three-spoke center hub.

The Mille Miglia’s dragster-style layout incorporates an outrageously low, black leather seat that appears unremarkable from a profile view, but upon closer inspection reveals a discreet carbon fiber inlay for each cheek—remember, the company is called “Walz Hardcore Cycles”. And, speaking of hardcore, as with most truly custom bikes the Miglia’s triple clamp is delightfully unmarred by a tachometer, speedometer, or any other device intended to quantify the machine’s mechanical business. This bike is built for speed, and it refuses to let the rider know how much velocity is actually being produced by the hard-working Harley twin. The hand controls, tank, and Walz-built frames and front end hail from Germany, while other components were sourced from Finnish and Dutch manufacturers. (Click image to enlarge)

Because Marcus Walz has always appreciated dragster looks and cruiser ride-ability, the Mille Miglia features an air-ride suspension that handles at least as well as a stock Harley-Davidson. Coupled with its aggressive straight-line performance, the Mille Miglia’s handling brings an element of real-world usability to the custom bike table.

Though the Mille Miglia began as a one-off design executed solely for television, its striking lines have garnered so much attention that Walz is now taking requests to produce identical bikes. To own an exact replica of the award-winning one-off, all you have to do is ask. And, no, you don’t have to do so in German. | 305.696.6040Specs

130 cu in Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle air-cooled
Walz Hardcore handmade open pipes
PM open primary
Walz Hardcore
One-off Rick’s Motorcycles
Prototype Jorn/Walz Hardcore inverted forks with integral adjustable clip-ons
Rear: Legend Air-Ride with 5-inch ride height adjustability
Walz Hardcore 6-piston calipers with custom stainless steel rotors
Rear: Walz Hardcore twin 2-piston calipers w/ 17″ rotor