2012 Headbanger Summertime | Review

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Headbanger Summertime – The hippie bike

Fancy a bike that makes other people smile, one that makes your long hair flow in the wind despite the fact you’ve got short hair, one whom Hunter S. Thompson would have imagined a double dose of monsters flying around?

It’s fruity and it’s Summertime!

The citrus metallic paint job strikes you first of all on the 2012 Headbanger Summertime. Is this for real or just a show special?

But it’s for real; Headbanger has indeed launched the Summertime as a “production” model and as a part of its 2012 line-up. I’ve put production in quotes because all Headbanger motorcycles are hand built by Luciano Andreoli and his small team in Rovato, Italy.

I visited the factory and tested the 2012 range of which the Summertime is a newcomer. I tested the Summertime amongst the vine’s in the Franciacorta area.

Headbanger Motorcycles has appeared on our radar from nowhere after producing a full scale model range and a marketing operation cumulating in two EICMA appearances. Andreoli’s small custom shop has been turned into a full on lifestyle company with the help of Italian entrepreneur Giorgio Sandi and marketing guru Stefania Galli.

The custom factory is indeed a factory, smaller than Bimota but bigger than Vyrus if you want other Italian references. Outside the factory a big American Headbanger 18-wheeler stood parked and HB’s merchandising already includes a full fashion collection and a beer brand aimed at “primitive bikers.” It’s all very impressive for what’s essentially still only a start up company.

Astride the Green and Orange Summertime version I grab the tall T-bars and fire up the Knucklehead S&S (93) 1,530cc air-cooled V-twin that feels proper agricultural in a nice way. The metallic monster from the past (but in modern trim of course) breaths fire out of quite a stubby 2-1 exhaust silencer.

The big twin sounds great and produces lots of torque but isn’t as smooth as the S&S Pan or RevTech 100 engine offerings. The Knucklehead engine looks great but it isn’t my favorite choice in the HB model line-up. The good thing albeit sometimes confusing about Headbanger is that you at the point of order can choose whichever engine, handle bar or colour scheme that you want.

For some reason I don’t feel as comfortable sat on the green leather seat as on the Woodstock Boogie for instance. It could be the T-bars or it could just be that the springs in the seat are a bit softer than the other HB’s that I tested. The steering isn’t as precise as I would have wanted but again this is a custom idiosyncrasy satisfying the styling elements and personal preferences.

The wheels and tires are retro narrow items where the front is a skinny 19-inch 100mm and the rear a 16-inch 130mm section from Avon. The brakes are a 292mm four piston disc front and back and they provide all the stopping power needed for cruising.

The Summertime version I tested featured a 41mm conventional fork but is also available with the Springer fork and ape hangers. Cool as the tall T-bars may be I’m personally leaning towards the Springer fork with ape hangers for this model.

The Summertime has a big 1,530cc twin and screaming citrus colours but the appearance is that of a smaller motorcycle light as a summer fruit salad. The small 2.3-gallon peanut fuel tank, low 25.9-inch seat and bobbed appearance deceive us a bit because the claimed dry weight is 517 lbs.

If your arms are not as long as a baboon then you may want to consider a low mounted conventional handlebar for this model to improve your command of the ride.

If this had been a stand alone test purely of the Summertime I would have loved it for its uniqueness and raw Knucklehead engine but I have also tested the others so the Summertime is not my first choice in the HB line-up.

It’s still a great custom bruiser and if you’re looking for attention this is definitely one of the biggest eye openers in the range. The version tested starts at €28,016 +VAT ($32,476) making it the priciest of them all. The custom paint job is where the premium lies. Flower power!

2012 Headbanger Summertime Positives/Negatives:

Positives
+ Striking design
+ When are you ever again going to get the opportunity to ride a motorcycle powered by a Knucklehead big twin?

Negatives
– Too pricey compared to the other HB models
– Awkward handling capabilities

Photography: Orazio Truglio and Marco Campelli