2012 Woodstock Boogie Bobber / Woodstock Boogie Ape Hanger Test
Headbanger, a small Italian custom motorcycle factory based in Rovato a few miles east from Milan, offers big styling.
This is evident in its two Woodstock Boogie variants, the Bobber and the Ape hanger. Both motorcycles offer a distinct custom style with very different handling characteristics.
Following a test of Headbanger’s entire 2012 lineup, the Woodstock Boogie Bobber with its springer fork, 16-inch vintage wheels and an 4.76-gallon fat fuel tank turned into one of my favourite Headbanger motorcycles offerings.
The powertrain featured in the Woodstock Boogie is S&S’s Panhead 93, an air-cooled V-twin with carburetor. The primary drive is a three-inch visible belt and final drive is chain providing acceleration and brilliant momentum with an instant feel.
Headbanger motorcycles work with an ethos of old school simplicity, and for now refuse to use any modern electronic aids. The carburetors have been jetted to comply with Euro 3, but Euro 3 is also where it stops. The forthcoming Euro 4 of 2014 will be extremely difficult to comply to for any vehicle with carburetor/air-cooled set-up.
In the meantime, I enjoy my freedom in the saddle of some very special motorcycles from a bygone era. In the morning I had singled out the Woodstock Boogie Bobber and I thought to myself that that would be some ride and when I got the chance later I wasn’t wrong.
The super wide drag bars and a slightly forward leaning stance just makes you feel great. The Ape Hanger only has foot pegs whilst the Bobber has footboards making it slightly more comfortable. Both Boogies’ have a single leather seat on springs mounted to a Softail frame.
This set up is a lot more comfortable than it looks and I really enjoyed myself cruising through gorgeous Italian countryside. The seat height is a claimed 23.6 inches on both models and dry weight 513 lbs.
The Woodstock Boogie Ape Hanger is obviously completely different to ride with its tall ape’s and foot pegs rather than foot boards. Being a Headbanger you can of course have footboards also on the Ape Hanger version but the one I tested had foot pegs.
A large 21-inch wheel sits on a fork that isn’t too long so it doesn’t handle bad at all. That said handling isn’t the name of the game for the Ape Hanger. This creation is built for cruising on long straights and in town looking cool as few.
The 2.3-gallon peanut fuel tank will not take you as far as the bobber in one go but it adds to a minimalist 60’s style with plenty of air around the components. Both models have been bobbed so much so that there is no front mudguard at all and only a tiny piece of metal over the rear wheel.
The foot pegs makes it a little bit easier to give cornering input which isn’t the Woodstock Boogie Ape hanger’s forte in the first place. There’s a certain amount of free play in the tall handlebars and this might be awkward for somebody not used to it but I assure you it’s meant to be that way.
Using both the front and the rear brake is essential on the Ape Hanger version as otherwise you get a terrible feel with the braking. On the Bobber with its springer fork and fat 16-inch front tire it feels better to use more front brake as there’s a more forward weight bias. A single 292mm disc with four pistons stops the front and the same size at the rear.
At the front sits a tiny instrument console showing speed and very little else. It’s the same story with the tiny headlamp and rear light and these items are only on the bikes because they have to be.
The bikes tested starts at €25,537 +VAT (Ape) and €25,868 + VAT (Bobber) but upon ordering one you can mix and match with longer or shorter versions of the chassis and many other things.
2012 Woodstock Boogie Conclusion:
I must admit that I fell in love with the Woodstock Boogie Bobber because of its ultra macho design with a fine S&S 1530cc V-twin laden with plenty of torque. The Ape Hanger version also stands out but not as much to me compared to its drag-bar brute of a bobber brother. It’s difficult to look at the Headbanger Woodstock Bobber as purely a motorcycle because it is so refined and finished in the design area that changing something would be like painting a big smile on the Mona Lisa.
The Headbanger Woodstock Boogie Bobber motorcycle is to me an absolutely finished custom whilst the Ape Hanger with its matt black paint probably lends itself more to further customization. If you fancy exclusivity straight out of the crate then Headbanger Motorcycles have got something special right here.
2012 Headbanger Woodstock Boogie Positives/Negatives:
+ Unique high custom design
+ Fine air-cooled V-twin power from S&S in the Pan 93.
+ Springer fork (Bobber only)
+ It is virtually impossible not to stand out on any of these.
– The price and difficulty in some markets to get hold of one ensures only those with the deepest pockets can own one now.
– Highly impractical and low tech (a selling point for the target audience though…)
Photography: Marco Campelli and Orazio Truglio