Akrapovič Full Moon Custom Motorcycle Review
Igor Akrapovič is a remarkable man who has earned his eponymous exhaust company’s soar away success and its A-1 Dun & Bradstreet business rating through a combination of hard work, commercial honesty, clever development, and an insistence on quality.
All this, in turn, has made his name synonymous with excellence in exhausts both on and off-road, delivering added performance coupled with dependable durability. The 98 World Championship titles that Akrapovič (pronounced a-CROP- o-vitch) exhausts have earned on the racetracks of the world in the past quarter-century means the company has become a world leader in performance exhausts for cars as well as bikes.
On four wheels, this currently includes BMW, Audi, Renault, Alfa Romeo, Fiat Abarth, Lamborghini and Aston Martin. With 70-percent of the company’s turnover still motorcycle-related, it is on two wheels that the Akrapovič client roster is most varied and impressive.
Still, you wouldn’t really expect the Slovenian sultan of sound’s products to equip Harley-Davidson and Victory custom cruisers alongside the Yamaha YZR-M1 racers on which Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo are at press time fighting out the MotoGP World Championship, or the Kawasaki Ninja ZX- 10R on which Jonathan Rea won the 2015 World Superbike Championship.
However, that is the case, for this serial success has been achieved without Akrapovič becoming distracted from serving its everyday retail customers, or from driving expansion in new market sectors where looks and, above all, sound are what attract customers to the sign of the Scorpion carried on each Slovenian-made exhaust.
Added performance still drives demand for the more than 100,000 complete exhaust systems and over three times as many slip-on silencers produced each year by the company’s 650 employees in its new six-acre factory at Črnomelj. However, there are different key factors at play in making Akrapovič products appealing to non-performance focused customers in the V-twin cruiser cult.
In order to promote his company’s wares to this quite different market sector when his new range of Harley custom exhausts was launched in 2011, Igor Akrapovič commissioned the creation of a unique custom bike that doubles as a corporate statement. Slovenia’s longest established and most expert custom bike specialist, Dreamachine Motorcycles in Ljubljana, built the bike for him.
In the hands of its creator, Dreamachine boss Tomaž Capuder and a trio of helpers, this radical looking set of wheels named the Morsus—Latin for “sting” or “bite”, so very apt in view of the Akrapovič scorpion logo—went from initial drawing to finished article in just two-and-a-half months before its debut.
Morsus went on to win Custom show titles in Croatia, Spain, and France, culminating with an appearance at the AMD World Championship of custom bike building at the USA’s Sturgis Rally, as well as at Daytona Cycle Week. Yet, the Morsus is practically conventional compared with what came next—the exotic Full Moon two-wheeled work of art unveiled at the Bad Salzuflen Custombike Show in Germany last December.
This even more extravagant and technically exceptional promo bike was again created by Dreamachine’s Capuder on behalf of Akrapovič, and since its unveiling has traveled all over Europe as a missionary motorcycle for the Slovenian exhaust company’s custom bike catalog. Designed as an evolution of the Morsus, the Full Moon has its own personality and characteristics, and aimed at further exciting those impressed by Akrapovič’s first custom machine.
Its name comes thanks to the huge 30-inch aluminum and carbon front wheel that, when viewed from the side, gives the lunar look that Capuder conceived before starting work on building his creation last September.
“Igor gave me a very short time to make it, less than three months,” says Tomaž. “We had the unveiling on December 5th in Germany, and it took four of us working 20-hour days to get it finished in time—but we made it!”
Over 800 hours went into creating this striking machine, which features a 1524cc S&S knucklehead-style engine fitted with two custom-made Akrapovič exhausts connected by a link pipe. The hidden single-loop backbone frame with duplex engine cradle and integrated monocoque fuel tank, plus the single-sided swingarm and voluptuous bodywork, are all made entirely of 4130 chromoly steel, and incorporate the Akrapovič pipes. As Akrapovič puts it, “The bike itself is essentially an exhaust.”
“We wanted to continue the successful promotion of our custom exhausts that began with the Morsus, by creating some- thing even more shocking and extreme-looking,” says Akrapovič with a smile. “In this market, you have to keep coming up with something new and exceptional in appearance. Plus, I wanted to support our local Slovenian custom king Tomaž Capuder, who is really skillful and has great imagination. The Full Moon has more than delivered on expectations. Quite often we’ve had it on our stand at a show alongside a Rossi or Lorenzo MotoGP Yamaha and a factory Kawasaki or Ducati Superbike, and everybody clusters around the Full Moon, hardly sparing a look at the World champion racebikes we’re most associated with!”
Since its debut last December, the Full Moon has been show- cased at several other exhibitions and fairs around the world, drawing customers’ attention to the Akrapovič range of complete exhaust systems and slip-on mufflers for Harley-Davidsons. Its new classically shaped Slip-On Line features mufflers with specially developed noise inserts and chambers that enhance the trademark Harley-Davidson sound to give the bike an even greater growl factor that’s best described as resonant.
Akrapovič claims its pipes not only sound good, but are lighter than stock and increase both torque and power, while still meeting EPA requirements in the USA, and Euro 3 in Europe.
So, the Full Moon has been a great marketing tool. But, is that all? Is the Full Moon just a wacky-looking way out symphony of streamlining that is only supposed to be a static display item? Or can this style-bike supreme actually be ridden in something approaching real-world conditions?
With the bike’s sensuous styling unfortunately devoid of anywhere to stick a license plate, there was only one way to find out—head for Slovenia’s Driver Improvement Institute, a government-owned test center where anyone from nascent scooter riders to bus, truck and ambulance drivers can practice their skills in a real-world setting.
There to meet me with the bike was its creator Tomaž Capuder, who promptly awoke it from its slumbers by reaching inside the bodywork behind his right leg as he straddled the low-slung seat, and pressed a button that activated the onboard battery-powered air compressor that set the Full Moon rising – pneumatically, that is.
“First we built a normal twin-sided swingarm,” said Capuder, “but then we saw we had no place for the compressor or an air reservoir. So, instead, we built a single-sided swingarm, and then we had space to put the pneumatic system on the other side of the rear wheel.”
The integral footboards, emblazoned with Full Moon logos that illuminate when dark, act as a sidestand to allow the bike to stand upright when parked. There’s no need to spoil that stunning bodywork with an ugly kickstand, courtesy of its pneumatic suspension. This immediately reminded me of the hydraulic system in my dad’s Citroën DS21 which, like the Full Moon, hunkered down on its wheels when the engine stopped running.
To fire up the knucklehead engine—“The best looking American V-twin motor ever,” says Capuder—you must reach down again behind your right leg and press the hidden starter button, to be rewarded with the glorious and only slightly muffled roar delivered by the almost completely hidden Akrapovič exhaust. This is a marketing tool that requires being fired up ready for action to fulfill its purpose because you can’t see any- thing of the exhaust apart from the massive, but smoothed out, exit pipes.
Grope around for a gearshift lever with your left foot and you will end up disappointed—there isn’t one, any more than that’s a clutch lever on the gracefully raked-back left handle- bar. It is actually the brake lever that has been transplanted from its usual place on the opposite handlebar. In opting to eliminate all unsightly external cables and lines, Capuder found there was insufficient space inside the handlebar tube for both the throttle cable and hydraulic brake line. He moved the singleton brake lever to the left, while mounting a matching lever on the right bar that’s strictly for looks—it’s a nonfunctional dummy. How’s that for thinking outside the box of custom convention?
This lever alone operates the linked brake system derived from a rally car setup—there’s no foot brake pedal—with a 70/30 split between the hidden 250mm Dreamachine steel rear disc with two-piston Brembo caliper, and the massive 26-inch MS Production carbon fiber front disc gripped by a six-piston Nissin caliper.
The discs were created by Miklavž Zornik, the man who pioneered the use of carbon fiber for motorcycle bodywork back in the late 1980s as a post-Communist peace dividend. The Yugoslav military was a world leader in CF technology, and Zornik was the man who adapted this to motorcycle use, starting with Ducati in 1988.
Making this enormous Buell-type rim brake was a massive, literally, undertaking, and the special tool needed to do so got broken in the act, and so it will stay unique and cannot be repeated. The disc is attached to the MS-made carbon wheel flange which in turn is bolted to the specially made 3.5-inch rim machined from a solid 143-pound aluminum billet, which carries a 140/40-30 tire made in Thailand by Vee Rubber.
The rear wheel is somewhat more normal, except you can’t see it. Just take my word for it that the 200/55-17 Dunlop D407 mounted on a 6.0-inch cast aluminum wheel gives all the grip you could possibly ever want on this remarkable device. A lean angle of more than about 20 degrees will have you scraping the effete-looking footboards of a bike which, no getting away from it, has massive presence. It is indeed a two-wheeled work of art that somewhat improbably can be ridden somewhere. Imagine turning up at your Sunday morning bikers rendezvous on the Full Moon.
Once fired up and ready to roll, the Full Moon asks you to press the button in the right handlebar to select bottom gear via the automatic clutch, and then twist and go. There’s no speedo nor rev counter—just a clock contained in the filler cap for the slender 2.4-gallon monocoque fuel cell embodied in the chassis, then clad by the gorgeous, graceful sweep of silver-painted metal leading up to the steering head.
There are six speeds available in the Jims transmission, with a two-inch Gates primary belt. Four would be sufficient with such a meaty motor, and you can use second gear to move off on level ground. Get her going, and then thumb the left-side powershifter button to grab a higher gear when it seems appropriate. There’s no need to back off the throttle to do so, just keep it pinned open like on a race bike as you shift up through the ratios.
Fifth was the highest I got, simply because I ran out of room with the very long-legged gearing the bike carries. See, that massive front carbon disc has zero braking effect until you get it warmed up, so you must remember to ride along with your finger on the brake lever in order to do just that. However, with the linked brakes, this means you are also dragging the pads on the metal rear disc, which isn’t such a good idea. Compromise is king on a bike like this—it’s the looks that count.
The ultra-distinctive view from the bridge of this beautiful piece of mechanical art is like no other. With the paradoxically comfortable stretched-out stance dictated by the nearly 80-inch wheelbase encouraging you to lean forward as you lope along, there are no instruments to clutter the beautiful, flush-finished top yoke or block the view of the spinning front tire. It seems your chin is practically rubbing against its tread that appears to be rotating so close to you. That’s in spite of the 36 degrees of rake at which the 39mm Air Ride pneumatic telescopic fork made by Dreamachine is set. The penalty for this somewhat excessive steering geometry becomes immediately apparent when it comes to rounding a bend.
The gyroscopic effect of the massive 30-inch front wheel’s rotational force makes it a battle to steer the bike through even a gentle curve. The term understeer was invented for a bike like this, so to say that you need to send an email to the Full Moon to get it to corner is way understating it—more like an old-style telegram delivered by Pony Express.
Because you can’t lean it over very far in a turn without the footboards rubbing, you need to plan ahead as far as possible to give yourself as much room as can be. Eventually, the very ponderous steering will deign to turn the bike, though not necessarily on the exact stretch of tarmac you are aiming for. But, hey, you’re looking good and having fun as you do so, which is all that really matters on the Full Moon!
If ever a motorcycle was a triumph of form over function, it is the latest in the lineup of Akrapovič calling cards for the custom market; this is the Slovenian company’s ideal attention-grabbing package for bike shows and trade fairs. Kudos to Dreamachine’s team of craftsmen for creating it, and to Igor Akrapovič for commissioning what is quite a technically advanced motorcycle as well as a head-turning showpiece, full of unique design features that have been carefully chosen to make it exclusive. Its svelte shape hides new features used on a custom bike for the first time to create a rolling example of creative design that is also motorcycle art.
The Full Moon is like no other bike on Earth—or the Moon!— and Tomaž Capuder deserves to be very proud of creating it.
Photography by Alex Stokelj/Studio 54
Story from Ultimate MotorCycling magazine.
Akrapovic Full Moon Custom Motorcycle Photo Gallery