It’s been four months an a brand new wall calendar since the last AMD World Championships in Cologne, and yet we’re still turning up some genuinely great bikes that were previously hidden deep within the winning ranks. Here’s one from Belgium that’s been handcrafted in a basement by a Mr. Quentin Vaulet, or as he likes to call his nocturnal garage adventures, “Charging Lion”. “It’s a personal project (and a pretext) for which I completely surrender myself to the creation of motorcycle”. Fitting then that this, his latest bike, is called “The Thief”; by the looks of it, she owes Quentin more that a few hours. Much more.
“My name is Quentin Vaulet. I’m 29 and I’m an architect from Belgium. I am not a professional builder, I’m just a passionate bike lover. It was my grandfather who taught me to love metal; the smell, the feel. I work alone in my basement where I founded Charging Lion.”
Quentin bought the bike secondhand in 2013; he was searching for a XL1200C with carbs as he wanted to work on an affordable Harley twin. “Sportsters are a good compromise and I think they have an interesting geometry. It seemed to me that the overall line of the bike could be improved by changing the rake, reducing the length of the forks about 4 inches and stretching the back a little”. This way, Quentin would be able to work with two 16″ wheels while still maintaining the ‘horizontality’ of the machine. “For me it’s the perfect visual balance for an old school Harley Davidson bobber.”
Quentin put lots of time into re-shaping the aluminium engine cover to make sure he reduced the rather heavy visual impact of the stock item. The primary cover comes from EMD and the air filter is a Velociraptor from Kuryakyn.
“The next job was to get all the wiring inside the frame. Headache! Got there in the end, though. The electrical box below the seat is made it with an old gas mask box that I found in a flea market. The battery, CDI box and the like are all made by hand to fit the frame as cleanly and be as minimal as possible.”
“The gas tank is a Cole Foster design. He’s a man whose work I really like. Big influence. The oil tank is a CB750 aftermarket unit with a cool speedster-style that I adapted for the Sportster’s oil capacity”.
“The aluminium rear fender was a handmade piece ordered from 7 Metal West in Milwaukee; the leather solo seat was handmade by Rich Phillips in Saint Louis.”
To wrap things up, the frame, boxed, fork and the gazillion other little pieces were powdercoated in black and all the bodywork pieces were sprayed in a colour called Frozen Bronze. “And yes,” says Quentin, “there’s no front brake. It’s a classic, clean bobber so I didn’t put one on. Whatever. The rear one is an adapted Harley Sportster unit”. Touché.