Berham Customs Shiny Harry

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Berham Customs Shiny Harry
Sven Wedemeyer

Sports & scene


Berham Customs Shiny Harry

Berham Customs Shiny Harry
Spartan custom bike Wins the Glemseck Sprint

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They came with little more than a frame, engine and two wheels. They drove home with a big grin, the trophy for first place and a story that they can tell their grandchildren at some point. What a? Here she is.

Sven Wedemeyer


This old frame was lying around in Felix’s workshop in Berlin-Tempelhof for over 20 years, getting dusty and somehow always in the way. When he received the part from a Harris dealer as NOS goods, neither the name of the manufacturer nor the three ominous letters received special attention. The frame specialists in England have hardly had any success for a few years. After all, the Japanese had meanwhile learned – also from the British themselves – how to build powerful four-cylinder cylinders with good chassis and thus effectively bring the abundant steam onto the road.

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Spartan custom bike Wins the Glemseck Sprint

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Harris’ business model was weakened and the company looked for other sources of income. No wonder that Felix won the 1984 cane with the predicate “New Old Stock” almost got chucked. But times change. And unused stock items have long been weighed in gold. “If only you had …”, that’s often enough remorseful NOS thoughts in the face of steep prices. Regardless of whether it is real Ferrari brake discs, spare parts for designer furniture or motorcycle frames from small manufacturers.

Metallic masterpiece made from brazed pipes

Felix didn’t have to regret anything. He had struck. This is called foresight – a virtue that, unfortunately, can only be appreciated in retrospect. The Magnum frame stayed unused in the corner for more than two decades. Until buddy Martien – the head of Berham Customs – stumbled upon the old Geraffel. And an idea came to both screwdrivers: Why not use this rare material to build a fine motorcycle for the sprint on Glemseck 101? Felix as a mechanic could certainly fix any age weaknesses. And Martien would definitely have enough ideas to bring the Harris pipe onto the street with a consistent look.

So the story took its course. Both Berliners, who have often joined forces to implement projects on two wheels (FUEL EINS 2016), freed the steel pipe from its powder coating. And afterwards were as if carried away, downright delighted! Beneath the faded red, a metallic masterpiece made of brazed tubing emerged that would also work well as an art object in a studio. Finely corrugated, golden beads of the manganese-bronze solder connect elaborately curved, gray steel. A masterpiece, not only torsionally stiff, but also light.

Felix and Martien then only looked deeply into each other’s eyes in order to draw up the master plan for the bike in unity and without big words: Here, no more should be added than necessary, the frame itself must be the focus. As an alternative to the many motorcycles, so to speak, that deny their backbone with full fairings or even drag ugly square tubes across the asphalt.

“Floating” Battery box made of aluminum

This Harris framework should just stand on its own. It should shine! And because turn signals, lights or a starter would undermine the concept of maximum simplicity, the English steel should be a sprinter reduced to the essentials. The nomination for the “International Sprint” at Glemseck 101 was already dry – and the idea for “Shiny Harry” was born.

Harry’s glittering metal, however, was developed to power the rustic Z 1000. But Felix really wanted to hang the foursome of a GSX 1100 from 1981 that he owned between the pipes. Barely twenty thousand down, almost like new. Professional screwdrivers like him have something like this in stock as a matter of course. So in the first step a couple of brackets had to be designed and milled for the marriage of drive and frame. Not a thing for the two boys.

However, when it came to the “longer swing arm”, an expert was asked for. A clear case for Marvin Diehl from KRT Framework, another companion with whom Martien works closely again and again. From then on, a team of three got to work. Without any particular interest in the original use of the frame, but with enough respect for its legacy. And the desire for species-appropriate husbandry: full throttle, straight ahead, eighth of a mile…

The fork was shortened and multi-part Honda wheels could be adapted after hours on the lathe. Everything in terms of the lowest possible weight, a cool look and fast times when flooding the open Mikuni flat slide valves. In addition to the eye-catching orange acrylic glass, there were countless details that you only notice at second glance: the “floating” battery box made of aluminum, an equally minimalist and elaborate rear with an ultra-thin seat plate. The self-made, milled from solid brake caliper carrier, which is not simply supported on a boring rod, but directly on the longer steel swing arm. It looks very similar to the original, but is unsprung and twelve centimeters longer. Because: Wheelies, that was clear, are quite nice for the show, but they slow you down. With a lot of small modifications and the new swingarm, everything should go according to plan.

Test drive? No time.

With the ideal of a light sprinter in mind, even the screw heads have been eased on the lathe. Because it slowly dawned on the team what task they had embarked on: The starting field for the International Sprint was impressively set up. In the saddles, professional racers like Carl Fogarty or Conor Cummins, factory conversions, technical delicacies such as turbochargers or nitrous oxide injection, real horsepower monsters were announced. So should Shiny Harry just become cannon fodder for the industry, which is able, with never-ending budgets and unlimited possibilities, to drive the expensive material up the eighth of a mile as quickly as possible? The uncertainty motivated the boys instead of wearing them down. They invested working hours instead of corporate dough. And it worked. In the night from Thursday to Friday, the day on which the Glemseck started, the engine screamed for the first time in the silence of the Berlin night. A few hours later he was already sailing south in the transporter. Test drive? No time.

Shiny Harry was just one of the thousands of bikes at Glemseck 101, often grandiose, but sometimes almost unbearable. But the raw Englishman with a Japanese heart stood out from the crowd. The audience wondered why the Berliners started with this special, but apparently unfinished machine. After all, there is no tank on it. The disguise is missing. And why are these aluminum struts mounted on the rear? The concept of the three seemed to work: Hardly anyone recognized at first glance the artfully welded tank behind the steering head, which with just under 1.5 liters would always be sufficient for the acceleration duel. Few immediately understood the minimalist approach. Only over time did the hammer fall: an efficient 4-2-1 Schule exhaust, classic Magura stub, push bars instead of starters, the adorable kill switch from Pingel – a fine part from the US dragster scene. Shiny Harry had not ostensibly and obviously, but secretly aroused the interest of the audience through the back door. Despite light weight as the top priority, the thing with the many details on the 101 was a visual blast.

Fat bikes failed because of Shiny Harry

Whether Shiny Harry could keep up on the eighth of a mile, which the oblique optics promised, was even questionable for the builder. As an absolute underdog, with an unknown performance, not a kilometer on the clock and formidable opponents, the outcome of the International Sprint was more than uncertain. Felix himself was sitting casually on the plane with jeans and a jet helmet when the checkered flag rose for the first time. After a few seconds, with no spectacular burnout, bouncing front wheel or noisy exhaust, he was just about the first to cross the finish line. Maximum efficiency. Martien and Marvin at the start could hardly believe the victory at a distance of 201.17 meters.

Thanks to the win in the first run, Felix had the chance of a second turn. And continued to deliver. Again and again. Twenty years ago he drove a few sprint races with a Buell S1 Lightning. Obviously he hadn’t forgotten the optimal interaction of clutch lever, throttle position and popometer. Shiny Harry, weighing 165 kilograms, defied even the toughest opponents. Superbike legend Carl Fogarty, by no means a child of sadness, failed with his fully disguised factory triumph and full turbo boost just like Suzuki’s Fat Mile. Fat Ducatis, BMWs and professional racers also dropped out of the sprint. To their own surprise and that of the audience, Shiny Harry and his masters were the winners in the end. The underdog had proven to be quite snappy.

Harris frame

The Harris brothers Steve and Lester founded “Harris Performance Products Ltd.” in 1972 together with partner Stephen Bayford. At a time when chassis wobbled like belly fat and engines squeezed like a bodybuilder’s paws, their sturdy motorcycle frames were in great demand. When series chassis began to work, the company devoted itself more and more to motorsport. Today Harris is, among other things, a partner of Yamaha and a service provider for Royal Enfield and sells racing accessories.

The dream team

This trio has been working together for a long time. With the Berham Customs label, autodidact Martien has fulfilled his dream of a motorcycle manufacturer, in which he brings customer wishes and his ideals into harmony. Felix is ​​a professional screwdriver and has been running an independent workshop in Berlin for years. Marvin from Westphalia is a true metal magician and creates real works of art out of aluminum and steel. Together they are (almost) unbeatable.;;

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