Kodlin F32 extreme excavator

Kodlin’s F32 extreme excavator

Does it even run?

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Most people who see the Kodlin F32 ask that. FUEL swung himself into the saddle.

"I don’t even know why you’re so hot for this thing. The F32 is yesterday’s news. We presented them on Sylt in April last year. Every magazine has covered the crate, and it ultimately won THE definitive dredging show: Daytona Beach! Last summer my boy!" Fred Kodlin is on the other end of the phone line. Somehow you can literally see how the 56-year-old rolls his eyes behind his sunglasses, frowns and sighs deeply. No, FUEL is not about reporting sensations. It’s more about a look behind the scenes. “Do you remember?” I ask back. “Bad Salzuflen trade fair, December last year. We talked about the F32. You said at the time that it could be driven almost like a normal motorcycle. I’d like to try that out. ”They are now expected to back down. Because maybe the thing can really only: stand. Doesn’t like UV radiation. No water. No wind. And the engine is just a dummy. Perhaps the fear of a few paint scratches outweighs the problem. After all, the part should cost over 200,000 euros. “Come over,” says Fred Kodlin succinctly. "The main thing is that it doesn’t snow."

Kodlin F32 extreme excavator

Does it even run?

The tire alone costs 1200 euros

I had to go back a long way to explain to a superbike driver like him the right to life of such vehicles: Bagger has nothing to do with Bagger (earth shovel vehicle), but is derived from Bag (English: bag, suitcase). Maybe two decades ago a couple of cruiser pilots thought about how to take the most important utensils for the weekend trip on the bike in proper style, and they came up with suitcases. So that these don’t spoil the look of the bike, further thought was given to stylishly integrating them into the vehicle. The style became popular in the USA in the early 2000s and has hesitantly spilled over to Europe in recent years. What began with the initially installed, narrow 18-inch wheels, however, quickly got out of hand. Ten years ago the US had 21-inch wheels, five years ago it was 23 inches. At the moment the really wild US boys are driving a 26er for a walk. At some point someone always packs something on it.

“The 32 comes from America,” explains Fred. “One-off production to order. In order for it to be allowed to roll legally on European soil, I had to have it TÜV approved. ”Ah, that also explains the price. “It’s yours for around 10,000 euros,” smiles the Hessian. No joke. It is lucky that the tire is included in the price. The skin is particularly cross-sectional with 140/40, comes from Vee Rubber from Thailand and costs 1200 euros alone. "First pull it up," smiles Fred, "and that without damaging the rim." It is pointless to discuss the sense or nonsense of such a motorcycle. One likes it, the other doesn’t. The custom boom is blooming everywhere: Allegedly, it’s not even hip to equip your converted street bike with enduro tires at the moment. No, now the cool guys are using motocross tires. Let’s give them the fun.

"Around 150 pieces built. And all sold."

And Fred Kodlin especially. “Come on, I’ll show you something,” he says, and we stroll through his workshop in Borken in North Hesse. Walking less than five meters through the huge hall, I remember a sentence from sheet metal artist Norbert Busch: “There are people who call themselves customizers, even though they are only screwing on and unscrewing parts. They exchange. No more. ”Fred Kodlin is absolutely not one of them. On the F32, roughly speaking, only the engine is not built by the customer. And the stereo system integrated in the suitcases, the brake calipers and brake discs. The rest is pure handwork. Clean seams. Noble parts. Perfect gap dimensions.

Fred is a veteran of the European custom scene, has been manufacturing his own parts since 1982 and started building custom bikes in 1995. Here, on the old continent, he is considered the enfant terrible of the scene. As a madman. Crazy because he dares to do things where others keep their hands off. "Excavators are out? Did the excavator trend pass Europe by? Nah, boy, that’s not true. We built around 150 pieces. And all sold."Kodlin‘s vertical range of manufacture is impressive. Twisted steering head tubes, kilometers of thin sheet metal and tons of steel tubing jostle on the shelves. He bends and manufactures exhaust systems, swing arms, designs and welds everything himself, from the frame to the lamp housing to the fender. He is not just a customizer. He is a certified vehicle manufacturer. His idiosyncratic creations are ultimately also approved by the TÜV. “You want to drive too”, the master grins mischievously. Good cue.

"You can drive, right?" Sure I can. Or do you need a special driver’s license for the extreme excavator? The F32 rests on two aluminum blocks the size of a shot glass that are attached to the frame. As it stands, the suitcases float a maximum of three centimeters above the floor. The F32 has an air landing gear. A small compressor supplies the expansion tank and spring elements with air pressure. The machine can lift a maximum of twelve centimeters. "Depending on the air pressure, you either have more or less comfort," explains Fred his system, also – who is surprised? – an own construction.

Speedometer 70, 80, 120 km / h. Everything normal, stable, casual.

Mount up. The saddle floats at a height of just 620 millimeters and you don’t need huge arms to reach the handlebars. Cables, wires, Bowden cables – everything laid inside. There is nothing that would disturb the metallic, martial look of the F32. Incidentally, it was designed by Len Kodlin, Fred’s 25-year-old son, who has meanwhile matured into a real pillar of the company. While the small compressor pumps air into the bowels and the F32 slowly rises, Fred explains to me the meaning of the buttons that are neatly arranged on the handlebars and under the seat. Broooaar – like an earthquake, the air-cooled, 2030 cubic Harley twin begins its work. Tuning veteran Gunther Sohn von G & R Racing has taken the V2 for use in the F32. 169 PS and 196 Nm should have come out of it. It sounds like a lot more. “Unfortunately we didn’t get the exhaust listed,” says Fred succinctly. No wonder. But that’s the only thing.

Gear in. Cast off! The monster rolls. Somehow, I think, the box must be mobile. Fred, who usually takes his exquisite pieces for a walk himself, casually told me that he had already ridden 4000 kilometers on the F32: from Daytona to Sturgis, Mallorca Bike Week. The muscle motor has no problems with its 360 kilos. Although tuned, it runs quite balanced in the lower third of the speed, but tenses its muscles powerfully from mid-speed. I watch the speedometer with interest: 70, 80, 120 km / h. Everything completely normal, stable, casual. Long runs. And the F32 is long. Its wheelbase is 1960 millimeters.

But let’s go back to the driving school lessons for racing drivers. To explain the influence of light wheels to them, they have to hold a wheel axle with both hands on which a wheel rotates. The faster it rotates, the more difficult it is to steer the axle. Keyword gyroscopic forces. A larger wheel circumference has the same effect. You could also say: the wheel stabilizes because it always wants to run straight ahead and perpendicular to the road. To cut a long story short: the faster you drive, the more stoically the F32 wants to run straight ahead. To puncture a pylon course quickly takes a lot of heavy lifting. It is therefore not as impassable as anyone who sees it standing thinks. On the contrary. The F32 is really fun. Performance-oriented pilots would require a little more powerful brakes and touring riders more seating comfort. But what the heck? Has it been sold yet? “As good as,” grumbles Fred, “actually belongs in America.” Because of the dead straight highways? "Nah. If you put it there in front of the supermarket, people will come running and think they are cool. In this country you just shake your head …"

To person


Fred Kodlin (56) is considered the enfant terrible of the custom scene in Europe.

Fred Kodlin (56), trained heating engineer, set up his own business in 1982 and manufactures parts for the custom area. He has three championship titles (including master forge) and ultimately becomes a vehicle manufacturer. Kodlin currently has nine employees. He was the first European to be perceived as an important customizer in the USA. Many of his bikes have been awarded and showered with awards worldwide.

More information: www.kodlin.com

Technical data F32


Seen from above, the F32 resembles a cross between an insect and a stealth bomber. The two playful "wings" act as crash bars, and the indicators are also integrated into them.

engine: Harley-Davidson-Big Twin, G & R-Tuning, 2030 cm³, 169 PS, 196 Nm, six-speed gearbox, electric starter

Bodywork: Frame, swing arm, fender, lamp mask, case, electrics, air ride system, blinker, fork, case – everything Kodlin made in-house. Exceptions: PM six-piston brake calipers, PM brake and clutch fittings, wheels, stereo system, MaikX saddle. The entire bodywork is done in steel. Front tires 140 / 40-32, rear 200 / 45-18

Idea and drawings: Len Kodlin

price: over 200,000 euros

working time: around ten months

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