The Desert Wolves’ off-road Harley-Davidson 1200 Roadsters caged at Wheels and Waves

  • Off-road H-D® 1200 Roadsters the creation of Spain’s El Solitario motorcycles
  • On display at Wheels and Waves, 14-18 June, Biarritz, south west France
  • Built for a full-on 10 day adventure ride in the Sahara desert
  • With collaboration from Öhlins, Bark Busters, SC Projects, Kineo, ISR, Kriega and Dunlop

Three motorcycles, three friends, one idea: To spend 10 days in the Saharan desert, with bikes, tents, clothing and support vehicle completely re-made, re-manufactured and made from scratch just for the trip. And produce a film while they were doing it.

Which is exactly what they did. And now the Desert Wolves’ Harley-Davidsons® will be on display at Wheels and Waves, which takes place 14-18 June in the beautiful town of Biarritz, south west France. And, fittingly, they’ll be housed in a 6m tower of steel cages…

The bikes started out life as Harley-Davidson 1200 Roadsters and are the responsibility of David Borras, the driving force behind El Solitario (translation – The Loner/Lone Wolf), an iconoclastic custom bike builder tucked away in Galica, north-west Spain.

Turning a pure street-based motorcycle into something that can survive the rigours of the Sahara is no mean feat. But that’s exactly what El Solitario has done. In standard form the Harley-Davidson Roadster is a vastly competent all-rounder, with a sporting edge yet it has the built-in potential to be taken in a variety of directions by a customiser – which is why it was first choice bike of bike for the Desert Wolves’ project.

Some of the transformation was easy – some less so. The suspension was the toughest thing to get right but David went directly to legendary Swedish manufacturer Öhlins. The Roadster’s inverted front fork’s internals were relatively easy to re-valve and re-spring, but replacements for the twin rear shocks needed more work; the combination of stroke length and machine weight (in an off-road environment) had never been a factor for the Öhlins Race Division before – in the end they used specifications for four-wheel All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) shock absorbers to achieve the desired performance.

In fact all of the detail work on the bikes is result of collaboration – Bark Busters designed the carbon-fibre hand guards, and Kineo produced the 19-inch front and rear spoked wheels. Their rims are shod with tubeless Dunlop flat-track tyres deliberately – to keep speeds relatively sensible in deep sand! SC Projects designed and produced the matt black 2-1 exhaust system, ISR the custom brake calipers/discs and Kriega the soft luggage.

There’s a saying in bike building circles “If it looks right, it is right.” And in the case of the Desert Wolves’ very special Harley-Davidson 1200 Roadsters, there really is nothing left to say…

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