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Hammarhead Industries: Minimalist Customs

The last place you might expect to find a guy with a Ph.D. in Neuropsychology is in a shop building custom motorcycles. Perhaps, what James Loughead does might be better described as stripping motorcycles, rather than building them. Loughead specializes in taking standard, production motorcycles, stripping away everything non-essential, strengthening the frame and installing engine guards (for off-road use), and then installing his own finishing elements, such as fenders, headlights and turn signals. The bikes typically get spoked rims and knobby tires, as well.

Hammarhead Industries may be best known for its Jack Pine version of the Triumph Scrambler (pictured below), but it is the unique machine above that really caught our eye.

The lead photo is Hammarhead’s Solo-X, which is based on the 745cc boxer twin Ural sT (Solo Tourist). The Solo-X is apparently a physically small motorcycle when compared to a BMW boxer, for instance. Hammarhead’s modifications have brought the weight of the Solo-X down to close to 400 pounds, dry.

We like to see customizers specializing in machines other than heavyweight cruisers. Below the photo of the Jack Pine, you will see a brief video interview of Loughead, followed by a CycleWorld piece that features our friend Mark Cernicky hauling ass on the Jack Pine.


  1. bmidd says:

    @Gabe, an electrical ground doesn’t always have to be the “Ground”. It can be any conductor that is able to absorb a large amount of current. The ground is an escape route for a surge in power that would fry the electrical components. In a plane, the body and frame are the grounds. The frame also protects occupants from a lightning strike.
    They had all this figured out before this guy started making ugly motorcycles.

  2. HalfBaked says:

    I like this Ural and the other bikes from this shop but I never realized how much the Hammarhead guy resembles the Unibomber. In answer to Gabe’s questions airplane are grounded into the metal frame of fuselage but than you knew that already didn’t you.

  3. mickey says:

    Guys that have Urals seem to love them although I can’t understand loving an even lower horsepower copy of an almost equally low horsepower original. Especially one with an even sparser dealer network than the originals sparse network.Some people just hear a different drummer.

    Personally, I’d rather have the Trumpet desert sled.

    • Fred M. says:

      The original BMW R71, which Ural copied, made 22hp. The later BMW R75, with overhead valves (more like the modern Urals), made 26hp. The modern Urals make 40hp.

      I love my Ural Solo sT, despite owning bikes that make two or three times as much horsepower.

  4. Fred M. says:

    “What are you people THINKING!!!”

    Probably that limited production, custom motorcycles are more desirable to many buyers than ugly, plastic-clad, mass-market eyesores like the KLR650.

  5. goose says:

    My question would be: With the high po intake and exhaust does the Ural break the 30 HP barrier?

    I’m with the guy who said buy a KLR, you could pick up a used bike, drop a few grand on making it yours and still have $8K or 10K in your bank account.

    But if it floats your boat, and you have the cash around for a bike that will probably not be ridden much, have fun.


    • Fred M. says:

      A bone-stock Ural Solo-X makes 40hp. I know, because I have one and I rack up the miles on it. I commute to work round trip 70 miles. I took it on some trails yesterday on the way home from work.

      The KLR is ugly, vibrates too much, makes less horsepower, and works less well on the road. I’d rather have the Ural any day.

  6. Josh B. says:

    As India gets a stripped-down cheap $810 model, we get a stripped-down overpriced $14,500 model…… *rolls eyes*

  7. Frank says:

    EMP? Electromagnetic Pulse? Jeez! What are the chances of that?

    Gort, Klaatu Barada Nikto!

  8. Gary says:

    I like bikes that look classic but perform to modern standards. This bike is halfway there.

  9. kjazz says:

    I’m not rushing out to buy….but I think they are cool looking. But totally understand why someone would NOT like this look. It’s not for everyone.

    Watching Cernicky ride the JP Triumph makes me wanna go ride a heavy dirtbike around. But, I have an XR650R, it’s heavy and goes like stink but not so wonderful for more than 20 miles on the highway.

  10. jim says:

    the rear fender on the ural is sitting pretty high off the wheel.

    • Kagato says:

      That does look weird–I think she settles down a bit with some weight on her. She’s up on the centerstand too, which is going to make the rear wheel drop some.

  11. Tim says:

    Nice riding in the bottom video. I’m, frankly, torn on the airhead bike. There is definitely a cool factor to it. I love the look of the motor, but not so much the frame. It’s a fun bike to look at, but not something I’d personally spend money on.

  12. Fuzzyson1 says:

    ZZZzzz… Somebody please wake me up when the whole minimalist “bad-ass” trend runs it’s course. Another dumb niche. Then park them next to all the discarded Jesse James & OCC long neck choppers and lets get back to motorcycles that people ride.

  13. DaveA says:

    Wow I like that Ural a lot…very fun.

  14. Denny says:

    This is nuts (in a positive way)! Is it not part of some survivalist movement?

    • Gutterslob says:

      A bit off-topic, but I’ve always wondered;
      In the event of a worldwide EMP disaster, can non fuel-injected, non-electronic bikes get started (presumably kick-start only), or does an EMP f*ck the spark plugs as well?

      • Kagato says:

        I believe this would make old bikes with points very desirable–if I’m correct, the components damaged would be silicon chips with the very tiny copper trace connections. in other words, any electronic ignition. Would be good to have a magneto sparked engine as well. plugs themselves are too simple to be damaged by a pulse–I think….

      • Denny says:

        Whole ignition system will get screwed up by EMP, primarily the coil. It would be interesting to check how military vehicles have this solved. Back to horses, if some are left!

        • ilikefood says:

          It’s not that difficult to protect electronics from an EMP. Most high-value electronics (e.g. in planes) are shielded. Just wrap the component in a conductive, grounded shell, and it’s good to go.

          • Don says:

            Just make your garage a Faraday cage, problem solved, as long as you’re not out driving when it happens. Considering an EMP big enough to be a problem would likely be from a nuke detonated in the atmosphere, your car not starting would probably be the least of your worries…

          • Gabe says:

            How do you ground avionics if the airplane is in the air?

        • Tuskerdu says:

          that’s true.

      • Charlie says:

        A diesel with mechanical injection (no new common rail stuff) would be the way to go.

        • zuki says:

          Coil, points, and spark plug (including all wiring) should not be effected. Kagato is correct – the small electronic stuff and microprocessors are what get taken-out with an EMP.

          • Gutterslob says:

            Thanks gents.

            So, would an old, carb’d, kickstart MX bike be up to the job? What about em 2 strokers?
            Wouldn’t really want to go back to horses. 1 horsepower per rider, lousy suspension and general bad smell horse-sh*t just isn’t that tempting.

          • zuki says:

            The old MX bike would be fine too unless it has some sort of electronic points system that would be vulnerable to a strong electromagnetic pulse. Like Don mentioned above, if any of our vehicles were close enough to really get blasted by an EMP pulse, there would be a lot more to worry about – if even still alive!

          • todd says:

            yeah but that horse puts out around 1000 lb-ft of torque…

      • blackcayman says:

        A simple home made faraday cage will solve this problem. If you are serious about having a working all terrain motorcycle after the pulse, put your ignition components in a faraday cage until after. Then install and voila, you have the only working motorcycle in 100 miles – unless your budies read this.

        • clasqm says:

          How are they going to do that, with every computer component in a 100 mile radius melted into slag?

          Hmmm, looks like they will have to do a steampunk remake of Mad Max on 1920s Brough Superiors … Doesn’t sound like those Kawa Z1’s in the original film would make it through the EMP.