Battle of the Kings Iron 883 by Thunderbike

When kids follow their parent’s footsteps, things can either turn out well or go pretty nasty. Sophia Coppola, Nico Rosberg or Julian Lennon stand for the former, the names Iglesias, Bush or the charming Kim family from North Korea illustrate the latter. A less prominent, but nevertheless pretty impressive example of a father-daughter cooperation can be viewed on the pictures below.


But first things first: since 2015, Harley-Davidson, without any doubt the motorcycle brand with the strongest ties to the world of customizing, stages it’s so-called Battle of the Kings competition. The company appeals to all of its official dealers to participate and build a reasonably priced custom bike. The strict competition rules state a maximum budget of 16.600€ and that half of the parts have to come from H-D’s own accessories-shelves. So, if you do the math and deduct the basic price for a brand new 883 Iron, you’ll find out this leaves the participants with 6.600€ to do their thing. Hence, they can forget ab initio about complex frame modifications or fancy wheels.


But anyone presuming this to be another half-baked PR-stunt from Milwaukee might, at second glance, be proven wrong. The restrictive rules make sure that bikes emerging from the BOTK-competition are not some far-flung trailer queens no one can actually afford or ride but level-headed  bikes. After all, back in the days, that’s what customizing was all about; chopping-off and making things go faster. And chopping things off usually comes for free. Further, affordable custom bikes lure younger customers into your showroom which, in return, may come back a few years later (after the bank account and the paunch have grown) for the top models of your product range. And let’s be honest; I’m pretty sure some of you have double-checked their accounts after seeing this Sportster, don’t you?


So, Kim Bergerforth, daughter of Thunderbike's Big Chief Andreas Bergerforth and working in her dad’s business, had to smile when she received a voucher from that same company for Christmas. But later, after opening her present and beginning to grasp what she was holding in her hands, was left speechless. The father-daughter adventure was about to begin.

They both started by stripping-off the Sporty and subsequently go the trial-and-error path in order to get an idea what the final result was meant to look like. They wanted to build a knobbly-tire, drag-style chopper with a low-flung seating position.


So first, in order to be able to install the short rear fender, the struts had to be chopped off. This procedure is, by the way, the only non-reversible intervention on the whole project. The small fender is pilfered from a Yamaha XV 1600 Wildstar (Thunderbike made an imprint and is considering a small batch). Kim nicked an old pair of leather trousers from her father, turned them inside out and used them for upholstering the new seat (customizing at it’s best, isn’t it?)


In order to obtain the sought-after chopper line, the original container had to make way for a custom 2.2 gallon gas tank coupled to a tank lift. A Thunderbike-Dragbar is mounted upside down and makes for a low, crouched seating position. But in combination with the mid-controls and 10.5 inch Burly rear shocks, the bike is more comfy than initially expected. Bates Baja 19 inch tires in the front and a 16 inch in the back guarantee the dirty-knobbly-look. The grips, the air-filter housing as well as the derby cover are picked from the H-D accessories shelves. Rizoma indicator/brake light units in the back and Thunderbike Stripe-Indicators at the bars are fitted.


Chain drive was crucial for Kim so she got rid of the belt and the pulley. Together, father and daughter recalculated the ratio and now, the bike looks just like Kim’s idea of a chopper. Last but not least, an exhaust system had to be bolted to the bike and after several dismissed options, they both agreed on a slightly modified Zard –system with an incline to bend in the line of the bike. Finally, the bare-metal tank was painted with gold-leaf letters by Ingo Kruse (sorry chaps, not included in the offer) which make the Iron-lettering stand out pretty good.


After winning the German preliminary round, Kim and Andreas headed to the Wheels and Waves in Biarritz, where the company staged the Grande Finale of their Battle of the Kings competition. The bike was presented among all the other national winners and made a good second place. Every competing bike was well-made and could have been the winner, but to me (Beware! Subjectivity!), Thunderbike’s contribution was the most fitting showcase for the initial idea of the event as well as the roots of customizing. A reduced bike built for one main purpose; RIDING! Because that’s what it’s all about, no? Knowing that this Sportster was shaped by a dad showing his daughter how to build a custom bike makes it even more special.


So if you happen to own a Sportster and start to drool over these pictures, you might be happy to learn that Thunderbike from Hamminkeln in Germany is ready to convert yours into a similar one. If you want some extras, Andreas and his guys will be more than happy to fulfill all of your wishes and ideas. And, as a cherry on the top, the bike is TÜV-approved. So you’re on the legal side here.

Find more info and loads of other products HERE, on Thunderbike’s own website.

All the pictures are taken by Ben Ott. You might want to take a little detour to his website as well, turns out to be a very entertaining pastime… 😉

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