Saturday, August 1, 2009

Dick Hirschberg's "dirt bike"

If you've followed my blog, or read any of my posts over the years, you know that Dick Hirschberg is a real hero and influence of mine, going all the way back to 1960. In all of my personal bikes I build, there's always a little "Hirsch" built into the details of each one of them. I've used a lot of ideas on how a bike goes together from him.

This is one of my favorite bikes that Dick built around '67-'68. "Hirsch" referred to this one as his "trail bike" or his "dirt bike". It was based off of a H-D factory racing "Loboy" frame, and it was powered by an honest-to-god XR ball bearing lower end 55 ci. engine. The engine was also equipped with special XR factory rods (then $100.00 a pair), special factory "secret" racing profile pistons cast by Dow Metal, and a set of factory XR exhaust pipes, which bear a striking resemblance to what we now refer to as "drag pipes". Where Dick got the pieces of exotic (for then) Harley racing equipment is anybodys guess.

The bike's frame and sheetmetal were painted (what else) H-D factory racing orange, with white and black lettering/striping by Dick's pal/drinking buddy Von Dutch, who did the paint on all of Dick's bikes. Dutch was also responsible for the engine turning and light engraving as well. Added to the mix was a Norton seat, a Bultaco Metralla gas tank, an english rear fender and alloy taillamp, and Ceriani front forks.
Here's a great photograph of the bare H-D racing department's lightweight thinwall "Loboy" frame that Hirsch used for the foundation of his bike. Not shown in this factory photograph is the unique lightweight round tubular swingarm, but you can see it clearly on Dick's bike. It looked nothing like the production swingarm did. The Loboy frame was 40 pounds lighter than a production Sportster frame was.

When Hirschberg was finished with the build, he weighed it with a full tank of gas, and a full oiltank, and the bike weighed in at a svelte 415 pounds. Not too shabby for an Ironhead on the street!

I borrowed the Loboy frame photograph from the Harley KR XLRTT website - a fantastic website if you're into old H-D factory racers:


Chris K said...

Interesting bike. Stretch over at the Nostagiaonwheels blog did a post on that bike. I find that I'm digging everything D.H. did myself. I have to check my old photos. I took a shot of a similarly built orange bike that was at an event around the early 90's but it had a sporty tank and solo seat? I remember thinking it looked like something Von Dutch would build.

Dana said...

Hi, I bought this bike in the late 90's from a guy in Arizona. He got it from a commercial airline pilot in California by trading him an early Jaguar. Most everything in pic was still there when I bought it minus the carb/aircleaner, pipes and seat cover. It had not been run for looong time. The paint job was half ass'ed restored which ruined most of the Von D. paint job! It still had the same frt and rear tire as in the picture. The frame is actually a early KR dirt track frame using the large racing style horseshoe oil tank. The forks are H-D racing dept with racing dept front brake. I traded the frame/swingarm w/rear brake to Yoshinobu "Yoshi" Kosaka of Garage Company for an early sportster roller. I knew it was rare frame/sw but I did not like the holes which had been drilled into the frame for the hidden wiring. It also appeared to have been in a fire. I believe it was one the two lost H-D Racing departments KRTT dirttrackers I turned it back into a XLR and it is a runner.
I still have the gas tank, oil tank, rear fender. I used everything else to turn it into a XLRTT.
Dana T.