Or how I accidentally re-invented the wheel. And a Chopper frame with Girder & Plunger.
Once upon a time there was a boy called John-Eirik – or as most people know him “Turbo John” or Snoopi-Custom. He might not be a boy in age, but at heart he’ll never grow older than 15.
Me, I’m Julia. The daughter of Birgit and Jens Krüper and therefore second generation in our family business NCCR Sweden. And I’ll be the one telling you the story of how John fell in love.
The year was 2023, NCCR was invited by the Norwegian Buell Owners Club to visit the MC-messen in Oslo.
So we went and revealed a cool, street legal EBR World Superbike which we thought would of course drag attention. Attention was given – but not in the way we had anticipated. Suddenly, my mother approaches me with a man in a funny suit. All silver, like an astronaut. “What now”, I thought. “What is happening?! Who IS that?”
“And why does he look like he has stars in his eyes?”
Apart from the bike, we had also brought along a customer’s frame, a model we call the Shotgun Frame due to its double barrel style top tubes. I had drawn up this frame in the computer with the idea of having one continuous tube from steering head to axle.
So this out-of-this-world-looking man asks me “You made this?”
“Uhm… Yes? I designed it and my dad manufactured it…?”
At this point, I’m not even sure what’s happening. Mind you, this is the first frame I designed entirely by myself. My dad’s instructions had been steering head angle (chopper-ish), wheel base and shotgun on the top. I’m not particularly fond of choppers, so I was quite reluctant.
“I LOVE this frame! I MUST have it! This is the most beautiful frame I’ve ever seen!”
I’m quite frankly shocked.
Apparently, me ignoring all classic Chopper styles (because honestly I couldn’t care less) had struck a nerve in John. I explain how the frame is made from Swedish SSAB Docol tubes and bent by a free radius machine with a 10th of a millimeter precision. How it’s built on ME-Racing’s Multi-Jig which is the easily the best and most flexible way to build a precise frame jig.
Now he’s talking at about 1000 miles an hour about what bike he wants to build and how I have to stretch the frame and the steering angle has to be flatter and and and… My head is spinning. Fortunately, my dad matches John’s brain flow and they bounce ideas off each other of things I’ve never heard of.
Words like “Digger” and “Plunger” are thrown at me and “Gerda”. Now who is Gerda? That’s a German name for old ladies! I’m born 1991. So yeah, I missed the 70’s by quite a bit.
Back home in Sweden, the discussions continue. I google “Digger style” and oh dear… Those bikes are special. Girder forks and Plunger rear suspension look ancient and from what I’m told, ride like.. Well you know what. And John wants a prism tank, but different.
Oh and we might use a BMW boxer engine. Of course, chain converted.
That learning curve was quite steep, if I’m being honest.
NCCR is above all a race custom workshop. I basically grew up on racetracks. We’re not delivering a swampy suspension like a rocking chair. So guess what? We’re reinventing the wheel. Wait, what?
Apparently we’re also making rims now, because this bike needs cool wheels.
So I start drawing and constructing. My dad is hand sketching drafts, we discuss them, call John and discuss some more. The aim is having a mock-up of the Girder fork and a 3D-printed model on the Oslo Motorshow in October 2023.
My 3D-printers are running around the clock. When the model of the complete bike is done, it comes down to painting it and the color of choice is yellow. Candy yellow. The complete bike. I have no idea how to paint this model, so I ask my friend who’s into Warhammer figurine painting for help. On the Sunday before the show we sit down and he explains green stuff, dry painting, and color theory to me. We paint for 8 hours non-stop. For a while it looks like the Bumblebee Transformer. Proper shading and golden dry brushing were the finishing touches it needed to look just perfect.
Mom even found a cool glass house to put it up like a diorama and a couple of fairy lights, so the Oslo Motorshow can come.
The Girder mock-up turns out to be an instant eyecatcher. People at the show stop and explain what this “old thing” is to their friends. But then we swoop in and explain the details of our creation and why this is so very unlike the “old ting” they’ve seen before.
NCCR’s Girder is built in SSAB Docol steel to start with – one of the tubes being oval for extra rigidity. The “dog bones” as we call them (the linkages connecting triples to fork sides) contain no less than a total of 16 ball bearings ensuring a smooth and tight operation. No wobbly, swampy fork on my watch! The shock is a German Wilbers built to our specifications and my personal highlight is the dovetail in the foot which enables one to mount different ends for different lengths, axles and/or brake solutions. And of course, the holes in the side panels can be customized for each project.
You can find even more in-depth detail in our online shop here.
But what was that about a Plunger? Isn’t that the thing you use on a clogged toilet?
Well actually you’re not wrong there. BUT it’s also the name for a rear suspension that was invented about a century ago and the last OEM motorcycle with a plunger rear was produced roughly 50 years ago. And guess how it rode? Swampy and wobbly to the point where the shocks sometimes even got stuck. Another recipe for success, right?
When we re-designed the Plunger, we looked at it from a practical kind of view again. How can we improve this “ancient” piece of tech and make it not only work, but an actual joy to ride while looking pretty rad. This is how the parallel tube design was born. One might even argue that John’s bike has not one, but two telescoping forks – just on the wrong end!
When I constructed the actual parts, I even included tiny oval combination tail lights with integrated indicators and brake lights in the tops of each side. Find more info here.
Re-inventing the wheel has always been something I roll my eyes at – why do what someone has done before? But being kind of the theme with this bike of taking “old” designs and ideas for a modern spin, we started looking at the rims. Even though I own a Honda from the 80’s, I wasn’t familiar with Comstar rims. By the time I bought my bike, someone else had considered them ugly and probably thrown them away. Now take the idea of Comstar spokes and combine those with a Rick’s style rim and BOOM – you got yourself some cool looking wheels.
We “just” had to construct them with a SSAB’s Docol steel in the middle (yellow in this design) and aluminium hubs and spokes. Easy peasy now that we’ve basically made the whole bike anyway. You can find more info of our Hellsing Wheels here.
Remember that tank John wants different? I scour the internet and while I was quite impressed with some of the paintjobs I saw, I figured that the basic shape is quite boring and mostly the same. I’m not a fan and also not convinced that I can construct it in a way that it looks good following that Shotgun Frame and can be manufactured with relative ease.
So I enter the sheet metal part of my CAD programme and bend away. I end up with a reversed kind of hybrid between a prism and a diamond which can unfold into a single sheet of steel which is then laser cut, bent and finally welded. The whole tank only has 4 different angles, one in the bottom plate and three going around the tank forming it.
John doesn’t want a filler neck – I wonder what he’s up to now…
On his way down to the MBE 2024 MotorBike Expo, my parents meet up with John to deliver the rolling chassis. Flabbergasted is probably most accurate description. I wish I could’ve seen his face. When he calls me he goes on about how brutal looking and absolutely amazing it is. My favourite compliment was the following: “You took what I saw in my head when I first saw the Shotgun Frame and made it real. It’s like you can look inside my head! I’ve never worked with anyone like this.” We agreed on probably having a brain-link of some sort because last I checked I was no psychic.
And this is the story of how I met John and how he found the Bike of his brains – I mean dreams. To be continued (why is there no filler neck…?)