GDesign Pays Homage to Harley-Davidson’s Little-Known Road-Racers

Photos: Mattia Negrini Fotografo

Harley-Davidson is easily one of, if not the single most widely recognized motorcycle brand on the planet, with a rich and illustrious history dating back to 1903. And while the MoCo is undoubtedly best known for its cruiser bikes, the Black and Orange has also dabbled in the creation of full-faired road racers like the ‘90s-era VR1000 — a 135-hp, carbon-bodied V-Twin superbike created by heavy hitters like Erik Buell, Cosworth, and Roush. And while the VR1K was never able to achieve much success in AMA competition, it nonetheless represents a unique period in motorcycling history — and an era that Italy’s GDesign has opted to pay homage to with its latest one-off work, a VR1000-inspired 1999 Buell S1 road racer.

Dubbed the “Double Face,” the bike takes its name from the split black and orange paint jobs that adorned each side of Harley’s road racers. Also taking some inspiration from endurance race bikes and Harley-Davidson’s earlier ‘70s-era XRTT racer, the Buell now wears a heavily-modified fairing plucked from a half-liter Benelli, along with a custom padded and knee-dented tank and a boxy, 1980s-style fiberglass tail section.

GDesign has also bestowed the bike with new Tommaselli clip-ons and rear sets, relocated instrumentation, externally-mounted endurance style headlights with LED beams, and custom saddle, bum-stop, and knee pads courtesy of L. R. Leather Goods. The air-cooled 1,203cc V-Twin engine at the heart of the build has also received a new intake and cover, a DynoJet control unit, and a dual-pipe SuperTrapp exhaust system that’s reminiscent of the units on the XRTT. GDesign has also opted to retain the S1 donor’s inverted fork, underslung, horizontally-mounted mono-shock setup, and stock wheels — though the latter items have been repainted.

In typical GDesign fashion, the Italian shop has further demonstrated not only its commitment to bespoke details and fine craftsmanship but also shows off the immense diversity between its many different styles of builds and projects. You can see more on the builder’s Instagram page.

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Photo: Mattia Negrini Fotografo
Photo: Mattia Negrini Fotografo
Photo: Mattia Negrini Fotografo