Motorcycle: Racers - Lucifer's Hammer, 1983
Date: Sunday, October 31 @ 15:26:35 UTC
Topic: Motorcycle, Motorcycles, Motor Cycle
Lucifer's Hammer, 1983
In the spring of 1983, Lucifer's Hammer was the first big twin for a decade to carry Harley-Davidson's famous black and orange racing livery on to the Daytona speed bowl. It certainly did so with distinction, taking the great Jay Springsteen — better known as a dirt-track rider but certainly no slouch on tarmac — to victory in the Battle of the Twins event. In October of the same year, Gene Church began a love affair with the same machine when he rode it triumphantly in the BoT finals, also held at Daytona.
The Hammer represented one of those bouts of enthusiasm and expertise with the big twin that were often typical of Harley-Davidson. The germ of the project began when Dave McClure rode a prototype XR1000 street bike at Daytona the previous autumn, which suggested that a full-on racer project might succeed. Once race-boss Dick O'Brien got the go-ahead to build what would become the Springsteen machine, he set his hand-picked team into action. Engine work was put in the hands of Don Habermehl, while racing legend Carroll Resweber (four times AMA champion for Harley, 1958 to 1961) put his considerable talents into the chassis, and Peter Zylstra oversaw the design. To some extent, the machine was also a test-bed and publicity statement for the XR1000 roadster unveiled at the same Daytona meeting, another project which very much carried the O'Brien imprint. The engine consisted of a modified competition XR750 bottom end and light alloy heads mated to iron Sportster barrels. Twin 42mm smoothbore Mikuni carburettors took care of induction, feeding exotic 110 octane aviation fuel-for nothing less would handle the engine's giddy 10.5:1 compression ratio. To improve combustion, each cylinder boasted twin spark plugs, fired by a total-loss racing ignition system. In dyno tests, this device had put out a brutal 106bhp at 7,500rpm, but fears about reliability caused Habermehl to impose a rev ceiling of 7,000rpm, at which point the big twin was pumping out 104bhp. Since even this equated to a dizzying mean piston speed of 4,430 ft/min (l,350m/min), the precaution must have been wise. Not only was power prodigious but the spread was enormous, too, coming in strongly by 4,000rpm. A four-speed gearbox was more than adequate. Resweber's chassis employed the very XR750 frame comprehensively crashed by then-AMA champion Mark Brelsford at Daytona fully ten years before the Hammer's 1983 win. The basic single spine and twin tube cradle was heavily reworked with extra gussets and bracing, mated to an all-new box-section swing-arm. The rest was essentially an Italian affair: front suspension was in the hands of a pair of 1.57in (40mm) Forcelli Italia forks, with twin Fox gas shock absorbers at the rear. Brembo supplied the brakes: twin 11.8in (300mm) floating-front disc brakes, with a 9.8in (250mm) disc at the rear. These ran on Campagnolo magnesium wheels, 16in (406mm) front wheel, 18in (457mm) rear, both shod with Goodyear racing slick tyres. Dry weight was a remarkably lean 2851bs (130kg) and top speed an even more impressive 158mph (254kph). After its winning Daytona debut, Gene Church went on to take the HOG-sponsored Hammer to three AMA Battle of the Twins titles.
All of this success was not really too bad for a bike that began its life as a ten-year-old scrap!
Engine: ohv V-twin
Capacity: 60.9cu in (998cc) Transmission: 4-speed Power: 104bhp Weight: 2861bs (130kg)
Wheelbase: 56in (1,420mm) Top speed: 158mph (254kph)
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