What comes to mind when you think of a customized motorcycle? Flashy paint, high handlebars, lots of chrome? Some bikes are not customized with looks in mind, though. Some, like the Magnum built by Randy Smith, are built to defy convention and customized for performance.
Randy Smith began riding motorcycles in 1947 when he was fifteen years old. After jumping on his first Harley in 1950, he became a devout fan of the brand, becoming one of the first designers and manufacturers of custom Harley-Davidson after-market products.
A masterful mechanical design engineer, Smith delighted in creating "goodies" for factory bikes and crafting "cut-downs, bobbers, and gow jobs," custom motorcycles that delivered unique performance capabilities, often through combinations of unlikely parts. He and his company, Custom Cycle Engineering, helped shape the engineering and testing standards for the custom motorcycle industry today.
The 45 Magnum represents Randy Smith’s unique response to an age-old engineering challenge of acceleration: how to increase horsepower in a lightweight machine.
At the time the Magnum was conceived, the Sportster model was popular among racers, setting the streamliner record in 1970. Smith wanted to engineer a bike that was lighter and faster than the Sportster, and rugged and reliable enough to be safe and street legal. Several modifications and tests later, the end result was a bike that weighed less than 320 lbs (Smith claimed 203 lbs) and hit 106 mph in a quarter-mile drag race.
To achieve reliable performance in the 45 Magnum with such an unlikely marriage of parts, Smith made several modifications to the bike's engine, transmission, frame, and brakes. The heart of the project is the engine, a careful melding of a 1941 WR 45ci Flathead with a modified Sportster 55ci OHV top end.
Smith custom-designed parts such as "Super High Strength Studs" to hold engine cylinders in place, and modified the 45 frame, including the addition of a Ceriani racing forks and brakes. And just for fun, he converted a welding mask into a windshield.
Randy Smith was a colorful character and a talented mechanic. We are happy to display one of his creations in the Museum as an example of creativity in customization.