Samurai Style Harleys Made In Switzerland By Bächli Harley-Heaven

1samurai1bissamurai2samurai144samurai122samurai244samurai133samuraiTwenty five years ago, who could have imagined that the Japanese way of customizing v-twin motorcycles would strongly influence the worldwide custom motorcycle scene? Zero engineering, established in 1992 in Okazaki, Japan can be credited for exporting throughout the world their uncompromising style, beauty and details. A vintage style with minimum parts, little or no chrome, on bikes set up low to the ground, most of the time built on a rigid gooseneck frame with a Springer front end, usually featuring a small gas tank, and a pair of fat tires (4.50 to 5” wide) on wheels rarely exceeding 18” in the front and 16” in the rear.

27samurai26samurai9samurai10samuraiThe “Zero Samurai” style has been nicely re-interpreted by some custom builders, but has never been successfully duplicated as a production bike. The reason is manufacturing cost.  Zero Engineering is backed by owner PLOT, one of the largest names in the motorcycle industry in Japan, who has invested 2 years of research and development to create the models 5, 6 and 9, this one featuring a very unique and reliable patented 4-link rear suspension system.

19samurai23samuraiRainer Bächli, owner of official Harley-Davidson dealer Bächli Harley-Heaven in Zurich knows a lot about the Zero Samurai Choppers. He is a distributor, sells quite a lot in Switzerland, customize and maintain them. More orders that what can be filled by Zero Engineering because each of their 4 models is a yearly limited edition (about 25) built by hand, most often personalized on client requests (for ex. S&S engine model and size, gas tank capacity, custom seat, custom paint, etc) Hence the idea to offer Harley-Heaven’s clients the Samurai design applied to Harley-Davidson factory models. Of course, it means forgetting about the famous Zero rigid gooseneck frame, but for the rest staying very close to the original vintage Japanese style.

111samurai1555samuraiAnd to get started, when available, Rainer Baechli has a slight preference for the Harley Backline (a Softail model discontinued in 2014) because of visual elements of the original bobber movement. But the Fat Boy Slim, also conceived by Harley with a raw minimalistic 1940s bobber styling, could also be used as an ideal platform. As a matter of fact the Samurai treatment could be given to many Harley models, starting with the Sportster… (my opinion)

20samuraiFitting a Springer front end with a very low installed headlight, replacing the factory gas tank with a minimum fuel peanut size one, mounting a pair of 5×16” wheels, attaching a very narrow rear fender bolted or welded to the swingarm to keep it close to the tire and have it move with the wheel, spring-mounting a solo seat and having traditional Japanese art (rising sun flag included) air brushed all over is the recipe to dress your bike like a proud Japanese Japanese road warrior. And you still retain most of the modern elements and handling of a factory Harley.

28samuraiA makeover that Bächli Harley-Heaven is able to provide to his clients (depending of complexity of paint job) in about 4 weeks. Can’t wait to see who in the US is going to build the best “Harley to Samurai Chopper” conversion. (photography Horst Roesler for Cyril Huze)

Name. Swiss Samurai
Builder. Harley-Heaven Bächli AG
Year. 2015
Time. 4 Weeks
Model. H-D FXS 2011
Engine. H_D
Carburetor. EFI, Stock HD, with Sportster Fuel Pump
Air Filter. Vintage Iron Parts Hot Rod
Ignition. Stock HD / Single Fire
Exhaust. BSL Hot Shot Pipes for Bächli
Transmission. HD
Shocks. HD.
Front End. Springer from W&W Cycles
Front & rear Wheel. 5.00 x 16 Spoke Wheel, Spoke.
Tires. Both 16 Avon MK2
Rotors. W&W Cycles
Brakes & Calipers. Stock H-D.
Riser: CCE Shorty Riser
Bars. CCE Drag Bar
Mirrors. W&W cycles
Grips. H-D stock
Gas Tank/Gas. W&W Cycles, modified by Bächli Harley-Davidson,
Fuel Cap. Tolle
Seat. Bächli Harley-Davidson
Oil Tank. Stock H-D.HW&W Cycles, Bullet Taillight
Turn Signals & Taillight. W&W Cycles
Mini Speedo. Moto Gadget
Paint. Concept by Rainer Baechli
Painter. Airtec Design

18 Responses to “Samurai Style Harleys Made In Switzerland By Bächli Harley-Heaven”

  1. 1 Patrick Nov 30th, 2015 at 9:00 am


  2. 2 Drake Nov 30th, 2015 at 9:16 am

    Today, I m Japanese.

  3. 3 P. Hamilton Nov 30th, 2015 at 9:18 am

    Well done.

  4. 4 Sergio Bastos Nov 30th, 2015 at 9:28 am

    Great design! Well done.

  5. 5 Frankie Nov 30th, 2015 at 9:31 am

    The Japanese revenge on Harley.

  6. 6 FlyingPiston Nov 30th, 2015 at 9:45 am

    This is a nice looking bike for sure and some nice elements of a Samurai for sure. Also agreed, it will be interesting to see if a US or any manufacturer offers a conversion kit for a modern HD for the home jobber. But the Goose-neck frame you mention in your article is really key to achieving the stance of a Samurai that needs to have a frame with the neck sitting further out but not further up and often a bit more rake (as in the background bike in your pics). If they cannot offer this than I think those that are attracted to the Samurai style will not be able to get on board. Of course there are plenty of bolt/weld on hardtails already so who knows if anyone is going to try to offer a goose-neck kit? My guess is it depends on how much success Zero continues to have?

  7. 7 Tom Ryan Nov 30th, 2015 at 11:37 am

    If you check their website you’ll see these guy’s make some pretty nice custom bikes overall too. They also have a great looking shop and it would make for a nice destination point if you ever decide to take a little trip to Switzerland.

  8. 8 Woody's Nov 30th, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    Nice looking bike, but I’m afraid I don’t feel the love for a Swiss company putting a Japanese war flag on a US bike. Wonder how they’d feel about a US company putting swastikas on bars of Swiss chocolate?

  9. 9 Scott King Nov 30th, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    Beautiful bikes. I believe the Japanese navy uses the same flag today.

  10. 10 nicker Nov 30th, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    Traditional looking …. no surprises.


  11. 11 Bruno Nov 30th, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    Japanese or not, I like this style

  12. 12 Blackmax Nov 30th, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    I like what Frankie said !!!!
    But a good looking, well running bike
    is a beautiful thing to behold !!!
    No matter where it comes from,
    Europe, Pacific rim good ol’ US of A

  13. 13 Sharkey Nov 30th, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    I really like this style; not as gaudy or cartoonish as some current trends and the bikes do look rideable

  14. 14 Seymour Nov 30th, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    no i’m sorry. come back 10 years ago.

  15. 15 James just another crazy kiwi Dec 1st, 2015 at 2:26 am

    Detailed minimalism …………………

  16. 16 baddad Dec 1st, 2015 at 7:07 am
  17. 17 SIGFREED Dec 1st, 2015 at 8:04 am

    LOOK MOM, I’M BIG IN JAPAN.., oops I mean Zurich…

    It looks very nice – guet gschaffe!

    HD Softail based (cheap early model specifically) builds are the current flavor and there is nothing wrong with it. Before you sell your ol’ Softy rathre take it to a good shop for a quote on something special – it may just end up being worth more versus a new thing.

    PS – not keen on the tires – but an easy ‘fix’.

  18. 18 Chris Dec 3rd, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    This whole deal stinks. The dealer is a distributor of the Zero bike. His client can’t keep him stocked so he makes a less expensive knock-off of his client’s product.

    That’s capitalism I guess and when supply can’t meet demand the market will usually correct itself. I don’t know that if I were Zero I’d be too happy about this.

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Cyril Huze