It is one of the most iconic bikes in movie history, images of Dennis Hopper riding his Captain America motorcycle in Easy Rider became a slice of late-60s big screen folklore.
And now a Blackpool-based motorbike firm is set to become part of the legend.
For AR Harley and Sons, based on Gorton Street, in the resort, have been tasked with building an exact replica of the famous bike. Staff were stunned when they were contacted around nine months ago by a man from Switzerland, who wanted them to create an exact likeness for him.
The customer, who has not been identified, spotted the firm online through their website – harleycustom.co.uk – and got in touch.
Nick Isles, sales manager at AR Harley and Sons, admitted it had been a “nightmare” to source all the necessary parts to recreate the bike - but believes the finished article will be worth it. He said: “It is unusual for us because it’s a chopper, we don’t usually deal with these bikes.
“For me it is great to see all the hard work finally coming together and to be part of building such an iconic motorcycle. I want to be there at the handover in Switzerland to see the customer’s face.”
It has been assembled using parts from all over Europe and the US and, months on, the company is now nearing completion, hoping to be finished by the end of the week, with just the engine waiting to be fitted. The bike will then be shipped to Switzerland to serve as a collector’s item, so it is not being built with the purpose of being ridden. “He can ride it if he wants, but he’d only make it to the next petrol station,” added Nick.
The Swiss customer will be paying in the region of £25,000 for the bike, the original of which first wowed cinema audiences in 1969 when it appeared on the big screen.
Chief mechanic Tim Pascoe said: “Creating a motorcycle from a pile of bits and producing something that is fully functional and a pleasure to ride is the main incentive. Years of experience make it a pleasure to build. For a 60s-style bike, the interesting part is to get it through the modern SVA [Single Vehicle Approval standard] for road use.”
Easy Rider tells the story of two bikers who travel through the American South West. It explores the issues and tensions in the United States in the 1960s, such as the rise and fall of the hippie movement, communal lifestyle and drugs.
Many replicas of the bike have been built since the film’s release.
AR Harley and Sons has been online for 13 years; the shop on Gorton Street has been open for two and a half.