Sweden Sporty

Article And Photos By: Grizzly

Originally Published In The June 2o13 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

June '13 Kerri Feature 3a

A few months ago, we happened to be in the south of Sweden which was a good reason to go look for a traditional Swedish chopper to photograph. Despite numerous phone calls, we couldn’t find one. Back in Holland however, we did. It was in the early eighties when I first saw a true Swedish chopper. The thing came blasting by, and left an everlasting impression. In Sweden, the local bikers created a style of chopper that was totally different from anything you saw anywhere else. They were long bikes built around a hardtail frame with more rake than stretch, with twenty inch over forks or longer, raked triple trees, tiller handlebars, homemade rear wheels with fat car tires and A small skinny 17” front wheels. The Swedes loved to hide the wiring and even all the nuts and bolts, making the bike look as clean and uncluttered as possible. Paint jobs were often simple, and chrome was barely used. The seats were as minimalistic as could be. In short, their bikes looked like they were from another planet. Today the Swedes, and also bikers from Finland and Norway for that matter, still build the most awesome scooters, but that traditional Swede with the car tire in the back is slowly disappearing from the streets. They can be found in Scandinavia, make no mistake about that, but they are b e c omi n g rare. Maybe there are more traditional Swedish chops to be found outside the country, like the one from Michel from Holland, than in the actual country itself.

Michel is a 33 year old cat who owns a small shop called MnM Design in Vollenhove. He is too young to actually have the same experience I had seeing hundreds of Swedish choppers all at the same time at the parties in the far north. But he did drool over them in the magazines. “I just love the look of these old skool long bikes,” says Michel. “The simplicity; the almost industrial feel these bikes have and the fact they were built for travelling long stretches of tarmac: wow! On a traditional Swede you can ride forever. With your hands on the tiller bars, your back against the luggage and your feet on the forward controls, it feels like sitting i n a comfy chair. The look is almost lazy. No concerns, just you and the road.” The young chopper builder is right. Swedish chopper riders were, and some still are, travellers. In the eighties, hundreds of them escaped the cold of their country to ride to the warmth of the South of France or Spain, Italy or Turkey. I remember being passed on the highway by a bunch of fully packed Swedish long bikes several times: an awesome sight. Some years ago, Michel bought an old early Shovel chopper and directly saw the potential of turning it into the bike of his dreams; a bike resembling the old ‘Swedes.’

June '13 Kerri Feature 3b

“First of all, the bike had to look ultra clean. So the rear fender was strengthened and welded onto the frame,” Michel explained. “Maybe a sissybar would have been better for taking luggage, but I wanted everything to look uncluttered. That’s also why I handmade the oil tank. I wanted it to follow the lines of the frame perfectly, and did not want any visual mounting. I also decided to curve the rear sides following the radius of the fender, just like the Swedes made them in the old days. I chopped the Sporty gas tank, and again I wanted no visible mounting. I made a new tunnel and bottom, moved the gas cap up, lowered the petcock and narrowed the tank in the rear to make it flow better into the frame. The car tire might not be so good for cornering, in Sweden you have long straight roads like in the States, but I just love the look and a traditional Swede without a car tire just ain’t it. A little less air in the tire makes up for the bumpy ride a hardtail normally gives you.

The size of the wheel is a small 15 incher and has a widened Volkswagen rim. I don’t like the small skinny front wheels the Swedes used. I prefer a 21 inch front; it looks way better. The handlebars on my early Shovel, tiller bars the Swedes call them, were also made by me. They exactly follow the lines of the modified gas tank. I was lucky that the chop already sported the star hub wheels with the original HD drum brakes. The triple trees are made for a Harley sidecar and are therefore adjustable. I put some rake in the trees to make the bike trail normally, despite the sixteen inch over frontend. The early Shovel motor is just the tits and it looks even better with the two throath S&S I mounted. And to top it all off, I just had to have a suicide clutch with a jockey shift. I had the bike painted black, this way all attention goes to the lines. This bike does not need a flashy paint job, I think.” Michel’s chopper comes very close to the traditional Swedish choppers I was looking for. However, I will try to find a prime example in the land of origin in the near future as well. They must still be there, I am certain about that.

June '13 Kerri Feature 3c

Sweden Sporty Tech Sheet

Owner: Michel / MNM Design

City: Holland

Fabrication By: MNM

Year: 2011

Model: Traditional Swede

Time: 2 Months


Year: 1966

Model: Early Shovel

Builder: H-D / MNM

Ignition: Points

Displacement: 1340cc

Pistons: OEM Harley

Heads: Stock

Cam(s): Stock

Carb: S&S Two Throath

Air Cleaner: S&S Two Throath

Exhaust: Short Upswept

Primary: 3” Belt


Year: 1966

Make: H-D

Shifting: Close Ratio Jockey


Year: 1966

Make: Paughco

Rake: A Lot

Stretch: 4 inches


Type: Hydra Glide

Builder: H-D / Forking by Frank

Extension: 16” Overstock

Triple Trees: H-D Adjustable Sidecar


Front Wheel: Hydra Starhub

Size: 21”

Tire: Avon Speedmaster

Brakes: Hydra Drum Brake

Rear Wheel: H-D / Volkswagen Starhub

Size: 15”

Tire: Firestone Car Tire

Brakes: Mechanical Drum


Painter: Alex Bruintjes

Color: Black


Graphics: None

Molding: Michel


Bars: MNM Tillerbars

Risers: None

Hand Controls: Aftermarket

Gas Tank(s): Modified Sporty

Front fender: Tape When It Rains

Rear fender: Self Supporting / MNM

Seat: Pan

Foot Controls: H-D / MNM / Aftermarket

Oil Tank: MNM Designs

Taillight: Cat Eye

Headlight: Bates


Photographer: Grizzly

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