Builder's Choice: A Best-of-Everything Street-Tracker

Written by  Story and Photos by David Edwards Sunday, 19 March 2017 06:00
Published in Racers
It just didn’t seem right. Richard Pollock was churning out exquisite street-trackers for customers around the world but he didn’t have one of his own. What he needed was a two-wheeled calling card for his company, Mule Motorcycles, a best-of-everything build that could be used at shows to entice buyers, or by himself to blow off a little steam on Sunday-morning backroad rides. All went according to plan until...well, let’s just say Richard still doesn’t have his own street-tracker!

Parts-gathering for the project started off well. Pollock does some work for Sundance Enterprises, a Japanese speed shop specializing in Sportsters. As a surprise they presented him with one of their fully built “Super XR” motors, including cylinders and heads specially cast to Sundance’s specifications. Richard, appreciative of the gesture, says, “Oh, they buffed me out good, really took care of me.” Such a special motor deserved an equally impressive home, so Richard contacted famed frame-makers C&J. They came up with a single-shock design employing a cantilevered damper mounted high on the left side of the frame.

Because Pollock’s hopped-up engine needed all the help it could get keeping cool, the frame’s backbone, a sheeted-in structure that also serves as the oil tank, was made bigger than usual. Suspension is top-shelf stuff. A Penske shock capably controls the movement of C&J’s braced swingarm. Up front, a low-miles Ducati 916 gave up its inverted forks for the cause. The tubes are mounted in a set of Pollock’s billet-aluminum triple-clamps complete with Mule logo CNC’d into the lower clamp. Partly as homage to the Sportster family and partly because it’s a simple, elegant design, Richard likes to fit a small Sporty headlight and its signature “eyebrow” to his Harley-Davidson street-trackers. Completing the front end is another Pollock-preferred item, a four-piston Brembo Goldline brake caliper, in this case gripping a Kosman rotor. Special motor, special chassis, special wheels. Pollock’s bike would roll a set of reproduction Morris wheels cast in magnesium—yep, real mags. This was another Sundance project but only a few sets were ever made, the market for 19-inch rims costing $3,500 per pair not exactly huge.

With all these trick parts in orbit, it was now time for assembly, which is where we come to a screeching halt. You know the old carpenter’s adage about measuring twice, cutting once? Yeah, well, when Richard went to put his Sundance engine with its taller-than-stock top end into his C&J frame with its bigger-than-usual oil tank, guess what? It didn’t fit. Nor could it be persuaded to fit without major surgery.

By this time other, paying projects were backing up in the shop. Reluctantly, Richard put the motor on a shelf in his storage shed. Another frame would be ordered, this time with the correct dimensions, but meantime the original C&J cage and all that neat running gear was offered for sale. It didn’t take long for a buyer in New York City to snap up the frame and unassembled parts. Here is where our story takes turn for the tragic. After sourcing a 1203cc Buell V-twin for the project—same basic architecture as a Sportster motor but no need for additional hot-rodding—the new buyer was diagnosed with a rare form of eye cancer. Luckily, experimental treatment was effective but it left him with impaired vision. He could no longer work on the bike. Would Richard take it back and finish the assembly, he asked.

Of course, Pollock agreed, and so the bike that was once his was once again in his shop. Almost a year later with work almost complete, another bad-news phone call from NYC. Now the owner was going through a divorce and his business was hurting. Sadly, the bike would have to be sold; did Richard know anybody who might be interested?

Jack Finegan, a retired design engineer at General Motors, an old flat-tracker and twice a competitor at the famous Catalina Grand Prix, was way more than merely interested when he saw the bike for sale on Mule’s website. “I’ve always wanted a Harley, but big, heavy cruisers just don’t speak to me,” says the 75-year-old. “This street-tracker, it really talked.” Weather permitting, Jack exercises the bike two or three times a month; in fact, look closely at the photos and you’ll see some bug specks. It had just returned from a 130-mile ride at The Quail Motorcycle Gathering before being entered in the event’s concours d’elegance.

Pollock understands the bike’s appeal, saying, “It’s got all the good stuff: C&J frame, Buell motor, 916 front end, Sundance wheels. Plus it’s simple and classy-looking, black with gold wheels, not overdone. It’s bitchin’.” In fact, of all the street-trackers he has crafted over the years, this one may just be Richard’s favorite. Until, that is, he gets around to building his own. Again. BM

Up Close: Smokin’ Pipe Mule’s Confederate connection

Street-trackers are pretty simple beasts. A motor, two wheels, gas tank, and a place to sit, not much else. The signature item on the bike tends to be the exhaust system, where the builder can show some creativity. Which is just what Richard Pollock has done here—with a little unintended help from Barnett’s.

Rather than go with his usual 2-into-2 downswept setup terminating in a pair of megaphones, Richard opted for a twisting, turning mid-level 2-into-1 arrangement capped with an aluminum canister. It’s not quite the “bundle of snakes” seen on old Can-Am V-8 sports cars, but it definitely is racy-looking, especially with the many welds left unground for that “comp shop” feel.

“A 2-into-1 actually runs better than individual pipes,” Richard says. “I also did something different in that I ceramic-coated the pipes gray. It’s a weird color, almost titanium that seems to change color where the pipes bend. Now two or three guys I’m building bikes for want it too.”

Oh, yeah, the assist from Barnett’s? You should know that Pollock never throws anything away, so when he was commissioned by Mark Barnett to turn his Confederate Wildcat into a jumbo street-tracker, one of the many (many!) stock items taken off the bike was its exhaust system, including the muffler, a cylindrical aluminum tube with riveted end caps, very much in the aftermarket sportbike mold.

When Richard, quite literally, needed a capper for his snaky exhaust, a quick rummage in the parts bin came up with the Confederate canister. Think of it as advanced recycling.

Owner:  Jack Finegan
Year/Make: 2009
Fabrication/Assembly: Mule Motorcycle
Build time: 14-months
Engines: Buell M-2 Cyclone
Cases: Buell
Rods/Pistons: Buell
Cylinders/Heads: Buell
Cam:  Buell
Ignition: Crane Hi-4
Carb: Buell/Keihin 41mm
Pipes: Mule/ceramic coated by EMBEE
Air Cleaner K&N w/reworked ForceWinder intake tube
Transmission: Buell
Primary/Clutch: Buell
Frame: C&J style monoshock built by Matt Bryant 
Rake: 25-degrees
Forks: Ducati 916
Front Wheel: Sundance Magnesium 2.75 x 19"
Rear Wheel: Sundance Magnesium 3.50 x 19"
Front tire: Maxxis 27.0 x 7.0"
Rear tire: 27.5 x 7.5"
Front Brake: Brembo 4-piston caliper, Kosman rotor
Rear Brake: Brembo 2-piston caliper, custom hanger, turned/thinned Sportster rotor
Fuel Tanks: Racetec aluminum XR-750 style, stretched 2.5"
Oil Tank: In-frame
Fenders: First Klass Glass Tailsection
Handlebars: AFAM
Hand Controls: Buell clutch, Nissin brake, Motion Pro throttle
Grips: Renthal superbike-style
Foot Controls: Mule
Pegs: Mule w/Bates rubbers
Headlight: Sportster
Taillight: K&L
Graphic: Dennis Wells
Painter: Blake Conway
Color: Black
Powdercoating: R.W. Little Powdercoating
Polishing: Exclusive Polishing of San Diego
Electrical: Wiring by Mule
Seat: Abe Ramos
Special thanks to:: Franklins' Industries (machine work), Exclusive Polishing, Dennis Wells, Mike Irvin, Jack Finegan

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