Red Baron Choppers: Charly's Revenge

Written by  Story by Sedrick C. Mitchell and Buck Manning, Photos by Max Trono Thursday, 05 November 2009 22:10
Published in Ultra Customs
Before the Evolution engine arrived, I always wanted to buy a new Harley but I could never get past the Shovelhead’s leaking problems. I remember walking into several dealerships and getting the same answer about the oil puddle underneath those new motorcycles sitting on the showroom floor, “If it doesn’t leak oil, then it’s not a Harley.” When Milwaukee designed and developed the Evo, they created an engine that played a tremendous role in saving Harley-Davidson, which was then on the verge of bankruptcy. The development of this new engine, along with the heavy temporary tariff that the Ronald Reagan administration imposed on the importation of Japanese motorcycles over 700cc to the USA, caused sales at the Motor Company to soar. It’s amazing how things can change for the better with a little assistance from the government and the development of a motor that is not only very reliable, but was now quite oil tight. Even though Harley uses the new Twin Cam in their current big block production models, a brand new Evo engine can still be purchased at your local Harley dealership. When I see the large number of custom builders using a new Evo powerplant for their creations, it makes me wonder if the Twin Cam engines were really necessary…Hmmm.


Breaking the normality zone is one of the common factors in determining the differences between average custom builders and those who are pure geniuses. When Charly Grégoire of Red Baron Custom Motorcycles in Liemeux, Belgium, turned an Evo 90° from normal and hooked it up to a BMW transmission and shaft-drive in his latest custom, he continued a long tradition of mixing and matching machinery to create a one-of-a-kind motorcycle. The Revenge bike clearly puts Charly in the latter category; the end result is as different as the builder himself.

Revenge’s motor is a stock-size 80-incher, but with performance modifications done by RBC. Internally, a set of Wiseco pistons compresses the mixture from the Keihin carb which is mounted in front of the engine and breathes through a RBC air cleaner. The Moto Guzzi-style engine placement prompted Charly to design an unusually crafty handmade exhaust. The pipes have more twists and turns than a road over the Alps before dumping out over and under what appears to be a swingarm. But that’s not what makes this bike special; it’s RBC’s mating of the twisted Evo to a BMW R/75 4-speed transmission and shaft-drive. Beautifully integrated and looking like it was made to be connected to an Evo in the first place, Charly did a fine job of engineering these Bavarian pieces into his design. The unusual kick-only setup now starts by pushing the left-side lever down and away from the engine.

A curvaceous RBC rigid frame gives this unusual engine/tranny combo a home. The beefy tubes are covered in RBC bodywork which includes the gas tank which flows into the engine’s heads. The seat/fender unit doesn’t look particularly comfy with its surfeit of padding, but it sure is pretty with its nicely integrated taillight. The front fender, which thinks it’s a fork brace, is mounted between a set of short, pointy RBC forks. Keeping it simple are laced wheels, with high-shoulder alloy rims, mounting a set of wild RBC perimeter brakes with wonderfully complicated calipers clamping down on them. Apparently Charly isn’t into the fat tire craze as Revenge sports Old School-sized rubber.

One has to be careful around Revenge as the pointed theme used throughout the bike has plenty of items to seriously poke you with. For instance, the pointy RBC internal hand controls on clip-on style bars are definitely up to the task. The unusual brake and clutch lever mounting suggests yesteryear European design while the rear-set foot controls put the rider in a pseudo-sportbike position, nothing laid back about this bike. Oh, watch out for the headlight too, it could jab you with that sharp beak separating the dual beams.

Finally, the finish is something that is quite different as Revenge does not have one drop of paint on it. The finish is highly polished metal and aluminum, which provides an all chrome-like appearance and required hours of dirty work. Since every part is made of some type of metal, except for the tires and the glass portion of the headlight, Charly’s polishing fingers must still be hurting.

Builder: Charles Grégoire, Red Baron Choppers

In Europe, Charles Grégoire, known as Charly the Red Baron, of Red Baron Choppers, has been building custom motorcycles for a little over five years. He hails from the city of Liernieux, Belgium, and has earned the reputation as the builder with two golden hands, because every bike project he touches is a show winner.

Charly is one of those builders who is fun to be around. He’s approachable and can hold an honest conversation with anybody, unlike many bike builders today that will quickly charge an arm and leg just to shake the only remaining hand of a combat veteran returning from the Iraqi War. Charly enjoys his work and it’s not all about money, he was and always will be a bike builder first.

When asked why he got into the bike building profession he replied, “Because I didn’t have the money to buy the catalog parts I admired, so I decided to start making my own.” Charly runs a truly one-man operation with occasional help from other builders and friends, such as Jimmy of HBS, whenever the building process requires more than those two golden hands.

Currently, RBC builds a maximum of three custom bikes per year, plus Charly does lots of work for other bike builders as well. His bikes are built to ride and they are built for reliability. RBC prices start around $50,000, depending on a customer’s budget and the desired results.

This bike feature originally appeared in Barnett's Magazine issue #51, October 2006.

Bike Name: Revenge
Owner: Charles Gregoire / Red Baron Choppers
Year / Make: 2005 Sculpted Metal
Fabrication / Assembly: Red Baron Choppers
Build time: 4,000 hours
Engine: 80" H-D Evo
Cases: H-D
Flywheels: H-D
H-D Rods:
Pistons: Wiseco
Cylinders: H-D / RBC
Heads: H-D / RBC
Cam: Andrews
Ignition: H-D
Carb: Keihin
Pipes: RBC
Air Cleaner: RBC
Transmission: BMW R/75 4-speed with kicker
Primary: RBC
Clutch: BMW / RBC
Frame: 2002 RBC
Rake: 38 degrees
Forks: RBC
Front Wheel: 1.85 X 18 laced Akront rim
Rear Wheel: 3.5 X 16 laced Borrani rim
Front Tire: 80/80 X 18
Rear Tire: 130/90 X 16
Front Brakes: RBC perimeter
Rear Brakes: RBC perimeter
Fuel Tank: RBC
Oil Tank: RBC
Fenders: RBC
Handlebars: RBC
Headlight: RBC
Taillight: RBC
Hand Controls: RBC
Foot Controls: RBC
Painter: Mother Nature / RBC
Color: Mother Nature
Polishing: RBC
Seat: RBC
Special thanks to: Jimmy of HBS Custom Motorcycles

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