In custom bike building circles, Roger Goldammer’s name is synonymous with quality workman-ship and artistic genius throughout Canada, and the rest of the world for that matter. Goldammer, who owns Goldammer Cycle Works (www.goldammercycle.com), hails from the Kelowna area in the interior of British Columbia, has a long string of international awards including winning the World Championship of Bike Building in 2004 with his bike ‘BTR3’, and again winning the ‘World’s in 2005 with his green single-cylinder creation ‘Trouble’. Goldammer also broke a land speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats during an episode of Discovery Channel’s Biker Build-off in which Goldammer beat Matt Hotch. On top of his many accolades, a good number of the world’s top custom bikes also sport one of Goldammer’s distinctive G-Force Component Front Ends, arguably one of the sexiest front ends on the market and I’ve been told by countless builders, the best working front end available anywhere.
I met up with Goldammer at the Canadian Championship of Bike Building this summer in Alberta. He has to be one of the nicest, most modest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Although many have called him a genius in his field, he is very open with his knowledge. He shares his information freely in a way that the layman can understand; usually. Sometimes even other bike and engine builders get lost when Goldammer explains what he has done to one of his bikes.
Accompanying Goldammer at the Championship was his long time friend, Bert. Goldammer’s career began shortly after leaving high school when he apprenticed under Bert at his machine shop. Now the tables have turned as Bert works part-time with Goldammer. “It’s hard to convey my thoughts to someone else because they are all in my head but I can give Bert a machining job and I know it will be done right,” Goldammer said.
Goldammer has always had a love for all types of motorcycles but especially British bikes and the shining example on these pages is Goldammer’s way of incorporating traditional design with modern concepts and technology. His very first build was a 1968 BSA Lightning that came to him as a basket case. It’s because of his love of British steel, or more accurately, the Norton Manx, that Nortorious was created. “I consider the Norton Manx as the blueprint to today’s sport bikes as we know them today. The geometry, power-to-weight ratio and balance, they were just a marvelous little bike. The bikes were made for racing and they still dominate vintage racing. I also have a fondness for single cylinders from riding dirt bikes more than anything else”. It’s obvious this bike takes styling cues from the Norton Manx, albeit with a little more aggressive stance.
For many years Goldammer has shunned conformity. He prefers to do things his way, in fact, he is influenced by what he likes of course, but possibly even more so of what he doesn’t like. Goldammer says, “A lot of people today go for the shock factor – longer, heavier, lower, wider, crazier, pointier, using treadmills for belt drives or tires that are a foot and a half wide. When I see that, I go the other way. This bike is the ‘alter-ego’ of those bikes”.
Goldammer has never backed down from a challenge and it’s a good thing because when everyone else is zigging and you want to zag, you have to be creative. There were many trials and tribulations going on with this bike that remain unknown until he starts to explain them. Goldammer learned a lot from his second World Championship winning bike, ‘Trouble’, which was his first single-cylinder experiment. Just to clarify, or confuse, the engine is actually a single-cylinder V-twin. In the case of ‘Trouble’, Goldammer first lopped off the rear cylinder and mounted in its place a belt-driven Supercharger; fuel was fed by a carburetor.
Goldammer has since advanced past the rudimentary world of carburetors to the unknown world of a closed-loop fuel injection system on a supercharged V-twin single-cylinder. While the differences are huge between carbureted and fuel injection, some very valuable lessons were learned. One such lesson was the huge gulps of air that a big single cylinder needs, especially once the boost ‘kicks in’. Although ‘Trouble’ ran fine with big horsepower, it didn’t have much of an air plenum or reserve air chamber. In the case of ‘Nortorious’, he knew he needed to make a huge change in the air/fuel intake design.
To accomplish this, Goldammer once again lopped off the rear cylinder from the Merch cases but not the rear cylinder head. In order to have enough of an air plenum, he chose to have the intake on the front of the engine and still mount his supercharger on the rear. That means fitting the rear cylinder head on the massive front cylinder and running his ductwork over the engine and under the fuel tank. The master builder has a long history of engine building and is always looking for a challenge, so in order for the reversed valves to work, he made and indexed his own camshaft.
Another hurdle for Goldammer to overcome was the fuel injection. He said, “A stock Harley runs a 38 pound fuel injector but I used a performance injector that runs at 47 pounds. When I had it on the dyno, I found it was running lean at 5000 rpm. That’s because boost from the Rotrex Supercharger counteracts fuel pressure so I had a 69 pound injector specially made for this application”. Goldammer used a Thunder Heart ECM and also has Dobec ECM under the hood that kicks in when the engine is under boost. Once Goldammer finished the programming, his V-twin 965 cc single cylinder produces an amazing 83 horsepower. “I could probably get a bit more out of it but I’m happy with that, considering a stock Twin Cam gets around 63 horsepower with two cylinders”.
Notice too, that the engine is rotated back 15 degrees and the 6-speed transmission is closer to the engine to allow for a shorter frame and keeping the traditional vertical British single look. The frame was basically built around the engine to keep it compact.
The massive front and rear brake drums are hand-made by the master craftsman and do an impressive job of adding to the look of a vintage British racer. Inside those drums, however, are modern discs and calipers.
The fuel tanks and fenders are hand pounded and welded which is nothing strange in a custom bike, but what sets these body pieces apart from the usual is that they are not painted, merely clear coated. With no bondo hiding imperfections, no ripples and no sign of welding, these body panels are truly a work of art in themselves.
Goldammer, being a true craftsman, but also being very practical, does not show one of his creations until it is perfect. To lay testament to this, Goldammer threw a leg over the seat, turned on the ignition and hit the starter button. No rigmarole, no special starting rituals, no praying to the custom gods. The instant the engine roared to life, Goldammer toed the shift lever into first and took off without any fanfare. The engine has a unique sound, unlike anything I have ever heard before. ‘Nortorious’ is a very rideable motorcycle as was evident when Goldammer tore up a dirt horseracing track at the Olds Fairgrounds in Alberta during the Canadian Championship of Bike Building. Goldammer won the Canadian Championship and will be on his way to Sturgis this year as Canada’s entry along with last year’s winner, Cycle Boyz Customs.
The craftsmanship is top-notch in all of his bikes but the technology in each one far exceeds his previous build. Goldammer, proud of his ‘different from the norm’ creation said, “The neat part for me is this bike is being featured in numerous publications, all the way from The Horse to The Robb Report”. That is quite an achievement for one motorcycle.
If all goes well, Goldammer will be unveiling the newest member of his private collection at the Bonneville Salt Flats again this year to defend his land speed record. Although he wouldn’t let the cat out of the bag as to the design of the new bike, he did say, “I’ve never been more excited about a motorcycle. It will be the bike of my career”. His next bike will have some big shoes to fill to surpass ‘Nortorious’ but if the bikes of his past are any indication, I can’t wait to see his next creative challenge. MMM
Owner Roger Goldammer
Builder Roger Goldammer
Make: Goldammer Cycle Works “Featherbed” style
Material: 4130 Chromolly
Make and type: HD – sort of – Twin Cam/Evo/Shovel hybrid single cylinder
Bore and stroke: 4.125 x 4.4”
Fuel delivery: Fuel injection – Closed loop – Thunder Heart ECU
Air cleaner: Part of the time…
Pistons: Ross Racing
Cases: Merch, rotated back 15 degrees
Ignition: Thunder Heart
Missing rear cylinder – Rotrex supercharger makes 20 psi boost.
83 hp @ 6600 rpm – rear head on front cylinder.
Primary drive: Rivera/Leo’s Custom Cycle
Clutch: Rivera – narrowed
Gearbox: Baker 6-speed
Make: WP inverted
Extension: Shortened 1.5 inches
Dimension: 19” x 3.25”
Hub and Drum: Goldammer
Brakes: Goldammer/Leo`s Custom Cycle
Dimension: 18” x 6”
Hub and Drum: Goldammer
Brakes: Goldammer/Leo`s Custom Cycle
Gas tank: Goldammer
Oil tank: Goldammer
Foot controls: Goldammer
Headlight: Goldammer-VW Beetle
Taillight: LED’s in frame
Rear fender: Goldammer
Chrome: Kelowna Electroplating
Paint: JA Design – Clear over bare Aluminum
Painter: Jerry Ashley