Swerl Custom Sportster
By Charley Charles • Photos by Siwer Ohlsson
Swerl? Yep, Swerl Company could someday become the name of Daniel Carlsson’s future custom bike shop. The 30-year-old Swede has built lots of different bikes, cars and Vespas, but this Swerl Sportster is his first Harley-Davidson.
Daniel Carlsson from Falkenberg on Sweden’s west coast has an unusual job – he builds dentists’ clinics. Someone’s gotta set up those torture instruments, right? The name Swerl is inspired by his earlier job, though.
“I worked as an airplane mechanic on the French Riviera for three years, it was a pretty ritzy life. The airflow from the jet engines is called swirl in the business, so I changed the spelling a bit. But the chances aren’t all that great that I will ever start a Swerl Custom Company I guess it’s too difficult to earn a decent living with this stuff.”
Daniel’s father, Lars, owns a car repair business, and Daniel builds his projects at his dad’s spacious garage. Among his toys are a Honda CB900F café racer, a four-cylinder Kawa 650 in a flat track scrambler style, an A-Ford that will maybe become a hot rod, an old Morris Minor and a whole bunch of Vespas. But now all the projects are in hiatus and nothing happens. The reason? Daniel just fell in love with a new girlfriend. and he’s on cloud nine.
“I used to spend all my time at my dad’s workshop with my projects, but these days it’s just: ‘Ahhh, heck, there are more important things in life!’ It’s a shame really. We like to work out together and will run the Stockholm Marathon this summer.”
When Daniel was finished with his Honda café racer, he had planned to fly it to Marseille for some cruising on the Riviera. But on the way to the airport the engine blew up. That made him lose interest in the Honda, and he got a 1200 Evo Sportster from 1993 instead and started changing stuff.
“First of all,” Daniel says, “I wanted to make it as low as possible. I extended the swingarm three inches and moved the rear shock brackets.” Up front, the previous owner had already kicked the front fork out with some extra degrees of rake. Daniel lowered the front even more by using shorter and harder springs.
Daniel didn’t have any crystal clear vision of what he wanted, and let the bike evolve step by step. One of the first and most important factors was the pretty weird rear tire, a Firestone Ribbed Hot Rod Tire, intended for hot rod front wheels. Can it really work for motorcycle use?
“Heh, heh, I was a little scared the first time I cut through some sharp corners, but it actually works pretty good. But it’s not impossible that I will change to 18- and 21-inch wheels for better cornering.”
The whole bike is cluttered with strange details, some of it is junk parts from the world of jet planes; some comes from the parts bins of his father’s car workshop, and some is from auctions and antiques markets – like the 1917 fire extinguisher which is fully functional. The cover in front of the headlight was once a protective shield on a band saw! All in all it has become a bike that doesn’t fit any given category, but that doesn’t bother the builder much.
People can call it whatever they want. How about a bobber with some café racer influence? “I haven’t tried to stick to any particular style, just mixed and matched to try to create something personal.”
We took these pictures in early summer, so when writing this, I picked up the phone to catch up on what Daniel has been doing since the last time we met. He tells me he has been riding and enjoying the bike all summer but hasn’t bothered to enter it in any shows. When I ask my usual questions about new projects, etc., he decides to drop the bomb: “Me and my new girlfriend are moving to New Zealand! We have never been there but are very curious about the country. I have quit my job and we will stay there at least one or two years to begin with. Maybe I will start a custom bike shop there. But the Swerl Sporty will remain in Sweden to begin with, in case we decide to move back in the future.” AIM