Bagger Insanity: The Speed Merchant

The Speed Merchant’s Electra Glide Standard gets a massive power upgrade

VItals:

2020 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide std.

Rider: #150 Tony Sollima

Finished: 7th

Words by Mitch Boehm, as told by The Speed Merchant’s Brandon Holstein
Photos by Brian J. Nelson

Thunder Press: Your initial thoughts on KOTB, and why did you participate?

Brandon Holstein: Honestly, my first thought was, “really?” But I knew there was tons of room for improvement with these models. And it’s really the same thought process we’ve been using for most of our builds: Less is more. Nothing too flashy. Pure function, whether it’s power, suspension or braking. Or, in this case, all of the above. We enjoyed the challenge. We wanted to help promote our business, too, especially some of our new parts for the M8 Touring line. 

TP: Which Harley or Indian model did you start with? And why?

BH: We started with a 2020 Electra Glide Standard, Harley’s most basic touring model. We knew most of it would be re-worked, so it made sense.

TP: Your team’s angle going in? 

BH: Our goal was to capture the different stages of our build. The first stage was to remove what we knew would never get used: Crash bars, floorboards, stock exhaust, handlebar, etc. Next, we focused on how much weight we could shave, and ended up tipping the scales at 619 lbs in race form. Then we focused on power, with a Screamin’ Eagle 131-inch crate motor. Then we installed some of the finest products you can get for your bagger: GP Suspension up front; K-Tech suspension in the rear; Galfer rotors; Brembo calipers; Alloy Art swingarm, subframe, and taillights; Dymag wheels with Dunlop tires; carbon fiber bits from DTF and Saddlemen; plus our Saddlemen seat.

The Speed Merchant team attacked their Electra Glide Standard build methodically, first tossing unneeded parts, then shaving weight, then adding chassis improvements and power. It all came together in a 620-pound package, and one powered by a 131-inch Screamin’ Eagle crate engine.

TP: The thinking behind your choice of rider?

BH: We have been sponsoring Tony Sollima for a few years now. He is one of the pioneers of the local H-D road racing scene here in Southern California, and you’ll find him at various tracks racing his H-D Fat Bob pretty regularly. We thought it was a good fit, so we reached out and gave him a call. 

TP: What chassis modifications did you make, and why?

BH: We chose to run our 2018-up Fat Bob triple clamps with a modified Fat Bob fork revalved by GP Suspension. In back we chose an Alloy Art billet swingarm. Combined with a set of Dymag aluminum wheels, we were able to shave a bunch of weight.

TP: What engine modifications did you make, and why?

BH: We chose to use Harley-Davidson’s Screamin Eagle 131-inch Stage IV engine, which we squeezed a lot of power out of – 150 horsepower and 164 foot pounds of torque. The thing can take a beating! Really impressed with that crate motor.

TP: Who was on your crew? 

BH: Our crew consisted of myself, my main guy Ryuji, and Alan, a new addition to our team.

TP: How much (if any) pre-race testing did you do, and what did you discover?

BH: We did three track days before we headed to Laguna, and worked on basics, then suspension, then cornering clearance. Looking back, we could have used a little more…

Despite never having raced at Laguna, rider Tony Sollima took The Speed Merchant Harley to a solid seventh place, proving that a dialed chassis (cornering clearance being key!) and a reliable powerplant would be keys to finishing respectably – just like the crew drew it up.

TP: Biggest surprise (or surprises) for you and your team?

BH: If I had to pick one, I’d say it was looking around and seeing all the big names we were competing against. From former world champs to huge companies.

TP: How’d the weekend go? Results, problems, realizations, etc. 

BH: We had so much fun! Bike ran great, no issues at all. We finished mid pack, seventh, and learned a lot. It was the first time Tony had ever raced at Laguna.

TP: What would you have done differently if you had the chance?

BH: More seat time before the race would have been nice. But we all had full-time jobs while trying to do this…so it is what it is.

TP: Will you be part of the KOTB next year?

BH: Chances are good, largely because there are a few things I’ve been thinking of making specifically for these M8 baggers.

TP: Anything else you’d like to add?

BH: Thanks to all our sponsors! 

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