Those who fantasise about rocking up to their office on two wheels rather than four might want to head to the Big Boys Toys exhibition in Abu Dhabi next month.
Leading the line-up of products making their international debut at the show is the “Gold-Digger”, a customised motorbike with a 120R HD motor priced at US$250,000.
Built exclusively to premiere at the event, which runs from November 18 to 21 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, the Gold-Digger is the latest custom-made bike by the upmarket motorcycle manufacturer Louwrens Miller, whose company L J Miller Engineering is based in Pretoria, South Africa.
The world’s first motorcycle to have a 30-inch front and rear wheel, the striking gold and black machine, which boasts a 103 CI S&S Panhead motor, also has the words “Gold-Digger” emblazoned on the side.
“It’s just something very special”, Mr Miller says of his creation. “Gold-Digger’s top speed is the same as a Harley-Davidson, so you can ride it at 200kph.”
Mr Miller, 53, realised his flair for vehicle design back in 1980, when he started building custom V8 cars.
“I was doing engineering work for technical industry clients back then. The bikes started out as a hobby about six years ago, and I just came to realise that I loved building bikes.”
In 2011, two years after opening his workshop to the public, his bikes the Viking and the 48 Sportster took top honours and second place respectively at African Bike week.
His company also sells licensed parts for bike building.
“The bike building is basically still a hobby, but I just ramped up the production,” he says. “I never duplicate – each and every bike that I’ve ever built is unique.”
Louwrens Miller, owner of L J Miller Engineering, reveals more about his customised Gold-Digger motorbike:
In such a niche field, who are your customers?
People who love bikes so much that they are prepared to invest very heavily in a special kind of bike. Most of my customers are executive people. At this stage, about 80 per cent are South African and 20 per cent from other countries.
How long does it take you to build each bike?
The time all depends on the complexity of the bike, it can take up to a year. Gold-Digger took me nine months.
After all that time working on it, will you be sad to part with it if it sells in Abu Dhabi?
It’s not easy to sell my bikes. Whenever I sell one, its like giving birth to a baby, it’s like I’ve completed the creation cycle.
How’s the global market for customised bikes?
There has always been, and will always be, a market for customised bikes. I’ve been told there is a growing market for one of-a-kind bikes in the UAE and the wider GCC. There is also a big biking community in South Africa, which I am of course part of.
What do your family make of your bike obsession?
I own six bikes for my own use. I have a very big garage to fit them all in. My 19-year-old daughter is very qualified about bikes and loves working on them. But my eldest daughter, who is 23 – not so much.
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