There should be a reality show about Lauge Jensen – a Danish bike builder whose name is pronounced something like Lowl-guh Yen-sin. About five years ago he started producing S&S powered Harley clones. The bikes are all bespoken and meticulous. They meet European pollution standards and they all growl and bark rather than purr.
The last motorcycle built in Denmark was the four cylinder, 750 cc Nimbus built by Fisker and Nielsen in Copenhagen. After 1960 that company concentrated on building vacuum cleaners. As a result, when Jensen started, motorcycle manufacturing was completely unregulated in Denmark. He managed to survive in a little town called Gedved which is about halfway up the Danish peninsula.
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His bikes are all powered by 109 inch engines and the European pollution laws have taken their toll. Jensen’s only make about 70 horses and he estimates their top speed to be a buck ten. But they are pretty machines, which is, after all, a custom bike’s job – to sit there and look pretty, not to prowl around the gravel parking lot of a honky tonk.
The enthusiasm for motorcycles as art seemed to cool after the economic recovery began in 2007. But there are obviously still collectors who view bikes that way and who buy them with the intention of parking them in their marble foyers or just inside their bullet proof living room windows.
Jensen’s least expensive bikes start at about $44,000 if you are Danish. If you aren’t he doubles the price. Jensen targets very high end buyers – the motorcycle as art crowd. His success indicates that the economy is booming at the very top and that someday soon all that disposable cash may even trickle or even rain down on the rest of us. Jensen also brands and sells everything from helmets to tee-shirts. All he sells are status symbols. Jensen has even designed a special pod with an integrated crane that allows oil sheiks and Russian oligarchs to easily transport their custom motorcycles on their yachts.
The Gold Bike
Jensen’s latest creation is a gold plated Harley clone. The bike has 859 gold plated parts and it is decorated with 250 small diamonds that total about seven carats. The seat is covered with “unique cognac colored crocodile skin.” Jensen built the machine on spec and exhibited it at bike shows in Monaco and Dubai. He won’t say who bought it but he does brag that the price was $850,000. Technically, the gold bike is manufactured so it is the most expensive new, manufactured motorcycle ever.
He expects to break that record soon. He has told a dozen media outlets in Europe that his next motorcycle will sell for more than a $1 million. He describes it as a piece of jewelry on two wheels. “It’s going to have a lot of stones and diamonds,” he told Robert Frank of CNBC. “We’re talking pretty wild stuff.”
There are at least two automobiles with seven figure window stickers. The Bugatti Veyron sells for a million and change. The Lamborghini Veneno sells for about $4 million. But this is new territory for motorcycles.
Obviously, if you have to ask why you don’t get it. So don’t bother to ask.