Freak Harley-Davidson Burning Skull Is a Breakout Made to Melt Your Heart

Harley-Davidson Burning Skull 16 photos
Photo: Thunderbike
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It will probably remain a mystery why so many people are so fascinated with skulls. Some say it's because the exposed bones of the head are a symbol of strength and power, others that it's a symbol of rebellion, and there are even some that claim skulls are a reminder of how frail life is.
Whatever the reason, skulls have always been and will probably always be one of the most important motifs of our world, in all aspects of human life. Including (or especially) in the realm of motorcycle customizers.

Over in Germany there is a garage called Thunderbike. It's a group of people who came together about three decades ago to modify a variety of bikes, but in time specialized heavily on modifying Harley-Davidsons. And by heavily, I mean these guys roll out tens of custom Milwaukee rides each year, one more impressive than the other.

I brought up all the skull chatter because the element is the central piece of one of Thunderbike's most recent designs, a two-wheeled freak presented recently that's called in this altered form the Burning Skull.

The bike started its life as a Breakout 114 from not that long ago. The Breakout, one of the eight cruiser motorcycles the American bike maker is offering at the moment, is also one of Thunderbike's favorite platforms for custom work.

The model is a relatively new model in the Softail lineup, having been introduced by Harley in 2013 as a raked-out cruiser sporting chrome all over the place. The model was an instant hit in some markets, like the European one, but there were times it wasn't offered for the American customers (from 2021 to 2023).

Harley\-Davidson Burning Skull
Photo: Thunderbike
Before being discontinued in the U.S., the model packed in its frame a Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine, but when it was reintroduced it came back with a larger 117ci unit. The Burning Skull we're looking at now is of the 114 variety, meaning its stock form is a bit older, having been originally produced in 2022.

Most of the time people who include skulls into whatever object of desire they make, and even on their bodies, go for nasty, aggressive interpretations of the symbol. On this motorcycle, however, the goal of the skull is not to scare, but to melt your heart, as Thunderbike says. That's partially owed to the fact that the Burning Skull, despite its very aggressive and manly name, is meant for a woman rider.

The name of the bike is given by the many skulls surrounded by flames that are featured on the bodywork in both custom form, but also as Harley-sources covers here and there. The most prominent representation of the thing can be seen on the fuel tank, where the skull is overlapped by two skeleton hands whose fingers come together to form the shape of a heart.

The paintwork is not the only modification Thunderbike performed on the Breakout. The tank itself is not the stock one, but a stretched version that can hold four gallons (15 liters) of fuel. To either side of it and higher up a set of custom handlebars has been installed.

The front end was modified with the addition of a new headlight cap and a new fender that covers a tiny portion of the stock wheel. This element is held in place by a lowered fork that no longer comes in chrome, but was covered in something called diamond-like carbon.

Harley\-Davidson Burning Skull
Photo: Thunderbike
To the side the eyes fall of satin footpegs, and on the spine of the ride we can see a custom seat with a padded saddle.

The rear end of the bike is held upright by the stock wheel, only it's been shod in a wider, 260 mm tire. Above it sits a steel fender with no struts and integrated taillight and turn signals. The fitting of a pulley brake system and a side license plate holder really clears up things back there.

Mechanically speaking the bike does have a few new bits of hardware on it, including a new air filter, a forward control kit, and an air suspension kit. No modifications other than the fitting of a Dr. Jekill & Mr. Hyde exhaust system have been performed on the engine, but it's unclear whether that affected in any way the ride's native power output.

Thunderbike lists only a small fraction of the extra bits of hardware that went into making the Harley-Davidson Burning Skull, meaning it is virtually impossible to know how much the entire project is worth – the paint job alone, for instance, must have been worth a small fortune.

Harley is no longer selling the Breakout 114, but just to give you a reference point on the value of the custom ride, consider the fact the present-day 117 is retailing from $22,499, which is already quite a lot for a bike in the cruiser class.

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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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