REINHARD WAS born in 1962 in Melbourne. At six years of age, Reinhard remembers travelling down a Victorian highway. He can’t remember the name of the highway but he certainly remembers that rumbling sound approaching from behind his parent’s car. This is where his love affair starts. As the thunder came closer, he looked out the rear passenger side window to see a group of chromed steeds approaching. As they overtook the car, his eyes alight with amazement, Reinhard’s dad said the words that have stayed with him until this day: “They’re Harley-Davidsons, son.”
At age eleven, Reinhard’s parents returned to their homeland hoping to show their kids their national heritage.
Reinhard definitely didn’t like the change, in his own words, “Austria’s a nice place to visit, but living there, no way — it’s just cold weather and fucking pine trees.”
Missing the Australian beaches, people and weather, he made his plans for a triumphant return — but it took him 33 years of hard work and saving to make his dream come true.
While in Austria, never really happy and constantly thinking of Australia, he got stuck in the familiar circles we can all relate to. He settled down at about 23, got himself hitched and had a kid. He enjoyed mountain bike riding (now you know he’s nuts. Have you seen the hills in Austria?) He also did cross country running and made sure he was in prime condition. Working as an apprentice electrical mechanical technician, he found no fulfilment and switched to the railway yards of Austria.
With everything coming to a head in the ’90s, a divorce behind him and looking for new direction, Reinhard jumped on the cheapest, fastest flight to Tullamarine, Victoria, with his sister. Standing at the Camberwell train station, he knew he had to get back here for good; this is where he wanted to be.
After flying back and forth because of commitments in Austria for the next half a decade, tragedy struck. In 2003, while Harley was celebrating its 100th anniversary, Reinhard was definitely not celebrating. He was given the worst news of his life. After 10 days in hospital in Austria, he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, a devastating, debilitating and lifelong disease. With a booking for summer 2004 to travel back to the land he loved, Reinhard gave the Austrian doctors an ultimatum: “Give me whatever it takes to get me on that plane.”
His determination paid off. With his fierce attitude and the promise of a trek from Cairns to Melbourne, Reinhard traded a nice clean, comfortable hospital bed for the dusty trails and bed-bug infested backpackers on offer in Cairns, Queensland. After three weeks on a Greyhound bus with the company of backpackers from around the world, he arrived in Melbourne on a balmy January morning.
Still battling MS, looking for a way to stabilise his current condition, then combined with the pressure of pre-booked flights, Reinhard reluctantly returned once again to Austria.
After many battles, a fleeting romance and finally a lucky break — the opportunity arose for Reinhard to return to Australia for good.
On a sticky Brisbane morning in January 2007, Reinhard stepped off the plane with two suitcases, MS, nowhere to go, and a smile on his face. He checked into the Palace Backpackers in Brisbane CBD. Over the next five weeks he found new accommodation in a one-bedroom boarding house in Boundary Street. At last he knew he was home.
Looking for new direction in his life, he remembered his childhood and that day in the car with his dad. Everything became clear. He walked onto a Harley dealership in Brisbane to see a beautiful 2005 XL1200C. He had finally found what he had been looking for his whole life.
Suffering from MS, trying to negotiate unfamiliar streets, and with the jitters we all get when we ride our Harleys for the first time, Reinhard was at last free.
A few months later, Reinhard started to think of how to make his dream bike his own. It was this thought that led him to Heavy Duty Motorcycles. Unsure as he walked through the door, he soon found an environment that he could trust to the demanding task of moulding his XL1200C to the vision he saw in his head.
Influenced by the work of Kenny Howard, Reinhard envisioned the paint job that his dream bike would wear. He decided to focus on function then style which can be a tricky to accomplish. It is hard not to focus on individual components and then forget the big picture. One unmatched part can take your bike from show bike to bitzer.
I have found Reinhard a very engaging, individual character. With a wicked sense of humour, he has endeared himself to talented people the world around.
And he certainly has the skin to match his attitude. His first-class skin work was done by Ly. This lady is a very talented, still unknown, 23-year-old, but Reinhard, who travelled through fire to get where he is, gave her a fair go. She came through with the most precise art work I have seen on skin. Reinhard literally made himself a living piece of art through her hands.
Reinhard was then compelled to do the same to his bike. His first selection was a Zodiac King Sporty tank which allowed him to keep the nostalgic style but still retain capacity in the fuel tank. Reinhard decided to use a Tank Lift Kit to provide a custom, drag bike feel. Combining this with a Pro-Max speedo-tacho, six-inch billet alloy chrome risers, Radium mirrors, and a drag-bar, Reinhard’s vision came one more step towards being accomplished.
He then took the standard rear guard, bobbed it and mounted a black spartan tail-light from Custom Chrome. Steve Smith, Head Mechanic and Workshop Manager at Heavy Duty Motorcycles, designed a fender eliminator to mount the licence plate to the bobbed rear guard. Steve also recommended a painter, none other than Mark Walker of Queensland Motorcycle Panel & Paint, who helped Reinhard select his dream paint job and then made it a reality.
Steve then assembled the build and Reinhard realised he needed some pipes with real class to compliment his paint job. Once again Reinhard went for function before form. He selected the closest thing to a namesake as possible, Rinehart Crossbacks. These pipes go head to head with any performance pipe on the market, even two-into-ones. Not the easiest exhaust on the market to order, but their quality and performance is second to none. Gerald Rinehart has been designing drag bike and top fuel exhaust systems for enough time to perfect the art.
Function, function, function. Reinhard was quick to assess what was left to be done. He needed to improve the suspension. Steve fitted Progressive fork springs, two-inch-over hard chrome tubes and Harley chrome lower fork boots to the front; lowering the rear end with Progressive 11-inch rear shock-absorbers gave Reinhard the drag profile that he sought to enhance.
Combined with a Wimmer’s Velocity Stack Intake System, this Nasty Bitch started to go like she should.
After a few months, Reinhard wanted more power to combat the growing Brisbane city traffic, more get up and go, more fun on the highway, more… everything, I guess. For that extra thrill, while still keeping reliability, Reinhard asked Steve to fit and tune a Mikuni 42 flat-slide carby to his bike. Steve is a dyno-tune on legs. He fitted, jetted and tuned this carby and then combined it with a Zippers performance ignition module to give Reinhard what he was chasing — performance.
The last touch came with the discovery of Nasty Belt Drives. They only make kits to suit Buells and Sportys and they are a damn good looking so it was a done deal.
Rinehard’s vision had become a reality. He liked what he saw…
Photos by Jules @ Top Gun; words by H Macneil