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Hazan Motorworks: A Breath of Fresh Air in the Quest for Craftsmanship

The Quest for A Perfect Bike

By Tyler Ludlow
2/10/2014


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In the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago there is train on display that was built in 1934 called the Pioneer Zephyr. It has been nicknamed “The Silver Streak.” It is beautiful and streamlined, and was capable of high speeds at a time when almost no one travelled at over 50 mph. The Zephyr shot people across the country in an era before commercial flights. Its appearance made it look like it could take you to the moon.
 
 
 
 
Max Hazan of Hazan Motorworks is square in the middle of a very interesting life. Currently in the process of a move from New York to California, Max has developed a philosophy of use and style that is rarely seen in modern day bike building. His skill and attention to detail elevates his motorcycles to art. Each part looks like it could only have been created for that bike, giving an industrial/factory form and purpose to it, but the bikes highlights also give them a look that conveys craftsmanship. Each part belongs.
 
 
The feeling the Max’s style evokes is the same one I had felt looking at the Zephyr in Chicago as a child. His bikes are classic and vintage. By comparison they can't beat modern day performance motorcycles. The awe and futurism these machines evoke will always shine through. By looking at them you’re unsure of their weight. They could be heavy-handed like a loaded missile.  Maybe they’re nimble and maneuverable, the way a men’s shaving razor commercial makes the one in your bathroom seem clumsy or outdated. Max Hazan’s bikes look like brand new guns. 
 
 
These bikes are displayed in museums, art exhibits, and shows, and most of the buyers are collectors.
 
 
Max’s philosophy is to design a motorcycle that's first and foremost beautiful. He also defines the beauty of a design in how it serves its intended purpose.
 
My design flows from the form following functionality. When that happens, there is a natural beauty,” Hazan reasoned. 
 
 
Hazan is a builder for the very spirit of it, and is well versed in many planes of design and functionality. He also knows the intricacies is creating a one-off product, never to be duplicated. This melds with Hazan’s innovation such as installing a suspension system under a gas tank.
 
 
Before I got into bikes, I made cigarette boats for racing. Guys would pour money into these things,” said Hazan. “It would take weeks to build the molds for these beautiful boats, and once the carbon fiber boat was removed the molds were destroyed… cut into pieces. I built an airplane once.
 
Building a plane for most people would be an outlandish undertaking. Hazan’s take on those intricacies were calm and simple.
 
 
It was a combustion engine, just like a car or bike. I just figured out the bare minimums of what it would take to fly and doubled them. Kind of safety in over-engineering.
 
 
 
Hazan hand selects and pines over every part on his motorcycles. That feeling comes through in only a few glances of the completed product. Many components are fabricated. The flow of his bikes make it hard to see which ones were not hand made. Hazan does a great job of taking his philosophies from start to finish, a type of dedication that is hard to find in any industry.
 
 
The first thing I get is the engine. It’s the first thing to inspire me, and I can build around it from there. I look at the angles… its sort of a natural process,” reflected Hazan. “There is a lot of time spent putting parts on, taking them off, and just getting a feel for how things look. Honestly, the end result usually comes out different from the original design on paper. It’s a long process."
 
Hazan finds inspiration anywhere and strikes while the iron is hot. He loves exotic engines and tries to challenge himself on each build when many builders try to use the same engines on each build and alter aesthetics. His Royal Enfield Bullet build was the influence of his sister’s trip to India, when she rode one for two weeks (following her climb of Mt. Everest!) The finished product is six feet long but only weighs 300 pounds.
 
When I saw pictures of the engine, I knew I wanted to build a bike around it,” said Hazan. 
 
 
In some regards Hazan is a traditional bike-builder, and in others ways he is more focused on the craft and the lifestyle.
 
I go searching for parts in barns and find them in old pictures and then try to track them down. That takes up a lot of time, and then there is the endless putting on and taking off of parts too for each bike.
 
 
I don’t really go to the big rallies,” Hazan revealed.  “I ride all the time, but you probably won’t see me at Sturgis or anything. They’re great, but I am more focused on the builds. That is really my connection to motorcycles.
 
In comparison to most other builders, the final home of the bikes tend to stray father from the philosophy of use.
 
Every bike I build runs well,” Hazan reflected. “These aren’t bikes that are pushed into shows or showcases, but that’s what most of the buyers seem to do with them. They’re purchased by museums and collectors, and I don’t think many of them are ridden often. It’s different but I am fine with it. They’re expensive… I ride all the bikes before they go out though, sometimes for weeks.
 
Hazan’s career plans are uncertain, but he seems to like it that way.
 
I know I’ll always ride motorcycles, but I am not sure if I’ll always only build bikes. It just depends on what I fall in love with. Right now though, this is what I want to be doing. I’m really enjoying it.
 
Editors Note:  Photos of a different bike he built:
Photo montage of bike
Photo montage of bike

 
Detail rear end
Detail rear end

 
Clutch lever detail
Clutch lever detail

 
Front view
Front view

 
 
Seat detail
Seat detail

 
 
Hazan has recently moved his shop to Los Angeles. Stay updated with him at http://hazanmotorworks.com/
 
 
 

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Reader Comments


Great article! Extremely well written, would love to read more.

Erica
Durham, NC
Thursday, March 13, 2014
Editor Response Who paid you to write this?
--Bandit
Loved your article. You have found an incredible talent. Thank you for sharing this genius with the rest of the world. I could stare at these bikes for hours, as I would a masterpiece of art.

I hope you will do more articles with Max Hazan.

Thankyou,

--Kate

Kate Brough
Toronto, ON, Canada
Wednesday, February 12, 2014

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