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Welding

Style that sizzles

By Colin Linneweber

Max Hazan fabricates stunning motorcycles and motorbikes out of scrap metal

July 2017 - Max Hazan is an atypical artist who has earned widespread praise for his ability to convert scrap metal into stylish, customized motorcycles and motorbikes. Born in 1981, Hazan spent countless childhood hours watching his father craft various items at his workshop on Long Island. Although he acknowledges having been “kind of born with a handy gene,” Hazan’s concentration soon shifted elsewhere. He earned a degree in psychology in 2005 from Tulane University in New Orleans. Roughly a week before Hurricane Katrina pounded the Gulf Coast, Hazan left the Big Easy and returned to the Northeast to settle in Brooklyn.

Back in Gotham and employed as a full-time interior designer and contractor, Hazan suffered a broken leg during a motocross mishap and was confined to his couch for the next three months. While recuperating, Hazan’s focus often drifted from whatever television program he was stuck watching to a beach cruiser bicycle parked in his living room. Hazan stared at the two-wheeler and envisioned equipping it with an engine. He soon fulfilled his vision and transformed the cruiser into a motorbike.

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It was an epiphany, because Hazan realized his calling to become a custom builder. He rented a space in Brooklyn and established Hazan Motorworks to design, engineer, construct and sell the sizzle these elegant bikes evoked.

Around the same time, Hazan began a serious relationship. When his girlfriend accepted a job on the West Coast in 2011, Hazan reestablished his business in an 800-square-foot shop in Los Angeles. While getting acquainted with his new surroundings, Hazan met the owners of Canvas Gallery in Malibu, California. Arlington and Jacqueline Forbes were impressed with Hazan’s craftsmanship and asked if they could display one of his bikes in the gallery’s front window. Hazan gladly agreed and, almost as soon as the Forbes exhibited the bike, someone sought to purchase it.

Hazan, a skilled social media user with tens of thousands of followers online, doesn’t struggle to find work. With part-time assistance from neighborhood gearheads, Hazan manufactures two to three bikes annually. By using inexpensive parts, Hazan consistently makes a solid profit. In fact, Hazen disclosed that the average price tag on one of his bikes is roughly $75,000.

Custom craftwork

Hazan talked with FFJournal about the manual craftsmanship that went into constructing his newest venture: a BSA 500 Black.

Hazan used chromoly steel, 7000 series aluminum, and 6061 aluminum plate to construct this bike. Hazan’s friends in the aerospace engineering community generously provided him with some of the 7000 series aluminum scraps for free. The native New Yorker purchased the remaining raw materials from Industrial Metal Supply Co. in Sun Valley, California. Hazan detailed all expenses and explained how he specifically used each alloy and chemical element.

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“The frame and forks are chromoly, the tanks and fender are 6061 aluminum and all of the moving components were machined out of 7000 series aluminum,” says Hazan.

“The chromoly is much more expensive than mild steel. Fortunately, I didn't need much of it. If I was building a Top Fuel Dragster out of it, it would have stung way more. The 6061 is fairly cheap, too, at around $120 for a 4-ft. by 12-ft. piece of sheet metal. The 7000 series aluminum is a bit pricier, but I’m blessed to have such friends.”

Step by step

Hazan makes a concerted effort to employ new techniques to hone his overall craftsmanship. Accordingly, Hazan used a variety of methods to cut the raw materials used for this project to its required sizes.

“For the sheet metal, I almost always start with the air shear. Basically, this is a nibbler to get it down to a workable size and something that will fit into the bandsaw where I'll cut the shape. The belt sander is how it gets fine tuned,” says Hazan.

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“For the millwork, I'm lucky to have a supplier that carries lots of small sizes of aluminum stock. This drastically cuts the time on the milling machine down. I can usually get billets within a half-inch of the size that I need for the part. I use a regular Bridgeport knee mill with a digital readout and a 9-inch South Bend metal lathe. Everything else was done with hand tools.”

Although the rear hub was manufactured on a CNC mill, the BSA 500 Black was primarily completed via machining work. Hazan discussed the cutting, bending and welding processes that he employed to assemble his newest design.

“I went the extra mile to make this bike crazy stiff by using chromoly only for the frame and forks,” says Hazan. “I lugged every joint and really went deep on all of the welds, as I will be the one taking this bike over 100 miles per hour for the first time! I also went for another polished tank this time around. However, this one was completely shaped by hand and a hammer, as the compound curves and rounded corners were too tight for the wheel. I didn’t use an English wheel or any other tools for this bike,” he adds.

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Creating a motorcycle from scraps is always challenging. Nevertheless, Hazan is familiar with such obstacles and the final product mirrored his general layout and original drawing.    

“I make sure to build structure around the parts and check everything by laser to keep the bike straight, but the only parts that are blueprinted are the parts that have a lot of machining into them,” says Hazan.  

“It's easy to back yourself into a corner when machining complex parts. Often, you can suddenly find yourself without a way to hold a piece when it needs to be rotated,” he says. “Or, you may be unable to get a solid reference point to reset the mill to. A little foresight and a cut list helps a lot.”

The BSA 500 Black, along with the initial motorized bike that Hazan built, will soon be showcased in a Dallas museum.

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Award winner

Since Hazan completed his final exams at Tulane more than a decade ago, he’s captured the popular blog Pipeburn’s Bike of the Year Award on three occasions and won design competitions across the globe. Despite such accomplishments, Hazan is never more excited than when he starts a new custom build.

A genuine virtuoso, Hazan has a steady flow of jobs in his pipeline. Hazan’s upcoming workload includes constructing a Musket Royal Enfield V-twin, 1938 J.A.P. and a KTM 950cc V-twin race bike.

Hazan considers motorcycles and motorbikes to be artistic mediums and he approaches each project as if creating a “painting or sculpture.”

In retrospect, motorcycle and motorbike enthusiasts worldwide are lucky that an immobile Max Hazan kept eyeballing that beach cruiser sitting in his New York City apartment. FFJ

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