Mert Lawwill was a sensation in the glory days of AMA dirt track racing as a member of Harley-Davidson's racing team. He won the AMA Number One plate in 1969. In those days the championship spanned oval dirt track (mile, half-mile, and shorttrack), TT events, and roadracing... to take the Number One plate a rider had to be versatile and win races in all those disciplines. Mert even starred in Bruce Brown's epic On Any Sunday motorcycling documentary of 1971, along with motorcycling enthusiast, Steve McQueen.
In addition to being a great rider, Mert is an outstanding mechanic and designer who tuned and maintained his own dirttrack race machines. Since his retirement from racing, he has designed and marketed his own line of high-performance mountain bikes; in fact his Lawwill Pro Cruiser, released in 1978, was the first production mountain bike on the market. When his friend and Harley teammate, Chris Draayer, the "Stormin' Mormon", lost a hand in a racing accident, Mert designed and fabricated a prosthetic riding hand that allowed Draayer to continue riding and even racing. Mert has since refined the design and continues to manufacture it to this day.
A few years back, Cycle World did a feature piece on Mert's plan to bring a limited production run of Sportster-based streettrackers to market (unfortunately, I can't find it online at the magazine's website). Doing the post below about Mule Motorcycles brought that back to mind, so I thought I'd go see what I could find to share here with you. I found this very good video below where one of his streettracker customers shows off the bike, and Mert describes its design and construction in quite a bit of detail. Note his unique rear suspension design, and the XR-750 like cylinder heads.
By the way, some new things that I learned doing the research for this post: Mert is the only person who is in both the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame and the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame. I also learned that his son Joe Lawwill is a major mountain biking figure in his own right, as a racer, designer, and instructor.