WHILE WATCHING the USA big-wheel bagger scene evolve, Jamie (Loaf) Newling from Bagger Tricks Custom Cycles in Port Kennedy, WA, decided he needed to bring more of that look to Australia. He set about finding other Oz-made examples for inspiration. Zilch, nothing, not another one could be found. Sometimes there’s nothing to be done but roll up your sleeves and just do it yourself.
Starting with a 2008 FLHX Street Glide, the idea was to build something that went as well as it looked, so getting the bike to handle properly was important as this is no show-pony; Loaf fully intended to be seen out and about riding it.
To make that 30-inch, MAD Inflictor wheel actually fit required a bit of playing around with the steering geometry to make sure there was enough clearance between the frame down-tubes and the front guard, while also not messing with the trail. Get it wrong and the bike would be a nightmare at speed even to the point of being deadly. Gone are the days of cutting your frame to rake your bike. Instead, Loaf and Shaun, the shop mechanic at Bagger Tricks Custom Cycles, went with an American Suspension neck and tree kit which bolts through your original head-stem as well as either side of the head-stem to keep the headstock solid. They also had the whole lot anodised black to blend it in with the OEM framework.
Next, a pair of two-inch-over Arlen Ness forks were slid into the trees providing the extra length needed to clear the 30-incher.
All that means nothing if you can’t lay out the bags when you park up, so they fitted a Dirty Works Dirty Air ‘El Grande’ kit which uses inserts inside the front fork tubes to lift the bike when air is fed in through the fork extensions between the trees. No more ‘towing the invisible caravan’ look the rear-only kits seem to emulate. In reality, it had to be done as the extra height of the 30-incher raises the front as it is.
“Since fitting the 30-inch wheel I have clocked up around 5000 km of trouble free riding,” said Loaf. “A lot of people think the bike is unrideable and it’s only a show-pony but they are surprised when I turn up on the bike at various places — it gets ridden! It took me a few rides to get used to the bigger wheel but now I can honestly say it rides just as good as stock, if not better. When aired-up the ride is smooth and stable even when tested at ‘whatthefuckwasthat?’ highway speeds.”
The guys at Dirty Bird were given the nod to supply the bodywork including the stretched bags, stretched tank side covers, raked front fairing and windshield.
Initially, the bike got a quick rattle-can black spray job so Loaf could ride it around to sort out the handling. It was then stripped and sent to his good mate Adam Zambon who spent more than 120 hours preparing and layering on multiple coats of that glass-like Java Green before wet-sanding it all back for a perfect finish. Adam proved himself a perfectionist and to say Jamie is happy with it really understates how impressed he was with his mate’s work.
“When I first saw the bike in its rattle-can guise, parts seemed to dissolve into others,” said Loaf, “but with the green contrasting against the huge front wheel and detailed motor those same parts now stand out proving Jamie was on the right track with his spectrum choices.
“I haven’t gone crazy with graphics because I don’t believe the bike needs it.”
While the bodywork was pulled apart, Shaun fitted a Stage 6, S&S kit punching the motor out to 107 cubic inches (1753 cc).
“After being present for each step of this particular engine upgrade it was impressive to see the attention to detail given. Nothing was left to chance and everything checked properly.”
A big box of Jim’s anodised covers was also installed further cleaning up the look of the motor/transmission along with hiding the wiring.
It’s almost up to the 1000 km mark since the engine upgrade so “the motor is yet to be dyno’ed as we’re still running it in. In saying that, we’ve just fitted the same engine combo into a 2015 Street Bob and it produced 129 hp and around 125 ft/lb of torque.” Enough said!
Brett from 2Tone Motor Trimming in Walliston showed his top-shelf skills when asked to stitch up a seat that matched the theme of the bike. A full restitch was needed using a combination of vinyl, macro suede, and large eyelets that show more suede in contrasting green recessed beneath them.
Since finishing the bike, Loaf debuted it at the Rockingham Bike & Muscle Car Expo where it took out Best Custom Bike as well as generating a hell-of-a-lot-of-interest from the punters on the day.
“Big thanks go out to my wife Heidi and my two kids for putting up with me and all the long hours spent at the shop getting the bike done. A massive thanks to Shaun for his tireless efforts on the bike throughout the whole build; Adam Zambon for his killer paint job; Brett at 2Tone Motor Trimming for one of the best custom seats going; and all my mates who have supported both myself and Bagger Tricks Custom Cycles.”
After seeing every parked-up rider’s head turn to watch this Bagzilla roll into a popular beachside bike-park, it’s a fair bet to say Loaf has done what he set out to do.
Bagger Tricks Custom Cycles, 3/21 Paxton Way, Port Kennedy WA 6172; 08-9524-5463.
words & pics by Brad Miskiewicz