THERE’S so many parts on this bike that may ‘look’ like they’ve just been bolted on but stock standard is just not good enough here at Bestway Customs. My obsessive compulsive disorder kicks in when building each and every bike, with a mindset ‘if it isn’t perfect then I will do everything in power to change it’. At the end of the day, if it isn’t enjoyable then it’s not worth doing. Here at Bestway, every true custom build is just that, custom!
So how did this build happen? Well I’ve been building custom bikes for some time now, mainly based on the iconic Softail platform, with huge success thanks to the scope of aftermarket quality parts available in Oz. However, much like the fashion industry, things come in and out of season and trends eventually change! This Bagger build is really no different other than, here in Australia, the Big Wheel Bagger scene is pretty much still only a pipe dream for most. The internet is flooded with these crazy 30/32-inch and now 34-inch front wheel Baggers all over the USA but there are only a handful of recreations here in Australia, and even less that go the whole hog.
Back around 2010, I started building the first 30-inch Bagger starting with a FLHX Street Glide, but back then there was no such thing as a Bolt On Neck system. We had to cut the neck of the frame and attach a custom neck or manufacture your own neck system — which, if you know anything about rake and trail, you’d know that is probably one of the most important characteristics of a ‘safe’ motorcycle build there is. Being the first big wheel Bagger build I did and having a bunch of normal jobs happening that never stopped, it got put on the back burner as such.
So, to answer the first question, this latest build came about when the opportunity arose with the help of Lou and Gary Bradstreet in the form of a brand new FLHXS, and having acquired a bunch of top shelf bagger parts over the years just waiting for the right bike to come along… BANG, here it is!
Having the luxury of wheeling a brand new bike onto the bench and the only limitation is… well, there was NO limitation! Having the majority of parts on hand almost ready to go is a luxury that doesn’t happen very often in this game, but to put it into perspective, I’d already built this bike in my head several times over, only difference this time was go time!
Starting with an American Suspension Bolt On Neck which requires no cutting or welding or any of the associated rego problems, and is totally reversible if required.
The American Suspension Bolt On Neck has a provision incorporated to hide all those ugly and bulky wires and brake lines that just normally hang on the side of the neck.
American Suspension also supplied the front Black Mamba contrast-cut lower fork legs which have a fully adjustable air suspension system incorporated. Both the front suspension and the Platinum Air Long Travel rear shocks are adjustable on the fly to suit any road conditions or that totally aired, virtually sitting on the ground out-the-front-of-your-favourite-drinking-hole!
Dirty Bird Concepts (DBC) supplied most of the visual big ticket items as in the stretched bags, front and rear fenders, and the batwing fairing which is made to suit the extended 30-inch rake to keep the headlight in the correct position. DBC also supplied the chin spoiler, extended side covers and a new product of theirs, the Neck Cover which does just that — it is a beautifully created cover that blends the old and new all into one between the front of the tank.
The DBC two-into-one performance exhaust pipe not only looks great but gives the new Milwaukee-Eight engine a great note with a deep growl that’s not in your face loud!
The super wide and stretched gas tank is a full steel item courtesy of Russ Wernimont Designs. It’s 20-inches wide and blends perfectly into a custom seat designed and stitched by Daniel at Bitchn Stitchn (who always does an outstanding job on my seats and stitch work).
Another little hidden gem is the sound system which at first glance is really non-existent… that is until your phone connects with Bluetooth and that volume lever is pushed all the way to flat out!
George from Tu Amigo is the sound god! Starting with an 800w Comp amplifier stashed away in the front fairing powering a pair of insane Hertz drivers and Alpine tweeters up front to the huge 6 x 9’s in the bag lids and a dedicated 250w amp just for the pair of subwoofers mounted in each bag, George tuned the shit out of this setup! It can be ran at 11/10ths all day long with no distortion and crystal clear. Rollin’ down the road on this beast with the stereo kranking is an experience that has to be experienced firsthand! The expression of ‘having the wind in your face’ gets taken about another 10 levels of sheer joy!
Dutchy from Dutchy’s Motorcycle Spray Art laid the impeccable Bestway Jet Black paint down to perfection; this black is so black it’s like a mirror outside in the sun.
Burleigh Bars supplied the stainless-steel bars which I ‘tuned’ somewhat to get the absolute best wrist position and to hug the inside front fairing to perfection.
Kuryakyn have some amazing products available for all sorts of bikes to add an extra level of luxury and style! That is why I chose to include their coffee mug with holder and their phone holder on the Bagger. Pulling up at the lights and having a sip of your warm coffee on the cold day or icy cold drink in the middle of summer is true bliss — especially when you can see folks in the car next to you, wondering where the hell you’ve just pulled your mug from!
Arlen Ness got the tick for the billet under-perch mirrors and hand grips, the Jim’s ForceFlow fan does a great job thermostatically controlling the engine temp so you never have to worry about the usual overheating Bagger in summer or gridlocked traffic.
In summary, most people deep down love the Big Wheel Bagger look but are probably put off with what the ‘haters’ online carry on about how these type of bikes don’t handle ‘X, Y and Z’ … blah-blah-blah’! If any of these haters actually rode a top shelf Big Wheel Bagger then they’d be converted instantly! With the innovation of products like the Bolt On Neck from American Suspension and the array of quality parts out there now, these bikes actually handle better than stock and, well, they look a million bucks to boot!
I WAS born and raised in Canberra, Australia. I was born into a family that spends a lot of their time around horsepower (whether that being motorbike, dirt bike, supercars or actual horses). At the age of three, my father bought me my first dirt bike, a Pee Wee 50, moving on to a Yamaha TTR-90 then eventually getting a four-wheeler.
It was at the age of six I decided I wanted the four-legged horsepower and my father eventually caved and let my mum buy me a pony. 19 years later and I still have horses (three to be exact).
After out-growing many different horses, my passion for the sport turned into rescuing and rehabilitating horses from dire situations and I am luckily enough to have kept my favourite three. I have a 22-year-old stock-horse called Cookie (which I named after the ice-cream), a seven-year-old Brumby called Lilly, and a 10-year-old Miniature Pony called Milo.
I began modelling when I was about 12-years-old. My Nana enrolled me into a modelling and etiquette course with the Lizzie Wagner Modelling Company here in Canberra and it all began from there. Since then, I have worked with different modelling agencies both here in Canberra and Sydney working with many different companies and organisations; a highlight being the Wallabies football club and Isuzu at the V8 Supercars.
Thanks to my genetically long legs, I have worked manly in promotion and runway shows so getting to shoot for Ozbike was extremely exciting. More so because I got to do it alongside my father and use one of his bikes that is incredibly special and sentimental to him.
Growing up I wanted to be a Victoria’s Secret Model more than anything in the world.
I have a qualification in Equine Veterinary Science as well as Equine Massage Therapy.
For the past eight years I have worked in a political environment never actually using my qualifications for a profession.
I used to ride my horse in rodeos competing in barrel racing up and down the East Coast.
I learnt how to operate a crane at the age of eight (thanks to my father and the crane truck business he owned).
Photos by Julius at Tower Photographics; words by Jason Bear Stares & Hannah Stares.