Brushfire Softail Chopper

Brushfire is well known for his airbrushing on some of the most amazing custom bikes in Oz. This is the chopper he built for himself.

I WAS A vandal when I was 15. You know, a graffiti artist, and I used to do great art in Sydney until I got caught by the coppers. My dad sort of pushed me towards signwriting after that.

My dad was in the army and he got posted to Townsville so I moved with him. He said, “You will make a good trade in doing your art if you do signs somewhere,” and I did just that — I did a signwriting apprenticeship in Townsville.

I was about 20-years-old when a friend of mine won a brand new Fat Boy in a Harley-Davidson raffle. He said to me, “Can you do the airbrush art on it?” and I said, “Yeah, I will give it a crack.” It took me six weeks and he ended up winning eight custom paint trophies at different shows.

Then some other guy wanted a paint job and he won trophies, and I got really involved — possessed, you could say, like a man with an airbrush and paint — and continued painting bikes for the past 17 years.

A lot of other people’s bikes have won prizes for my artwork which is really great. One of the highlights for my career was at the Gold Coast Bike Week when I won ‘Custom Painter of the Year’ in the Australian Motor Cycling Industry Awards. It was an excellent achievement; something that I have worked hard for.

I bought my first Harley when I was 22 and it was a bit of a dummy. It was a rigid generator Shovel. I pulled it apart, painted it up and got the motor working really sweet. I learned a lot about bikes with that thing.

My next bike was a FXEF. It was an electric-start, four-speed model and I did exactly the same thing — I customised it and got that motor working really nicely. I learned a lot about Harleys from that bike too. It was a lot more comfy than the other one.

I also had a S1White Lighting Buell for a while. I used to drag-race that at Willowbank.

I always wanted a chopper and basically built this one over a couple of years.
A mate’s dad, Daryl from RT Racing, made the frame. It’s a Softail with a 45-degree rake and a 200 arse-end.

I started off with an old stretched Sportster tank and Little Mick customised it to suit the frame. I was in the shed at Little Mick’s one night, when we were designing the tank, and not sure how to mount the speedo, so Little Mick scraped around and came up with an exhaust pipe from one of his hot rods. He chopped off a bit and we ended up placing that into the tank which worked really well; the speedo sits in nicely.

The chopper has a 96 cube S&S motor running through an enclosed primary. The transmission is a five-speed Harley; it’s about the only Harley thing on that bike.

The Weld wheels are 21 inch on the front; 18 on the rear. The inverted Spyke front-end is 10-inches-over with 63 mil tubes which I really like.

The exhaust was made by Little Mick. The seat and guards are also custom made.

I went to Catholic schools for my entire schooling, and I think, at the time that I was painting the bike, I had a lot of anger in me. There was a lot of talk on the news about child molesters — you know, priests touching kids — and it really got to me as I am a dad. I wanted something that was really confronting to people. Something that the kids would look at and say, “Hey, mum, look at this paint job,” and mum would go, “That’s great, kids; let’s move on.”

I work out of my shed at Mt Glorious. Mt Glorious is a favourite riding spot in south east Queensland and it’s a great place to live. It’s in the rainforest and I get really inspired up here.

I have ridden this chopper a lot. I like to ride fast and I like to ride hard, especially going up the mountain. The bike is a bit tricky in the corners, but if you just hold it on line and hang off the edge, you can get it around okay.

Brushfire Softail Chopper 2

Make sure you check out the other photos of this amazing motorbike at Charlie’s Brush with Fire.

Photos by Wall-2Wall; words by Brushfire

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