Captain Australia is an Easy Rider

It seemed a lifetime since Brendan had seen the Easy Rider movie and fallen in love with Peter Fonda’s Captain America Harley-Davidson. Now the time had come to build his Captain America replica, only his would be using modern technology and an Australian theme.

MY BEST mate had mini-bikes so I suppose my love for bikes started when I was seven-years-old and first rode one. Then mum bought me an American dragster pushbike. My best mate had one too but he had gears; mum didn’t think I could handle them though. To make them sound like motorbikes, we’d pegs things to the side of the frame so it hit the inside the spokes and made a real loud noise when you peddled; the harder you peddled, the louder it would get.

My sister’s boyfriend used to race bikes and I’d help him tinker on them in the shed; I used to love it. He bought me my first motorbike when I was 12. It was a min-bike that he picked up for $30.

I can remember going to the drive-in to see Easy Rider with my sister and brother-in-law. The Easy Rider bike was just like my dragster pushbike and I fell in love with it then and have been in love with it ever since. I thought, ‘That’s the bike for me!’

I was whipping around the Bellodrome, a bicycle track near where I lived in Melbourne, on the mini-bike one day when I got picked up by this motorcycle cop. Apparently all he could see was my head going around. 

He came over and said, “You’re not supposed to be doing that! Where do you live? I’m going to talk to your mother.”

So he had words with mum who was upset and told us we had to get rid of the bike. So we got rid of the mini-bike only to get a bigger one.

From there I progressed onto different types of dirt bikes until I was able to legally ride. My first road bike was a Kawasaki 400 but I had to sell it when I got done for speeding.

I first met my wife when I was three in Horsham. Apparently I walked over and gave her a kiss on the cheek. Strangle enough, we met up again at a social bowling night many years later.

It wasn’t until a number of years later that I bought another bike. I met a bloke who said he had a bike for sale and I was quick to say, “I’ll buy it.”

 It was a 750 Suzuki; it wasn’t long after that I decided I’d trade it in for the brand new ZZR1100 Kawasaki which was a faster road bike. It was my sister’s 30th birthday, and when I told her I was going to trade the bike in the next day for the ZZR, she balled her eyes out and told me to do the right thing, get my license and a smaller bike. I hadn’t seen her cry like that and it really got to me so I bought a 250 instead. It was a Grand Prix replica. It was good until I doubled someone on the back and the front wheel nearly lifted, so it had to go too.

By now I had a dog which stopped me getting another bike because the dog came everywhere with me and I couldn’t get him on the bike; although I tried. Eventually the dog passed on and it freed me up to look for another bike.

I came across a model replica of the Easy Rider bike at Franklin Mint which I ended up purchasing. That’s when I said, “Right, I’m going to build that bike one day!”

So about two years ago I started looking at second-hand bikes. I thought $35,000 gets you a nice bike; then I thought, ‘Buyer beware, if I spend that and it is shonky, what would I do? Maybe I should buy from a dealer.’

I was reading a story on a bike I liked in Ozbike that was built by Frank at Cyco Motorcycles in Coffs Harbour. I called him up, told him what I was thinking, and he said he was happy to help and give me advice in whatever way I decided to go.

I decided to get a new Harley-Davidson that had warranty, which of course was void once I had it customised, but at least I knew the condition of the bike.

Frank advised me that I’d be throwing away $5000 if I bought a custom because everything would come off it anyway, so I bought a stock standard Harley and had it shipped to Frank un-ridden. I took the Franklin Mint model up to him so he had a good idea of what I wanted.

In another issue of Ozbike was an advert for a brand-new, state-of-the-art handlebar system. I showed Frank and the digital mirrors that you could buy as an extra. He said, “Do you want the good news or the bad news? The good news is it’s do-able; the bad news is it’s very expensive.”

“That’s fine,” I said, because, silly me, I thought it would cost a lot less to build this bike than it did; now it’s insured for $80,000.

Frank would wet my appetite and say, “We can turn this new modern bike into an old school bike. Look at these Panhead rocker covers. They’ve just come out on the market and they’re good.”

“Oh, you’ve got me there!” I’d say back to him.

At one point I went to see Frank and said, “I hate to do this to you but I’d like to chrome the frame.”

There was this long silence and I said, “Are you alright?”

“Yeah, that just blown me away. I’ll reduce my labour costs if you get that chromed.”

We got it chromed which blew out the ETA but it didn’t matter—it looked great.

Frank mentioned that it’s cheaper to put a big bore kit in the motor while it’s out. So we put that in, and a month later, he said we could do the heads too; it’s only X amount of dollars.

“We’ve come this far, why should we stop now,” I declared.

We’ve had a good friendship. Frank is a master at this stuff, he’s enthusiastic and good to talk to. He said he liked working on my bike and that made me feel good.

The wheels have been replaced, it’s one inch lower, the rear wheel is a 16 inch but with a higher profile tyre to bring it back to 17 inch. It’s also got the maximum legal extension in the front-end and rake in the triple tree.

I wanted the original Easy Rider tank. Frank had said that it would be difficult fitting the fuel injection pump and regulators into the smaller tank. “Look, there’s going to be no room. I’ll have to fit it somewhere else. Everyone’s telling me it’s not possible but I think it is. I’ve just got to play around with it.”

With that he soldiered on trying different regulators to get the flow right. Finally, he said, “Wow, look, it works. I’ve got the right PSI flow through it.” He was over-the-moon.

Frank was able to get me the exact Easy Rider seat from America.

The paint job was done by Skin by Fin in Coffs Harbour. I wanted the Australian flag because it’s an Australian bike so it’s got to have some Australian flavour. It was like I was an expectant father. I didn’t know how the paint job was going to turn out. Frank was beside himself too but it all came together perfectly.

Yesterday was my first ride on the bike. I picked it up from Coffs Harbour. The weather was perfect to start with and I felt like king of the mountains. I wanted my daughter to put the sound track of Easy Rider on the iPod so I could listen to it all the way home, just wasn’t enough time though.

Before Newcastle it started to rain and it just didn’t stop from that point on. It was blowing, windy, the trucks were about and it was dark but I loved it! I can’t wait to get back on and ride the rest of the way to Bendigo.

This is my first Harley and it’s long overdue. It’s always been my passion and that’s why money wasn’t an issue with this bike. This was about me finally being in a position to accomplish my dreams.

Photos by Wall-2-Wall; words by Brendan

To see more photos of the Captain Australia bike, check out the article Kiera Loves Motorbikes.

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