I STARTED riding trail bikes when I was 11 or 12 years old with my uncle who has been into bikes for about 30 years. When I was 17, I got a Virago 250 and bummed around with my uncle in the Cross.
I sold that bike and told my wife I wanted to buy a Harley and she said, “If you’re going to buy another bike, buy one that’s loud enough so people can hear you coming.”
I went to see Greg Ryan at Fraser’s Motorcycles in Homebush and told him I wanted to buy a Softail Deuce. I told him I wanted to do a lot of work on it so he suggested I look at a second-hand one to save me money. He gave me a really good deal on a 2005 model — the rest is pretty much history.
I had a mate, Donny, who has been in the bike industry for a while. I saw one of his bikes about five years ago and fell in love with it. Donny rang Steve Stanley at Hot Rod Choppers, told him I had a Deuce, and arranged an appointment.
I sat down with Steve and he explained the whole process. It’s not as simple as putting a big tyre on the back. Every time you change something, it changes all this other stuff. Steve said if you’re going to it, don’t do anything half-arsed. It was a big learning curve for me.
I got finance for 80 percent of it. I had a budget and that budget went pretty quickly but I just had to finish it at all costs.
Most of the stuff on the bike is Performance Machine, and Mark from Sydney Custom Spraying painted the bike. The number plate is my initials, AKA.
Finally the bike was finished with only the seat to be made. I was referred to someone who makes fibreglass seats. Unfortunately, they actually burnt the power-coated frame when they were making the mould for the seat. To repair the damage, the whole bike had to be stripped and rebuilt at considerable cost. QBE got involved; it wasn’t actually covered under the policy because it was accidental damage.
The assessor said, “Just paint it. Send it back to Mark at Sydney Custom. It won’t be exactly the same but no one will notice.”
I told him that I would notice, and if it’s going to be fixed, I want it fixed right.
Luckily, Greg Ryan spoke to QBE and said look he’s legit; he bought the bike from me and he hasn’t even ridden it.
They eventually met me half-way and that paid for all the work and I know they’re still chasing one of the fibreglass guys. It was good they came to the party but it still put the bike back four or five months.
When I bought the bike we didn’t have any kids; by the time I finished the bike, we’ve got three. We had one and then we had twins. Initially, my wife wasn’t too happy about how much I was spending on the bike, but when she saw the finished product, she just said, “Wow!” She’s not a bike person but said it was one of the nicest bikes she’d ever seen.
It’s still a stock Softail Deuce, it’s still the original frame, it’s still got the original engine, it’s just been modified by Steve. It’s very subtle and it’s exactly what I wanted. It’s been incredible; it turned out much better than I expected.
I would like to mention that my wife Jennifer has been brilliant. There have been a lot of ups and downs and problems but she has supported me throughout the whole process. The bike is for sale. I’d like to get another bike that I can throw the leg over but our landscape has changed; we’ve got three kids now and all that stuff.
WHAT WE wanted to achieve was when you looked at the bike, it actually looked stock, but when you actually put it next to a stock bike, you sit back and go “Wow! Hang on a sec.”
We used all the factory frame castings — didn’t cut them up — and replaced the frame tubes in such a way that it looks like a stock factory frame. We replaced the down-tubes, the back-bone, the side section of the frame, and all the tubes in the swingarm. This sort of work to Softails is what I specialise in. I’ve done quite a few of them. By using the original castings, we can use the steering lock and the frame maintains its structural integrity.
The frame has been stretched forward and up. My philosophy is that there is no point having a bike that looks like a million dollars if you can’t ride it. I try and build the bike around the guy who owns it. You can see when he sits on it, it’s a perfect ride. To ride the bike on the road — apart from the ground clearance issue because they’re so low — it’s just like riding a new one off the showroom floor.
When you put a 250 tyre on these bikes, you can buy an after-market kit that bolts on, but the rear tyre’s not in the centre of the bike so the bike doesn’t track right. I refuse to do them that way. I sit down in front of the computer where I’ve got CAD drawings of all the different components, and design everything so the front and rear wheels are exactly in the centre of the bike. It’s a lot more work, it costs a lot more money, but it’s the proper way to do it. If Harley-Davidson was going to design a bike with these wheels, this is how it would come out.
I’M IN Australia on a working visa for a year. I’m from Essex which is just out of London. I’ve been here five weeks so far.
I came to Australia because I really wanted to travel. I chose Australia because I love beaches and I wanted to see something different. I’m staying in Sydney city at the moment. I’m leaving for Melbourne soon but then I’m going to travel more around Australia.
I’ve been modelling since I was 14. My mum got me into it. She really wanted me to do it at first but I was scouted in London. Someone just walked up to me on the street who worked for an agency one day and said, “I want you to work for this agency,” and it all went from there.
When I turned 18 I wanted to do modelling professionally so I started to do more glamour work. I’m 19 now. I’ve done work for some websites, fashion shows and magazines like Playboy, People and Picture.
I like bikes and cars. I’ve been on the back of a bike before. I’m not sure what it was but it was petty scary.
Other than travelling and working here in Australia, I plan to further my modelling career, do some more promotional work and meet new people.
Photos by Wall 2 Wall.