THIS BIKE started as a Lowlife custom roller that was sitting in Taverner Motorsports gathering dust. The chassis was low, long and mean with a 300 rear and 21-inch front Performance Machine wheels with an American Suspension upside-down front-end. I could see that this base had the potential for something tuff and street-able.
There was no power yet so a fully polished, 127-cubic-inch, El Bruto engine and a six-speed, right-side-drive gearbox seemed to be about right.
The length of the Lowlife chassis required a custom, Independent Cycle Co, three-inch, open belt drive with integrated forward controls and Performance Machine master-cylinder. Once the belt drive was fitted with a few minor modifications it was all polished to compliment the engine and gearbox package.
The next challenge the builder had was to set up the 300 rear wheel so it was central in the frame to ensure the bike would run smooth on the road and be able to run a rear drive belt. Once the rear wheel was centralised, a custom right-hand hub was machined with an extra internal bearing support. To line the drive line up true, a 25 mm drive belt was borrowed from a Buell as well as machining the centre out of a Sportster front pulley. The drive system was completed with a DNA pulley/caliper combo.
By now I had a staunch chassis and drive-train combo, but how to add guards, tank, seat, bars, and headlight to compliment the rest of the bike? Easy, just ask the builder to fabricate something unique, in-house, by hand, using old school techniques.
The front and rear guards started as blanks, and once they were sectioned to suit the profile of the wheels, the creative styling took over with scallops cut out of them to compliment the bike’s aggressive look. To ensure drive-ability, all of the edges of the guards had 3/16-inch bar welded inside the outer edge. This bike was now truly becoming a custom bike built to withstand the test of time.
Custom side panels were then cut, hand-formed and welded to the frame to accentuate the rear guard and to hide the electrical components and Legend Air Ride unit.
A custom seat pan was fabricated and moulded into the rear guard; and upholstered by Lee Brothers.
Right, so now the chassis and guards were complete.
I called in to Taverner Motorsports from time to time, and we were standing back taking stock of where we were at, and how no standard Harley tank was going to work on this bike, so like all professionals, we started work on the tank with pieces of cardboard. We cut shapes until we found a form that worked with the rest of the bike. And then we just had to make it out of steel. Easy, right? Nineteen hand-cut, formed and rolled pieces and a week of welding, panel beating and test fitting later, and we had a fuel tank that sat on top of this machine and flowed with the bike.
By this stage, I (and the builder) had definitely created a monster — so much effort and time, hundreds of hours of fabrication — was in the bike and we were determined to finish with the same creativeness and passion with which we had started it with. In for a penny in for a pound (well, a bit more in A$ terms) so we figured we may as well just make the handlebars, pipes and headlight as well! So back to the English wheel forming shapes for the headlight shell.
I was trying to describe what I wanted as handlebars and Joe Taverner said how about “as mean as possible” (the man gets me!) but incorporating room for the internal wiring and a home for the Dakota Digital speedo.
The chopper was now in the functional form we had been aiming for!
Now it was time for the fruit! A custom colour was mixed by Brett at Kool Kustom Paint with plenty of metal-flake to make the lines of the custom panel pop.
As usual, the devil is all in the detail! Every cable and brake line was pieced together in black Magnum fittings and components to blend in seamlessly with the bike. Every nut, bolt and washer had to fit perfectly to complete the look.
To make this bike a fully functional, reliable bike that runs all the mod-cons that make it ADR compliant, a complete custom wiring harness was then laid on the bike and tucked behind hand-formed side covers.
In the end, there is nothing more surreal than riding a pile of steel had has never been in the form of a motorcycle before. I could not have been happier with the end result and absolutely love how this chopper turned out.
words by Johannes Dijkstra; photos by Rick Benson