Grey Ghost Big Bear Pro-Street

WHEN I was 14-years-old, I used to go to tech collage at Seaforth, and I lived at Harbord, and there were no buses at night so I got my first bike and I used to ride to and from tech — until the police picked me up and didn’t like the idea of me riding without a licence.

I never really had a period in my life where I haven’t had something two-wheel to ride. We had a property down near Cooma, at a little place called Nimmitabel, and we used to ride chook-chasers all over the place.

Then I got into road bikes in my mid-teens. I got my first Triumph and I got a bloke named Alan Fender to paint it up for me and I got the bug about customising.

I did the typical thing with Harleys. I bought a Shovel Sporty back in the ’80s and I loved it. I had gone from Japanese bikes to a Sporty that didn’t really go as well, and it didn’t really handle all that well, but I loved it.

In ’89 I bought one of the really early Heritage Softails. It was black and cream; the most sensational bike. I really actually still love that bike; I have a huge photo of it on my wall in the garage.

After that I had a succession of them, and I am on my 10th Harley-Davidson now. Three or four of them I customised the absolute living shit out of, and when you do it often enough, you realise that with custom bikes — don’t get me wrong; there are some fabulous looking custom Harleys out there — no matter what you put into them, it’s never really the full deal.

When we went to Sturgis in 2007 — I went with a couple of mates, Greg and Scott — we checked out all the different manufacturers, went to all their displays and drooled over all their various bikes. Afterwards we went to the West Coast to check out Chica and Exile, and a couple of other chop shops down at Marina del Rey opposite the big Harley dealership there.

Eventually we ended up going to Big Bear Lake and meeting the guys there. They were just sensational. Time was no problem; they took us through the Big Bear factory and showed us how they built things. We absolutely got the bug for Big Bear back then.

When we got back to Australia, we got our act together and ordered three Big Bear kits: Greg’s went to Wrench Devil in Brisbane and they did a fabulous job building his; Scotty and I traded our kits with Wild Card in Maroochydore.

Wild Card gave us a couple of bikes off the showroom floor in exchange for our kits and a bit of extra cash. You couldn’t ask for a better deal. You know, they really looked after us.

I picked up mine from the guys at Wild Card at the motor registry at Tweed Heads because of NSW rego. I rode it down to Coffs Harbour with a couple of mates, and then we rode to Foster because one of the guys has a holiday house there, and we got on the drink — I guess that was pretty crook because the next day I had to ride it back to Sydney — and stood around looking at it and ooing and arrring…

I have since done a couple of trips to Port Macquarie because we have some mates up there. You see, it’s really a bike you can ride; not just a show-piece.

I’ve had the bike seven months now and it’s been an interesting time but, you know, I am absolutely laughing.

Pics by Wall-2-Wall; words by Ron Hammond

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