YOU CAN go to a lot of bother to build your bike up, but sometimes it just doesn’t turn out to be what you had in mind a few months and a few too many dollars ago. A new paint job, a few stylish bits and pieces that looked good in the catalogue, but somehow it’s not quite right. It’s a scenario that leads many a frustrated customer to a recognised custom bike builder, and this time around Wayne entrusted his Harley-Davidson Fat Boy to Melbourne’s Joe Pega. The two bumped into each other at a tattoo shop, and a friendly conversation soon led to an expert appraisal of the Fat Boy parked outside—what had gone wrong where, and how it could be improved.
Wayne’s happy to acknowledge that, “To be honest, I wasn’t really happy with the bike before. I sat down with Joe and we put our heads together; probably 15 percent of it’s mine and 85 percent of it’s his; he’s just got the flair.”
Building a custom bike for somebody isn’t just a matter of blending stuff from a few big name catalogues, adding a lurid paint job and a bit of chrome. The best builders have the knack of consistently coming up with something uniquely tailored to the rider’s needs—whether he’s aware of them himself or not.
Wayne picked up various items in the USA, including the rims, the rotors, the shifter linkage with inbuilt light show, the American Suspension, and the slotted brake pedal.
One of the many variables to consider is the relative size of the bike and the rider. In this sense, Wayne had bought himself the right sized bike (a Sporty, for example, just wouldn’t work for a big man). Pega refined this idea a little in various ways, firstly by resisting the temptation to remove the running boards from the bike, “Because he is big himself so I thought I better make the bike look big and bulky,” he said.
Stretched tanks continued the theme, with Pega making a strutless rear guard with an insert tailight, putting a long banana Zodiac front guard on, making spacer brackets, then fitting a set of Burleigh 1.5 inch bars. A set of Hooker Long Shot exhaust pipes followed, with a set of RC wheels: 200 at the rear with a Metzeler tyre and a 21 x 3 inches at the front with another Metzeler. HHI brakes replaced the originals, and a Dakota digital speedo combined accuracy with clean lines once it was slotted into a slightly modified Air Flow air cleaner.
Finishing flourishes included items such as billet caps from Arlen Ness on the petrol tanks; Arlen Ness headlight, pegs, mirrors and grips; SCI forward controls and the running boards.
A Crane ignition system and a set of mild Crane cams were added.
The indicators were hidden underneath the chromed switch-blocks and the swingarm was chromed to match.
The seat was done by Con, one of Pega’s regular accomplices, with the Candy Red and Candy Silver flames paint job courtesy of Joe Pega himself.
Modifications such as the six-degree rake to the front, the inverted American Suspension on the front-end, and the lowering kit all combine to make this bike one-of-a-kind, and a different ride to the bike Wayne’s owned when it was new.
He describes it as “a smooth bike to ride, it’s a little bit different with the raked front-end and very little suspension, so it’s probably a bit of a harder ride, but it’s a nice bike to cruise around on. It’s not something you want to stick your boot into, it’s just nice to cruise on which is all I want.”
Even so, the customising bug seems to have bitten and yet another makeover’s a distinct possibility for later in the year. “I think we might strip it down and give it a different look, a different paint finish, maybe change the handlebars. When we get together, Joe and I, we’ll work it out. He’s got a good eye, he steers you in the right direction.”
Words & pics by Chris Randells