In Ya Blood Harley-Davidson Fat Boy

No matter how hard he tried, Mick was going to get hooked on modifying his Fat Boy.

THIS IS MY first Harley-Davidson. I used to ride Jap bikes before married life and kids but these days the kids have outgrown me and I’ve outgrown my ex-wife. I bought this bike through eBay from a doctor in Victoria. I was going through a mid-life crisis and he was going through marital issues that meant his pride and joy had to go—or become a part of the joint assets. He had started customising out of the H-D catalogue but he was heading down the path of a Heritage with saddlebags, passing lamps, big comfy seat and sissy bar, etc.

It’s funny how, when you first buy a Harley, you think that everything is just as it should be. It sounds good, looks good and goes good. Then you notice that set of pipes, or the fat Burleigh bars, or forward controls in the magazines that you buy, and the guys you ride with who have had Harleys longer than you have all these extra bits of bling that would look great on your own bike. It doesn’t take long; it starts inconspicuously with, say, forward controls or swingarm bling, then comfort goes out and the new seat comes in, as do new pipes, etc, and no matter how hard you try to avoid it, you’re hooked and you just can’t stop. It’s a bit like smoking—everyone tells you it’ll happen but you think you know better. Damn the internet too.

The only things that now remain from the first owner’s efforts are the paint job, tank, front guard and headlight nacelle. 

Fortunately, a couple of guys I know in my home town of Wollongong, Wayne and Bob, own a customising shop called 8Ball Customs. These guys are a small outfit but with a personal interest in all the work they do. They also managed to soften the financial blow when they did the first lot of major alterations. They raked the frame 5 degrees, whacked on 1 ½ inch Burleigh bars, SS braided lines and extended the forks four inches.

Later came the Fournales air shocks, ThunderMax EFI system and modification to the pipes for a full closed loop system. 

The handling and performance were now a little better than standard and the shape was starting to look pretty good—except the standard width back tyre and long back guard really needed to go if I was to continue the vision.

I was kind of lucky that 8Ball Customs had a Performance Machine Phatail kit in stock—complete with back wheel, guard and recessed number plate and tail light. I only needed to source the matching rear pulley, seat, paint—and $9000.

You just have to do it, so you justify the cost one way or the other, and besides, I reckon the lines really flow now.

The critical path for me was not only a bike that looks good, but it had to ride well too. I bought this bike with 8500 km on the clock and it’s now got more than 36,500 and it’s generally only ridden on weekends. I guess several trips between Wollongong and the Gold Coast where I now live had something to do with the increase on the odometer.

Rego was about to run out when I moved here to the Gold Coast so I needed to find someone local to assist with a road worthy certificate, the regular maintenance and other bits and pieces you generally need—like a big bore kit.

I wanted to chase more bottom-end torque but not necessarily big horsepower and this is where Roscoe and Chris at TwinTech Motorcycles in Southport come in. I went with Roscoe’s advice and the latest work involved a big bore kit with their own formula for porting and flowing the heads, S&S gear driven cams with auto decompression and heavy weight clutch.

I haven’t had it on a dyno as yet but I don’t need a read-out to tell me that it performs admirably.

What’s next? Who knows, maybe I’ll just have to buy another one and start again—like I said, it gets in ya blood.

Harley-Davidson Fat Boy

Words by Mick; photos by Rod Cole

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