Maybe Baby: a Working Class Motorbike

“A old biker pulled up at the servo on a Harley WLA and had ‘Maybe Baby’ hand-written on the tank. I thought to myself, "Shit that's cool,” said John.

I’M BACK in Australia after moving to and living in Bali for five years. I did the typical white boy thing — built a house, had a kid, etc. The riding over there, well, it was nonexistent really. The traffic was that bad if you got out of town and hit 80 km/h in fourth gear you were going well. I rode around Bali three times; twice by myself just to beat the boredom. I hooked up with a couple of Indo bike builders and rode with them when I could. As I said, the boredom was bad for me because I like to keep active. If you are the sort of guy who likes to sit on the beach, go to strip bars and drink Bintang, Bali’s the place for you. I’ve still got shit to do in my life until I drop off the perch and I definitely don’t want to die in Bali or Indonesia!

I got my two bikes into Bali by stripping them down and packing them in crates as Harley-Davidson parts. That’s the only way you can do it; you can’t import second-hand bikes into Bali. I actually took the gearbox from this bike over there as hand luggage. They pulled me up at customs at Bali and asked what’s going on with the gearbox in my bag. I paid them around $10 Australian and went on my way.

I sold my Fat Boy over there and kept Maybe Baby and brought her back in pieces to Australia as personal luggage. I left the original frame there to cut down on freight. I bought a frame here and assembled her back together, put it through ICV (individual constructed vehicle) and bang! She’s registered and I’m riding again.

To start with this bike was a ’97 model Evo five-speed Softail. I rebuilt the engine using KB 10-5 comp pistons, EV 46 cam and fitted a Mikuni carby. I’m also running points for the ignition. The rigid frame is made by KraftTech.

I made the rear guard, sissy-bar, seat and a couple of little brackets here and there. Everything from the Evo virtually fitted across.

The tank is from a ’95 model Sporty with my traditional scallop dishing the sides out and my traditional flame paint work.

The pipes are X-pipes I bought from a guy years ago. He pulled out the baffles, cut the ends off and got booked for noise. I got him a new set of pipes, and with the ones I bought from him, I machined up a couple of ends, painted them black and got the heat-shields re-chromed.

The name ‘Maybe Baby’ came from back when I was 13-years-old. A old biker pulled up at the servo on a Harley WLA and had ‘Maybe Baby’ hand-written on the tank. I thought to myself, “Shit that’s cool… I like that!” When the grungy looking rider got off and went inside the servo, I thought, “That’s me!”

That along with the Easy Rider movie set my direction in life. “I know my place in the world now,” I thought to myself. I’m just one of the lucky ones who work in an industry that is also my lifestyle. I don’t have to change my hat or hide any bullshit and pretend to be someone I’m not. I’m a biker and I work on bikes.

I had ideas of setting up another shop when I got back but with all the bullshit bikie laws that have changed since I left it really isn’t worth it. I don’t need the hassle of raids on my shop plus my customers getting hassled to just because they brought their bike into me to be repaired or are buying parts from me.

I’m just happy building bikes in my shed. Even if it’s only four to six a year, I don’t care, I’m doing what I love. You either like my style of bike or you don’t. I’m not going to build you something that comes in a box with an instruction manual; that’s not me. I’m into the Pans, Shovels and Evos. As you will see as time goes on there will be more bikes coming out of my shed that will be old school, industrial-style working-class-man’s bikes. So yeh, stay tuned…

Photos by Rod Cole; story by John

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