MARK: I had a Softail Deluxe before which my wife and I used to go riding on a lot together. Then I built a chopper and sold the Softail Deluxe to a mate—and never heard the end of it from my wife! So I thought, if I was ever going to do it again, maybe I should get a Road King and do that up.
The first thing I noticed when I went to a Harley-Davidson dealer was how plain and boring the Road Kings were. I started talking with Adam at APL Performance and he was very comfortable with the idea of customising a Road King.
I went online and started looking at the things people do, and I found a whole world of baggers—but I didn’t go for the fibreglass look; I wanted to keep that old school Road King Classic with the soft bags.
I’ve got a place close to Adam’s and he’d come over for dinner and we’d be ploughing through the internet looking at images. I’d bought the bike by that stage so we had the bike in front of us to look at.
For me, in the design of the bike, I didn’t want anything to be dominant. A good design is a flowing bike where everything looks great but no individual component is fighting another individual component for attention. We spent a lot of time just getting the balance between pieces right.
“We can’t keep the leather work like that,” I said one night. “It’s gotta go.”
That’s when we decided to make a feature of the leatherwork. We looked at a lot of imitation prints and vinyls but I couldn’t see anything that I liked. Finally I said, “Can’t we just get the real thing?”
So Adam jumped online and we ended up buying three croc skins from Cairns. The croc skins speak for themselves on the bike.
We kept the panel work the same as on the original Road King Classic saddlebags but it’s just the attention to detail. For instance, they had plastic clips but we replaced them with pin buttons. The Genuine Harley-Davidson bags keep collapsing because they’re so flimsy. Adam plated the internals and had them re-covered.
It’s also a Genuine Harley-Davidson seat that’s been shaped and refined, and re-covered.
ADAM: The seat and saddlebags were done by Dave at Bad Arse Trim. A lot of the bike was Mark’s idea, but we always had Dave in mind to be part of the build because the leatherwork is such a big feature.
I wanted a motor that anyone could ride, but if it went down the drag-strip, then I wouldn’t loose a night’s sleep about it being reliable. The internals of the motor have been strengthened. The heads have been big-valved and flowed, and the pistons are forged. It’s got cams to suit the supercharging, and I prefer to use roller rockers in the motor. Not to say you need to do all that work to supercharge, but if you want to put a bit extra power through, it’s advisable.
Mark said we wanted to stay away from having a crazy front-end. I fitted gold valves and heavier springs. The lower tubes are still close to standard.
The guards on the front forks are not rubber; they’re Arlen Ness. They’re aluminium and they’re made to look like the old rubber boots on an old motorbike and we wanted to keep that look going all the time.
It’s got Air Ride Suspension on the back. You can drop the bike down for comfort and looks with a touch of a button.
The alloy headlight headpiece went. That was one of Mark’s ideas. He wanted to make an impact but still have a classic look of the Road King.
MARK: I found the stretched headlight nacelle on a USA website called Bad Dad, and they sell the matching chrome spear that goes on top.
Originally we bought a fibreglass rear guard but Adam wasn’t happy with the quality of it. Instead, we had the existing guard modified and had the number plate and stop-light inbuilt so we could take off the standard crossbar tailight and indicators.
We got parts from everywhere. I ordered a whole lot of parts—the front forks, guards, handlebars, etc—from the States while Adam got all the Performance Machine stuff.
We were looking at doing a cross-cut chrome wheel but then we saw the Ride Wright wheels and the Fat Daddy spokes. We got them made an inch wider to suit the bike.
Originally the bike was vivid black, a standard Harley colour, but even moving it around the garage it was starting to show scratches and finger marks, so we went to a very subtle colour change.
ADAM: Mark at Sydney Custom Spraying went to the trouble of having pieces painted with all different flecks until we decided in the sunlight that’s how much we wanted it to brighten up.
We had a colour issue which no-one would even think about. Mark’s eye and attention to detail picked it up. We were running up to 10 different blacks with the different parts from different manufacturers—everybody had black but none of the blacks were the same. So we shortened it to three different blacks on the bike and that’s it. It makes the bike overall look real great.
The frame and gearbox, swing-arm and the tank, even those have been repainted.
Also, we weren’t happy with some of the welds and the variations in the chrome so Mark made the call that we redo all the Harley parts and some of the after-market stuff, not the Performance Machine stuff. So we de-chromed, polished and re-chromed all at once and now the chrome is all consistent. It makes the Road King just that bit more special.
Mark and I both like Rolling Sands Design so we stuck with a lot of his parts—rocker covers, clutch covers, the unique pipes, etc. We wanted to get away from the standard covers. We’ve got enough parts left over to build another bike.
We decided to use the Procharger for the smooth power delivery without having an over-compressed and abrupt hard engine. We’re running at six pounds of boost which is quite sedate. It artificially compresses air into the engine—it’s not relying on atmospheric pressure—so the engine’s enhanced. It’s belt-driven off the primary.
The Procharger comes with an intercooler which cools the air into the engine so we can run high boost and the engine stays cool. Basically, it’s doubled the horsepower and the torque. The unit on its own is $6500.
It’s got the Thunder EFI controller which comes with the appropriate software and maps to understand supercharging.
You can’t imagine how much satisfaction I got when I took the Road King to Bike Biz to use their dyno. This is a Japanese bike shop, and all the mechanics and the shop owners came out and took photos saying it was the best Harley-Davidson they’d ever seen.
I tuned the Road King to about 70 percent throttle because the motor is new, and even then it was putting out just under a 140 rear wheel horsepower—it makes smooth, fast, nice power.
I have to thank Peter Condle at Bike Biz for letting me use his dyno and the workshop manager was very helpful as well. It was great to get some recognition from those guys.
JESS: Today was really fun. It was completely different from what I model for usually. I haven’t had anything to do with bikes before today either but I loved this bike!
I like singing and dancing. I used to do jazz, ballet and hip hop but it’s more dancing out in the clubs these days. I also love to model, shop, drink, and be a girlie girl.
I’ve been singing since I was born and I’d love to take it further like maybe do X-Factor next year and see how it goes there, but right now, it’s sort of drunk karaoke type of singing. I know a guy who is a producer and is friends with Justin Bieber so he can probably help me.
I’d love to do the Australia’s next Top Model competition too and whatever other opportunities come up, not just for money but for the experience as well. I’ve been modelling for photographers and their portfolios, a lingerie catalogue, nude and glam, over the last year. My favourite aspect of modelling is trying to be someone else, going into a character and getting dressed up.
I’m 20 and I think Justin Bieber is cool!
Oh, and I love make-up. Next year I’d like to take up make-up artistry.
I’ve had a good time today. It was awesome to be here.
Photos by Wall to Wall