“NOT LONG after the photos were taken,” Lou explained, “I was trying to ride out of my place when the dog started going crazy. She was spinning out at the bike and barking like mad and I was trying to shut her up. I was paying too much attention to the dog and not enough to riding the bike and it fell over, damaging a fair bit of stuff.”
Uh, oh… we’re happy to report that the dog still lives, and looking on the brighter side of things, Lou got to change some of the things he didn’t like anyway.
Lou first bought the 1990 FXR Low Rider from American Made Motorcycles in Ballarat, Victoria, as a bog stocker.
“I only wanted a cheapy at the time and thought of upgrading later on,” Lou continued. “Over time, I changed a few things and then painted it a light purple which didn’t really turn out that colour, more of a pinkish colour! I liked it and so did many people, but when I joined a motorcycle club, a few of the brothers said it just wasn’t right to have a pinkish bike. It got painted a light metal-flake green and a few more things got changed around.”
Lou soon got bored with it and wanted to build a chopper, so he stripped it down to bare metal, doing heaps of metal artwork and modifications, plus a rebuild of the engine. He changed handlebars three times; same goes for the seat. He also did all the upholstery work himself.
“I like doing all the stuff I can,” Lou reckons. “I did just about everything on the bike except the airbrushing — I’m just not that good at stuff like that.”
While Lou has been riding bikes from the age of six as a little tacker on a minibike, he cut his customising teeth on cars back in the 1980s.
“I had a HQ wagon and I learned how to do that kind of stuff back then. There wasn’t anything I wouldn’t try. I did upholstery by unpicking all the stitching and cutting out the new cloth panels, but I got my Mum to stitch it back together on her sewing machine.”
Love it! So when the Dog Day Afternoon occurred, it wasn’t such a disaster after all.
“The bike copped a fair bit of damage when it fell — the bars, the pipes, the brake lever and the skull air-cleaner all copped a hammering,” Lou mourned. “But I’ve got a pair of Z bars on it now, and the pipes are slash cuts. The brake lever, I tried to straighten but it snapped; the air-cleaner cover needed replacing too. The main thing is, even though it’s customised, it’s still a real Harley-Davidson. My next bike I build will be a full-on custom, and I’ll use aftermarket everything — frame, motor, box, forks — everything. But for now, I’m happy just to ride this one.
“I love riding the rubber-mounted FXR. Not everyone understands just how good it feels out on the open road to have the big, V-Twin power without the vibrations you get from a solid mounted motor. My brother has a Softail and every time we swap bikes, it reminds me of what vibrations on a motorbike feels like. Yeah, I think I’ll keep this bike for a while.”
Good idea, Lou, and remember, from now on, if the dog barks, let it.
Pics by Brian Borg; words by Kelly Ashton