Send in the Clowns Heritage Softail

“…a lot of people don’t like clowns; they’re intimidated by them — I wanted to be different,” said Owen.

I STARTED liking bikes when I was growing up because dad had his old Z1000 and 900’s. I started off on dirt bikes, went to road bikes, and then I was lucky enough that dad wanted to buy himself a brand new Harley-Davidson bagger and I bought his Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail off him. It only had 5000 km on it so it was pretty much new. It was just standard with a different set of pipes but straight away I put the 14-inch apes on it.

 As I was young and off sports bikes, I wanted it to go quicker so I took it to Jobson MotoSport in Nowra and I got him to put in cams and pushrods. He re-jetted the carby and dyno-tuned it. It goes a fair bit better than standard.

I used to watch TV shows with dad — American Chopper and all the custom bike things — when I was 12, 13, and I really liked the idea of people changing the look of their bikes by changing the colour. I started in the smash repair industry as a spray-painter and I’ve been doing that now for 13 years.

I got carried away with the colour — it’s had about seven different paint jobs on it. This is the one that’s lasted the longest, about three years. There was one stage I changed it twice in one month because I got over the colour of it. 

I customised the bike with the help of a mate, Mark Dwyer. He did all the air-brushing on my bike and dad’s bike. I do all the prep-work — the candies, the clear coats, the buffing — and Mark does the air-brushing. He is a real talent. Mark and I sat down and came up with the really unique colour. I wanted it to be dark and subtile with earthy tones. The bike changes so much if it’s in the sun or shade, due to the candy colours and base coat. 

I liked the Heritage Softail seat, it was really comfortable, but I didn’t like the tassels that were hanging off it. I took it to the local upholster in Nowra and got him to take the tassels off and cover it in plain leather to make it suit the bike a bit more.

I extended the rear guard and recessed the number plate. I put on the Vance & Hines Mid Shots, the Hypercharger, and I painted the motor black to make it go with the theme of the bike. Other than that, I’ve just done little bits and pieces.

I hardly ever saw clowns air-brushed on bikes; always saw skulls and flames — a lot of people don’t like clowns; they’re intimidated by them — I wanted to be different. Mark spent at least 40 hours just air-brushing the clown faces. Every clown face on this bike is different.

words by Owen Wilson; photos by George

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