Stress Relief Harley-Davidson Fat Boy

Danny knew the bike well so when it came on the market he grabbed it quick smart.

THIS IS A Harley-Davidson Fat Boy I bought from a good mate who’d had it a fair few years. I’d pretty much known the bike and liked it from the day he bought it, and I was lucky enough to snap it up after he spent all the time and money on it. There weren’t any drastic circumstances behind the sale; he just had a few toys and he’s got a family.

I’ve always been a rev-head, always loved my V8s and spent most of my money on cars growing up. I’ve always liked bikes. I remember my step dad in Sydney bought a brand new Harley when I was 12 or 13 and I’ve liked them ever since. He didn’t even have a bike licence or ride bikes; he just walked into the dealership and bought it. He stayed in a motel for the night, reading the owner’s manual. It was raining when he picked it up and he had to stop in the middle of the Sydney Harbour Bridge because he didn’t like riding it in the rain.

So the Harleys have stuck with me ever since although I never got around to getting one until now. When this one came up, I wasn’t really looking for a bike but I knew the history and how much had been spent on it so I couldn’t let it go.

When my mate first got it, it had been slightly customised. It still had the Harley-Davidson Fat Boy front-end and Centreline wheels. I think it had the twin headlights. There was a black and white paint job with white flames, black tanks and guards, and lots of chrome. It looked pretty good so my mate rode it like that for a while then decided to make it a bit more custom, more radical.

He got hold of Troy at Nightmare Designs who’s pretty well known now but this was one of his first bikes. I think it was actually his first full custom airbrush on a bike and he’s done a top job. From my understanding, about 40—50 hours went into the tanks and guards. It’s the sort of paint job that the closer you look, and the more you look, the more you find. There’s 14 or 15 ghost skulls on the whole bike so it’s a matter of going around and finding them.

The tanks have been stretched and widened. The rear guard’s all custom; it’s low slung over the wheel and it’s been widened as well.

A lot of people love the paint job, but at the same time, some people think it might be a little bit too loud. You either love it or hate it. Most people love it though. He put heaps of time and effort into it.

Not long after the first build was finished, my mate took it to the Extreme Horsepower Show where, from memory, he took out a second place trophy.

It went through a couple of builds. First there was the paint job, the wheels, and a bit of chroming but it still had the original 1340 motor and pipes and billet alloy forward controls. Then it went back down to Mick at American HD Motorcycles in Kidman Park again; he’s a well known engine builder, pretty much anything to do with Harleys and very reputable. He pretty much handled everything except the paint.

When it went to him for the second time, he upgraded to the Vance & Hines pipes, the Hypercharger got swapped to a K&N forward facing filter, and the forward controls were changed from alloys to Dragway chrome.

It stayed like that for a while until quite recently he got the itch for more power, so then it was down to Mick again for a full engine rebuild. He wanted to go S&S but just couldn’t justify the money at the time; the engine he wanted was about three times the price of getting the Evo rebuilt.

Mick pulled the engine out and upgraded and modified it. All the inner primaries have been chromed, it’s got James gaskets, a fairly decent 326 Crane Fireball cam, chrome pushrods, and KBHC pistons.

The crank’s standard, the heads have been ported and polished and converted to twin plugs; there’s a 42 polished carb from America, braided lines, upgraded large intake valves, Crane valve springs, and the engine’s been polished.

The engine was barely run in when my mate talked about selling it. I’d always joked about buying the bike but never thought seriously about it because I didn’t think he’d ever sell it. Then he rang me one day at work, so I knew he was serious, and it was a matter of ‘get on the phone to the bank and get some money together’ so I had to do that before the bike went.

I’d never had a Harley-Davidson and always wanted one so if I didn’t buy this one now, I probably wouldn’t find another later on that I knew about and liked quite so much. So I called the bank, the deal was done, the loan was approved, and the bike was secured with the engine barely run in.

Since I’ve owned it there’s only been a few teething problems to sort out. Because I’m about 20 kg heavier than my mate, and with the custom guard and all the moulding for the LED tailight, the tyre took out all the wiring the first time I hopped on the bike. A brand new 200 Avon tyre I hadn’t even owned five minutes and it had two grooves all the way around! I was cursing, and my mate just said, “Welcome to the world of Harleys, mate.”

I took it back to Mick to get that fixed and he pointed out that with all the money my mate had spent on it, it still had the original factory shocks. I jumped on with my 100 kg frame and they didn’t like it, so we put new Progressives on the front and back for about $1200, and they’re a lot firmer.

At the moment I’m still just enjoying and getting used to it, but later on I’d like to change the forks from the Fat Boy style to thinner chrome forks to give it a bit more rake, and go to a single headlight, and probably upgrade the brakes.

I work six days, 12—13 hours in a truck, so for me the bike’s a real stress relief. Come Sundays nothing beats getting on it and getting out. I love getting on the bike; you forget about everything around you when you’re on it.

Harley-Davidson Fat Boy

pics by Chris Randells; words by Danny

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