The Godfather Pro-Street Motorcycle

John has the knack of getting the right combination of parts, colours, together to build some of the best looking customs around.

I WAS GOING for that smooth, tasteful but tough look. I wanted something that was completely different and it to have that wow factor, which I think it has. It’s not just a show bike either—I’ve built it to ride. I actually ride it all the time. Every couple of weeks I go with a group of friends for a ride. We took it down the old National Parkway and stopped at one of the pubs for breakfast there. I’ll do a lot of weddings, and unfortunately, some funerals on this bike.

I bought the bike three years ago as a starting roller. It used to start but was never registered. I pulled it down to the point it was just a frame and started putting quality parts on it. It took about two years to get on the road.

I bought most of the parts from the USA so a lot of time was spent ringing America, chasing postage and tracking numbers. I made sure all the cheap stuff came off and all best stuff went back on, like Performance Machine, Arlen Ness and so on.

It’s got a show-polished 127-cube motor with different heads on it; 300 rear, 21 inch front wheel and open primary; it’s right-side-drive with hydraulic clutch; bullet style headlights, Arlen Ness hand controls, Performance Machine forward controls and internal throttles.

The custom number plate is one mechanism including the blinkers, tailight and brake light. You buy it from America and it’s about $600.

It had small T-bar handlebars when I got it, now it’s got big fat ones that we built for a bit more stability; so they’re custom, not off-the-shelf, and flow with the bike better.

Certain parts I put on the biker are discontinued, like it’s got a 65-mm inverted front-end. I was one of the last to get it on my bike; people just couldn’t afford to buy them so they started making cheaper versions. The front-end is quite popular and well known; you just can’t buy it any more.

I wanted paint that wasn’t going to date. I figured flames have been around since the ’60s on hotrods and so on, they’ve only gotten better, like the ‘real flame’ look which is what I have on the bike. It’s 3D, layer upon layer, something that takes time to get to that finish. It’s not something that they can do overnight. It’s very hard to actually see in different lights, but when you do see it, it’s definitely got that wow factor. The paint was done by Steve from Crows Custom Paint, Beverly Hills.

The bike shop that helped me with the assembly and a few of the technicals was Loaded Motorcycles, Kirrawee. The guy’s name is Dean.

We started doing red wall tyres about five years ago. When the guys from OCC Choppers came to Australia, I got invited to put my bike with them, that was the previous bike that I built. We wanted to do something different for the show and came up with red wall tyres which I’ve done with this one too. Kosta, who owns Genuine Red Wall Tyres, helped me with them.

The pulley and the brakes are all one mechanism which helps for balancing the bike straight. A lot of people don’t realise that once you go past a 250 rear tyre and have everything on the left side, you ride down the road and it pulls to the left, but when you have the brake and rear belt on the right, and the primary drive on the left, it keeps the bike straight.

One of the big chroming jobs was the belt drive. They’re usually polished alloy but we chromed it so they’re shinier. The guys at Enware Chrome Factory do a high quality type of chrome. They do taps and fittings which is different to a normal chroming shop. I was going for a high quality type of chrome and those guys actually sponsored me doing all the chroming at a good price.

It was about a one-year process to get it registered. I had to change certain things, get okays, go back and show the engineer again, then a new law might come up and you’re restricted in another way and you have to change things again. Blinkers, mirrors and rake all play a big factor in the engineering.

I got a lot of great feedback at the Bankstown Bike Show. I had heaps of people take photos. It attracted a lot of magazines, private people, kids, parents, young and old, ladies and men. I didn’t win any trophies but I wasn’t entering to win—I was there for a good old day out and I got to meet a lot of good people.

I’ve learnt a lot of technical things over the years building bikes. I’ve been playing with bikes since I was about 18; it’s just a little niesh that I had, a little hobby. I started on dirt bikes, then moved to Japanese look-alike Harley-Davidsons. I managed to purchase a Harley early ’93 and I’ve never looked back. Every bike I’ve done has gotten better and better. I’ve won a few trophies over the last 10 years too, from shows like Auto Salon and Supernats. I was always a bit mechanical-minded which helped.

I don’t build bikes for people. I buy bargains and make some money out of them. I can look at a bike, see an out-look, see what people would like to see on that bike and then make it look like that. I’ve done this solely to get a better bike each time for myself. So it’s not a business, it’s so I can get the best bike I can have.

I’ve started a bike towing business because I got sick of people charging me way too much to tow my bike to shows and places. I find the bike scene is a friendly kind of sport. I’m not here to get rich by towing people’s bikes; we’re all here to help each other out.

Building bikes keeps me doing something. I’ve got three kids and they keep me going but you need something to release the stress and energy and I find this does. I love putting the effort in and then seeing the outcome. I love getting feedback and especially love it when people appreciate the artwork. Not everyone can pick the right colours, put the right parts together to get a certain look. I guess that’s because everyone’s tastes are different. I’ve been fortunate enough that with everything I’ve touched, people’s first comments have always been that I can get the combination together, from its shape to the colour or to the certain extras that make them look like they do now. I’ve got an eye for it, I guess.

I really want to send out a special thanks to my family though, for being so patient.

Pics by Wall 2 Wall; words by John.

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