The Other Woman is a Harley-Davidson Sportster

“…my partner walked in saying you are always spending money on her and throwing your leg over her every chance you get, she is like your ‘other woman’.”

THINKING BACK to the 70’s and 80’s when Blacktown was my home, when sex, drugs, girls, parties, and riding bikes with mates was my lifestyle. Forty years later I moved to Queensland — the parties and other things may have slowed a little but bikes are still a big part of my life.

One day I was in my shed working on getting the carbies right on an old Triumph I was restoring, when I thought it’s time for another change — perhaps I should try an American bike.

I had never had a Harley before so I looked what I had in cash and what was around, and thought I’d start with something like a Sportster. I could not find the colour I wanted here in Brisbane so I drove down the coast to Daytona Power Sports after I saw their add for importing Harleys.

I asked if it was possible to get a XLC 1200 Sportster in pearl blue from the USA. They gave me a great deal and it was not long before it arrived and I was riding it home.

Being my first Harley, it stayed stock for a while as I researched what I could do to make it something special. I started with a Screamin’ Eagle Race Tuner and a heavy breather, and weeks later added some Rage slip-ons, but this was not enough, so when I had some spare cash, I would pay the local Harley shops a visit and get little caps and covers, etc.

I was in my shed adding a chrome top-belt-guard when my partner walked in saying you are always spending money on her and throwing your leg over her every chance you get, she is like your ‘other woman’. While I was laughing about this, it occurred to me I could do a theme bike and call it ‘The Other Woman’ and have murals on it to tell a story.

I took the centre-strip off the tank and replaced the cap with a skull cap so what I have painted on the tank would be a complete painting and not two halves. I called up Damo at Zealous Airbrush Studio at Northgate in Brisbane to go over what I wanted; to tell the story in art. On the tank, we decided on a reaper taking a woman and lying her across his lap. On the left, painted on the battery cover, she is now in spirit while lit up with a skull moon in a graveyard; she has her back to you but seems to be gesturing in front of herself. On the right side, painted on the oil tank cover, she is facing you looking and gesturing at you and pointing in the direction of the reaper. What is she trying to say? Everyone has a different answer and that’s okay — it’s really what the story tells you. He also added a reaper on the front fender also in a graveyard with blood dripping from his blade.

I’m thinking on whether to change the back fender or not; this is why its unpainted at this time.

I looked at doing something different with the seat so I went to Sharptrim Custom at Helensvale and decided on a croc skin and extra padding; and while they were doing that, Gold Coast Embroidery was embroidering five skulls into the saddle part of the seat. It turned out better than I expected. They even added emu skin tastefully on each side of the saddle and the back where the misses sits.

Over the next year or so, I surfed the net looking for aftermarket parts in chrome to continue the project. Kuryakyn parts were added: Dagger pegs back and front, Zombie mirrors, tappet block accent on the right, chrome covers on the left including the starter cover, a chrome belt pulley, and a Harley 70’s look sissybar and layback plate holder.

One of the fiddly things I did was to replace the standard black switch-covers for chrome. I don’t know how many times I would say fuck this, why did I ever want to change these to chrome?

The list goes on: chrome lower-belt-guard, small caps for the motor, bolts, Zombie leavers.

Looking at her, I thought she needed better pipes for looks and performance so I added a set of Vance & Hines Short Shot pipes — the looks improved as well as the sound — but they made her loose all bottom-end power.

I called my Harley tech, Jeff at Wrench Devil, who advised me to get it dyno-tuned. He said Fred at Procycle Dyno was one of the best around so I went over and spent two hours in his dyno booth. After creating a full custom map for her, she now has 84.99 hp and 82.21 ft-lb of torque — not bad, I thought, for a stock 1200 cc motor. It has made such a difference to the low and high end of the power range.

I’m starting putting her in bike shows. I have already won First Place and a trophy for Best Sportster and this has encouraged me to keep adding and changing things to the bike. I enjoy working on ‘The Other Woman’, spending money here and there, but most of all, throwing my leg over as much as I can and going for a ride — it’s what it’s really all about.

I’d like to thank Harry at Harry’s Customs and Ben at Heavy Duty Motorcycles for looking after me with parts and a chat; Sharptrim Custom and Gold Coast Embroidery for the one-of-a-kind seat; Damo at Zealous Airbrush Studio for his amazing artwork; Jeff at Wrench Devil for his top service and advice; Fred at Procycle Dyno for his expert tuning; Jules for her professional photography; and to Ozbike magazine for letting me share my Harley in your magazine.

Photos by Jules at Top Gun; words by Steve L.

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