Tribal Drum & Claire

Custom bike builders will speak of many hassles when sourcing customs parts from overseas. Murray reckons nothing is insurmountable, but one problem brought his new project to a grinding halt—a badly broken leg!

MY PARTS were just starting to arrive from the States when I crashed my Harley-Davidson Fat Boy and snapped my leg. That sure made it a difficult build. I’ve been riding Harleys for many years since I got my Sportster in 1980, but like most blokes of my era, I started out on a Honda 750 Four when I got my licence at 17. It was K2 Model—bought in 1975—and it had six-inch-overs, peanut tank and all that shit, but them came the Harleys. I’ve owned about five H-Ds since then, but truthfully, this one’s not really a Harley at all. It’s only got about twenty bucks worth of Genuine Harley parts on it—just the ignition module holder hidden under the seat where I cut it into the fender, and a Genuine neutral light setup which is hooked into the Prowler six-speed gearbox.

It’s funny, but my Missus made me build this bike. I was helping a mate, Dirty Dave from down the road, with his bike, putting an S&S 113 cube motor into his Heritage and the Missus started the ball rolling by saying I should build a custom for myself (Wonder Woman for sure— Ed).

I ordered all the parts, including the S&S 113 cube and DNA frame and LA wheels over the internet. We were dealing with Joe Cree from California Custom. He’s a big bloke; a good bloke too; the only difficulties we had was the gulf between what’s road-legal in the States and what can actually be used over here. Americans have it easy compared to the strict laws we’ve got to follow in Western Australia. We ended up going to the States and dealing direct with Big Joe. That was easy. What was hard was having all the parts landed in Australia and not being able to do much about it other than hobble around on crutches and wait until my leg healed.

I had a few mates help with the build: Phil, John Chapman and Johnno Bowman who is a Genuine H-D technician. I’m a tree lopper and wood machinist by trade, so I’ve got the ideas on machining. It was handy for making stuff like the shift linkage and the belt guard. The guard is made from 3 mm stainless and the ‘Tribal’ design and flames were laser cut before being polished up. I’ve tried to keep the tribal theme going throughout the enter bike; and the paintwork, done my Ryan at Kustom Mods in Malaga, carries it along.

It’s been in two shows and won two trophies so far: a first place in the Narrogin Revheads show, and People’s Choice at the inaugural Veteran’s Run—there were 150 bikes on that one. 

It’s nice to ride—I’m getting rid of the Fat Boy and keeping this one—it’s got about 5000 km on it already.

I reckon I still love building the things. People sometimes drop in while I’m working on some part and they’ll say: ‘Gee, you must have some patience to do this sort of thing,’ but to my mind, designing and building a custom is what keeps you sane.

pics by Brian White; words by Kelly Ashton

Claire The Chicky Babe

WHAT do you reckon Claire does for a living? Taxi driver… checkout chick… hostage negotiator for a large Middle-Eastern oil company? Nope—Claire makes her living as an elephant keeper! Oh, and of course, she does a bit of modelling as well.

“I grew up on a farm in the Central West wheat belt,” Claire told us. “At a place called Wyalkatchem—strange name, beaut place as the locals say. Naturally, I like all animals, so I studied to become a zoologist. While I’ve worked with most of the animals at the zoo, I’m now exclusively an elephant keeper. Elephants are so intelligent, and as their keeper, you form a real bond with them. I look after three—one male and two female—and I’ve got to tell you, the females are easier to deal with; they’re more gentle and considerate than males.” (Ain’t that the truth—Ed).

Ozbike is all about the search for knowledge, and elephant keeper Claire tossed up this bitty morsel of elephant lore: “Once they get to know and like you, they come up close and urinate near you.”

Fair dink?

“Yes, that’s the greatest compliment and display of affection an elephant will show to someone they like.”

Interesting. Well, apart from drowning you with love and affection, doesn’t it get dangerous, like if a clumsy one steps on you?

“They’re pretty careful and considerate. If one accidentally steps on your foot, they’re lifting their foot really quickly, and they get so embarrassed and concerned that they might’ve hurt you. They seem to get a bigger fright than you do.”

We’ll be the judge of that, thanks, Claire.

pics by Brian White; words by Kelly Ashton

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