SHANE WAS my best mate. We went back 12 years or so and I don’t remember a time when we weren’t knee deep in some kind of crazy shit. We worked together, rode together, partied and generally raised merry hell together; we were a great team. Then, out of the blue on a quiet Friday night, the call came—at 33-years-of-age he’d suffered a massive heart attack and just like that, he was gone.
The following week we laid our mate to rest, and it was over a few drinks at his wake, I decided to finish his FXR. But not only to finish it, to do it in time to ride the bike to Caloundra where we’d scatter his ashes within the month. A big task, we all agreed, so work would have to start the next day.
The FXR Shovel had been sitting apart for about 14 months. Shane started the build but his life hit a few bumps and it sat idle for some time; he’d worked on it over the last couple of months but there was so much still to do. We pulled things down to see what we had to work with. The tins had been modified and were bare metal so they had to be faired and painted, the wiring was shot, there wasn’t a seat that fitted the custom tank; there seemed to be an endless list of things we had to make or buy.
Fortunately, I’d stacked up some gear for a Shovel project I’d been building so we ripped whatever we needed from that to help get things going. First thing to go on was a new set of 80 spokers with new hoops, front and rear—they looked great on Shane’s bike.
We worked almost in shifts, night and day. We made a custom seat base, turned up spacers and bushes, fabricated brackets and remounted almost everything. The tins were taken care of by a mate of a mate, and while that was being done, we had parts powdercoated, plated and milled. We chased oil leaks, welded up this and cut off that, and touched up other parts as we went. Each day as everyone left, they took parts and a list of things to get done and bring back the next day or so.
Our mate Dion, who wouldn’t normally know one end of a penlight battery from the other, rewired the entire bike over a few days using three manuals that didn’t even show the FXR wiring plan. He re-routed the wiring, replaced and resoldered every single connection, and when he’d finished, everything worked to perfection.
Slowly it started to come together, each part coming back and being fitted and double checked. We only had one shot at getting it ready with a week to test ride it before the run to the coast.
On a Sunday afternoon, 14 days after we’d started, we rolled her out of the shed ready to hit the go button. As she sat on the road ready for fresh fuel, it hit home—what would have taken months had been done in days—the FXR was finished. I knew how Shane was going to build the bike so we kept it to his specs. There it was finally complete, just the way it was meant to be, and he wasn’t there to see it—a really tough moment for us all.
Plugs out and a little machine oil down the bore to lube things, we cranked her over to check for oil pressure; all good. Hooked up to a LandCruiser for some extra zap, I turned on the fuel and asked for fingers crossed. A little choke, two pumps of the throttle, and I hit the start button. It went down on compression and fired into life, idling like it had never stopped… there must have been a lot of dust around that day because, after it started, everyone seemed to have something in their eye.
Two weeks later, leading about 25 bikes and God knows how many cars, I rode the bike and carried his ashes up to Caloundra where his mates and family laid him in his final resting place as per his wishes—a final tribute to a bloke we all loved.
Shane’s FXR Shovel is a great bike, and it’s a testament to the calibre of our mates that they just kept overcoming problem after problem to get it finished, never for a minute doubting we’d do it in time.
A special thanks to Jeff Marshall, one of the greatest Harley techos I’ve met; we must have phoned him 30 times over that two weeks for help and advice; he never go the shits once. And thanks to the boys—Big Mick, Dan, Paul, Dion, Tony, Zorb, and Brad—I’d never have done it without your help and I can’t thank you enough.
pics by Jules @ Top Gun; words by Corey Mann.