I GUESS like a lot of people I have been riding bikes most of my life; started off on trail bikes and eventually moving over to road bikes. Then I got out of bikes for a number of years and really into the business of geophysical industry. We had a complete workshop and mechanical electronics so we were pretty spoilt for fiddling around with different things.
Recently we sold the company and I went into a semi-retirement mode. After wandering around thinking what I am going to do with my life, I decided that as we had travelled to America quite a few times, I thought maybe I will bring in some custom Harley parts. It would be a bit of fun.
I had met a number of people in the States who built custom bikes, and I spent a couple of months with one of the guys and he showed me the ropes of how to put them together and how he went about ordering things. I set up buying some of the custom parts directly from him and a lot of the other suppliers in the States, and started building bikes at home in my shed.
I have two bikes at the moment: this one that I want to keep for my own use; the other is a chopper style.
I had in mind that I would build two bikes with a similar frame but with a different layout and different rake and stretch: one a chopper; the other a bobber. Similar mechanically but the appearance of each quite dramatically different. The idea was to try and get full Australian Federal compliance on one bike and then have a variance submitted to get it on the second bike.
I have heard so many stories about people buying kit bikes in the past and they have just become a disaster. I mean they eventually got there, but perhaps when they have bought the kit it only represented about two-thirds of the cost. And most people I have found rather disillusioned by the difficulty of trying to register a kit bike because of the different authorities in each states being quite different.
Now I think that at this stage all states offer an owner/builder type of program for somebody who wants to build a bike. I know there are difficulties along the way but those difficulties can be transferred, I believe, to the engineer you are dealing with because he acts as a consultant and a go-between for the department and the owner. It is determined in each state by each engineer at what level the bike may have to be dismantled and then reassembled to show how the bike is built.
Now, the way I put the bike together, it can be easily dismantled, probably within a day. For instance, I am using a custom wiring harness that has all the electronics built in, and I have done it in such a way that everything unplugs. It’s easy to pull off the lights or the handlebars.
I looked around the different frame manufacturers and I think KraftTech in the States probably has one of the best reputations for making one of the better quality frames. It’s wide rear ends can take up to a 250 rear tyre.
On this bike I shortened the front-end slightly to reduce the height of the bike to get the final bobber appearance I was looking for. The bobber is certainly a simpler bike to build.
I am using a Ultima motor in this bike, 120 horsepower motor, and an Ultima gearbox and belt drive.
Everything on the bike has been powder-coated too.
I guess one of the features of this bike is the large front wheel. A lot of people have been asking me what it’s like to ride with such a big wheel. Well, I have to be honest, at this stage the bike is new and I haven’t ridden it much, only around the property where I live, but I find it very easy to ride, especially at very low speeds. I’m looking forward to getting it out on the road and really using it.
We took the bike down to the Bankstown Bike Show. It was the first time the bike has been shown in public and I was really interested to see what reaction I’d get, whether people liked it or whether they laughed at it. My wife made the comment that she couldn’t believe how people walked up, stopped, looked at the bike, and a big grin would come across their faces, and then they would come and have a closer look. The response we got was just so positive that it was just really rewarding; it made it all worthwhile for me.
Photos by Wall 2 Wall; words by Uncle Bill