How long do you continue to watch all those bikers leaving on a nice sunny day to go enjoy a relaxing ride through the hills while you stay back polishing your ground-up custom “Bar Hopper” in the garage before you finally decide to get a bagger? Well, apparently it took me three years. My passion for motorcycles and watching my favorite builders on TV encouraged me to build my own custom bike a few years back. What resulted was a ground-up custom chopper that won many awards, graced the pages of the December 2008 issue of HOT BIKE, and has been very enjoyable to ride and an overall great experience. However, I found myself at home a lot with my bike instead of riding with my buddies who mostly rode baggers. The chopper was great to ride around town, but once you get in the hills or out on long open roads -9 feet of wheelbase and a wide rear tire doesn’t always make it the most enjoyable ride. My wife and I began to discuss getting a bagger so we could take it on nice long rides together. One day as we walked through the showroom at San Jose Harley, I sat down on a brand new vivid black Street Glide and my wife said, “If you like that one, I’ll buy it for you for your birthday.” As soon as I heard those words come out of her mouth, first I thought I was the luckiest man alive, and then the wheels in my head started turning thinking about my next project. The next thing she said set the playing field for what I was going to have to build to make this bike perfect, “Just don’t tear this bike apart and make it a show bike that we can’t even take for a ride!” With my wife’s words in the back of my mind, I started to plan and the build began.
“When it came time to paint, I spent countless hours drawing layouts on paper, playing with tape, and looking through color books. Since paint can make or break a great bike...”
“When it came time to paint, I spent countless hours drawing layouts on paper, playing wit
The goal with this bike was to build a unique custom bagger that was still something we could hop on and take for a nice long, relaxing ride. I guess I have a history of taking a perfectly comfortable bike and turning it into a cool-looking show bike that is uncomfortable and only fun to ride within a 10-mile radius of my garage. Coming from my raked-out chopper, it was natural for me to want to rake out the bagger, drop it to the dirt, put big wheels on it, and make it loud enough for the cops to hear from a mile away. The challenge was to come up with a plan to still have a custom, show-worthy bike, yet still keep it a comfortable Street Glide. I also wanted to build a bike that more people could relate to. Of course ground-up customs are amazing and what motorcycle enthusiast doesn’t enjoy looking at them, but the majority of the bikes you see on the road are Harleys, and more and more these days they are baggers. I wanted people to see a cool custom bike and be able to relate to it because they also ride the same style bike. I also like to encourage people just like me to take apart their factory bikes and try new things. This is how I learned to build bikes—by trying something I didn’t necessarily know how to do. By learning how to work on my bike, it has made riding Harleys an even more enjoyable experience that might just be something I could pass on.
This bike started as a brand-new ’10 H-D Street Glide. When we got it home I immediately started planning and taking measurements. My favorite baggers are the ones that are low, wide, and stretched out. What I didn’t want though was to stretch it so low that I would scrape the bags going through the hills. With a set of 4-inch bag extensions and the 4-inch stretched fender from Bad Dad on order, an air ride was the solution. With the Arnott Air Suspension I was able to keep the stock ride height when we were on the road, but drop it to the dirt when parked. Even with the bags 4 inches longer, the stock ride height gave me more than enough room to play in the turns. The front suspension was also dropped 2 inches with progressive springs to level out the increase in ride height from the 21-inch wheel. The combination of the two kept the stock rake, trail, and clearance.