The Ultima 113ci Black Gem motor with its unique nickel-plated finish would serve as the heart of this beast, set within the confines of its Chopper Guys softail frame. My beloved H-D Deuce frontend would help maintain a classic vibe, and a five-speed H-D tranny would keep me going through the gears with reliability. The bike would feature a host of PM and RSD accessories, including grips, risers, and hand and foot controls. And then there are the absolutely sick RSD Diesel wheels with the black and aluminum combo that would go far in maintaining the understated mean vibe of this bike. I definitely didn’t want this bike blinging, which was something Tom agreed with from the start.
For the next several months, Tom went about the craft of building what I believe to be the perfect chopper. I would check in weekly with Tom, visiting his garage to see the ongoing progress as it occurred. Each visit revealed new milestones in the build process. I especially reveled in seeing the nuances of Tom’s vision become reality. For example, I originally wanted to run Chica Mini-Z bars on the bike, but Tom sent them back to me. In his mind’s eye, they weren’t going to work on this bike as well as a simple set of drag bars would. And when I saw the drag bars mounted, I felt stupid to have suggested the Mini-Zs in the first place. Equally special for me were Tom’s one-off rear-fender mounts and motor and fuel-tank mounting brackets. Tom was also able to score one of Todd Silicato’s air cleaner designs to front the Mikuni carb that came with the Ultima motor. Along with the bull-shoulder leather seat by Bitchin Rich, the air-cleaner is one of my favorite pieces on the bike and yet another example of the value of trusting Tom’s mind’s eye.
Each time I visited Tom during the build, the subject of color would come up. I always envisioned a lot of black on the bike to get that meaner, harder look, but I still assumed that the tank and rear fender would feature some deep rich color tone that would characterize the bike. We kicked around a bunch of color ideas but hadn’t settled on anything. That’s about when Tom said, “How about we just paint it black?” My response was like, “Black? That’s it? Black?” He went on to describe how he was planning to mix a variety of black tones on this bike, and that it would find a really unique look in those varying shades. I was thinking, “Varying shades of black?” I didn’t even realize black had variance. But when you look at this bike, once again, Tom was exactly right. The bike features gloss black on the sheetmetal and lower legs, flat black on the controls, headlamp, wheels, air cleaner, and pipes, and even textured black on the oil tank and triple trees. And best of all, all of it only showcases the unique black-nickel finish of the motor. This combination of blacks not only achieves the mean and hard vibe we wanted, but most importantly, it gives the bike a classy and sophisticated state-of-the-art feel. Elite quality isn’t flashy.
But it wouldn’t be fair to say this is just a black bike. The tank is actually adorned with cherry wine scallops and grey pinstriping by master painter Rich Evans. Tom knew my heart was set on having some color on the bike, so he had Rich lay down the scallops and pinstripes, after which he shot it with some thin coats of black candy. From most angles, the bike appears straight black. But when light hits the tank, the cherry wine scallops come bursting through from underneath the black candy. It’s a totally unique look and yet another example of trusting Tom’s mind’s eye.
This entire experience was mind-blowing. I may have run down the parts and accessories that comprise this bike, but they are not what make it as great as it is. It’s like human beings: we’re defined not by our bodies, but by our souls. And the soul of this bike is found in Tom Foster’s bloody knuckles and the aluminum shavings that adorn the floor of Tom’s garage. This bike is about that incredible amount of time and effort, the attention to detail, and the fact that in the end, the bike is a manifestation of Tom Foster the person and my dear friend. Just like our friendship, this bike is all about heart and soul. HB