I never thought I’d be down with this bagger thing. I was convinced they were for old men. But when you get your girl on the back of one she never wants to ride on the back of a chopper again. And then you quickly get spoiled by the comfort and ridability.” These were the comments Joe Martin of Martin Bros. Bikes made when we asked him how he made the transition from wild choppers and pro-street-style bikes to the raked and slammed bagger you see here.
If you’re not familiar with Joe and the wicked bikes that have been blasting out of the Martin Bros. shop, then you need to pull our head out of the sand. Not only has the shop’s amazing creations graced the pages of HOT BIKE over the years, but they’ve also burned up the TV screen winning numerous accolades when chopper shows were all the rage.
As the old saying goes: “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” and while the high-end chopper scene and all the biker build-off hype may have died off, Martin Bros. still continues to stick to its style and churn out sick rides. However, now the majority of its bikes consist of saddlebags and fairings.
“I was real resistant to this whole bagger thing. I didn’t think I would be able to incorporate my style into it. I was afraid it wouldn’t be cool or look right,” Joe states. All you have to do is compare this long and low bagger to any of the other bikes Martin Bros. has built, and you can definitely see distinct similarities in style and finished detail.
Working with his buddy, Craig Ragle (aka Dickweed), who has a knack for sourcing wrecked, repo’d, or theft recovery bikes from local auctions, Joe went in on an ’08 Street Glide that was completely totaled. And while Joe and the shop had been lightly tiptoeing into the bagger scene by doing some slight frame mods and sheetmetal work, this bike would become the shop’s first foray into a full-frame, ground-up bagger.
“The bike was mangled beyond recognition, but amazingly the engine and trans were in good shape,” says Joe. “It started on the frame jig with just the motor and trans, and I built around it not knowing what stretch or rake I wanted. This was the perfect platform for me to build because the outcome was unknown. I just wanted something that would showcase a touring bike for me and not just be a bundle of the latest and greatest bolt-on parts. I wanted to put a Martin Bros. twist to this style of bike.”
Working off a sketch he drew up with a much larger front wheel, Joe began cradling the motor with round stock steel tubing. He spent hours bending the tubes and holding them in place or hovering atop the engine with some mock handlebars in his hands trying to get just the right lines for the frame. In the end he came up with arching downtubes, 42 degrees of rake in the neck, and 6 inches of forward stretch to give the bike a long and low profile. A Mean Street frontend with an additional 7 degrees of rake in the trees was used to push the front wheel out even further, and the large-diameter wheel from the drawing was ditched in favor of a 21-inch wheel from Pickard USA. Out back Joe used an 18-inch Pickard wheel wrapped in a 150mm Metzeler. To get the bike to sit lower than stock, Joe welded some new shock mount bungs below the stock bungs on the H-D swingarm, then installed a Legend Air Ride system.