“Man, how f—king big are these wheels going to get?” Originally, I asked myself that question at the height of the fat rear tire chopper fad back in ancient 2005. Big booty topped out around 360mm before it finally faded out of the limelight.
Now, every time a builder ups the ante on front-wheel baggers, that question pops back into my mind. At one point I thought we'd plateaued at 30 inches. Then Misfit decided that just wasn't big enough when it introduced us to the 32-inch hula-hoop. Buying one might have been a bit elusive for folks like Andrew Rumley at Custom Cycles Ltd. Reportedly, finding them on Misfit's site even proved problematic.
Custom projects almost always favor either form or function. Many go for a balance; in the end, though, even those bikes prioritize one slightly over the other. To me, that's what's always driven the big-wheel mentality and many of its fans—it's better to look good than to feel good. Love or hate the Gigantor front-wheel craze, but you have to admit it catches eyes. One man's rolling beauty is another man's twisted carny nightmare. Regardless of which side of the line you stand on, it's hard to look away.
Andrew Rumley clearly falls in the rolling beauty camp when it comes to big wheels. Why else would he and his shop go through the R&D to fit 32-inch front wheels to a frame, shod them in vee rubber, mount them onto two baggers, then ride the bikes into Daytona? Custom Cycles Ltd. shared both of these bikes—Ultra Classic and Road Glide—with us. Here's how they came to be.
Custom Cycles says this is the first 32-inch wheeled Ultra Classic. Andrew Rumley and Sean Brantley brought Rodney Landreth's math skills to bear on the measurements for the raked neck. A centerstand was used in place of a kickstand, and Custom Cycles’ own front and rear air ride was used to lift this baby off the ground. Kenneth Newman handmade a one-piece tail section, chopped nose and inner fairing, and put body lines in the gas tank. “Stereo and assembly was handled by Rodney Landreth,” Rumley told us.” Tony Stepps put the finishing touches on everything, and we ended up with a head turner that won first place at the Daytona Bike Week 2014 Cabbage Patch Bagger Show.” What he wouldn't tell us about either bike was the new rake. Seems like Landreth's math is a closely guarded Custom Cycles secret.
While Brantley and Rumley worked with Landreth on that red Ultra, they took his re-engineered rake and applied to what Custom Cycles claims is the very first 32-inch wheel Road Glide. The bike was virginal when they got their mitts on it (as in a whopping 11 miles on it). Brantley and Rumley cut and raked the neck to Landreth's specs. While their sleeves were rolled up, they created the custom swingarm needed to clear the transmission and other clearance issues.
Unlike its Ultra cousin a lift or two over, the Road Glide got some horsepower while under the knife. Kendall Johnson knows a thing or 10 about squeezing ponies out of a Twin Cam. He's the guy who beefed up the motor for the Pro Charger. Like the Ultra, shark nose here uses Custom Cycles Ltd.'s own front and rear instant air ride setup for the ground clearance demanded by the new rake. This bike won Andrew Rumley and Custom Cycles Ltd. the Master Bagger Builder award at 2014 Daytona Bike Week.