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.
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.
The bodywork was next. I have experience with paint and body, so body working the bags and fender along with the Paul Yaffe stretched tank and dash was not a problem. The bags were fitted, drilled, and smoothed out with body filler. The Bad Dad fender was perfect right out of the box; however, I cut the taillights out of each side and frenched in red lenses backed with 30 LEDs to act as running lights, brake lights, and blinkers. I also trimmed out the fender strut cover so I could utilize the Harley mounting kit for a rear backrest. With the bags and fender ready for paint, I moved to the tank. The Yaffe tank was pristine. The guts from the stock tank went in without a hitch, and I was able to skim the tank, sand it smooth, and had it ready for paint in no time.
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, it took me quite some time to come up with something loud, but not over the top, and classic all at the same time. I also wanted to tie in the black frame since I would not be tearing this bike down to the frame for this build. What I came up with was a mixture of House of Kolor paint combining Sunset Pearl, Pearl Silver, Mini Flake Pale Gold, and Tangerine Kandy. I laid out graphics that flowed with the lines of the bike and all pointed down to give the illusion of the bike being long and low. After building a paint booth out of easy-ups and tarps in my backyard, I spent close to 80 hours painting the bike. Before the last stage of clear, I hauled all the parts over to Gene Worth to stripe the paint in green, which really accented the bike and made the color choice pop.
Before putting the bike back together, I added quite an extensive list of accessories. Starting with the front, I put a set of chrome lowers on the forks with a 21x3.5-inch chrome Hot Rod wheel and rotors. I had the Brembo brake calipers chromed along with all the hardware that ties the frontend together. In the fairing, I had a Sony deck installed, a JL Audio Amplifier, and 7.25-inch J&M; speakers. Hill Country Customs put together a set of 12-inch bars with chrome controls and a set of Performance Machine grips for me. I replaced the stock cable and brake lines with braided lines, and added a set of PM mirrors. The floorboards were replaced with a billet set from Wicked Image. I also installed Wicked Image foot controls eliminating the heal shifter and adding a slick look to the toe and brake pegs. For the engine, I simply installed a set of Vance & Hines pipes (which flowed downward to complement the graphics), a stage 1 intake, and had my dealer download a stage 1 map. The new tank and dash were finished off with Yaffe’s pop-up gas cap and the seat was made by LePera to fit the stretched tank perfectly.
The end result was nothing less than perfection. The bike rides amazing with the bigger front wheel, stock rear, and new suspension. I have no clearance issues in the hills or even around tight turns in the city. I can even pop the backrest on for my wife and me to hit the road with our friends for a long, enjoyable ride. When we get to our destination and park, the overall look of the bike is still exactly what I was shooting for: low, stretched, classic, loud, and custom all in one package—in my opinion, perfection! HB
|Bike Owner||Mike and Izabel Vivona|
|Year/Make/Model||’10 H-D/Street Glide|
|Build Time||Six months|
|Exhaust||Vance and Hines|
|Length||2 inches under|
|Manufacturer Rear||Arnott Air Ride|
|Wheels, Tires, And Brakes|
|Manufacturer Front/Type||Hot Rod|
|Manufacturer Rear/Type||H-D Chrome|
|Color||Kandy Tangerine Orange, Mini Flake|
|Rear Fender||Bad Dad|
|Fender Struts||Bad Dad|
|Gas Tank And Cap||Paul Yaffe|
|Handlebars||Hill Country Customs|
|Hand Controls||Hill Country Customs|
|Foot Controls||Wicked Image|
|License Mount||Bad Dad|
|Saddlebag Latches||Biker’s Choice|