Gold Fever: Harley Blackline

…and the gigantic nuggets that come with it

Richard Merwin and I have never met in person, but I’m guessing he carries his gigantic cojones in a f—king wheelbarrow everywhere he goes. He might even have a special sidehack to carry them when he rides his own Harley. I say that because it takes gigantic balls to do what he did to this ’13 Harley Blackline.

Richard customized it for a friend. While he was deployed. Without telling him what he was planning. In direct opposition to what his buddy said he wanted his bike to look like. That takes colossal sack, in my opinion. If you get it wrong, at best you’re out a good friend. At worst, you’re the proud new owner of a woodshed beatdown. Getting it right, however, is a totally different beast.

It’s a good thing for Richard that he knows his shit. When his close friend Ryan Cinq-Mars went off for a seven-month deployment with the Navy, he entrusted his beloved stock Softail to Richard for safekeeping. “Just make sure it stays running and doesn’t just sit while I’m gone,” Ryan says.

Welcome to the bonus plan, Ryan. We hope you enjoy your stay.

Ryan sorta kinda hinted to Richard that he’d be gone for seven months and wouldn’t it be nice coming back to a Pearl White Softail. That set Richard’s creativity ablaze. “It was at this point that I kind of decided that I really wanted to show my appreciation for Ryan as a friend and what he does for this country by fully customizing his basically stock bike,” Richard says. There was no way Richard would allow Pearl White anywhere near this bike though. “So I basically took away all rights he had to customizing his bike.” Ryan’s wife, Amanda, collaborated on the job with Richard. They shared financial responsibilities, and she later modeled with the finished machine for the photo shoot.

Richard’s goal was a standout Softail that would be hard to stereotype. Between the carbon-fiber D&D exhaust, rifle fairing, and all of that sweet gold metalflake, he accomplished his mission in a big way. While the bike was stripped to the bones, the drivetrain got a healthy dose of texture black to offset the new gold motor components. None of these changes were his favorite part of building this beauty. Ryan’s whining took that title.

Every chance Ryan got, he’d call home to talk to Amanda and their daughter, Madilynne. Right after, Richard would get a call too. “I’d have to listen to him cry about how much he misses his bike and him trying to get me to tell him or show him what it looked like,” Richard says. “I loved sending him pictures of just the frame. It made me happy.” Probably not as happy as knowing he’d gone the complete opposite of Pearl White with the job though.

Ryan had no idea what to expect when he returned. Richard and Amanda presented his finished custom to him with all of their family and friends present. He was almost in tears. There’s just one surprise left, Ryan. While you were gone, Richard got ahold of us here at Hot Bike through Baggers bossman Jordan Mastagni. Thank you for your service, and we hope you enjoy seeing your Softail in this magazine alongside your lovely wife.