A Streamlined Custom Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail With A 1930s Theme

Bob Thrash's 80—No Excuses

Custom Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail

Bob Thrash's 80 is a streamlined custom with lush, full-coverage bodywork made in the 1930's mold.

Brian Blades

This article was originally published in the December-January 1999 issue of Cycle World's Big Twin magazine.

Originality beats conformity, always. So many custom bikes follow cookie-cutter formulas that it’s refreshing to find an original, built by someone who has absolutely his own ideas of what a custom motorcycle should be. Plus, in Bob Thrash’s case, the skill to make it happen. Long, low, streamlined Thirties’ styling with Art Deco influence is what turns him on.

This is Thrash’s first Big Twin; his first Harley was a Sportster imaginative enough to make it into a previous issue of this very magazine. And he is one of those customizers for whom the pleasure resides almost exclusively in the build. Once he’s rolling down the road on his new bike, his active brain is already designing the next one.

With his Sporty, Thrash had to compromise: The basic lump was already there, and he could only modify it. This time, he started from scratch, with an Atlas Wide Drive frame and an 80-inch Evo motor. He could make this bike exactly what he intended it to be—a streamlined custom with lush, full-coverage bodywork made in the 1930s’ mold, topped off by an impressive combination of billet, bronze and some really neat touches.

Custom Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail

The front fender comprises a complete set of fenders from of all things, a 1996 Yamaha Royal Star. Two more of those same fenders were combined to create the contours of the rear fender.

Brian Blades

Those flowing good looks were ac­complished through Thrash’s use of two pairs of gas tanks and no less than four fenders. The front fender comprises a complete set of fenders from, of all things, a 1996 Yamaha Royal Star. Two more of those same fenders were combined to create the contours of the rear fender. The whole rear unit mounts from the swingarm, and the absence of fender struts explains the lack of passenger accommodations. The gas tanks combine with a custom dash built by Thrash, which houses the only instrumentation found on this bike, a VDO speedometer. The electrics—including a circuit-breaker board—sit beneath the tank, with all wiring routed through the frame.

When the motor was apart, the cases were deburred and cleaned until the alloy almost shone like glass, then shot with a layer of bronze urethane paint. A touch of pearl and a dose of flattener were added to showcase the contrasting polished billet parts. Nissan Antique Bronze paint with a touch of green covers the substantial bodywork.



Thrash is a tinsmith by trade, and his main enterprise is building street rods. It’s no surprise, then, that this deco express features gloriously swoopy bodywork that he hammered into shape himself. He’s also an accomplished airbrush artist whose work has been featured on two-wheeled show-winners on both coasts. So, where’s the airbrush work on this one, you ask? “My friends all laugh,” he says, “but I think the bike makes a strong enough statement without it.” We have to agree. No excuses necessary.

Custom Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail

Once he's rolling down the road on his new bike, his active brain is already designing the next one.

Brian Blades

BOB THRASH’S 80
Base machine 1991 H-D
Model Heritage Softail
Owner Bob Thrash- Bourbonnais, IL, 815-932-4612
Designer/Fabricator/Builder Bob Thrash
PAINT AND CHROME
Molding Jeff St. Aubin, Rad Rides, Manteno IL
Painter Jeff St. Aubin, Bob Thrash
Graphic artist Bob Thrash
Polishing Bob Thrash
Engine
Year 1991 H-D
Model 80” Heritage
Builder High Gear, Cycle Works, Bourbonnais, IL
Displacement 80 cu. in.
Cases H-D
Lower end H-D
Rods H-D
Pistons Edelbrock 10.5:1
Heads Edelbrock Performer
Valves Edelbrock stainless
Cam Edelbrock
Pushrods Andrews
Lifters Jims
Primary cover H-D
Ignition Accel
Coils/wires Accel
Carb 38mm Edelbrock QwikSilver
Air cleaner Screamin’ Eagle
Exhaust 2 1/4“ White Bros. Porker Pipes
Other mods Block deburred and painted with flattened urethane, Boyd’s billet rocker boxes
Transmission
Year 1997
Type H-D
Primary drive Belt Drive Limited
Clutch Barnett
Frame
Year 1998
Make Atlas
Type Wide Drive
Builder Bob Thrash
Modifications 3” stretch, 36-degree rake
Front Fork
Year 1998
Make Boyd’s
Type 41mm Wide Glide
Builder Bob Thrash
Modifications 2” under
Rear Suspension
Year 1996
Type Wide Drive
Make Atlas
Swingarm 2” under
Modifications Progressive Suspension shocks
Front Wheel/Tire
Wheel Boyd’s
Tire Avon
Tire size 130/70-18
Rim width 3.5”
Brake Drag Specialties calipers; Boyd’s polished stainless rotors
Rear Wheel/Tire
Wheel Boyd’s
Tire Avon
Tire size 180/55-18
Rim width 5.5”
Brake Drag Specialties calipers, Boyd’s polished stainless rotors
Accessories
Handlebars Flanders
Risers Bob Thrash
Grips Ness
Gas tank Modified H-D, stretched 3.5”
Oil tank Atlas, modified by Thrash
Front fender Modified Yamaha Royal Star
Rear fender Modified Yamaha Royal Star
Headlight ’39 Chevrolet
Taillight ’40 Ford
Electrics Fabricated by Thrash
Speedo 3” VDO Electronic
Tach None
Seat Dual density, suede and leather, fabricated by Thrash
Foot controls H-D
Rider pegs H-D
Other ’32 Ford driving lights