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Events

Soldiering On To Lithgow – Ride Sunday

With the inaugural Ride Sunday event on July 2nd, we decided to make good use of the weekend by getting some free passes from the girlfriends and blasting out of the city for some much needed tomfoolery. To help keep our consciences clean, we also raised a bunch of money for the charity, Soldier On.

This is our Ride Sunday.

Coming from the same lads that gave us The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, Ride Sunday is a new global charity event that brings together riders of every make and style, and encourages them to ride on the same day for a good cause. These rides can be created yourself, or you can join one that someone else has made. What’s great is you can choose exactly which charity you would like to raise funds for, meaning riders can help out for the cause that they most believe in.

Having gotten the all clear from our better-halves to escape for the weekend, me and a bunch of mates got planning. We elected to raise money for Soldier On; a charity which helps defence and police force personnel who suffer with physical or psychological affects from their service. With it being winter here in Australia, we figured it be brilliant to ride over to the lovely warm (definitely not freezing) town of Lithgow. This is a town that has a long connection with the Australian Defence Force, so it seemed to fit the bill just fine.

Despite Ride Sunday officially being a 1 day event, we set out early on the Saturday morning so we could make the most of it and pull an overnighter in the local pub. Meeting at Deus Camperdown, nice and early, we fuelled up on bacon and egg rolls and coffee; and soon were ready to roll out. Quietly, the pack of about a dozen Harley’s rolled out, with a token Yamaha SR400 bobber, and my Yamaha XSR900 sticking out like dogs bollocks. But hey, at least my brakes worked.

This ride wasn’t going to be 12 hours of twisting fury, but a pretty laid back ride with stopovers at various pubs. It was glorious having no set time to be anywhere, and being able to relax when we wanted. After a delicious pie and schooner in Blackheath, our next stop would be the famous Lithgow Munitions Factory. The silent Harley’s were back on the road.

Lithgow is a town that has a very long history with the Australian Defence Force, with its munitions factory having created arms for every conflict Australian’s have been in for more than a century. Upon our arrival, we spied an excellent backdrop for some photos where the old factory used to be. The lovely Debbie, who works at the Small Arms Factory Museum, soon greeted us. She asked for a photo and we obliged, getting a photo with her in return before we headed in to check out the boomsticks.

After shedding some layers in the delightfully warm museum, we got a bit of history on the factory. Having been established after Australia’s federation, the factory went on to create ammunition and firearms that saw action in all of Australia’s conflicts. Even today, modern arms are created that still service our Defence Force personnel. We told the staff about our ride, and how we were actually raising money for Soldier On, which garnered us a lovely little discount upon entry. The museum has an incredible collection of arms, from every country and every conflict. For any history buffs or gun nuts, this is place is a must to visit. 

After we took plenty of tough guy photos with the guns, disregarding any forms of decorum or safety, it was time to head into town and check out our palace for the evening. The local pub would be our bastion of debauchery, with rooms that resembled Jackson Pollock’s work on the floors, a token porn magazine in the communal lounge room, and more than enough colourful locals.

After enjoying a couple of beverages in the afternoon sun by the ANZAC Memorial in Lithgow Park, we headed back to the pub whereupon the rest of the evening seems to be missing from our memories. A certain SR400 was put on a table by people unknown, which was definitely hilarious for all involved.

The ride home on Sunday was a very gentle one, but the weekend had been killer. We’d raised $6,133 for our charity, which smashed our goal of $5000. You can still donate to us at www.ridesunday.com/fundraisers/The-Lithgow-Lay-Z-Boys

  

Categories
Events

Birth of The Machine Show

The quiet country town of Braidwood played host to the inaugural Machine Show on the weekend – hundreds of classic and custom machines 30 years and older descended on the local show ground. Riders from all over heeded the call for pure bike viewing bliss, and the class of machines left none disappointed.

This weekend is the product of Australian motorcycle Generalissimo Matt Machine, who’s been creating some of the best custom builds mortal eyes have ever seen. The event would kickoff on March 31st, with the campground filling with a ton of custom machines that all had made the pilgrimage from up and down the coast. “That’s what a big part of this event is about – it’s the journey. Everyone riding from so many towns and cities, carving their own route. It’s also a great opportunity to get some country air, and chill out before heading back into the city and starting a new work week.” – Matt

The ethos behind this weekend would be for all 2-wheeled machines 30 years or older. No particular style or make, weather it’s a fairing-clad 2 stroke racer or a raked and lowered chopper death trap. The passionate blokes and sheilas that own and ride these machines could spend the weekend drinking and making new friends that all share the same machine addiction. The event was a translation of the personality and work that goes into all of Matt’s machines.

The crew from Throttle Roll along with a bunch of other misfits and degenerates made good use of the ride down on Friday, taking the long way through parks, dirt roads, and clay tracks. This would set the scene for the Friday night as bands of other riders all slowly made their arrival, some later than others due to the perks of owning old Harley’s. Young Henrys supplied an ample amount of grog to keep the weary riders festive well into the night. The next morning’s hangovers were also sponsored by Young Henrys, apparently.

“The event exceeded our expectations – we knew that a ton of great bikes and people would turn up but the final result was a fuckin’ ripper. We’re really pumped for next year, so we can add more to the event and refine it. It’s great letting people see all these bikes and machines that they wouldn’t normally interact with. It can help influence and refine what they want to ride, build, or own. We’ll definitely be getting a lot of the vintage and classic clubs involved in the future.” – Matt

Saturday would be the big day that all the various machines would be lined up in the gleaming sun of the Show Ground, being judged and perved on by punters and the official judges, with awards being handed out later that afternoon. This is an event that took a big step for its first year, with ambitious goals. The seed has been planted, and the following years will see even more machines make the journey for what will no doubt be a new stellar motorcycle event in Australia’s thriving and passionate scene.

Well done to Matt and his team for popping the bike show cherry for Braidwood – For more on Matt and his creations head to www.themachinefiles.com.au


           

           

     

  

  

  

Categories
Bikes

1946 Harley-Davidson WR Flat Tracker

Owning a piece of motoring history, a machine that’s restored to its former glory, is something many can appreciate. This 1946 Harley-Davidson WR – by all means a rare machine – is still hitting the dirt, mud, and sand. This creature was born for racing, and 71 years later it’s doing just that.

The Harley-Davidson WR was created as an answer to the successful Indian Scout that dominated the tracks of 1930’s America. The racing brother to the WLA and WLC, respectively, the bike proved itself well on the flat track. This particular WR750 doesn’t spend its life tucked away under cover to only be taken out for special days. Ross brings his WR to all kinds of events. Most recently, Aftershock Sydney 2017 – a notoriously unsafe time if motorcycle preservation is concerned. Regardless, this old Harley belted around the muddy flat track in the rain, dodging dodgy builds, and giving these young whippersnappers a run for their money.

Ross is no stranger to this style of Harleys. Wind the clock back nearly 50 years to Ross buying his first motorcycle – a 1942 Harley-Davidson WLA. ‘I purchased the bike from a guy at school for $50 to satisfy my obsession with motorcycles. It wasn’t a runner, but over time I managed to learn enough to get it going to bash around the farm on with my mates. This machine soon became my only mode of transport when I got my licence. With many stories of breakdowns and walks home, I stuck by my first Harley. This was the early ‘70’s and Japanese bikes had hit the scene hard, but I was not moving on.’

Over the years, Ross would acquire himself a few more WLA’s to act as parts bikes to keep his first machine running. As adult life kicked in, the bikes were kept in the shed while Ross got busy moving around the country. His loyalty to old Harley’s would stay strong, and it would be some years later that Ross would find himself working on these bikes again, this time getting properly stuck into the rich racing history side to Harley-Davidson.

‘My intention was to build another bike from my bits into a board racer/flat tracker style, which I had always loved. This sort of happened, building a hill climber special to compete in a private hill climb that was Harley’s vs Indian. It was at this event that I was introduced to a Harley WL race bike, owned by a now friend who raced historical events around Australia. The bike had the hottest cams, looked fantastic and ran on methanol – I was hooked.’

It’s through these decades of passion and dedication to Harleys – paired with the racing history – that leaves little to wonder about how this remarkable WR Racer came into Ross’ possession. Originally put on the track by a private racer back in the States, this machine found its way to Australia and into Ross’ very capable hands. Not much was to be changed on the is machine, aside from a bit of work to the magneto and replacing the original racing carbi. ‘Most of the information on these bikes was limited, so my intention was to purchase this bike and get it on the road racing track. Realistically the bike was set up for flat tracking, which required different engine performance (i.e. wide open throttle, having a heavily modified carb, low gearing, no front brake) I decided to maintain the bike in its current guise and just ride it occasionally. It had seen the Broadford Speedway track for some demonstration laps of harley flat trackers but that is about it.’

‘This year I have decided to not just go road racing, but try a few different things. I entered the Sellicks Beach Racing in February and decided to take the WR as this is what it was intended for. For the first time since owning the bike I removed a barrel to check out the state of play before I used it in anger. It’s in great condition; only one size up from standard, and the bottom end seemed solid. It also revealed some of the factory secrets of getting these motors going and whilst the outside looks no different to the WL model, there is a bit of stuff going on there. I tipped over valves to improve breathing and compression, drilled connecting rods, ball race bottom end along with many other trick bits. I had a great time on the beach and the bike performed admirable, the rider not so outstandingly.’

Once the sand of Sellicks had settled, Ross got home and after a week of cleaning, preserving, cleaning, preserving and cleaning it was time to do it all again. This time, replacing the sand with mud. Despite the ridiculous variety of machines with equally ridiculous modifications that makes Aftershock what it is, the WR stole the show. Truly a remarkable feat considering what is going on that chaotic weekend. Seeing it actually belt around the track, getting covered in mud and grass, was a site to behold. A glimpse at a different time for racing and machines.

‘I went OK at Aftershock, as at least the bike stayed upright! (just…) I had a little trouble with the forward mounted magneto getting drowned, but a plastic bag slowed that down. I am so pleased the bike did the both events without any major issues and the rider lived to ride another day. I would assess I am not that flash a rider on loose surfaces, and look forward to returning to the race track next month.

The last month has been great in the fun stakes and using the WR as it was intended. Thank you to all the people who took the time to say hello and pass some flattering comments about the bike.’

  

     

Categories
Bikes

Rob’s ’47 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead

Life for this bike started out as a 1948 Panhead, however an identity crisis was ahead and a change was to be made. For Rob, everything that he’s wanted to do in a Harley build was going to be in this bike. The end result is a testament to Rob’s excellent skills and finer taste.

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You may recognise this beauty already. This isn’t the first time we’ve gone to have a sticky beak at the amazing machines that Rob and his good mate Sam have in their Shed, including Sam’s 1950 Panhead.  We returned again, to make sure these two were behaving themselves and also to get another, closer look at Rob’s incredible 1947 Harley-Davidson FL Knucklehead.

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Initially purchased as an unfinished restoration project, this 1948 Harley-Davidson Panhead was to be given a new heart from its now new owner Rob. Having sold the ’48 Panhead motor, Rob got to work hunting down his dream engine. His search would be successful, finding a set of genuine healthy ’47 cases – the last of the Knuckle’s before the introduction of the Panhead in ‘48.  Search successful, Rob had the job of putting the bottom end together and the blueprints were given to the guys at Redgraves Motorcycles down at Hornsby.

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This build was to encapsulate everything Rob wanted in a Harley – this would be the one. Grabbing a set of original Fatbob fuel tanks, Rob narrowed and joined them together, adding some round bar as a backbone and relocating the filler cap. This would be a much more stylised and cooler version of this quasi-original tank. With his good mate Shack’o behind the brush, the pin striping and numbers would be completed across the tank.

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The next step would be modifying the stem of an original VL springer front end, which would be a long-term ambition in itself. An older styled oval shaped headlight from a long forgotten vintage car was sourced from the States. Next, Rob laced some “mud catcher” style alloy wheels with stainless steel spokes. The rear guard would be fabricated and painted to match the customised tank – tying a sleek style across the body of the machine. A brass rod was given to a local engineer who machined it before Rob set about mounting it alongside the fuel tank.

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Keen to keep experimenting in this build, a rock’n’roll foot clutch assembly was created which works fantastically. The pipes were purchased as-is with plans to chop them up, but after demoing them on the bike the sound and look was too good to change anything. This bike wasn’t just built to look pretty, but to ride. With plenty of trips with mates up and down the coast to various festivals and events, this bike needed to perform on the long haul. After a few runs with a few mates, the only improvement this immaculate machine needed was a bottle opener affixed to the handlebars.

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“I love Harleys, they’re the Hotrods of the motorcycle world. It’s in the blood. My favourite thing about this machine is even on it… yet. I’ve rebuilt a pair of original Linkert carbs, but after many different mods to the manifold I haven’t been able to get them to run properly. But fuck, they look cool just sitting on the shelf!”

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Categories
Bikes

The Reverend – Josh’s Harley-Davidson Sportster

A big, heavy, American V-Twin isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when Café Racers are mentioned, but that’s exactly what pushed Josh to create The Reverend. This is a dark horse of a machine – a cruiser with café racer influence.

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Inspiration for Josh’s recent build came in the form of a combination of two of his favourite bikes. The first being a Honda CB550 Brat build he had seen, and the second a Café Racer styled Harley-Davidson Sportster build by Deus Ex Machina. These two builds would plant the seed of possibility, and sure enough a 2008 Harley-Davidson Sportster XL883 would soon be sitting in Josh’s garage, waiting to be chopped up. “I decided to tone down the original concept a little to reign in the costs, but I wanted to turn a big fat sportster that began all white & chrome (the donor bike’s original scheme) into a blacked out brat/café bike that turned heads and upset Harley purists.”

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Josh’s love for classic styled motorcycles stemmed some way back, but it would not be fully acted upon until a change of pace and a move into the big smoke. “Seeing classic bikes in movies and on the street certainly always copped plenty of staring from me, but I hadn’t really ever thought about owning one until more recently. I’d moved to Sydney from growing up in the country and the traffic was literally driving me insane! I watched motorbikes roll past me in traffic and it was then that I was convinced; I needed to get on a bike. I told myself it was pragmatic, for functionality only and that I wouldn’t enjoy it and get addicted. As soon as I bought my first bike and rode it for 10 minutes I was completely hooked. It was just a completely different experience to driving a car, and I loved it. I was never into newer cars or newer anything really – I was always drawn to older style things, so naturally café racer bikes became my weapon of choice.”

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The following weeks would be filled with daydreaming of what and how to achieve this new project, with dozens of images being collected from builds around the world and inspiration being put to good use. “I was trying to mesh together a lot of different bikes I had seen. I’d create Photoshop mock-ups, and then decided to jump right into it and get to work with the angle grinder. Harley’s aren’t the best shape for café racers so that meant cutting pretty aggressively into the frame to build a whole new rear end. I then chucked on some new suspension to change the geometry of the bike even further. Once the way it sat was right, it needed some custom fabrication on the rear for the seat, which my mate Chris expertly took care of. It was then time for me to begin tearing every piece of chrome off and begin painting everything black.”

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Despite not having much experience in the way of motorcycle customisation, Josh made the most with what he had, and stuck to his project. “There weren’t too many hiccups with the build, other than my lack of experience with electrics and fabrication. It took lots of frustrating hours playing around to make things work. Not having the right tools for most of the jobs was tricky as well. This meant doing it very slowly – the way you’re not meant to do it. For instance, painting the engine and wheels whilst they were still on the bike.”

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It’s tough to say what my favourite thing about the machine is, but maybe the tank lettering. The name for this bike was picked out long before I had even purchased it. I knew I wanted to build an aggressive looking bike and call it the Reverend. It’s a name that’s a half tongue in cheek joke about this bike being the thing that will bury me, and half a bit of a joke on usually being the only token Christian around the motorcycle scene. But other than the tank I think just the way the bike makes me smile when I twist the throttle. It’s just really fun to ride. It feels so different to ride it now than when I began cutting it up, and it’s a seriously fun bike to ride now with the new geometry and controls the way it’s set up. I think perhaps most though I like that I did what people tell you not to do with a Harley-Davidson. I see why you’re not supposed to do this to a Harley, but it was fun and a challenge.”

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Categories
Bikes

Sam’s 1950 FL Harley-Davidson Panhead

A bike sliding down the hard road doesn’t spell fortune for many, but it would be the catalyst for Sam to become the owner of this 1950 Panhead. If there’s one thing you could say about this machine, it’s that it’s bloody mint.

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Sam has been bike mad (and possibly mad in general, who knows) since he was the height of a tabletop. It was in these early years that his passion for wheels would be solidified. “I was 7 when my dad passed away. The guy who lived next door to us used to build and ride old bikes. I was that annoying little kid next door that just hung around him and his shed – and so have been into bikes ever since.  He built 2 Honda 750 Fours; we rode them to the first Grand Prix at Phillip Island in 1989 and camped next to the track at a rally site.  It was huge, and I’ve loved older classics ever since.”

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This love for classics would later result in a particular American engine coming into his possession. Sam and his Missus were getting about happy as Larry on their 1960 BSA Super Rocket, so an old Harley-Davidson was not on the cards at this point – or so Sam thought. After a bike his good mate had been working took on a slide down some cold hard road, this 66-year-old Panhead engine was removed from the original machine to make way for a more powerful heart. “There was some damage, but none to the motor. My mate Rob rebuilt the bike and a guy from Sydney, who’s also now a good mate, bought it from him.  This guy wanted a bit more power than the old Panhead had, so Rob installed a Panhead replica with a shitload more grunt. The original motor came out and just sat on the bench while Rob was tossing up selling it.  I just dig old engines – any old machinery for that matter. This engine was just a cool looking thing sitting on the engine stand on the bench. I was keen to buy it, just to own it, or even build a bike – under Rob’s guidance of course.”

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In the end, Sam’s mate Rob would start a new build with this lonely old engine that sat on the shelf for so long. The more Sam watched the build progress, the more he was convinced this would be the machine for him eventually. “I would never have thought of interfering with the direction that Rob was going as he made the build. That’d be like walking into the Sistine chapel and giving Michael Angelo a few tips on brush technique and colour selection.

The stance on this bike was tough, great lines.  The frame sat low with the shortened front end.  As soon as it was finished I loved it, and claimed it as my own.  It was the perfect setting for this grand old engine.  I’ve made a few cosmetic changes since, but time does that.  I went with a bling look, taller bars (originally had drag bars), brass risers, brass rocker covers, tank re-paint, shorter rear guard, and shitloads of other brass added.  Rear suspension is a matter of how much air you put in the rear tyre.”

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There’s a fuckload to look at with this bike, it’s a gleaming example of a top build. It’s got bling, but not too much. It shines where you want, and is rough elsewhere. The crowning feature on this rocket limousine is no doubt the sterling work on the tank. Originally gold, the tank boasted a thin dusting of gold sprayed with a clear adhesive. The seams and all the tank’s raw foundings would be shown off through this scheme, but this would not be the destiny for this fuel tank as rocks and stone chips eventually took their toll.

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“Over a few ales, Rob and I sat down at his shed and planned a respray.  Something red and bling with old school cream inserts and a couple of period racing numbers was the plan, we think.  Whatever it took to get a rich red 70’s flake look – and whatever Rob had laying around his paint room. After stripping the tank, Rob scuffed up the raw metal with a grinder to give it a textured look before applying the clear “primer” again.  Rob dusted each coat of colour to keep it as transparent as possible.  On went the red, and it came up pink, so on went some black and it came up dark pink… Then some orange and it started to go a weird olive/pinky colour.  We just kept going until we finally got it where we were both pretty happy.  Besides, we were running out of beer…

The flake was next, Rob had some different coloured flakes – so on they went!  A clear coat followed and we were both pretty stoked, it really popped when you looked at it in the sun. 17 coats of paint in all…”

One more coat and the tank could legally drink at the pub!

harley-davidson_panhead_chopper_bobber-276Once the fridges at the shed were rearmed with plenty of beer, the inserts were painted onto either side of the tank with some materials that had been left over from a recent 1937 Knucklehead restoration. “We tracked down a local pinstriping guy named Shack’o. We heard a bit of his reputation in the hot rod and old bike scene.  He came to Rob’s shed and we had a chat with him.  We all instantly hit it off, and he showed us his work.  His stuff is very cool.  He did the numbers on the tank, “50” for the build year of the engine and hasn’t left the place since!  He’s a great guy, rides cool bikes, builds cool cars, and paints killa shit.”

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This machine has genuine matching cases, original Panhead frame from a rigid built in 1950, original front end with shortened fork tubes, original front brake drum, FL style headlight, 14″ apes up front and rear drum, 16″ rear wheel with coker style tyre, and 21″ front with speedmaster style tyre.

It’s not just original parts that adorn this build, with some modern additions such as a 6 speed trans with kick and electric start, and 3″ open primary. The rear guard was once a vintage Ford spare wheel cover, which was split and narrowed to fit the tyre profile.  The pipes were hand made by Rob and suited the look of the build perfectly, and then wrapped to reduce the number of accidental tattoos.

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“If I ever get the whim to change the tank again, this one’s coming off the bike and going straight to the pool room!  A bike like this is always a work in progress; it’s such a great bike to ride.  Eventually you think of some way to make it better, or even just different.  I’ve already got a taller sissy bar in mind to strap a pack to.

My favourite thing about this bike is… it’s mine.”

Like Sam’s Held jacket? Well you bloody should, he was a lucky duck who won it at this year’s Throttle Roll Street Party. Head over to www.heldaustralia.com.au to grab one for yourself.

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Categories
Bikes

The Slob – Pil’s Harley-Davidson 1200

Meet ‘The Slob’ – no we’re not referring to Pil on a Friday night after he’s visited his local Kebab joint, but instead the 2004 HD Sportster XL1200R he’s hacked and attacked with his creative drive. The result is all kinds of geometric goodness.

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After building his fair share of conventional café racers, Pil had the itch to try his hand at something new. Inspiration would hit after hours of trawling through the Internet, but what was needed first would be a machine to apply these ideas. The plan was to do something different in contrast to the more common Harley builds and customisations you sitting smacking through the streets. “After building a nice BMW R80 café racer, I sold it to a bloke up the coast who had a Sporty 1200 he was selling. We did a deal, and sure enough I went to work modifying the new bike to my vision.”

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This vision would include a Yamaha R1 front end with Paolo Tex Ducati fairings to give the bike that unique girder look, and possibly some mild anxiety for the Italian designer upon hearing that these were attached to a Harley instead of a Ducati. “I chucked on some Brembo brakes so that it could stop – something which is unusual for these bikes. I then added a larger tank, and a 21” front wheel and some air shocks to slam it down low.” Not too low however, so as not to ruin the amazing chin spoiler that was shipped in from Eightball in Germany. This was then modified to suit the larger front wheel that was chucked on, along with a Harley Night Rod headlight and drag fairing.

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A nice subtle dull grey was opted by Pil for the paint scheme, with the only bit of shine remaining being the rocker covers – although even now a debate is being waged in Pil’s mind as to leaving them nice and shiny or opt for a black out (we vote shiny). “I’ll be having the engine rebuilt soon – it’ll then be able to do 100HP with all the new internals. I’m told it will then be able to do wheelies… fuck yeah!” We will no doubt report back with images of Pil getting this thing to wheelie as proof – gotta hold a man to his word, and wheelies are bloody good.

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Categories
Bikes

Love & Shovel – A Romance Story

Meet Andrew and the love of his life, a 41-year-old American cougar who despite being a bit older than her partner, still has it going on where it counts. Theirs is a love story that no Disney film could create; truly a romance for the ages. We took an endearing stroll by the water to find out just what makes this relationship work and what their secret to love is.

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So let’s start at the beginning of this beautiful tale. How did you two meet? Was it love at first sight?

I guess I am a little old fashioned when it comes to this. We didn’t go in for this ‘try before you buy’ living in sin type thing you see so much today. Sight unseen, out of the classifieds like she deserved is how our paths crossed.

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What made you realise that you could spend the rest of your lives together? Were you scared at all?

She was coming out of a bad relationship with this guy up the coast. One of these real nasty types, he made her dress all slutty and do things she still doesn’t talk about with me… I get a bit angry thinking about it. He was still hanging around and her confidence was pretty fucked and I thought “hang on, I am always going to look better then this bloke” you know, because her expectations were so low.

I will never forget the day she arrived, it was coming the end of winter and we had just had a few warm days. You know, real motorcycling weather. I had been getting my place ready for her and was a bit toey. Pulled a sickie at work and was waiting for her… and there she was in the back of a truck – the last one to be unloaded. The driver said he didn’t worry about going over the inspection report; instead he just circled the whole bike and wrote “fucked” with an arrow. Despite this, I knew she was the one for me.

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How did you know your motorcycle was the right one for you?

I don’t think you ever really know, with ’The Suburban Chopper’ as she’s affectionately named, we didn’t have much time to think about it. There was work to be done, her starter was cooked so we had to ride around with a spare battery strapped to her sissy bar – you know early relationship type stuff. We got her registered and fixed the starter but she was still in a pretty bad way, and not really adjusting to life in the city. We took a holiday to the country together so we could get to know each other. When we were away she got pretty sick, but I helped her get better and we really bonded.

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What is your advice to someone who is trying to keep the faith that Mrs. Right Motorcycle is really out there? 

Try not to think about how many others she has had in 41 years and just enjoy the time between breakdowns. Also if your suspension is blown out so your wheel locks up in corners, you can just get stiffer suspension. It makes sense when you think about it.

What was the best piece of marriage/motorcycle advice you ever received?

Shift your weight in corners and don’t use your front brake, also “have fun, don’t die” and “you can probably go faster than that” was also good advice.

What are the most important attributes of a good spouse?

To be able to listen to the 1000 strange noises and know which ones to worry about. Also the ability to ignore the noises and give her some anyway.
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What is your best Valentine’s Day memory?

When my buddy Trent and I rode her together on a secluded beach near the national park, it was hot and we were wearing chopper shorts. She’s a bit kinky like that, letting two blokes have a go on her at once – but that’s what you get with someone from the ’70’s. We like to explore our relationship, and it’s not uncommon that her and a mate of mine will go off together for a bit of fun.
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What is your fondest memory of your marriage?

There is so many – not being able to start her with 50 people watching – sleeping at my mechanics place after working on her all night. The first time I started her and she back fired so loud that my son cried every time I went near her… so many good memories.

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Does communicating get easier with time? How do you keep your patience?

It definitely gets easier. Before, she used to try to tell me things and I would not understand and would start to get angry. Now, when she says “I have a short from a crushed wire” or “have an exhaust leak” I know exactly what she means.   

How did you cope when you had to be physically separated for long periods of time?

It does not go well. I get all angry and frustrated, and she gets all broken down and wetsumped. We keep it fresh by going at it at least once a week.

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At the end of bad relationship day, what is the most important thing to remind yourselves?

I have a cute little list of things we could do together. Things like “replace the exhaust rocker arm in the front cylinder” when we have a bad day I do one of those things and make her feel special.

Is fighting important?

 I try not to fight. I am quite interested in not dying so I make sure she is happy.

What’s the one thing you have in common that transcends everything else?

 I like to tickle her points and she likes it… it’s our special thing.

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Bikes

Fenrir – Steev’s ’97 XLH 1200C

Two things that are evidently a huge part of Steev’s life are motorcycles and tattoos, and it would be one passion that would spawn another as he admired a ’98 Badboy Spinger when getting his first tattoo many years ago. Now he’s covered in ink, and balls deep in the world of bikes.

Harley-Davidson_Sportster_Chopper20160728-(168)Harley-Davidson_Sportster_Chopper20160728-(214)Harley-Davidson_Sportster_Chopper20160728-(219)Despite it being almost 2 decades ago when Steev first had his interest peaked for motorcycles, it wouldn’t fully be initiated until 5 years ago when he bought his first bike and started chopping. “I’ve always loved Harleys, but have been a car guy for most of my life. Back when I was getting my first tattoo in the ‘90’s I noticed that the bloke tattooing me had this incredible Badboy Springer – I fell in love at that moment.” – with the bike, not the bloke tattooing him.

Harley-Davidson_Sportster_Chopper20160728-(207)Harley-Davidson_Sportster_Chopper20160728-(181)Harley-Davidson_Sportster_Chopper20160728-(199)After buying a few bikes stock, chopping them and then flogging them off for a bit of profit, Steev finally got about to buying his first Harley. A 1997 XLH 1200C would be his beast – and so now the real work would begin. “The Japanese Harley-Davidson scene was a big influence on the overall look of the bike, I’d seen a lot of great work come out of the builders from there which gave me ideas. This is where I would begin in the initial build”

Harley-Davidson_Sportster_Chopper20160728-(190)Harley-Davidson_Sportster_Chopper20160728-(162)Harley-Davidson_Sportster_Chopper20160728-(173)This bike was originally bought with the intention of only using the running gear in a rigid frame, but quickly Steev decided to keep the rear suspended frame and just swap everything else. “I ran 14″ ape hangers for a couple of years, but changed to the lane splitter Z bars about a year ago, as my taste changed and they make for a far more comfortable ride. The biggest hurdle/pain in the ass was the front-end conversion to the springer. Things didn’t quite line up, and it took a fair bit of grinding, bashing, and swearing to get it all in right. That was after swapping out the movable front fork with a Three Two Choppers wishbone. That was fun without a spring compressor!”

Harley-Davidson_Sportster_Chopper20160728-(71)Harley-Davidson_Sportster_Chopper20160728-(403)Harley-Davidson_Sportster_Chopper20160728-(84)From here, the rest of the build would all be pieced together to get this ‘cycle to where Steev wanted. “All of the angles had to flow to achieve the look I had in my head. Thankfully I had my dad’s help throughout the build, which was all put together in his garage after fabricating and modifying parts at work, as I’m a metal fabricator by trade. I couldn’t have done it without him!

Harley-Davidson_Sportster_Chopper20160728-(33)Harley-Davidson_Sportster_Chopper20160728-(55)Harley-Davidson_Sportster_Chopper20160728-(411)The bike’s namesake, Fenrir, comes from a wolf who played a major part during Ragnarök. The iconography on Steev’s jacket, bike and indeed body all reflect his background in being an Ásatrú (Norse Pagan) and you’ll find sacred symbols emblazoned on various parts of the bike. “They’re all for protection and the like, and after I’ve had two not-at-fault crashes, the certainly wouldn’t go astray!”Harley-Davidson_Sportster_Chopper20160728-(341)The crowning jewel of this bike would mostly likely be the tank for most, as it is indeed for Steev. “The tank is my favourite part about this bike. 100%. I ran a cutting disk down the guts of a new King Sportster tank and took out around 30mm to get the perfect width for my liking, and I added a riveted strip down the centre before fully TIG welding and sealing it all, and then going over it with my air sander for texture.

I usually also do my own tank art, but this time I sent a couple of concept images to Sindy Sinn to add his own twist to, which he then hand painted the onto the sides of the tank. A wolf head on the right, representing Fenrir, and a Valkyrie on the left to symbolise the ride to Valhalla.”Harley-Davidson_Sportster_Chopper20160728-(269)
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Bikes

El Lujo – Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail

Vicla style motorcycles were born from the Mexican Lowrider scene in the US. They’re completely blinged out pavement pounders that are all about personalisation. They’re none too common on Aussie roads however, but Smith Concepts and their mate Rob have chucked their own interpretation of this niche style bike onto the roads of Australia – just make sure you’ve got your sunnies on.

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For some time now, Kyle and Rob had been talking about building a bike together, with this particular Mexican Lowrider style in mind. This is a bike you’ll find not too uncommon in the US from Texas to California but scarcely here, so when the bike that would be their blank canvas first popped up on eBay they jumped at the chance to get started. It would then receive the special treatment Smith Concepts are famous for, with some new bling parts to complete the Cholo look.

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This is a bike that has had every part of it turned up to 11. The 18 inch ape hangers will give your stinky pits plenty of air riding this bling beast around. The rear is equipped with an air bag that makes the low rider stance super low; ants will have to duck to get under this thing. The bars are high and the bottom is low – everything has been exaggerated.
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The incredible custom paintwork by Smith Concepts displays a different look depending the way the light hits it. The more light that shines on it, the more you’ll find. Though this was a joint venture, Rob admits his part was somewhat less time consuming “ Personally, I did bugger all except go to the ATM to withdraw money haha! Kyle ripped the bike apart and then resprayed it with the amazing paintwork you see today. Flake, gold leaf and pin striping, the man’s a genius.” From here some new fish tail pipes would be added to give a low, long sweeping profile to the otherwise high bars that stand out at the front of the bike.

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“The paint is what makes this bike in my opinion. From every angle here is something new to look at, and in the sun it looks insane. Adding the air bag to the back gives it the cool low rider stance we were after which then contrasts with the 18” ape hangers which makes it look even lower. The other part I love about this bike is that some people hate it while others love it – that’s what good motorcycle design is in my opinion.”

‘El Lujo’ is for sale, so if you want a piece of ultra-bling Click Here.

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Bikes

One Wheel Up with James

From belting old Honda XR80’s up hill to get them to wheelie, to standing on Harley’s with one wheel up, there’s no bike around that James can’t cause mischief on.

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After a move from Melbourne to the South Coast of NSW when he was 4, James started squirting about on the ever-common peewee 50, a bike many started on if they were lucky enough to convince their parents to buy one. “I soon upgraded to a trusty old Honda XR80, although I kept blowing it up as I held it flat out too often since I only wanted to go faster. This was the bike I started to learn wheelies on. Riding it up hills was the trick to get those power lacking farm bikes vertical. I then moved onto an XR200, but these farm bikes were too slow and handled poorly so I saved up my pennies and bought my first race bike – 2001 Yamaha YZ125. Having good suspension and power took my riding to the next level.”
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“I started doing proper wheelies was when I upgraded to the race bikes, and used to ride from my farm to a mate’s farms. We had a lot of country dirt roads so one-wheeling it was boring. We used to have wheelie comps to see who could one-wheel the longest, which lead to our skills growing and being able to tackle corners, and then learning to stand up and do one footed wheelies! The longest wheelie I’ve ever done on the dirt bike was 4.7 km’s from one property to our farm. I’m pretty sure I still hold the longest wheelie record amongst the boys back home!”

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It wouldn’t be long for James to find new itches to scratch with bikes, and so he began racing Motorcross to help sate his appetite. “Over the years I rode a lot of trails, kicker ramps and also built many MX tracks. My mate’s Dad owned an earth moving business and has a huge farm, so I used his bulldozer to make a ton of tracks to race on.”Ride_Till_Dead_Harley_Wheelie_Burnout20160706 (15)Ride_Till_Dead_Harley_Wheelie_Burnout20160706 (16)Ride_Till_Dead_Harley_Wheelie_Burnout20160706 (17)

Though James normally rode a 450cc dirt bike, he sold off his usual bikes to buy a brand new Suzuki RMZ250 so he could start out competing in the lower class MX races. “I started out in C grade lights, competing in a local Canberra club, then the Dirt Action series Amcross and then onto my favourite event the East Coast MX series. Over the last couple of years I’ve been riding more endure style events, competing in the Transmoto 12hr, 8hr and 6hr events all over the state. I love heading out to events like these with close mates, camping and getting wild behind the bars.”

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When we visited James, there would be no dirt bikes in sight to pop up on one wheel, only a Harley-Davidson 48 and James’ brother Jesse and his Panhead. Not the most likely bike when you first think of wheelies, but that’s neither here nor there for James. “I love a challenge, and the fact that people think of a Harley as strictly a cruising style of bike that isn’t designed for one wheel gives me more reason to want to do it! Being such a heavy bike it takes more effort than you think to get up on the back wheel. Plus the fact that it’s such an expensive machine, if you crash it on the tar it’s most likely going to be written off, so don’t stuff up! There is just something way cooler surfing, doing skids and wheelies on Harley’s compared to other bikes – one wheel as much as possible I say.”

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James’ stunt riding on the Harley wouldn’t go unnoticed, and he received some fancy new swag from the Central Coast crew Ride Till Dead. “Due to Instagram I got a lot of credit and respect from the RTD lads, and they sent me down a bunch of shirts to represent while I get wild on the Harley. Since then we’ve caught up and become good friends. They’re a damn good bunch of blokes who love to ride bikes and have a good time. It’s awesome how the bike scene brings together so many people.”Ride_Till_Dead_Harley_Wheelie_Burnout20160706 (23)Ride_Till_Dead_Harley_Wheelie_Burnout20160706 (24)Ride_Till_Dead_Harley_Wheelie_Burnout20160706 (25)Ride_Till_Dead_Harley_Wheelie_Burnout20160706 (30)Ride_Till_Dead_Harley_Wheelie_Burnout20160706 (31)Ride_Till_Dead_Harley_Wheelie_Burnout20160706 (32)Ride_Till_Dead_Harley_Wheelie_Burnout20160706 (33)Ride_Till_Dead_Harley_Wheelie_Burnout20160706 (36)Ride_Till_Dead_Harley_Wheelie_Burnout20160706 (37)Ride_Till_Dead_Harley_Wheelie_Burnout20160706 (38)Ride_Till_Dead_Harley_Wheelie_Burnout20160706 (39)Ride_Till_Dead_Harley_Wheelie_Burnout20160706 (41)Ride_Till_Dead_Harley_Wheelie_Burnout20160706 (42)

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Bikes

Troy’s Tracker Forty-Eight

What do you do when you’re after something new, but are reluctant to sell your current ride? A complete makeover, that’s what! Introducing Troy’s Tracker inspired Forty-Eight.

Troy was bombarded with inspiration for a ‘70’s style tracker/scrambler style bike and ideas of a new ride were spinning in his head like wheels on a track. Despite having grown a bit bored of the 2012 Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight that he’d owned since brand new, he was still reluctant to sell the bike. A compromise was reached, and instead of buying another bike or selling his current one, he’d give the Harley a thorough makeover.

Funneling all this inspiration into his HD, the bike took on a more nimble, aggressive profile while still holding onto the low down V-twin feel of the ever-popular HD 48. “I have always liked the scrambler and street/flat tracker style bikes, and had the idea of building one on my mind for years. I was keeping my eyes open for the right project, something like a Yamaha XS650 or SR400. I had the Forty-Eight for 3 years and was itching for something new, but couldn’t bring myself to sell the bike. Then it hit me. Stop looking for a bike to build a tracker/scrambler, just use the Forty-Eight!”

The tyres would be the first step in this transformation. After trawling through countless different types, Troy came across the Continental TKC80’s. “The only problem with that tyre however was that they weren’t made to fit a 16” wheel, so what came next were custom wheels with a 19” front and 17” rear using stainless steel spokes and alloy rims.”

The next change for the Harley was the handlebars; going for Biltwell 1” Moto style bars to help push across the tracker feel this bike was embracing. “The exhaust was next in line for a change, I chose the Vance & Hines Tracker 2 into1 pipes, with some wrap to add a bit of contrast to the black V-Twin engine.”

The rear fender is from an earlier model Sportster, but with some minor adjustments to fit the Forty-Eight. Some other subtle changes include the tail lights being pulled into the rear fender struts, wiring has been hidden under the fuel tank with the coil relocated on a custom mount between the rocker box covers.

Foot controls and pegs were replaced with Biltwell pegs, and were relocated from the stock forward position to a mid control position. In honour of Gulf Oil Racing, the bike received the famous powder blue and marigold orange colours with a vinyl wrap, bringing a good bit of colour to an otherwise typically black model of bike. It’s all the about the simple but effective changes on this bike that make the end result look so damn good.

 

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Bikes

Michal’s Harley-Davidson XLH883 Scrambler

Growing up in communist Slovakia, you’d scarcely find any Western motorcycles, let alone a Harley-Davidson – a machine that’s just about as west as it can get. These early days for Michal would be greatly contrasted with today, as he tears up and down the beaches of Australia on his custom Harley Scrambler.

Growing up in Slovakia, you’d find Michal riding along with his father in the sidecar of their Jawa 250. “My Dad still has that bike, he was the coolest guy around where we lived. Every time he kickstarted the bike all the kids from the neighbourhood would be out, looking at the bike and following us as we rode off. It was so cool to be the kid in the sidecar or riding pillion.” From then on, bikes would constantly surround Michal, as he learned how they worked and how to maintain them from his father who was a handy mechanic.

After the Iron Curtain fell, a new world of machines and opportunities were suddenly made available to scores of people living in eastern Europe. A future move to Australia would find Michal making his home by the sun soaked east coast, and of course a new set of wheels would follow suit to match. Cue the Harley-Davidson XLH883. Michal picked up this 1999 model with just 9000kms on the clock, so it was a bike in need of some proper riding and love. “It was all shiny and new when I bought it despite the years behind it, and it was also a carbi model so it was exactly what I was after for my build.”

Now that Michal had his bike, it was time to get to work on making it truly his. He has his vision for this bike in his mind, with intentions to make sure the Sportster would ride and handle better (insert Harley jokes here). While most Harley’s you see on the street are being lowered and bobbed, Michal went the other end of the spectrum.

With plenty of parts coming in from the US, Michal got to work chopping the subframe, drilling holes and adding new wires for the new electrical components. A pair of 15” progressive shocks would give the bike a good dosage of clearance, along with some thinner oil for the front forks. “I don’t ride with my knee down on this thing, but it’s perfect for a bit of acceleration/braking action. The wider handlebars also make a huge difference.”

Riding this Harley, you instantly notice its increase in maneuverability. These 883s aren’t a light bike; coming in at around 250kg they’re a heavy bastard when compared to its engine capacity. The weight Michal has shaved off, along with increasing leverage with the new bars and adding height with the shocks makes this a Harley that’ll happily go around corners, with it’s V-Twin engine giving you plenty of torque.

 

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Bikes

Ray’s ’42 Harley-Davidson WLA

It took a commemorative convoy of WWII Army vehicles making the trip from Alice Springs to Darwin to firmly get the spark of a wartime era motorbike engrained in Ray’s head, and it would’ve be long after that fateful day that a 1942 Harley-Davidson WLA would turn up in his life.

Ray’s always been into machines of every shape, from old cars and motorcycles to more eclectic work machinery. Having grown up with a father and an uncle that rode and raced motorcycles; there was very little choice for a much younger Ray to be addicted to anything else. “My uncle Ray Blackett Snr raced motorcycles with the Hinton brothers. He also raced Triumphs at Bathurst and won many races. I spent a lot of hours at the race track and developed a real love for motorcycles back then at a young age.”

Over the years, Ray’s owned just about any and every Harley-Davidson that has hit the street. His love of old machines would have him drawn to a HD 1942 WLA, as an old friend of his from the Pittwater Motor Enthusiast Club put the bike up for sale. A regretful sale from the owner, but as he was getting too old to ride it and kick the bike over he thought it best to pass this machine onto someone who would give it the use it still deserved.

“He ask me if I was interested in buying the bike, which I was, but I hadn’t the money that a bike like this was worth. Another buyer was due to check the bike out so I told him I’ll come back in half an hour, and if the bike wasn’t sold, we’ll take it from there. Sure enough I come back, and I ask him if the bike was sold. “Well, it is and it isn’t” he said, which confused me. Turns out the other buyer had made a higher offer, but my mate new he was only going to flip the bike for more money down the track. My mate wanted for the bike to go to me, so we came to an agreed price, knowing I’d look after it right and most importantly ride the bloody thing!”

And riding is something Ray certainly does, as he takes his 74 year old bike out on the roads and off them, bouncing down fire trails through the bush as we found out on our recent shoot. “She’s like a dog, in that the bike leaves her mark wherever we go. A little patch of oil wherever I stop on this bike has become my calling card!”

The Harley-Davidson WLA comes from a history of both purpose and leisure. These bikes were built during WWII, having been based on the existing civilian model, the WL. Production of these Army specific bikes began in small numbers in 1940 as the States made increases in its military production. By the end of the war, over 90,000 of these bikes were manufactured; along with enough spare parts to create the equivalent of many more. After the attack on Pearl Harbour in 1942, all WLA’s would be given serial numbers indicating a 1942 production, regardless of the actual year.

As these WLA’s found their way into civilian hands, being sold off as surplus, new bike styles began to be seen in the streets as the rise of the chopper and other motorcycle styles grew through popular culture. It’s a bike with a long and rich history, from the battlefield to the streets. Nowadays this bike is purely about fun and leisure, as it happily spends its years away from military life.

  

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Bikes

El Trineo – Chris’ Harley-Davidson 48

Chris bought his 2012 Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight completely stock and with barely any Kilometre’s on it, but it didn’t take long for him to start ripping parts off it as soon as he got his new steed home. From there the bike would take on a new look, with its crowning jewel paintwork.

Chris has been riding for years, but mainly on dirt with motocross bikes. If he wasn’t bashing through the dirt and mud, he was on his street registered trail bike zipping through the back streets, hitting speed bumps, and as he says “other stupid shit”. Chris wanted something more however, and so was on the search for some proper road wheels. “I could have gotten a supermotard (and kept my licence for a fortnight at the longest) but I’ve always had an interest in stripped down custom motorcycles, and the ones that always peaked my interest were Harley Davidsons. Not the leather pant, bandana-wearing types, rather the minimalist bobbers with nothing more than a huge engine, no suspension and a set of handlebars with wheels. Ever since I bought one I haven’t looked back. I’ll always have a customised Harley of some sorts for a long time, I think.”

After grabbing his Forty-Eight still in it’s stock form, Chris got to work transforming it into the low down, loud machine he was after. “At first it was the usual simple stuff everyone does to a Harley – handlebars, pegs, intake and then make it antisocially loud. The bike had no direction and started looking like every other Forty-Eight around. Around that time my appreciation for old bobbers and choppers started to grow, the certain sub styles within the “cult” that is bobbers. I decided to take a modern twist on the traditional American Bobber and build something that would look cool sitting still, but still be 100% rideable, reliable, and maintain the good attributes that modern HD’s come with but combine it with an old school flavour.”

Jumping from dirt bikes to Harleys is quite a contrast in machines, but Chris gets to enjoy the best with both worlds as you find his Harley sitting next to his dirt bike in his garage space. “As far as differences in riding style, well they are chalk and cheese. For one, you barely sit down on a motocross bike; it’s a balance between being fluid on the bike and manhandling it to where you want it to go. Swap that with a bike that is 3 times as heavy and an engine the size of a small car and there isn’t a whole lot to carry over between the two, but when the rear wheel starts to come loose on the Harley the instincts kick in and it’s no problem.”

The first thing you’ll notice about this bike is the tank. Painted by Kyle Smith over at Smith Concepts, it’s an incredible work of art and truly the crowning feature of this machine. “Every time I go for a ride someone asks about the paint, in person it is a sight to behold.” It’s not just a visual treat, as Chris had some Bassani Pro Streets exhaust attached which create the best kind of audible V-Twin punch to the face.

You’ll always find this style of bike nice and low to the ground, though Chris was not a fan of the stiff coil suspension. “It would beat me up badly when riding any sort of distance, and it handled shithouse. I added airbag suspension, this allows the bike to be raised up for hitting the corners, or dumped to have the tyre actually sitting on the guard with a few additional modifications.”

“I think the most work went into the parts you can’t see, stuff like hidden wiring looms, completely re-wiring the security module to work with the airbag compressor and making a 170mm rear tyre fit where it clearly shouldn’t.”

    

 

Categories
Garage Sessions

Keith’s Restoration Redoubt

Since Keith’s teens he’s always had projects to work on, and sure enough he turned this passion into becoming an Industrial arts teacher. Now that he’s retired, these projects have only grown, as he breaths new life into old machines.

Growing up around the bush, there was always something for Keith and his mate’s to get up to be in the ‘60’s. “I always had some projects to work on with my mates, there were plenty of cars and bikes to find as well as plenty of bush tracks to explore”. This natural love for working with his hands and creating would lead him down the path to become an Industrial Arts teacher, spending years at various TAFE colleges all the while accumulating more and more skills, which he could then pass on to future generations whilst also applying to his own projects at home.

When you first arrive at Keith’s place, you’ll immediately notice the stripped back 1960 Fiat 500 Model N that is propped up on a workbench, with it’s bright red bonnet sticking out like dog’s bollocks. Tools orbit around this machine as Keith gets to work restoring this small Italian car to a new glory, replacing and fabricating parts where he needs, and order others online that cannot be made.

“The first Fiat I got was an attempt to involve my youngest son and his mate in a restoration project. That didn’t work out, but these little fiats are good to restore, light weight, small and plenty of new parts available.

The first car was a serious rust bucket and a steep learning curve. The second car, although rusty, is potentially a better car. I have tried to do all aspects of the restoration work, mechanical, panel work, rust repair, trim work and painting.”

A similar Fiat 500 is tucked away behind this work in progress, this one much more complete however. This little blue machine is the same year and model as the one sitting outside, however with a transformable convertible top. The terrific blue interior, completed by Keith as well, is a crisp reminder of ‘60’s style and sunshine. “Bikes and scooters are nice to paint, and I did paint the blue Fiat 500 completely; but would never attempt that again, it’s simply too hard. I’m better off paying someone.”

A man of many skills must, in turn, work on many styles of vehicles. His first Harley, this 1925 Harley-Davidson JD 1200cc coil ignition with sidecar is pure 1920’s style. “There’s plenty of specialist suppliers for these early Harley’s, but they can be very challenging with broken frames, forks, crankcases and just generally worn out – but I do really love the style of these early American bikes”. The transition from the early ‘20’s models of Harley’s can be see in the tank as the more traditional look of Motorcycles we know of today is taking shape, in contrast to the 1921 Harley-Davidson that Keith also owns.

“This 1921 Harley-Davidson F 1000cc magneto ignition started life as a basket case. This is a loop frame model that didn’t change much between 1917 and 1924, so I liked the idea of a bike that had hints of WWI in it’s style, with many of those bikes ending up in Europe with the American troops towards the end of the war.”

It’s not just Italian cars that Keith’s keen on restoring, as a couple of Lambretta’s sit nearby the Harley’s. The 1955 F Model 125cc 3 speed with open frame is a fantastic representation of a restoration, and showcases 1950’s scooter style. Remnants of more open and raw style from the previous decades are present, while the more curved and stylized trend of the ‘50’s and ‘60’s can be seen to have its beginnings. Next to it sits a white and red 1957 Lambretta LD 125cc with dual seat. The fairings, curves and shape of the well known retro look has taken form now in this machine’s design, a great example of what 2 years can do in the industry when compared to the previous 1955 model.

        

Categories
Garage Sessions

Chris’ Cavern

 

The first thing you’ll notice after walking into Chris’ garage space – apart from the bikes – is how immaculate it is. Rarely will you see a workspace so light and clean, but still getting it’s fair share of use. There’s a reason behind this cleanliness of course.

One of the three bikes in Chris’ space usually has some kind of problem going on, or is due for some maintenance and any one time. This means there’s always something that can be done, and often means Chris is in there all day tinkering and wrenching away. “It’s definitely a bit different to your usual, grimey, dark old workspace. I try to keep it tidy and as light as possible, keeps everything organized and finding any bits that are dropped seems like much less of a chore!”

Chris’ father got him into motorcycles at a very young age; having a dad that had a motorcross bike would eventually mean Chris would end up riding dirtbikes. “I got my licence pretty much as soon as it was legally possible! I’ve been enjoying riding both on and off road ever since.” With a 2012 Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight, a 2012 Honda CRF250R and a recently added “1955” Harley-Davidson Custom Chopper there’s a good spectrum of riding and wrenching for Chris to enjoy.

With dirt riding being Chris’ first foray into bikes, he got into competitive riding with a couple of mates and would kick up the dust every weekend. “It was never at any super competitive level, but it was definitely enough to be quite committed to the sport. As time went on and jobs got more important at work, the risk of having a stack and being off work for 6 weeks or so wasn’t a possibility. Now it’s just the odd social ride every now and then as far as dirt is concerned. I still love the sport, and I watch all the racing from the USA every weekend without fail.”

As far as tearing up the road is concerned, Chris’ two Harleys are right for the job. His 2012 HD Forty-Eight started with some minor changes, but this sure enough expanded to a lot more work than initially planned. “A lot of work went into that bike, it never meant to get so out of hand but one thing led to another and now there isn’t much left of the original bike. She’s super reliable, goes, stops, and steers pretty well. She looks super cool, all low and hunkered down.”

“The plan for the “1955” Harley I have were sort of forced, as a recent crack in the tank pushed ahead a lot of plans for replacement parts. It’s not the most period correct bike, with a ‘90’s Evo engine in a 1955 frame, but the plan is to have it as bare bones as possible and all the bullshit taken off.

I’ll get Kyle from Smith Concepts to paint the bike up, he did an amazing job on my Forty-Eight. I’d like something wild with heaps of flake and really psychedelic. I have some bars laying around that I might throw on but I’m not 100% convinced on them. The end result I know will be a clean cruiser that’s got that 60’s/70’s chopper feel about it.”

     

Categories
Garage Sessions

Johnny’s Pump Paradise

Johnny is a self diagnosed motorhead from birth. After walking into his shed (and picking your jaw up from the floor) you’ll soon see this is an accurate diagnosis with no cure in sight, which we’re sure is fine with Johnny.

When Johnny was 14, he was riding bikes and working at a service station. “I was obsessed with being a mechanic and anything mechanical, I was interested in hot rods and bikes from watching all these old movies as a kid. I then started my apprenticeship at age 16 in 1981.

I’ve had every type of bike and car you could think of. I started with trail bikes, built up to road bikes of every brand; I got into Ducatis and then Harleys to slow me down a bit. With cars, I’ve had numerous early Holdens, Valiants, Fords and hot rods. I’m not loyal to any one brand, as long as it has nice aesthetics to me. I’m more interested in traditional style machines in both cars and bikes; I’m not into high tech style at all.”

Johnny’s got a proper looking original bobber sitting contently in his shed, a 1942 Harley WLA. “As a collector, I’ve always been a bit of a horse trader – wheeling and dealing to get something better or more interesting. As part of my searching, I found this WLA in a shipping container at the side of a house, it was a deceased estate but the price was too high. I kept in touch with the wife of the owner for over a year, and finally after buying the bike I found out that I had known her husband who owned it!

It’s had a total nut, bolt and beating rebuild of every component. The will be a period correct bobber, very close to a restoration other than just colour with a bobber rear fender and Sparto tail light. It will look like some guy came along after the war, bought an army surplus Harley and bobbed. I have left as much genuine HD stuff on it as I could. When I had the speedo rebuilt I asked them to leave the original worn out face on as a contrast to the finish of the bike.”

And now for his other machine, a 1932 3 Ford (deuce) Coupe 350 Chev with a 671 GM Supercharger, 4 speed top loader and a ford 9 inch diff. It’s been dyno tested at 537hp and 500ft pounds of torque. “Over the years I have had hundreds of cars, always trading up and value adding where I could. A mate told me of the a mutual friend who was selling his hot rod after a 14 year build, the car was fully engineered and legally registered including the super charger, a very well finished car but only a basic interior.

I saw potential to add value, so I bought it! I have since had it retimed which has made it more comfortable, but this is still a very raw true to form hot rod. It’s massively over powered for a car that is 1200kgs with a manual transmission and cross ply tires, the torque twists you into the next lane if you accelerate hard then swings back the other way when you back off, it’s serious business when you put your foot down.”

This is barely the surface of Johnny’s shed, and you’ll find yourself pouring over old petrol pumps as soon as your eyes drift away from the hot rod. Growing up in country NSW, Johnny would find himself at a family friend’s service station and had fallen in love with the look of the place, the equipment, tools, pumps and even the black floor. It was then later as a teenager he decided that since all this stuff looked great, he best get some of it for himself.  “I got my first pump from a ditch on the side of the road in the late 80’s, that’s when my collecting really started. I have sold off a few times, for various new cars and bikes, and also lack of space. I have found things anywhere from old sheds, under houses, swap meets – you name it.”

“It’s nothing for me to head off on a 300km drive after work at the drop of a hat, when a lead comes on I’m gone – you have to be. The internet and TV has seen the interest in automobillia, signs, petrol pumps, oil bottles just explode – as have the prices. Some of my favourite items are my king Neptune sign and my Art deco Erie clock face petrol pumps, the first type of electric pumps we had in Australia. Also my bullseye pumps, they were only used by Ampol, I have 6 of those I love that tombstone shape!”

Johnny’s shed is a castle, a tribute, and a museum all in one to everything vintage, classic and auto. The fact that he doesn’t actually live in it (he’s got a home too, apparently) is baffling, however I’m sure the wife would have something to say about him living in a shed. This was a purpose built space however, and was no accident.

“A few years ago the chance came to excavate my back yard so I could construct a purpose built shed for my collection. Once I had completed it I realised I had built my childhood dream house! The building of the shed was a massive job; I had to take 30 truckloads of dirt out of my yard to build it.

Fitting out the shed was also massive job, my brother is a carpenter and a lot of credit goes to him for all the work he did, it took months to finish off inside working nights and weekends scrounging the right kind of material etc. I was lucky finding materials from all over the place. I had a lot of help from my mate ‘Slick’ with the corrugated iron, which was a gigantic job on its own. The best advice I could give anyone building a shed is make it as tall as you can and insulate the shit out of it. The shed is super insulated and as 2 A/C units in it. When I walk out into the shed I feel like I have just walked into a 40s or 50s garage and the mechanics have just walked out and left it, it’s just like that country garage I walked into at 4 years old and it’s all mine.”

   

Categories
Bikes

Brad’s 1975 Harley-Davidson XLH1000 Sportster

Plenty of blokes start riding from a young age, and that was certainly the case for Brad – however what sets him apart from most is he also started building and customising his bikes from a young age. If only we could all say we rode our own custom bike during our High School years.

Brad started his life of bikes bashing around his family’s property with his Dad on an XR250 ever since he was a toddler, and as soon as he was big enough he was then riding on his own. “What got me into bikes was the fact that I could roam around freely on a motor powered vehicle as a child, which is something pretty special. One bike in particular that I first rode was a Deckson mini bike – it’s been in the family since the 80’s. Ever since I can remember I’ve been into bikes, whether it’s dirt bikes, sports bikes or Harleys.”

This addiction for bikes was given a kickstart when he started searching for his first road bike, “I was able to get my bike licence sooner than my car licence, so Dad suggested I keep an eye out for a classic Japanese bike to turn into a Café Racer” And sure enough Brad came across a 1979 DOHC Honda CB750 for cheap that was just screaming for a makeover.

“It took me just under a year to build the bike, but not without with plenty of sound advice and a little financial help from Dad (let’s face it, I was making about $100 a week when I was 16) Dad and I did everything on this bike, from powder coating the rims, new S/S spokes, I even made my own fiberglass seat using plaster of paris to make the shape, to then moving all the switches. We did all this in the pergola out the back as we never had a garage in our old place.”

This was all great fun, and important, in learning more about bikes and what Brad wanted from his speed machine. It would sure enough be time to step up again in the bike world, and a trip to Canberra Harley-Davidson would prove more fruitful than he’d expect. “I got rid of the Honda when I was 18, checking out an old Evo Softail which I took out for a test ride. As I was riding around, the bike salesman fancied my Honda chopper sitting out the front and made me an offer on it as soon as I got back, and so this became an instant trade in and off I got with my first Harley!”

This would be the first of what will (no doubt) be many. Brad’s current bike is a 1975 Harley-Davidson XLH1000 Sportster he picked up in Wagga Wagga earlier this year. “Although it was already set up as the bike of my dreams, I couldn’t help but make it my own. This bike in particular already had a rigid frame, wheel combination and other small parts that fit the bill for the style I was after so it made for the perfect base for a complete ground up rebuild. This would be my first real Harley.”

“Why do I love Harleys? Because choppers… I’ve always had a love for vintage bikes and cars, but never jumped too far out of the box as far as having one for myself. This all changed when I picked up the Sportster and the disease is deeply embedded now. Building a chopper is the hot rodding of motorcycles, the ability to build a totally unique bike using parts you either have lying around or find, and making a lot of things from scratch is a totally life changing experience. The thing I love the most about an old school Harley is their simplicity and characteristics – they can bring you so much joy and so much frustration all in the same day.”

Brad’s garage is a mix of bikes, frames and parts. All projects he’s working on are either for others or himself. It’s not all choppers however – “The kind of work I might do for other people’s bikes would be stuff like café racer tail loops and exhausts and 5 foot sissy bars. I’m also working on a couple of complete bikes for either friends or for me to sell so I can fund the next project.

A lot of angle grinding goes on in the garage, the bike work is never limited to Harleys and I’ve got a passion for all things motorcycle – as long as it’s built before 1980. I have a few years left yet before I start worrying about comfort and electric start”

         

Categories
Culture Events

Motorclassica

Housed in the iconic, heritage-listed Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne, Motorclassica was on for it’s 6th time showcasing some of Australia’s finest rare and exotic cars and motorcycles. With over one hundred years of motor vehicle history being represented, this is the Mecca for motoring enthusiasts.

Every nook, cranny and spare bit of flooring had it’s own machine in this beautiful 19th century building that was the perfect place to host such a celebration of motors. The event opened doors this year from 23-25 of October. Young and old were in attendance, with some enthusiasts matching many of the older vehicles in age, while there was also plenty of fresh young faces experiencing a glimpse into the past of motoring history.

The ground level was laid out with a huge assortment of cars covering every decade from the past century. Lamborghini, Mustang, Bugatti, Holden, and just about every other major auto brand had it’s own representation on the timber floors. The juxtaposition of car styles, and of modern and classic blended together in perfect harmony.

The second level of the exhibition centre was filled with a huge selection for motorcycles (unsurprisingly, staff weren’t keen on lugging cars up the stairs) as well as some other odds and ends form antique auto retailers, and even an array of vintage espresso machines. Motorbike brands such as BMW, MV Augusta, Royal Enfield and others had displays, showing off vehicles from their past and present. Other vintage clubs also had a large variety of bikes present. Some were true restorations, an immaculate image of the past – whilst others were left to be changed by time and celebrated their own unique patina.

  

Categories
Bikes

Frankenstein – Rod’s ’77 Shovelhead

Frankenstein’s Monster was grafted together from various cadavers, and reanimated with the power of electricity. Drawing inspiration from such madness, Rod has used part from half a dozen bikes to create his own monster…

Rod’s addiction/obsession started back in 1969 after witnessing the iconic film Easy Rider, a revelation that would be no doubt shared by many from the time. He can vividly remember sitting in the back seat of the family VW Beetle at the Skyline Drive-In Theatre in North Ryde. “Seeing the Captain America Chopper for the first time was every bit as good as losing ones virginity (Funny how I can remember the bike, but I can’t remember her)

I was lucky to come from a family that went to Hot Rod & Bike Shows, the Speedway and more. Even before the movie as a kid I just loved collecting stuff for Billy Carts and bicycles to modify them, building them into themed pieces.

I was blessed to have grown up in the 70’s when it was all happening, Falcon GT’s, Hot Rods, Choppers & Mini-Bikes everyday was an experience and you could even buy the latest Honda Z50 Mini Trail brand new for $256.00 from the local dealer.”

Rod’s latest build is based around a 1977 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead engine on a Santee frame. As the name Frankenstein suggests, varied parts from varied bikes were used in its reanimation. “After building many custom show bikes, this was a bike that I wanted to go back in time with and build something with personal nostalgia that could be ridden, enjoyed, and possibly kept.
I guess I just wanted a portion of my youth back – Easy Rider, my purple dragster bicycle I had as a kid, and watching The Munsters on TV.”

Rod has built a legacy of custom Harley-Davidsons, and his trophy wall displays just some of the awards and recognition he’s received from his builds. “I have always loved changing the look and modifying bikes, I guess the term “Stock Sucks” sums me up.

Why Harley’s? I guess it may stem back to the movie and the ease and access to thousands of parts and accessories. After owning over 30 Harleys, dealing in parts and imports, I suppose it’s a case of the devil you know.”

“Nothing about this bike was tricky. It frustrates me to see unfinished projects! If anyone plans a bike fully before they even start, it should all fit like a bum in a bucket. I just planned it all in my head gathered up the parts and started. Nine weeks of spare time later it was ready to roll.”