EL GATO ROBERTO

The Skinny on San Diego Cus­toms’ Softail FXFB

Hot Bike - - Contents - WORDS: ROB FORTIER PHO­TOS: MIKEY VAN MODEL: KYLIE MARIE WAL­TON

While I lay wide awake each and ev­ery night, star­ing at the ceil­ing, pon­der­ing the same ques­tion over and over—why didn’t a huge crate from Mil­wau­kee get dropped off in my drive­way?!—those who are more for­tu­nate, like San Diego Cus­toms, prob­a­bly got just as much sleep in the months af­ter those mys­te­ri­ous crates be­gan drop­ping last Septem­ber. But for dif­fer­ent rea­sons, ob­vi­ously, as the for­tu­nate ones un­crated brand-new 2018 Fxfbs—harley-david­son’s de­but of its fresh Fat Bob à la Softail/m-8 plat­form. SDC’S Chip Kastel­nik and his side­kick Mikey def­i­nitely sac­ri­ficed some slum­ber time as they ac­cepted their gra­cious gift from The Mo­tor Com­pany, tore it com­pletely apart, and pro­ceeded to do their thing, SDC style. I rode down to San Diego (on my “vin­tage” FXR) one Sun­day morn­ing for some cof­fee and con­ver­sa­tion with Chip to get his side of the story re­gard­ing El Gato Roberto.

FIRST QUES­TION, WHICH IS MORE OF A STATE­MENT BUT NEV­ER­THE­LESS RE­QUIRES AN AN­SWER OF SORTS ON YOUR PART: IF YOU HAVE ANY WORDS RE­GARD­ING THE “DEATH OF THE DYNA,” NOW’S THE CHANCE TO GET THEM OFF YOUR CHEST BE­CAUSE THAT HORSE HAS BEEN BEATEN BE­YOND RECOG­NI­TION—UN­LESS YOU FEEL LIKE TALK­ING ABOUT MY DYNA IN­STEAD?

Hey, Rob. What’s hap­pen­ing, man? Good to see you, dude. To an­swer your ques­tion in re­gard to the death of the Dyna, I can say some things die at 27 and aren’t buried un­til 75. Benjamin Franklin said some­thing sim­i­lar to that about peo­ple a long time ago, but I’ll ap­ply it to the Dyna. As the Harley de­mo­graphic tran­si­tions from the older guy who thinks ea­gles and do-rags are the rage to the new era of mo­tor­cy­cle riders who aren’t so con­cerned with trin­kets and tas­sels but are very in tune with per­for­mance and cus­tom paint schemes, it’s go­ing to be an­other time in which old things come back around again. As tech­nol­ogy ad­vances, man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­cesses will ad­vance, fin­ish­ing work will pro­vide more op­tions than black and chrome, and H-D will be right there, of­fer­ing all its new mod­els and cus­tomiza­tion op­tions as it has in the past, and will un­til sin­gle-craft space pods are read­ily avail­able. As far as the ac­tual Dyna, it may be dead, but there are a lot of them on the road, and they need to come to SDC to get some up­grades!

TELL ME HOW THIS PAR­TIC­U­LAR PROJECT ALL CAME ABOUT. DID YOU WORK DI­RECTLY WITH H-D, OR THROUGH A LO­CAL DEAL­ER­SHIP?

Well, Rob, I’ll be happy to tell you how it all went down. It was a combo deal with H-D cor­po­rate, San Diego H-D, Quaid H-D, and San Diego Cus­toms. We got a call from Ty at SD H-D, who was with Bran­don from Quaid and a few high-rank­ing H-D of­fi­cials who were at the dealer show at the time that H-D an­nounced the Dyna would no longer be in pro­duc­tion and was be­ing re­placed with the Softail mod­els. He then ex­plained to me that The Mo­tor Com­pany would like to ex­tend us a new 2018 Softail Fat Bob to cus­tom­ize and see what our take on the new de­sign would be. We said yes, thanks, a few hun­dred times to H-D for the chance to dig into a brand-new chas­sis de­sign and see what all the hype is about and see what our per­spec­tive is.

LET’S HEAR YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE NEW M-8 AND THE SOFTAIL CHAS­SIS IT’S WRAPPED IN. AND WHAT DID THE ODOMETER READ AF­TER YOU CAME TO THAT PAR­TIC­U­LAR OPIN­ION?

Let me tell you this, buddy, the new Softail chas­sis is one sta­ble mofo party plan. The M-8 mo­tor has am­ple power and room to make more, com­ple­mented by a full ar­ray of af­ter­mar­ket com­po­nent choices from all the lead­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers. The monoshock setup is a sta­ble, no-non­sense plat­form that has all riders in mind and han­dles like a champ. Peo­ple are scared of change; they gen­uinely be­lieve (of­ten on an un­con­scious level) that when you’ve been do­ing some­thing a par­tic­u­lar way for some time, it must be the good way to do things, and the longer you’ve been do­ing it that way, the bet­ter it is. H-D must have just said let’s lose this whole

“SINCE THE BIKE LOST SOME WEIGHT BUT IS STILL ‘FAT,’ I KIND OF WON­DER HOW TO SAY ‘PHAT’ IN SPAN­ISH AND GET THE SAME MEAN­ING AS IN ENGLISH. FUR­THER­MORE, YOU DO KNOW THAT BOB ORIG­I­NATED FROM THE HYPOCORISM ROB, SHORT FOR ROBERT, WHICH IN SPAN­ISH IS ROBERTO.”

Dyna plat­form and move into the future with a new, re­designed model lineup and not look back. Fact is there is noth­ing any­one can do; H-D does what it does, and that’s that. We have all been anx­iously await­ing the re­turn of the Fxr—that will never hap­pen, but it’s great internet gos­sip. Add the Dyna to the list. Oh, and the odometer read zero, and now it’s at 37. Ha-ha, just kid­ding, man. I don’t know the mileage; I don’t look down at that round de­vice.

OK, SO IT WAS A 2018 FAT BOB, BUT IT LOOKS ANY­THING BUT FAT NOW. DID YOU EN­VI­SION SHED­DING WEIGHT FROM THE SOFTAIL FROM THE GET-GO? EX­PLAIN THE THOUGHT PROCESS YOU AND MIKEY HAD IN THE RE­DESIGN PLAN­NING STAGES BE­FORE THE FIRST WRENCH WAS EVEN TURNED.

It still is a 2018 Fat Bob on the ti­tle and in its heart. When we took de­liv­ery of the new bike, we rode it around in its stock form for a while to fig­ure out the di­rec­tion we could take and how to get there. It had the fac­tory-built 114 kit at the time, so it had some pep in its step and was kind of fun to zip around. There are a lot of changes that we started to no­tice as we dug into things. Rid­ing po­si­tion, bars, foot con­trols, triple tree width all seemed a bit for­eign to me, and so be­gan the process of chang­ing those things first and then deal­ing with the things that popped up along the way. Mike sug­gested the gray paint theme with a bright neon-or­ange “bar and shield” to Hot Dog one day when we were hang­ing out, and the next time we saw it, it was all di­aled in. Hot Dog is one of the best painters in the world, and it was a fun change to do a sim­ple paint scheme that could pack a punch. He nails it ev­ery time. The rest, well, just kind of hap­pens in a puff of smoke.

I KNOW THE GEARS IN YOUR HEAD WERE AL­READY TURN­ING AS FAR AS COM­ING UP WITH NEW PROD­UCTS FOR THE M-8 PLAT­FORM. DID THIS PROJECT HELP BRING ANY OF THOSE IDEAS TO FRUITION?

Yeah, man, it sure did. We were stoked to get a hold of a new bike to do some R&D on to make some parts for the future of mo­tor­cy­cling. We at SDC are not known for be­ing quick. We are tak­ing the time to make sure our com­po­nents are up to the stan­dards that we ex­pect them to be rather than rush to make a quick buck with a sub­stan­dard prod­uct. There are enough parts ideas to be thought of for ev­ery­one; let’s all get think­ing.

I’M FLAT­TERED TO HAVE THE SDC SOFTAIL, LOS GRASA ROBERTO, NAMED AF­TER ME, BUT YOU KNOW BETO IS THE SPAN­ISH NICK­NAME VER­SION OF BOB, RIGHT?

Well, Bob, I’ll tell you, pil­grim, I re­named the bike for my homies that ride Dy­nas around the corner and do wheel­ies, mang. Since the bike lost some weight but is still “fat,” I kind of won­der how to say “phat” in Span­ish and get the same mean­ing as in English. Fur­ther­more, you do know that Bob orig­i­nated from the hypocorism Rob, short for Robert, which in Span­ish is Roberto.

DAMN. GOT ME WITH MY OWN UP­PER­CUT THERE. WELL, ANY­THING ELSE YOU WANT TO ADD?

Sure do, dude: This is all just the same old song, just a drop of wa­ter in an end­less sea. All we do crum­bles to the ground though we refuse to see. Dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wind. Be the hero of your own movie. Live be­fore you die. En­joy your­self, it’s later than you think. Thanks for let­ting me bab­ble, brocha­cho. Al­ways a plea­sure. Check out sandiego­cus­toms.com. Le­gal­ize it. HB

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