Back Street Heroes
EVO BOBBER – JUST LIKE THEY USED TO BUILD THEM BACK IN THE DAY… SORT OF
LOTS OF PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY THESE DAYS, SEEM TO HAVE FORGOTTEN THAT BOBBERS, BACK WHEN THE TERM WAS COINED, WERE BIG OLD HARLEYS AND INDIANS THAT WERE STRIPPED OF ALL THEIR LARGE, HEAVY PARTS IN ORDER TO BE ABLE TO KEEP UP WITH THE NEW LIGHTER AND FASTER IMPORTS FROM THE UK – TRIUMPHS, NORTONS, BSAS, ETC.
These days it seems any modified custom-style bike’s a bobber (some twonk once even said of my silly-sided Bandit ‘nice bobber’…), but every so often one comes along that embodies that old ethos, and Tony ‘Sid’ Cox’s Fat Boy is one such machine.
He’s always loved the stripped-down look of the post (Second World) war bikes, and’d always wanted to build one based around a more modern Harley, rather than a terrifyingly expensive old ’un, and he knew that the best way to start such a project was to find a decent donor bike. A ’99 Fat
Boy, tired but running well, came up locally so he bought it, got it home, and stripped it, keeping only the frame, engine, ’box and oil tank, and selling off the rest.
His first step in creating the bike you see here was the purchase of a set of suitable length springers from Dragon Soul Custom, a company whose service and products he really rates (“They’re superb well-made forks”), and a set of old 5x16” Harley rims that he had wheel specialists Central Wheel Components sandblast, powdercoat, and build up around a set of Harley hubs. The front was fitted with a Willwood black chrome disc, and a Dragon Soul six-pot caliper, and the rear a DNA sprocket/disc that, he reports, looks amazing, but is actually pretty rubbish as a brake – good job there’s a six-potter up front then.
Now that he had a rolling chassis, after he’d made the spacers for the wheels n’ forks, he could get on with the rest of the build. He bought a set of five gallon fatbobs, and made a leather tank divider for them that holds a Motogadget brass speedo wossname, a Fenland Choppers ribbed rear ’guard (“Lovely!”), and an Indian-made (as in made in India, not made by/for an Indian motorcycle) vintage-style saddle that was, he admits, quite cheap, but is really good quality. It’s been mounted on a hinged bracket at the front, with the springs bolted at the back, and comes off quite easily to allow easy access to the battery in an emergency. The stock ’guard struts were removed, and the Fenland muddie mounted so that it sits close to the wheel, and moves with the swingarm, for the correct look. The aftermarket Softail shocks he’s used’ve been set on their lowest setting and, he says, the bike now looks, and rides, like a hardtail.
For the exhaust, he set about a rusty old set he’d been given by a mate, chopped the hell out of them, prepped them, and gave them several coats of VHT black to get them looking pukka, and then added some brass tips he made, along with the lion’s share of the other brass parts, on his mini lathe at home.
He doesn’t know what the
’pipes were originally, but they’re 2.25” bore and, he says, sound incredible.
The motor, a standard
1340 five-speed Evo, after a full service, was given a clean bill of health, and treated to an Andrews cam, and a new
Mikuni carb with a pattern pancake ’filter, and a set of vintage pattern ’bars, and controls, gave the bike the stance he wanted. The electrics were contracted out to a local shop, JWA Motorcycles (as he’s not versed in advanced wizardry), who hooked up the brass Bates headlight and rear light, and the Cree LED micro indicators… hmm, Cree indicators, shouldn’t they be on an Indian? Sorry, I’ll get me coat… in a minute.
Thebikewas finally finished about 18 months ago and, apart from the electrics and the wheels, was built at home in his tiny garage at the side of his house, and the total cost of the whole project, including the cost of the original donor bike, came in at a smidge under £7k. It is, he says, wonderful to ride, although you have to take it easy on corners due to the lowness, and it seems to always bring a smile to all who see it – on the photoshoot with Simon the snapper, people were forever stopping to admire it. He didn’t build it for that though; it was built to be ridden, and the raw steel of the tank and rear ’guard’ll age as it goes – as he says: “She’ll wear her patina with pride!”
Oh, and the name? As I’m sure you know, the Boozefighters MC were one of the most famous post-war bike clubs in the US (they’re actually blamed for the Hollister riot that gave rise to the 1% tag for outlaw clubs), and as they rode bikes of this ilk, he named it in their honour – an apt name for a bobber, don’t you think?