Many years ago, Guy bought my much-loved green 1260 Bosworth big-bore EFE chop, writes Lin Jefford. He rode it, loved it, and then sold it. Almost instantly he regretted selling it almost as much as I did, but things have to move on to provide money and space for subsequent projects. He said then that one day he’d come and have a bike built based on an H-D Sportster engine.
Well, 2016 was the year! Discussions got under way and, at first, he was just going to have a stock Sportster modified, but then decided to go the whole hog (sorry for the dreadful pun…) and said the bike had to be a one-off special.
The frame was always going to be a Destiny Cycles rigid. A Goldrush chop frame, on which most Destiny bikes are based, was built in-house, as they all are, with a little less rake than usual (36 degrees instead of the usual 45-50 for our Swedish-style chops), and designed to take an S&S Sportster engine of 1200cc capacity.
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As it was being built around a Goldrush frame, it was decided that it’d be a shame not to do something along the lines of the famous 1849 Californian gold rush (which, technically, started in 1848 when James W Marshall discovered gold at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, but really kicked off in 1849 when a vast influx of hopefuls, nicknamed ‘forty-niners’, poured into the area), and so a theme was chosen. It’s also a bit of a play on the name of Harley’s 48 Sportster (so named because of its 1948-style small peanut tank and wire wheels) too, but you’d guessed that anyway, hadn’t you? Just nod and smile, and say ‘yes’ – no one will know…
With the stance decided, next came the forks. Guy really wanted a springer front end, but not just any springers – they had to be old-style Harley ones – and as the build developed they too had to be modified; they were reworked to sit better, and the front leg nickel-plated and the rear one painted to match the rest of the bike.
Sorting a tank was proving difficult; the usual Sporty tank didn’t look right and we’d used the Cole Foster-style tank several times already. Guy didn’t want a teardrop shape so we weren’t left with many viable options. Then we attended, as usual, the Radical Custom Bike Show at the Salon de la Moto in Pecquencourt in northern France. There’s usually an autojumble in the streets surrounding the event on the Sunday morning (although not in 2017, perhaps due to increased security risks in La Belle France), and there we picked up two fuel tanks which were originally fitted to obscure 1950s French motorcycles. When we got home, we tried one on Guy’s frame, and not only did it fit, but it looked right too. We were gutted as we really liked the tank and would’ve liked to use it on one of our own builds in the future, but Guy’s bike needed it so that was another piece in place.
Although the tank itself was in fantastic condition, the original pressed alloy centre panel had seen better days so a new one was fashioned and bent to follow the curve of the tank – something that was a whole lot easier said than done. Tame engineer extraordinaire Woody was sent away with chunks of brass to machine a fuel cap and matching oil cap from, both with a star design to tie in with the planned paint, as well as the gorgeous snail-cam wheel adjusters, and tons of other detail parts too.
The oil tank, which sits down at the front of the motor in order to keep the area below the seat clear, is a complete one-off made from two fire extinguishers, and perfectly displays said brass cap, and the minimal battery holder has a polished alloy base and top, both nickel-plated, and the battery itself is held in place by brass tubes, polished of course. By now the look was really coming together and, having shown Guy the Cannonball MAG 12 wheels we’d spotted on the ’net, that was another decision made. They’re really nice wheels that look almost like those fitted to traditional hot rods (and, further back, wooden carts), and really fit in with what was fast becoming ‘the look’ of the bike. A pair was duly ordered from W&W Cycles and soon they were winging their way from Germany. The bike was becoming more and more vintage-looking so the tyres were chosen for their old-school credentials; a 4.00×19-inch Coker Classic with a diamond tread pattern for the front and a 5.0×16-inch Beck Cycle for the rear.
Moving on to the bike’s crowning glory, Dave Dickinson of DDK Airbrushing in Bridlington is a good friend of Guy’s and so he was the obvious choice to lay the paint on. We’ve worked with Dave before on a couple of our own bikes, as well as customers’ bikes, so we were confident he could pull the job off in the given time, and to the highest standard. What he produced has exceeded all expectations – and they were high to begin with. Karl and Keith at Quality Chrome in Hull did their usual fast, top-class job of all the necessary plating, both nickel and gold – service with a smile all the way with these guys.
The seat base was made by Vic as usual and sent to Syd and Sue at CearUrfa Leather in South Shields who worked their usual magic, and produced the gorgeous hand-carved (by Syd) and braided (by Sue) leather cover to match the paint.
We’ve been really lucky that Guy, being a friend as well as a client, very kindly allowed us to show his bike all over Europe where it’s been very well received, and has won numerous shows. This, of course, has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that his garage is too full to keep the bike at home at the moment; no, nothing at all…
Mind you, this hasn’t stopped him from going for project number three – not long ago he appeared at the workshop with a very sad-looking 750/4 Honda which he thinks would look far better with a cafe racer stance. We agreed and it now sits on a bench awaiting ‘the treatment’. Watch this space!