Motorcycles which follow the latest mainstream customising trends are not what Retro Write Up generally features on its pages. We do however pride ourselves on featuring South African built customs with a special fondness for those creations which are built in the home garage or small personal workshop. Our featured motorcycle may not be old school but it definitely meets our criteria regarding being local and garage built. This Harley Davidson Road King is a beautiful example of the current trend in Harley Big Twin customisation internationally, the custom “bagger”.
A bagger, by boring but proper definition, is any motorcycle fitted with saddlebags. In reality the term is usually used to describe Harley Davidson’s long distance tourers with all their necessary panniers and storage compartments. Normally used as an affectionate term, some Harley owners, like myself, prefer our Harleys leaner and meaner and tease our “bagger” riding friends for having so much extra paraphernalia bogging their motorcycles down. However our teasing quickly turns to begging when we need to carry or store something on a ride. In the first decade of the 21st century, the stretched out, wide tyred, exotic chopper ruled the commercial custom motorcycle market. It appears as if these unrideable works of art have had their day in the sun. Internationally the era of the custom bagger has dawned.
For decades a sensible 16″ diameter front wheel has done service on the front of Harley tourers. Owners of these motorcycles have always customised their tourers to reflect personal taste and personality. However it was when some anonymous customiser decided to fit a modern size 23″ diameter chopper front wheel onto a tourer that the proper custom bagger craze was born. These long haul cruisers are now the new canvas for Harley customisers to apply their palette of creativity.
Our featured custom started out as a stock black Harley Road King with panniers. Jacques, from Open Road Customs, almost single handedly but with a little help from some able or just willing friends, transformed the Road King to the Candy King we are featuring. He also built the El Demente custom which won the 2012 South African Harley Bike Week top honours. The Candy King was barely complete when Jacques’ Australian immigration was approved and he had to pack for Perth in a hurry. He sold the bike to Pretoria Harley Davidson just before jumping on the plane with his family.
The imported fibreglass panniers, rear mudguard, and fuel tank cover change the lines of the motorcycle from functional to fantastic. As mentioned earlier, the front wheel makes a custom bagger look so special. Installing a 23″ diameter wheel means having to change the fork rake angle by installing new raked triple trees. Even more insane looking 26″ and 30″ diameter wheels are available but installation involves cutting the frame to change the rake angle to accommodate these wheels. The headlight nacelle has also been extended to accentuate the flowing lines and the rake angle. The front mudguard was specially imported. Jacques made the ape hangers to his own design. Only the best looking custom accessories were fitted to this motorcycle. The fact that Ronnie from Pretoria Harley bought the bike meant that he too could add some high end Harley bits, like the wonderfully effective LED projector headlight. The candy on this king was expertly applied by Willie from Galaxy Customs.
Jacques is a carpenter/shopfitter by trade. He ran his own shopfitting business by day so that he could enjoy his motorcycle customising passion in his spare time. Pretoria’s loss is definitely Perth’s gain. The Candy King has recently been purchased by As, who also owns the restaurant inside the Pretoria Harley Davidson dealership, Route 66 Diner. He is a keen rider and I look forward to riding with him and this motorcycle, as I used to with Jacques when he was still building her. Did I mention how useful all that storage space is on a ride?