There's no big surprise over who created this build to me as we've featured custom work by Hank Thibodeau of Widow Maker Custom Design & Repair in Rougemont, North Carolina, quite a few times before on Barnett's Magazine Online. From the shocking Bone Yard Betty which was another hot rod rascal you want to jump on and ride the pants off to a completely street useful, yet still show-worthy charity bike for kids, everything's different. But there's a feeling, the same strong feeling, running through all of them. Although I gotta admit that this black gem called Lo-Life-Luci (for reasons unknown) is the most interesting yet. Granite and I may have formed at the same time, but I never get over the rush of taking a spin on a bike like this. It's not my fault, it just goads me until I give in. You know this has got to be a trip to ride even if if this is not your regular style of motorcycle.
Hank began this whole holligan stew with a rigid Ultima frame he acquired and immediately hacked and whacked it until it was stretched a good eight-inches. That's a big change of frame attitude right there ladies and gentlemen. So long and low was the way to go. And when I say "low" I really mean low as the drop seat section is probably about 20-inches (or less) off the ground tops! I'm in love with the heim-joint bracing all along the chainstay and complimented by more holding on the rear fender. Just a really simple, yet wonderfully different touch. Hank really pulled that one off. But even that's nothing compared to what's going on up front.
I'm sure you realize that's not some fork pulled out of an aftermarket catalog. All I can say is that it's one of the more intriguing front ends I've ever laid eyes on. To normal eyes it may look a bit odd, but that is one purposeful design that's got stuff going on geometry-wise that could give you a headache figuring it out. It does look strong, it does look right and the wheel's placed where it should be visually. Unlike some designs, this one does not make the wheel look like it's going backwards. The beefy twin horizontal shocks look like they're asking for trouble and will only be too glad to handle it. If I had to ram a barrier with a motorcycle, I think this one would be my first choice. And then there's that beautiful headlight hanging out in space ever so carefully from its own heim-joint setup. Nice carry-through on the detail Mr. Thibodeau.
Rolling stock consists's of nicely-sized wheels and tires with a drag-bike-like set of ten thin spokes looking about as plain-black butch as can be. Even more surprising is that if you hadn't noticed already, these lovely wheels are off a 2015 Breakout. That's the second time I've seen them used on a custom build and I think they look extraordiary for a factory wheel. Hank kept it real smart on the sizing making this bike look tight and right like the hooligan/bad boy/Steam Punk/dragster/Bonneville speedster/bar hopper extraordinaire it is. I mean talk about image maker, if I saw that parked outside a bar I'd probably move on a bit quickly. If mama's bad boy ever had a ride, this would be it. There was no clowning around with a single "show" brake either as he's got a pair of Wilwoods' finest doing double duty. Hey, even a holligan's got to stop sometimes. No vintage-style Firestone Deluxe Champion tires either, but a set with a nice sporty bent to them for good handling and braking. Plus they look right in this application too as this bike is about doing some jammin'.
The engine choice was a very pleasant surprise as it's not some old crock or an off-brander, it's the real thing - a 2015 Harley-Davidson 103 with some nice hop-up stuff lending a new visual and aural bearing on an otherwise just a late-model engine. The black finish is complimented by the aggressive forward facing air cleaner and the twisted tangle of the header-wrap headers that are corralled together by the heat shield that looks kinda locked in battle. Oh it's winning, but it can't let its guard down of those headers will move. Their lines showcase the clear timing cover below that never gets old no matter how many times I've seen one. I always look. Same with the cam covers. On the primary side, the stock wet primary is history replaced by a two-inch very open belt primary. All that's on board here are the pulleys and the belt to spin the Ultima six-speed before it shoots off the remaining power directly to the rear wheel by a properly butch chain final drive. Simple, plain and brutally effective.
Somewhat unusually, although it's grown on me, the fuel tank is a big one that dominates the top tube like it wants to be the highest point on the bike. The design flows strongly in bulk right into the top of the fork with an overtly aggressive motion I admire. Very powerful design statement going on there. The board track-style bars might not be the most comfortable, but they sure bring on the drama with an intention of implied speed at the waiting. Twist that knurled metal grip and you're gone while some of the prettiest master cylinders ever are worked by performance oriented levers, not spikes or brass knuckles, pure brake performance. Other one-off high-quality bits are the drilled-out hexagon foot and lever pegs. The drilled-out foot controls bring on the industrial look, but in a high style way. The feel overall is that nothing less than first class was considered for this build and I appreciate that.
When it came time for paint, Hank chose an unusual combo that I personally like very much. I'm not sure what to call (or what you might call) the finish on the frame on the frame but the closest I can get is to refer to it as a Hammerite or mottled finish of some sort. It's very early industrial to me and I love the look. It's different, it's honest and it looks right, can't ask for much more than that. The base paint including the tank was sprayed on by Auto Arts Inc. in Raleigh, North Carolina, while AAI's talented air brusher, Zack Matthews, came up with the weirdly interesting graphics on the tank, intake manifold and rear fender. More art museum than motorcycle graphics and I like that. You know there's a story there and you couldn't begin to guess if you tired, but it's there.
There's lots of great bits all around this bike you more and the closer you look. No detail was left untouched, no shortcuts were taken, no compromises made that you can tell. It's just a wonderful build that has a look all its own as well as a look that's stunning in any direction. My only bitch about this whole build could be summed up in one short sentence. What the hells up with that devil of a devil seat? The only thing I can think of is sitting on that would be like sending your ass to hell. Or maybe they're just making sure I never park my butt on their bike. And that's true unless I can find the seat pad my sister had to sit on to see over the '56 Ford steering wheel to get her license. Nah, they'll probably see me coming pad in and and block the bike off. I'll just have to figure something else, but in the meantime, I love this bike.
For more info on Widow Maker Custom Design & Repair, visit http://widowmakercdr.com/.