Up to this point, Delbert had been riding the daylights out of his first-ever motorcycle, a 2003 Sportster, when someone decided they should take it off his hands without any remuneration. He formed a plan to build a ground-up custom for about the cost of a new Dyna. The term “low-budget ground up” is an oxymoron if there ever was one. Not to Delbert, though, “ I’m a cost estimator for Construction Systems Inc. I figure out what it’s going to cost to build a building down to the last nail. I worked out a build plan from day one and when I went over somewhere, I ended up going back and building a part myself ‘cause I couldn’t afford to buy that part now.” Quite a project for a guy who says, “Other than starting it up, twisting the throttle, and shifting gears on my Sportster was about my extent of mechanics on a motorcycle.”
So, back to the frame, Delbert called Dave Kaye of the Detroit Bros. and requested a little more rake (40-degrees) and stretch among other things. This call started a friendly relationship that still exists today. “I really like their style and the way they think outside he box,” said Delbert. “They did not have a problem picking up the phone and telling me the best way to do stuff throughout the build. They’re just great guys.” Delbert then sketched and totally planned the whole build with a low budget as his top priority.
Delbert sourced a salvage 1988 Sportster as his donor platform and what he couldn’t use, he sold to provide funds for other parts. After yanking the 1200cc Evo, he sent it off to Jack at The Shop in Hope Mills for a rebuild. “That was the only part of the build I didn’t jump into,” said Delbert. Actually not quite true as he did build the exhaust and made the curved intake from auto parts store exhaust tubing and a $2 eBay K&N filter. “I had a hard time stomaching buying a $200-300 forced intake,” he said. A bit of headwork, more compression, and an Andrews cam delivers more than enough power for a bike this light. “My neighbor has a new 1200 and he can’t stay with me,” said Delbert.
Mean Street’s Wicked forks with an additional 6-degrees rake in the trees give a stance a bit like R. Crumb’s famous ‘60s icon, the Keep on Truckin’ guy. It’s a look that says, “I’m ready to play, let’s go get in some trouble.” Hogpro Indy wheels in formal black add a touch of airy elegance with a matching rotor in front and an Edart sprocket brake aft.
The front H-D caliper is worked by the left twist grip, an Exile internal control whose line runs down underneath the engine to a Brembo master cylinder. The Exile clip-ons ended up super clean and it all kinda works out peachy with the foot-clutch and hand-shifter Delbert wanted to use. “I almost ran into my neighbor’s Jeep on my first ride, but after that, it was clear sailing,” he said laughing.
Keeping to budget, Delbert almost stole the classic H-D Rapido tank on eBay, made a fender out of a friend’s leftover blank, and the oil tank from 13-gauge sheet steel. He fabbed a shock/seat pan and his mom sewed up the leather Delbert cut out of April’s old high-school backpack, complete with red ink stains for added patina. Tying it all together is the Frank Enriquez Majik Blue and silver graphics paintjob.
Summing up his first ground up build, Delbert said, “I ended up within a few hundred dollars of my original budget. It’s a daily rider, I can’t stay off it. I ride it like I stole it”
Builder: Delbert Soucier
Certainly it takes a lot of self-confidence to even entertain the idea of grabbing a bare frame and building a first-time ground up, never mind what it takes to actually complete a build. It’s one thing if you have a background of mechanical experience, but when your expertise is in woodworking you’ve got to have confidence in your abilities to think outside your own box and tackle new skills. Delbert Soucier was fearless about his determination to replace his stolen bike, not with a new factory model, but with a ground up custom worthy of being a magazine feature bike that’s been created on a strict budget. “I have a bad habit of saying I’m not buying something somebody else built ‘cause I can build it myself,” said Delbert. “In my field of work, if I can’t stay on budget, I’ve got to find a new field to work in.”
That was easier said than done as Delbert said, “It became difficult because there were some issues that came up that forced me to do a different avenue, but I just ended up learning how to use a lathe and a mill to keep it on budget.” Yeah, little things like making a set of museum-quality foot controls utilizing BMX pegs or adapting a sprotor because the wheels you liked and got such a deal on required it, but didn’t allow normal chain adjustment. “I had to offset my engine sprocket 3/16” which pushed my sprotor right into my frame. I had top lock my rear axle in place and build an adjustable chain idler which works great,” he said.
Oh, in case you wanted a set of Mean Street forks, keep your eyes on eBay. “I’m building a girder for this bike, I’ve got the jigs built,” said Delbert. Remember, he’s got that budget to keep.