Some styles like vintage Old School have never really gone away even at their worst time on the custom stage of life. I’d say the same goes for a style that makes you think Southern California and more specifically, L.A. the Lowrider. No, not the version Harley’s been selling for years, the Dyna Low Rider, but, well, you know, the lowrider. It’s more or less the two-wheeled version of the famous California four-wheel lowrider that’s all about style first and practicality second.
In actually, there are a lot of style similarities between the car and the bike version such as extreme paint jobs, lots of chrome bling, funky exhausts, air ride suspension, long and swoopy fenders and more. Much like the car version, the lowrider motorcycle style aesthetic is pretty set with drop-to-the-ground air ride suspension, ape hangers or something else equally outrageous to the extreme, l-o-o-o-n-g fishtails, wire wheels, skinny low profile whitewall tires and a killer detailed paint job as mandatory. It’s a style that’s an eye-catcher and keeper even if this is not your personal idea of a custom bike. They are beautiful in their own way and I’ve never seen a lowrider rider not look like they’re not enjoying the ride.
One big point about building and owning a lowrider is that the name says it all. It’s about riding and even though they might seem a bit outlandish to some conservative eyes, these bikes are made to cruise around on as part of their initial design. It’s kinda funny, but the lowrider community differs in some ways from the other custom crowds in that they do ride these bikes. How else other than a couple a shows a year can you get somebody else to dig all the time and money and, of course, good taste you have put into your gem-like lowrider?
One thing I dig about the lowriders I’ve seen is that the engine is left pretty stock except for the usual Stage 1 hop up and maybe some additional chrome. Probably the most realistic approach by a bunch of custom builders who realize they don’t need big-inch engine, turbos and what have you to power this bike nicely. A nice running and tuned late model Harley-Davidson V-twin will do just fine, thank you, and they’re right. The Motor Company’s 103-incher in this bike will push it just fine and it’ll make all the sound you’ll need coming out of those twice-as-long-as-most bike’s pipes. Yeah, I know the extreme fishtail length is a point of contention for a lot of people, but hey, it’s either not your style or you could just change it so no need to go all batty about it. It is what it is.
One of the nice aspects about this style is that it keeps the factory silhouette, sorta, with its own interpretation of how a Harley should look in So Cal. There’s not a thing done here that couldn’t go back to stock or provide excellent fodder for a big wheel bagger build. It’s kinda like the “No animals were harmed in the making of this film” type of thing. Sure the wheel size has been changed, but nothing too radical or stylishly upsetting. Tire size follows no trends but its own inherent skinniness and a penchant for white sidewalls.
Personally, I’ve never seen a lowrider with a hand shifter and foot clutch, but there’s probably one out there. Nope, these are all about showboating practicality which may seem like a conundrum, but it isn’t. Again, we’re talking the “rider: part of lowrider. So nothing out of the ordinary here including what’s becoming a “thing” again of losing the front brake. Hey, riding the mean streets of LA means having all the braking you can get on your side. OEM stuff is just fine as long as it’s got a ;little bling like these red OEM calipers. Trick, but not too trick for your own good.
Bodywork is the custom equivalent of a 1964 Chevy Impala lowrider, it’s pretty stock, but not really. There are just enough tweaks here like the tail dragger rear fender and the exaggerated Heritage-mimicking front fender. The builder even kept the stock fender trim like you’d keep the cursive Impala trim on a Chevy. The fuel tank’s been de-logoed and the stock horseshoe oil tank sits right where it’s supposed to. Keeping the Harley feel to the build is just as important as modifying it.
I like the look of the bars, but I know I’m not a big fan of them from the saddle which in this case, somewhat surprisingly, is a standard Corbin unit. Nothing fancy, a little more style and lots more comfort, what’s not to like about that? Everything from foot controls, hand controls and floorboards are usefully integrated into the style without taking anything away from using it as a motorcycle. As far as the down-turned, beach-style bars go, my arms are to short for comfortable full-lock turns so I can only appreciate them from afar.
Whoever built this did a bang up job with the all-important “signature” paint job that denotes each and every owner’s personality. The heavy flake candy apple red with silver striping is carried through to the red rims, engine bits, floorboards and other various pieces throughout the bike. This ties the whole bike together as one piece and eye doesn’t get hung up on its way from the front to back. It’s a smooth, harmonious yet quite flashy way of doing it and I like it a lot.
So, maybe a lowrider’s not the bike for you and your motorcycle intentions. That’s fine. Just make sure you keep an open mind and respect and enjoy what makes other owners happy. Man, we’re all in this motorcycle thing together and we’re all we got. WE may have different tastes, but we’re all brothers and sisters with a common tie that no one can break.