While I don’t have a problem with folks riding a stock machine, there’s just something about seeing a bike someone has lovingly mangled and managed with their own two hands that pulls me in to the story line.
It’s one thing to see that kind of stuff happening in the home of the custom motorcycle culture – the Good Ole US of A – it’s another entirely to read about someone who’s done the custom deed to their bike in a society where such “antisocial” activity is a little more rare.
Case in point, this machine, The Firestarter from “Mountain Ram” in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
When Ram sent me the photos of what was once a bone-stock Harley XL883 Sporty, I was digging it, but when I looked at the background of the photos, I saw something I found more interesting – some native plants and architecture that didn’t look California, Texas or Florida to me.
And I was right on that score, so I asked a few questions to get to the heart of the matter.
First, I wanted to know if there were more in “production,” and the answer was “there are no more like it on the lift, because there was never a lift to begin with. This is a humble ‘garden garage’ build just at the entrance of our building.”
And Ram offered some other details about his build as well.
“‘Firestarter’ is my first custom project, based on a brand new 2008 HD Sportster XL883R,” he wrote. “I – along with my brother – make up a visionary joint more than a full-fledged garage and workshop. The way it all started was through an article featured in another custom-enthusiast magazine (Hot Bike) on a $1,000 budget built custom. Visions in my mind toggled back and forth between bobber, chopper, or cafe racer. This ‘virtual’ designing and scheming in my mind took quite a while, before it finally reached the vision of the finished bike. That vision kept flashing back in my mind, until it was anchored there; unchanged, unaltered. That’s when I knew that this is the design I was set on, and that I had to start implementing it.”
So there you have it. Why build a custom bike? Because if you have the Jones, there’s no other option.
What got Ram going on the idea of a custom bike build? The same set of parameters that got most of us hooked.
“I was infatuated with the hot rod and rat rod cultures, and wanted (this bike) to be the opposite of everything the Nightster was,” he said. “If the latter had dragbars and was slammed down low front and rear, I wanted the R to have a taller front end with high apes. The Nightster was clean and refined, and I wanted the Firestarter to be ratty, raw, and unfinished. Rock’n’Roll played an important part in influencing – let’s say – the attitude of the bike. To me, nothing spelled in-your-face rebel recklessness more than The Prodigy’s Firestarter song. Frontman Keith Flint’s punky attitude in that video was what I wanted my ride to be.”
So there you have it, the classic formula. Outlaw feel, rock and roll attitude; something bordering on pure anarchy in the UAR.
So how did Ram select the details which went into creating his vision of a Sporty where the factory look was left far, far behind?
“I refused the fairing made specifically for the Sportster and some Dyna models offered by Harley Davidson, and I was obstinate in wanting a Nightrod fairing, due to its slimmer, more streamlined profile,” Ram says. “For the paint scheme, I wanted a scheme that came from Black Label Society guitarist and vocalist Zakk Wylde’s infamous guitar with the swirl, so that’s where I went with the colors.”
Some of the other selections, like customizing a dropdown bracket to lower the ChopperShox mini shocks and seatpan about 1″, fabricating a bracket to hold the Nightrod’s headlight fairing; chopping, modifying, reshaping and louvering the rear fender and cranking out a custom made sissy bar which completes the chunky look, were pure Ram. Some bits, like a No School Choppers 40X taillight, required custom modification to fit properly without hitting the Biltwell 10″ rigid struts, ignition hop-ups, one-off custom modified mufflers and a custom Chopper Dave x66 air cleaner and SE neck assembly put the icing on the cake.
The shifting is handled jockey-style using a pistol grip Hurst and a LaBriola foot clutch. Does it get any hot rodder than that?
So what’s up next to take a slot on the lawn in front of Ram’s house in Jeddah?
“A cafe racer project is simmering in my mind; the final installment to my Sportster trilogy, and then maybe I move to what will probably be my first ground-up build, hopefully to be entered in the AMD custom bike world championship of…. 2015, to be realistic,” he said.