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The Skulster


The Skulster’s creator John “JD” Denughes is the first to admit the Skulster might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the Skulster is winning fans on the Sydney Show and Shine circuit with JD pulling out no stops with his Graveyard theme.

The Skulster theme is brought to life with no less than 25 skulls, a skeleton on a tombstone and another tombstone and base lending itself as a brag board itemizing the Skullster’s specs. So large is JD’s display he is often positioned amongst the venders and their trailers.

All John’s work hasn’t gone unrewarded with the Skulster taking out many categories in some of Sydney’s premier show and shine’s. The bike has won around 14 trophies in the past year. One of John’s proudest moments was being asked for the Inspire, tales from the roadside DVD and Limited Edition Calendar.

Tales from the Roadside featured Aussie and American builders, Arlen and Cory Ness the most notable. Not bad for a Bloke from the Western Suburbs who because of lack of funds did all work himself, learning as he went.

JD brought the ’85 Iron Head Sporty back in 2004 and in the first six months was pretty conservative by his own standards only adding some Arlen Ness grips and pegs. Then JD bit the bullet and decided to take the bike off the road to color match the frame to the Hugger Orange of the tins and lay a mural on the tank. Then came the T-Bars and Sturgis Alloy rims .

The Sporty had already had a couple of bolt on Skull features when he brought it, but it wasn’t until John’s nephew showed him a feature on a Skull inspired bike in a magazine that he decided to run with the theme saying to his young nephew “Fucking Skull bike hey? I’ll show’em Skull bike” and it was from this moment the obsession with skulls took hold.

One of the first things was to come up with a name and being a Sportster, JD decided to run with The Skulster!

John said everyone’s got painted skulls on their bikes and so decided to go that one step further, whilst being an accomplished airbrush artist made his Skulls 3Dimensional. The moulds for the skulls were carved out with a Demel grinding tool to get the fine detail in the hard filler, and then it was soft filler and fiberglass resin. The fat bob tank was stretched and then the molds were mounted on either side. The oil tank and front guard also received the 3D treatment. The 3D effect gives the impression that the skulls are coming out of the tins!

All the welds on the frame were ground down and smoothed making it look seamless. The molded skulls added to the backbone, in between seat and tank and frame neck. There are also skulls on the exhaust brackets, swing arm and engine mounts bringing the total to 23 skulls in the frame alone.

John then surfed the net to source more and more skull themed accessories.

There he found, mirrors stems with skulls and flames, shifter rods and levers to name a few. Anyone who has customized a bike would tell you it’s no walk in the park but what was to make it particularly hard for JD, single father of two boys was that he was diagnosed with cancer and was soon to go through chemo and radiation therapy whilst he was building the bike.

There were times in which a couple of weeks would pass before he would even have the strength to wield a spanner. Now in remission JD was able to go back to his studies in Engineering Fabrication and Mechanical Engineering at tech and back to work on his dream bike.

The front and rear guards were cut down and shaped into a point and the rivets removed making the guard appear smooth and made from one piece. The paint is a custom mix of Mandarin Pearl and Candy Tangerine over top, with true fire blades front and rear with Cherry Black Candy and ghosted skulls. The engine, forward controls, 11” progressive rear shocks and the inlay in the primary cover have all be high lighted in Candy Black. The Skulster’s 21” Sturgis front rim and 17” rear rim get their stopping power from 4 piston Arlen Ness PM front caliper and an Annihilator calipers on the rear with braided lines. The custom rotors have a spider web design cut out inlay in the shape of a Maltese Cross that matches the mirrors.

JD made brackets for the 11” progressive shocks as to relocate them to clear the 4 piston caliper and lower the rear end a little further. He also used a dished sprocket off a FXR on the right side drive to help with clearance to fit a 150 tyre. The bike had been raked previously (to what degree JD doesn’t know) so there was no modification to the rake. The front end is 41mm Pro1.

The motor was then fitted with 40,000 over KB pistons, Andrews Cam and S&S Super G carburetor with thunderjet. John hand made the billet exhaust and spark comes via a Dyna Electronic ignition with Dyna twin coil. The drive is courtesy of a standard 4 speed box with Andrews gears.

John says he owes a lot to Tafe with much of the accessories as with the exhaust being made on his course. The Speedo and tacho brackets as with the axel adjuster’s nut and spike lockout, brass and billet spikes were all made at tech.

Even at night the Skulster can’t be missed with Zap Neon Lights that fade and change colors.

You like to think there’s a little of everybody in there whip (bike) and it’s each to their own and while JD admits the Skulster isn’t everyone’s cup of tea you have to give it to the bloke for not only not giving up where others would but creating a bike that turns heads and hopefully inspires people to dare to be different!


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