It may sound a little far-fetched and somewhat romantic but over the years writing bike and car features I have found a true love for the retro, that machine that was once on the verge of no return. I have total respect for those who can take a mechanical basket case and breathe new life and sole out of a bucket of bolts and what really has given me hope for the future of these once motoring icons is the amount of young blokes who are customizing and chopping old bikes and keeping the chopper legend alive, resisting the easy way out with the many old school themed current bikes offered by large motoring organisations. There’s a special love exhibited by man and the machine brought back from the edge and this machine appropriately named Life Behind Bars is a good example of a bike that exhibits the owners personality, style and has all the character of yesterday. If there is only one criticism with the new age chopper builder it’s the use of pearl paint, not due to the look, it looks great only due to the fact the pearl gives so many different shades in different light that it’s a challenge to photograph and portray the bike in the right light (give me this one I don’t often get to whinge).
The for mentioned bike is a 1988 Softail, the bike once served as a club bike and was in urgent need of love and attention, the S&S motor was leaking oil from the breather and the bike was all the signs that it had spent many of its years exposed to the elements. The neglected Softails saviour was to be a young bloke named Martin Mielcarz.
A spray painter by trade Martin knew he had the paint and tins well in hand and decided to hand the S&S motor over to Chris from CNR (Revesby) to do his magic. CNR fully rebuilt, stroked and bored the S&S donk to 1600cc and a new clutch fitted and the rest of the mechanicals.
The bike was then placed on a hoist and completely stripped down by Martin and his beautiful fiancée Gina. First step was a respray and replace the tins. The front and rear guards were replaced for undertaker style custom guards and the number plate was recessed on the rear and a diamond shaped LED tail light fitted. The colour was mixed by eye by Martin and made from a Spies Heckler Pearl Blue base, wrapped in a House of Kolor clear. All graphics, air brushing and striping on the bike was done by Martin with a little help from Darren from Letter Art in Ingleburn.
For his parts and accessories Martin called on spare part Guru Mick ‘’Silver’’ Potts from MCA Liverpool and no expense was spared which is evident straight away just in the $4,500 Jesse James West Coast Custom 21’’ front rim, other quality accessories are the Arlenn Ness Trumpet, 88cm Burleigh Bars and the Zodiac forward controls. A long time Ape bar fan the Burleigh Bars were the inspiration for the bikes name. The throaty note given off from the stroked S&S by way of a set of Vance and Hines radius pipes and a lowering kit was fitted for the stance and handling. The chromed primary, sprocket, axel covers and braided hoses give the bike its bling, the rear wheel was also polished, a notable exclusion is somewhere for beautiful Gina to sit but a pussy pad is on its way for the princess (and yes I asked and Gina has no problem with the term pussy pad!).
Martin has always had bikes through his life (mini bikes to trail bikes) and now V-Twins so he possessed a fair idea on how to go about the build and was able to build the bike in only 200 hours over three months which is a true credit to the first timer considering the work involved. The shoot was the furthest he had ridden the bike since finishing which was understandable considering he had just got his restricted licence, but the boy showed true character and balls and bit the bullet and snubbed his nose at the law and enjoyed every moment of it. Martin also wanted to give special thanks to his parents, Mark and Ursula, Leo, Alex and Vicky and his boss Milan from All Mag Wheel Repairs Ingleburn. Oh yeah hanging low and lazy on the frame are chromed ball bags, Gina’s friend who owns a tobacconist thought the ball bags would make a great addition and I have to agree, it’s great to be able to show your balls to the world and one could only imagine the cool breeze running over them. Oops I’ve got to stop thinking aloud! But you know what I mean! Hmmm.