In conversation: Finalists of the Harley-Davidson Custom Champions Contest for Rock Riders Season VI

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Added in: Harley Davidson

Harley Rock Riders Show

Harley-Davidson India is preparing for its Rock Riders Season VI – a festival of music and motorcycles – in the financial capital of the country, Mumbai. along with this festival, the USA based iconic brand is also setting the stage for five independent bike builders in India to showcase their creativity and talent carved on Harley-Davidson motorcycles. The winner of the ‘Custom Champion’ contest will win an all-expenses paid trip to the Harley-Davidson Museum in Wisconsin, USA.

But impressing the expert panel of judges at the festival will not be an easy task. We already know what the finalists are going to present at the event but this time around, thanks to the folks at Harley-Davidson, we got upclose with the custom builders with a set of carefully put together questionnaire to find out what does it take to build such exquisite and alluring motorcycle.

Harley-Davidson motorcycle customized by TJ Moto

  • Name: TJ Moto
  • Attributed to Tushar Jaitely

Why did you select a Harley-Davidson motorcycle for the custom job?

It was the first bike that I ever bought and owned. I wanted to work on a V-twin engine as the proportions of it were perfect for the design I had in mind. Hence I picked up the Harley Iron 883.

What is the theme of your customization? What inspired you?

There’s no theme per say. I just wanted to do something old-school and something different than the usual bikes we see.

Do you have a specific style, or each one of your mod-job is differently themed? Tell us about your style if you follow one.

There’s no particular style that I follow. Each build is different from the other. Each client is different from the other and wants different things. Though I tend to keep things fresh and minimal with the brief that I get from the client.

What were the challenges faced during the built? Did you source the custom parts or fabricated them yourself?

It was my first build ever. Also I was completely new to the Indian market. To find vendors and technical people was one of the biggest challenges. Most of the parts on the bike were fabricated but we imported the tires down from Pennsylvania.

Globally, who do you admire for their excellence in custom jobs?

Maxwell Hazan, Indian Larry, Rolland Sands are some people who I admire.

Along with cosmetic upgrades, did you also bump up the performance figures on the motorcycles?

I tend to not do performance upgrades but basic changes such as performance air filter with a really good exhaust are a part of almost every build.

What are the strengths of your mod-job that you think will make it win this competition?

I think the motorcycle that I’m bringing is very unique and radical yet sticks to the aesthetics of motorcycling.

Customized Harley-Davidson motorcycle by TNT Motorcycle

  • Name: TNT Motorcycles
  • Attributed to Naveen Nandal and Nitin Sharma (TNT Motorcycles)

Why did you select a Harley-Davidson motorcycle for the custom job?

We selected a Harley-Davidson motorcycle for its Old School naked layout. In comparison to other commuter/sports motorcycles, a Harley-Davidson has no excess panels. The naked layout of a Harley-Davidson provides the liberty of customizing all parts separately and maintain a theme across the build.

What is the theme of your customization? What inspired you?

We followed a Taper Hole and Rivet theme on this build incorporating it on wheels, suspension boots, handle risers, leg guard, forward foot controls, pillion foot panels, rear light and rear number plate. Idea was generated to break the monotony in Fat Bob Wheels.

Do you have a specific style, or each one of your mod-job is differently themed? Tell us about your style if you follow one.

No, we do not stick to a certain style or stance. We are a very young enterprise and are still exploring the styles and themes we can use. That being said, we also don’t consider ourselves sticking to a certain style. Customization is about making a ride unique and sticking to a certain style definitely beats the purpose.

What were the challenges faced during the built? Did you source the custom parts or fabricated them yourself?

At TNT Motorcycles, we first design a part in software and then fabricate it. The biggest challenge was to make sure that the physical part is at par with the design. Fat Bob Wheels were sourced from Harley Davidson. All other custom parts were fabricated in house.

Globally, who do you admire for their excellence in custom jobs?

Shinya Kimura, Max Hazan and Thunderbike Customs.

Along with cosmetic upgrades, did you also bump up the performance figures on the motorcycles?

NO.

What are the strengths of your mod-job that you think will make it win this competition?

The stock Street Bob has been transformed in a old school fat bobber with Taper Hole and Rivet theme running across the build with a CNC stitched Gel Saddle. We at TNT Motorcycles understand that “the devil is in the details” and have made sure that finishing of the parts is flawless.

Harley-Davidson motorcycle customized by MotoMiu

  • Name: MotoMiu
  • Attributed to SaurabShirke

Why did you select a Harley-Davidson motorcycle for the custom job?

There are a lot of reasons for it. Firstly we love it because it has a big power plant its mighty V-twin engine. Harley-Davidson has its own legacy, character and the cult following. It is unmatched to any other motorcycles that we are aware of. We also selected it is because of the metallurgy.

What is the theme of your customization? What inspired you?

We are inspired by new age technology and precision machinery and this can only join hands with speed. That makes us build one more Café Racer.

Do you have a specific style, or each one of your mod-job is differently themed? Tell us about your style if you follow one.

We don’t have a specific style. We are open to all class of motorcycles. But we follow lines and the pedigree of the motor and the frame and then build around. We keep in mind that the motorcycle has to be practical and fun to ride.

What were the challenges faced during the built? Did you source the custom parts or fabricated them yourself?

Challenges faced were availability of OEM parts and that took time. We have also manufactured and fabricated a lot of parts viz. rear sets, handle bars etc. Manufacturing the parts wasn’t a hassle since we have state of the art infrastructure, machinery and equipment which is backed by engineers, designers and technicians. We sourced electrical accessories from Europe.

Globally, who do you admire for their excellence in custom jobs?

Bubble Visor, RolandSands Design, Kiska Design Studio and Badland are some we admire.

Along with cosmetic upgrades, did you also bump up the performance figures on the motorcycles?

We have changed to heavy breather air filter and proper heat scavenging exhaust system. Softer compound track tyres and inverted front end. The performance is also taken care of by properly reducing weight and counter balancing it if required. The major weight reduction is done by simply changing to a lighter yet stronger alloy. In our case, we like using T6 Aero space Aluminium to make our parts or replace OEM parts.

What are the strengths of your mod-job that you think will make it win this competition?

Strength of our Mod-jobs is practicality with performance and aesthetics like improved ground clearance, sturdier ride due to inverted front suspension assembly with steering damper, sleek and sharp looking body work, mono suspension and some more technical goodies.

Harley-Davidson motorcycle customized by Godspeed Customs

  • Name: Godspeed Customs
  • Attributed to NikeshRajan

Why did you select a Harley-Davidson motorcycle for the custom job?

The main reason is the V-twin engine in the middle. It’s like giving you a canvas with the perfect frame. Just don’t do anything stupid and you can paint a beautiful picture. The legacy that’s involved with the bike is another reason to select a Harley-Davidson.

What is the theme of your customization? What inspired you?

We like bobbers style of motorcycles and the sportster gives the perfect platform to do it. We wanted it old school. In India, it’s difficult to see a springer on any sort of bikes. Seeing a shovel head or a pan Head in India is like spotting a shooting star. But we put our mind and soul into it. After a lot of ideas and pondering, we decided to go ahead with sportster powered springer concept. Minimalism is why we always strive so that the motorcycle remains a motorcycle.

Do you have a specific style, or each one of your mod-job is differently themed? Tell us about your style if you follow one.

We like bobbers a lot. But we don’t want to be stereotyped for the same. So we have done café racers, baggers. But bobbers are our favorite. It’s really comfortable for anyone to ride a bobber but it’s not the same with a bagger or a café racer.

What were the challenges faced during the built? Did you source the custom parts or fabricated them yourself?

When we customize a bike, we don’t want our bike to be just a show pony. It has to be ridden hard and the person should be able to ride the bike as he wishes. When we went ahead with the idea of the springer, we just didn’t want it to look good but also be efficient. So we got the springer from Paughco, one of the best in the world. We had it custom built according to our specifications. All the sheet metal parts were custom made – the indented tank, the protruding rear fender, the front fender which is a basic necessity on Indian roads, the new mounts for the rear fender, rear indicator mounts, the LED taillight, custom rear fender mount which doubles up as a sissy-bar too. And a lot others too.

Globally, who do you admire for their excellence in custom jobs?

Billy Lane, Indian Larry, Arlen Ness, Matt Hotch, Shinya Kimura, Russel Mitchell, Trevelen and the list goes on. But Indian Larry is my favorite.

Along with cosmetic upgrades, did you also bump up the performance figures on the motorcycles?

The cross over exhaust gave it a clean look with performance. The K&N performance filter and the tuner from Dynojet made a lot of difference in the performance of the bike. We changed the cams also for better performance. The overall gain is power is likely to be 8 to 10 Hp. We could have done a 883cc to 1250cc conversion on this bike. But the client didn’t want that.

What are the strengths of your mod-job that you think will make it win this competition?

In what we do, we try and design hand fabricated, Indian roadworthy, real world motorcycles and this factor is completely overriding the decorative style statement. But this concept sees a marked deviation from that credo. Sure it’s roadworthy and can take some serious long distance riding, but it’s finished in show bike quality and one can’t fail to notice the attention to detail on this motorcycle. All show-winning bikes are festooned with trinkets and farkles, but often one wonders if a little less would have made it a little more “Motorcycle”. The restraint required to critique one’s own work with a realistic eye and say, “That’s enough” or, “That’s just too much” is usually the difference between a bike that looks like a Christmas tree and one that’s a work of art. This difference is not a very thin line and it was really crucial in conceptualizing this design.

EIMOR Customs

  • Name: EIMOR CUSTOMS
  • Attributed to MJ

Why did you select a Harley-Davidson motorcycle for the custom job?

We have already done a number of modifications on Royal Enfield and other Indian brands. We have done innumerable number of custom paint jobs on Harley-Davidson, and other superbikes, but, this was an opportunity for us to enrich ourselves with a new experience. Harley-Davidson is altogether a different beast to tame. It was fun at the same time challenging.

What is the theme of your customization? What inspired you?

The customer is an out and out rider. A rider from his heart, a rider from his brain, a rider from his soul. He came as asked us to pimp his ride to something which would help him go for long rides. “And the theme should be Highway to Hell“, he said!

Do you have a specific style, or each one of your mod-job is differently themed? Tell us about your style if you follow one.

Being riders and engineers ourselves, we believe that the bike should first ride good before looking good. We try to build bikes which are practical at the same time aesthetically beautiful. There is no compromise on the quality, the pleasure of riding and practicality.

What were the challenges faced during the built? Did you source the custom parts or fabricated them yourself?

Harley-Davidson Street 750 is a beautifully designed bike; it has powerful acceleration and great balance. To make it something more than stock can be a challenge. We have custom crafted many parts at our workshop itself. It was more challenging because no customized accessories/components are available for Street 750.

Globally, who do you admire for their excellence in custom jobs?

The list is huge. We look up to many people in the industry, both for paintjobs as well as bike mods. Indian Larry, Roland Sands, TT Custom Choppers, Unexpected Custom – Fine Arts Unlimited, Air Runner Custom Paint, D-Luck’s Custom Paint Workshop, Ed Hubbs, Airbrush Fittoare to name a few.

Along with cosmetic upgrades, did you also bump up the performance figures on the motorcycles?

We customized this motorcycle keeping in mind that this will be ridden hard and long. We have increased the ground clearance of the bike by 2.5 inches, and split the exhaust to make it a twin exhaust system with handmade mufflers and glass wool to make it sound thunderous. The air filter is a SCREAMING EAGLE and the silencers being free flow leads to better efficiency and acceleration. We have added a windshield so that it is comfortable for long rides, a provision to carry loads of luggage with detachable leather belts and LED lighting for visibility. And a super glossy paintjob does the icing on the cake.

What are the strengths of your mod-job that you think will make it win this competition?

A motorcycle should not only look great but should also perform well on roads. We started this project keeping this Mantra in mind. We had the liberty to churn this into a museum worthy piece of art, but we chose practicality. We customized this keeping in mind that this will be ridden hard and ridden long.

The Harley-Davidson Rock Riders – Season VI is scheduled on October 30-31, 2015 and that’s where the name of the winner, from the five competitors, will be announced. We wish best of wishes to the finalists.

In the meantime, do let us know your choice for the ultimate accolades

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