When he was challenged to up his game, a multi-award winning custom builder set his sights on the radical bagger genre.
Jay was just a boy growing up in India when he taught himself to ride motorcycles by rolling his father’s Royal Enfield 350 to the top of a nearby hill, and coasting down in second. It’s unclear to us what his father thought about that, but for young Jay the hook was set early for a life of motorcycle infatuation.
When the family emigrated to Canada, he found himself hanging around the local Harley store staring at brochures and dreaming of a time when he could own (and legally ride) one of the glimmering Big Twins. Today Jay is a grown man with young kids of his own and a growing reputation on the west coast for building eye-candy customs such as the radical bagger on these pages. Through a succession of builds he’s earned a mountain of hardware at all the important shows on the lower mainland: People’s Choice, Best Bike, Best Paint, Best in Show, he’s claimed every significant category.
Though he’s now been showing bikes competitively for the past four years, and winning everything there is to be won, it was at a judged event hosted by Vancouver area dealer Trev Deeley Harley-Davidson that he was unexpectedly challenged to take his game up to the next level when someone at the show said, “Any kid can build a chopper; it takes a real man to build a bagger.”
Perhaps this critic was just making a poor attempt at humour but Jay took the message as a serious call-to-action and spent the next half year doing exhaustive research of the bagger market, examining styles, techniques, trends, suppliers and their catalogues. Once satisfied that he knew precisely what he wanted, Jay set to work.
The first item on the agenda was the purchase last fall of a 2009 Electra Glide that would serve as the platform for the radical bagger that he could now perfectly visualize. To develop a detailed mental image of his future bagger, Jay turned to the SoCal-based firm Speed By Design, which fabricates and sells parts to the high-end custom industry, with an especially focused line for baggers.
The company also has a software program that allows customers to digitally design their builds and create whatever is in their hearts. They can see how the lines of their project will flow, and where they might have to tweak things here and there.
Though his research into the bagger world had convinced Jay of the direction he was taking, the software program gave him an actual image that he posted on a wall and consulted on an ongoing basis, checking off components and tasks as they were completed. “I had it absolutely in my mind what it was going to look like,” says Jay. “Even the horn.”
The only question not yet answered in his mind as he prepared for the actual hands-on part of the build: would it be finished in a livery of Kandy Red or Kandy Orange? His painter at Rags to Riches Top Shop in Surrey, BC took some of the pain out of the decision by suggesting the bike would “pop” more in orange—technically, it’s Kandy Tangerine that turns bright yellow when light hits it a certain way. The lustrous paint alchemy is detailed with the airbrush work of Anthony Blazevic, from A. Blaze Airbrush and Custom Paint in Langley, BC.
The airbrush work is richly thematic, a tapestry that’s laid out across a mythic medieval battlefield in which the combatants are kings, queens, and dragons pitted in a classic struggle between the forces of good and evil.
The morality tale has a personal meaning for Jay. As a family man and member of British Columbia’s proud Sikh Motorcycle Club—a faith-based group with a tremendous track record of charitable works—he is appalled by the vulgar motifs often celebrated on the broad pallets offered by the radical bagger genre.
“I have no respect for [these things],” says Jay, “but I do have respect for soldiers. There can be a beautiful girl, but she doesn’t have to be naked.”
Indeed, the woman adorning the right-hand side of his sculpted fairing is a regal character with a classic beauty.
And so is the fairing, which was raked and had six inches of length added to compensate for the geometry of an extra 12 degrees of front rake with the fitment of the 26-inch Performance Machine wheel, facilitated by the introduction of an American Suspension bolt-on neck and tree kit.
Getting the correct aspect that would allow the LED Daymaker light to position correctly proved to be one of the more exasperating portions of the project. “The fairing was a nightmare,” says Jay, who credits his good friend Nigel Davis for many hours of problem solving labour and technical advice throughout the assembly process.
The parts inventory on Jay’s bagger is lengthy and reads like an A-list from the custom world: Arlen Ness and Paul Yaffee are among the prominent suppliers of chewy parts, painstakingly selected to complement one another. See how the fly lines of the mirrors contrast those of the handlebars. Details such as those can be seen throughout the motorcycle of which, functionally, there is nothing left to see that is stock.
“It’s more art than science,” says Jay of his thoughtful creation. And even the tank has become art with the layering of Root Beer Candy dragon scales that create a 3-D look.
Much of the bodywork including the tank, chin spoiler, rear end kit, side covers, and seat pan were purchased from Speed By Design, but the lushly complex and flowing hand-built saddle is by Rafino Custom Seats in Langley.
No radical custom bagger would be complete without an audacious sound system, and underneath those Loud Daddy lids is an Aquatic AV New Generation stereo with JL Audio 7.7-inch marine speakers in the lids. And of course the bike features an air ride system with electric centre stand, also from Speed By Design.
For Jay, this build has meant an investment of $62,000 (plus labour) but he felt he needed to prove something about his bike building skills, and it became a project that consumed him nearly to the point of distraction. Through it all though, he had the full support of his wife and children, whom he would consult on literally every design decision he made.
“You never know how a 10-year-old might see things,” says Jay.
The final result is a custom bagger that is arguably the most radical to be seen on the lower mainland or perhaps anywhere in the province of British Columbia. If one exists that is more so, “I would have seen it by now,” says Jay. It’s not a boastful statement from the builder, but simply a calm declaration of fact from a man whose life is dedicated to beautiful bikes.
• Story and photos John Campbell Canadian Biker Issue #334