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Custom: iBagger – A Modern Draggin’ Bagger

He wanted a tech-smart modern draggin’ bagger with unexpected elements and a look that was aggressive and predatory even when it was standing still.

The heavily customized 2010 Harley-Davidson Street Glide set before below was once configured in full touring mode complete with travel trailer. That is, until the former owner tugged the trailer over something unseen at a gas station pullout where the trailer bounced, twisted, and torqued the attached motorcycle and rider to the ground. Definitely a bad moment for that particular owner, but the start of a new life for the Glide in the hands of Peter Christou, a painter and fabricator by trade who bought the banged-up bike with a vision in mind. 

He saw a fast, furious draggin’ bagger fused with digital assets and Japanese sportbike styling, though this non-typical element would obviously run contrary to what many “purists” might consider Harley-Davidson tradition. 

A Kawasaki ZX-6 nosepiece is the point where the mod work begins and from where everything else flows for this  modern draggin’ bagger. It’s a cap from Ballistic Cycle, an aftermarket supplier where Peter also sourced other key components for his latest project including the chin spoiler, side covers and ABS composite bags. Is this a case of bolt-on customization? No way. Every step required intense plastic and fibreglass fabrication skills—Ballistic advises any potential customers that its parts are not intended to be simple plug-n-play.

“Basically, they supply the nose cap piece that you have to fabricate onto your bike,” says Peter, who removed all the material around the Street Glide headlight until only a shell of about six inches of the stock fairing remained. 

As the fairing was shaped and revised to his satisfaction, Peter bonded in the Ninja nosepiece that gives the bike its distinct Japanese look. “Purists will hate this bike,” admits Peter, whose design and fabrication shop, Pete’s Custom Rides, is located in Sherwood Park, Alberta, near Edmonton.

The other side of the fairing is even less traditional. The dash has been blanked and custom-formed to receive an iPad that now serves as the bike’s full gauge display. “The iPad has all the readout you’d normally get from the gauges,” says Peter. “It’s a full gauge display for the motorbike: high-low indicators, speedo, tach, everything. It’s WiFi capable so I can have a real-time map, real-time data logging, I can even do Facetime.”

The conversion from conventional gauges is made through the medium of a Canadian product called GaugeFace, developed by Victoria, BC-based Logicopolis Technology, and it allows riders to run what is basically a portable dash. This interface between iPad and electronics simply plugs into the bike’s data diagnostic port and then sends to the 30-pin iPad connector. Once connected you start the GaugeFace app and view one of the gauges that the app lets you download over an Internet connection (the app is available at iTunes).

“For guys who want totally clean bars with no speedos, you can just hang your phone on your dash,” says Peter. “I mean, how easy is that? I did some for guys with custom mounts on Street Bobs, and they just plugged their iPhones into it.”

For stereo control, essentially everything runs off a Bluetooth module that’s hidden where the stock lighter would normally reside on the inner fairing. The module plays the Bluetooth music right off the iPad and throws sound out to the amplifier, which puts it out to the speakers. “So, it’s everything,” says Peter. “My radio, my dash, my GPS. It’s everything.”

The intensive remolding of the dash to securely mount the iPad meant that the handlebars Peter chose from the inventory of Hawg Halters Inc. also needed personalized shaping. 

“I worked with HHI to make bars the way I want them,” he says. “The stock Street Glide bars they make have a slight curl to them whereas I asked for as much curl as possible without exposing my hands above the fairing, otherwise the fairing is useless.”

During the process Peter repurposed the handlebar switches that might otherwise work the audio control. These he re-pinned and re-wired to operate both the cruise control and the solenoids inside the left saddlebag that open and close the bike’s air-ride valving (a half-gallon air tank lives under the right saddlebag as part of the air management system). 

This modern draggin’ bagger features air-over-hydraulic suspension at the front and at the back, which can be adjusted on the fly to allow for varying road conditions. Loaded up to 65 pounds, the HHI front end offers four inches of suspension travel but in the event of a catastrophic failure of a fork seal or airline, the bike will still have around 1.5 inches of travel—not enough to keep on motoring down the highway, but still capable of maneuvering safely to the side of the road.

The HHI forks mate to a 26-inch Renegade wheel, which is a happy union of parts principally because the two companies are partners. The wheel easily fits the forks without spacing or frustrating hours of mounting futility on the part of the customizer. Peter knew from the very beginning that he wanted to do a “big” front wheel custom but he’d ridden a couple 30-inch bikes and came away unimpressed. 

“I do a lot of highway miles so what I didn’t want was a bike that was going to be uncomfortable. Nor did I want a 23 [inch wheel] because everyone’s got a 23.”

At last he settled on the 26-inch option that now carries a six-piston caliper and an 18-inch rotor. Mounting the forks and big wheel meant chopping off the stock neck and welding in slip fit short neck/triple trees from American Suspension—a kit that allows the fitment of 26- or 30-inch wheels.

With an all-steel Paul Yaffe tank and Le Pera seat, the “look” he’d envisioned was now coming together for Peter, who foresaw an aggressive, predatory presence. Certainly the toothy, canine hindquarters view of the Ballistic bags carry that through, but the airbrush art really rams the message home. 

It’s the work of artist Rodrick Fuchs who apparently has a little thing going on for motifs that include skulls, demonic imagery, and dragons.

Peter applied the base coats of white pearl with ice flake in the clear and brought in Fuchs when it was time to create an illustrated theme for the bike.

“All I knew was that I wanted to do smoky flames front to back. But Rod said, ‘That’s not enough.’”

Nor was it enough for Peter that the bike be mere eye candy. It had to deliver sharp handling and realize its horsepower potential. “I ride for show and go,” he says. 

The Street Glide was powered by Harley-Davidson’s Twin Cam 96 when it was initially launched for model year 2010, but this modern draggin’ bagger was upgraded with the OEM Screamin’ Eagle 103 and a beefier clutch from the Stage I kit. The exhaust system is built by Neil’s Power Pipes in Edmonton, a handcraft custom pipe shop that caters to the performance sled and dirt bike crowds.

According to the specs Peter gave to the shop, the pipes needed to have a tough, aggressive look to them but retain their performance integrity and still be compliant to Edmonton’s noise bylaw. They couldn’t be dual pipes out the back because of the setup of the saddlebags and Peter absolutely did not want megaphones. The custom pipe builder returned a true 2-into-1 (equal length) setup with power cones inside that contributed to (not robbed from) the workings of the big V-Twin mill.

“It’s as compliant as you can make a custom pipe,” says Peter, who is now satisfied that he got what he wanted all along for this project. 

“I wanted this bike to look aggressive, like it was flexing its muscles all the time. I wanted it to look like it was going 100 miles an hour when it was standing still.”

by John Campbell Canadian Biker Issue #315

Photos: Keith Moore


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