Sure, we all see gorgeous, high-end motorcycles in magazines, on television, and at shows and rallies. Many times, these machines are given the cold shoulder for their supposed high cost and low ridability. Before you turn the page on this custom bobber, though, know this: owner Mark Rosenberger of Pennsylvania, with the help of a couple of friends, built this one-off custom for under that magic number of 10 grand.
As a third generation used car dealer, his license allows him to troll government and bank auctions. He and his good buddy (and mechanical guru) Chuck turn great deals into winter projects, which are then sold the following spring. It’s not about the money, Mark says, most of the time he breaks even or makes very little. It’s all about having something fun to do over the winter that doesn’t cost a dime in the end. Last winter, though, Mark’s system failed.
At the 2010 Sturgis Rally, he came across three different bikes that he liked at an auction, all of which were at the right price, so he placed bids and walked away. I’m sure you can imagine what happened next, although Mark probably couldn’t at the time. “I had made three different offers and ended up with all three bikes!” he says. The bobber featured here actually mostly came from the Federal Marshall’s Service, even though a lot of its parts are takeoffs from the other bikes.
When it got cold out, and it came time to dive into all three bikes, guru Chuck sorted out the best parts from the three to put into what would be Mark’s bobber. “If you print any of this, you’ve got to make sure that everybody knows this wasn’t going to happen without Chuck,” Mark points out. “We took the parts out and whatever we wanted to keep for my bike, then put the other two together and sold them.” At the heart of the hardtail bobber is a 113″ S&S Cycle engine that just happened to be lurking in one of the other bikes. The other one sported a five-speed in good condition along with a 3″ BDL belt drive setup. Mark then ordered a stock-length DNA springer and DNA brakes for the front.
“As a matter of fact, the only Harley part on it to my knowledge is the front wheel,” Mark says. “The gas tank might be original, but I’m not sure. It was pretty old and crusty when I got ahold of it.” They moved the petcock to the back corner to take advantage of every drop of gas in the peanut tank, which, as you can see, is no longer crusty. An S&S Cycle carb rounds out the fuel system.
Guru Chuck was then faced with the task of creating a handful of one-off custom parts for the low-dollar build. Certainly the big rig mechanics in the audience have already noticed the handshifter, which is actually the pushrod from a Cummins diesel engine. Chuck also fabricated the struts, chain guard, clutch cable, and foot clutch bracket, which, along with the handshifter, were all sent out for chroming. The chromed internal throttle and JayBrake rear brake make Mark’s bobber “a hoot to ride.”
But how about that paint? That came courtesy of another of Mark’s friends, Dano. Dano had previously done a great job painting Mark’s Road King, so naturally he was a shoo- in for this job as well. The best part about Dano’s shop is that he doesn’t have one. “He’s an Irish guy who paints,” Mark says of his friend. “He doesn’t have a shop or anything; he painted this bike in his basement.”
This was a completely different take on a build for Mark. With his regular projects he basically puts them back together so that they’re safe, reliable, look good, and can sell for a reasonable price. “Back in ’08 when the market crashed, all this $30,000 stuff started getting to be like, ‘Oh my gosh, what are you going to do with that?’” he says. “I try to build bikes for 10 grand, something that every working guy can afford. I’ve got right around that in this one probably.” Mark was into the bikes at a little over $3,000 at the auction and was able to sell many of the unneeded parts on eBay. “This one was for me, this one was a keeper.”
This sure doesn’t look like a $10,000 build does it? And don’t think that Mark leaves this beauty in the garage to save for bike shows. No sir, he packs heavy mileage on this thing! “The foot clutch is a little hard to get used to,” he says. “It’s got everything you need and nothing you don’t, and that’s about the end of it.” AIM
READER’S RIDE By Tyler Greenblatt
Story as published in the January 2012 issue of American Iron Magazine.