Home-Built Custom Motorcycle Bobber For Under $10,000

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.

Working Mans Special Motorcycle

Sucker Punch Sally Bobber Motorcycle

I don’t know what your Daytona trip was like, but mine was a blast! Though most of what happened I can’t put into a family magazine, I can tell
you about this cool little bobber I got to run around on all week. Built by the Sucker Punch Sally’s (SPS) crew in Phoenix, the Working Man’s Special is a low-cost version of the company’s flagship bike, the Traditional Bobber.

Simple and to the point: my test bike was well-built and fun to ride.

Now that that’s out of the way, I’ll tell you some of the particulars. My Special was powered by a stock 80″ (1340cc) Harley-Davidson Evo mill fitted with low-compression (8.5:1) pistons, which meant I could put 2.25 gallons (max) of any grade of gas in the thing, and it ran fine. The motor is connected to an Ultima six-speed tranny via a 3″ BDL open belt drive system. As you can see, the final drive is a standard 530 chain wrapped around a 51-tooth rear sprocket. The clutch is also from BDL and it, like the primary system, worked like a charm. As for the Ultima tranny, while it did its job efficiently, it was noisy, shifting felt a bit clunky, and it was almost impossible to get into neutral once stopped. However, by the time you read this, Ultima gearboxes are no longer used on SPS bikes. A RevTech is now standard and you can upgrade to a BAKER transmission if you choose.

The chassis for the Special, being based on the Traditional, is well-planned and constructed. Up front, the SPS-proprietary 30-degree rake, no-stretch rigid frame is held up by a DNA springer that rolls on a Midwest 60-spoke, all-chromed wheel wrapped with a 3.00-21″ Avon tire. The Special is also available with a standard tube front end, if that’s what you prefer. Out back is a 180/60-16″ Avon wrapped around another all-chromed Midwest 60-spoker. Stopping power up front is supplied by a four-piston polished HHI caliper grabbing standard issue 11-1/2″ chrome Drag discs. Out back, there’s a four-piston, black H-D caliper doing the hard work. Braking power was definitely adequate, since the Special is a light bike.

This chassis combo results in a nice handling, 495-pound (dry weight) bike with a 65″ wheelbase, 4″ of ground clearance, and a 24″ seat height. With numbers like that, you know even a short stack like me has no problem being flat-footed at all times, or reaching the forwards. The apes also put my hands in a comfortable spot, though they were a bit over my shoulders. The sprung seat was fine during all my short blasts up and down the interstate, as well as around town.

The only glitch I had during my test was a lighting issue, as in the front right blinker did not work. But that was fixed in short order by the SPS crew, and the rest of my test was pleasantly uneventful.

Since the Working Man’s Special is the budget version of the Traditional (the price starts at $18,995), you don’t get all the glitz of the flagship bike. (For example, it only comes in solid colors.) However, you do get all the usual quality of a Sucker Punch build, plus a one-year warranty.

Sounds like a good deal to me! AIM

–Chris Maida as published in American Iron Magazine, the world’s best selling Harley magazine.

Sucker Punch Sally’s
14982 North 83rd Place
Suite 100, Dept. AIM
Scottsdale, AZ 85260

Brass Balls Bobber Custom V-Twin Motorcycle

Brass Balls Bobber Motorcycle Model

As promised, here’s the bike I test rode during last year’s Sturgis rally and what a sweet little bobber it is. As for Dar, the owner of Brass Balls Bobbers, I think he’s nuts. Seriously, how he can sell this bike for only $16,995 and still make a profit is beyond me. But then, that’s not my, or your, problem, so on with the review!

Let’s start with my favorite part of a bike, the powertrain. My test machine is powered by a cast stone-stock Harley-Davidson 80″ Evo mill, which puts out a good level of power for this light bike. The 1S is equipped with an S&S Super E carb and air cleaner. The 80-incher started easily every time and ran like you would expect a Motor Company-built Evo to run: without a glitch. The exhaust is handled by a D&D Performance 2-into-1 header system that has a great sound, not too loud and not too quiet. The transmission is a five-speed BAKER that shifts just as you would expect it to: super smooth with no problem finding neutral. Next up is the 3″-wide Tauer Machine belt primary system and clutch setup. Everything was good to go here, too. The clutch released as it should, never slipped, and was easy to actuate. After all, there’s no need for a stiff spring with an 80″ mill. A standard 530 chain connects tranny to rear wheel and results in a final gear ratio that’s a perfect fit for this bike. The 1S cruises nicely on the highway in fifth. Though there’s no tach, I guess the motor was spinning at about 3500-3700 rpm at 85 mph when the engine got buzzy, which is normal for a solid-mount V-twin.

As for the chassis, this bike is light, and easy to handle and maneuver. That’s due to its low weight and the frame geometry being nuts on (36 degrees of rake with no stretch). The DNA 2″-under springer front end felt just right at all speeds, and the bike was a pleasure at slow speeds. The suspension works well with no wobble in the twisties, at least at the speeds I could hit in the Black Hills during Sturgis. Out on the open highway the bike handled just fine. The seat is a little bouncy, but that’s normal with a sprung seat. Everything electrical worked well, all switches were easy to hit, and lighting gave good coverage at night. As for the components, the hand and forward controls are from Excel while the 21″ front and 16″ rear 40-spoke wheels are from DNA and are wrapped with Metzeler tires.

In the easy-to-maintain department, there’s no paint on this bike. Anything that has a color, as in flat black, is powdercoated. Coupled with its Spartan design, this is one low-dollar, rough-and-tumble machine. Just ride the snot out of it, blast it with a hose, fill the gas tank, and have at it again.

AIM's Chris Maida Riding The Bobber

Ready for the glitches? Only thing that loosened up after over 400 miles was a lower rear fender strut bolt. That’s pretty good, since I ran the bike hard and so did another magazine before I got it. In fact, the bike was so dirty Dar had to delay giving it to me for a day just to get it cleaned up for the photo shoot. The other minor glitch was that the analog speedo read 5 mph high at true 40 and about 10 high at 80 mph.

The only real problem was with the brakes. Both the front and rear brake pad material was not matched to the rotors. The Wilwood Performance four-piston calipers worked fine mechanically, but the pads did not have enough bite into the rotors to be as effective as four-piston calipers should be. I had to grab a big handful of brake lever or stomp on the pedal to slow down. Dar has changed the pad material, so the brakes are now up to snuff.
So what’s the bottom line? I’m impressed with the 1S. It’s a good-looking machine that got lots of compliments and rightly

so. The Model 1S is a well-designed, bare-bones bike that’s easy to maintain and
definitely a bargain at this price.
Did I mention that Dar is nuts? AIM

— Chris Maida, editor of American Iron Magazine, the world’s best selling Harley magazine.

Riding Impressions
I’m glad this motorcycle is considered a barhopper because there’s no way I could spend a long time in its saddle. The riding position was uncomfortable for my taste. It puts way too much pressure on my wrists; I’d need at least a 1″ higher riser on those handlebars so I don’t feel like I’m falling into the tank. Funky ergonomics aside, the motorcycle rides solidly and feels well built, not a hodgepodge of parts thrown together. There’s an art to taking all the different components and bolting, welding, and fastening them together to make a motorcycle feel like it’s one solid machine. If you’re into getting looks, and don’t need this bike to ride to Sturgis or Daytona, this showstopper may be for you.

— Genevieve Schmitt

Darwin Motorcycles
401 South Blackwelder Ave., Dept. AIM
Oklahoma City, OK 73108