With intricate engraving on the split rocker boxes, a touch of gold inlay on the tank, and a perfectly twisted downtube on its frame, it’s easy to see why Tim Scates 2006 bobber has been killing it on the custom bike show scene. The list of awards the bike has won is long. “Best of Show” Easyriders Nashville 2016. Freestyle Class winner 2016 Dallas Ultimate Builder Bike Show. “Best Bike Award” Houston Autorama. And the list goes on.
In a warehouse filled with immaculate builds, Scates’ bike is one we kept gravitating to at the Handbuilt Motorcycle Show. The downtube is a serious hunk of steel and getting that thing twisted up was no small feat. In fact, Scates’ placard at the show said the handbuilt frame was the hardest part of the project. Turns out the downtube has quite the story. It reportedly was discovered in an archaeological dig in downtown Houston, Texas. It is 1.5-inch solid bar said to be twisted in the 1800s. Luckily it ended up in the hands of Scates who has a knack for repurposing old parts.
A walk-around his bike demonstrates this knack. The twisted linkage of the rear brake is a strip of antique rebar. The jockey shifter is the handle of a 1918 trench knife. The motorcycle’s headlight is a cop car spotlight from the 1920s that still has a rope in it. A miniature Jack Daniels bottle below the petcock serves as a gas bowl that flows into an SU carb. The ultra-clean air cleaner is actually a 1956 Cadillac air vent. Scates built the gas tank using a gas can top from the 1930s that he cut the handle off, adding a set of brass knuckles for good measure. The forward controls are Hearst floor shifters. Scates’ ingenuity extends to the front of the bike, too, as he shortened up a Panhead front end. He then kept the fore area tidy by building his own bars, running an internal throttle, and removing the front brake.
The engine is a work of art in its own right. The cooling fins have been diamond cut and the rocker boxes engraved to give the 74 cubic-inch Harley V-twin plenty of class. In addition to splitting the rocker boxes, Scates’ ran all the plumbing externally including the trick little JD bottle gas bowl. Look closely and you’ll notice that the plumbing extends to the straight pipes streaking down both sides of the bike. That’s because Scates’ bobber is a literal firebreather. He’s set up the oil bag with a small gas tank too, which feeds the lines connected to the exhaust. Spark plugs installed near the tip of the pipes provides the necessary ignition and boom, instant flame throwers. In an interview with “Progressive” Pat Jansen at the Dallas Ultimate Builder Show, Scates said the bike will throw out 20-foot flames at idle and rev up to 60. No need for “Get Back Jack” mud flaps here when your motorcycle will spit flames 60 feet behind you! Anybody got some marshmallows?
Capping off Scates’ creative build are splashes of green and gold artistically applied by “Pygmy.” The engraving, done by an incarcerated man, adds even more dimension to Scates’ craftsmanship. We believe one of the reasons the motorcycle is so exemplary is the motivation behind it. Scates built the bike for his daughter, then named it after here. With its record run on the show bike circuit, “Amy’s Twisted Bobber” has crept into the custom vernacular with its bounty of first place finishes.