A Harley Salesman Customizes His Own Harley
By Steven Blackburn
Photos By Corey Brooks/DaBrooksOhana Photography
Harley’s H-D1 Bike Builder is a pretty handy tool. This online program lets you deck out your ride with all the goodies you want from the Genuine Parts & Accessories catalog (as long as they fall within your budget, of course) so your Harley isn’t embarrassingly bone stock when you take her out for that first spin around the block.
The good thing about using H-D1 is that your new bike will look custom without being a complete carbon copy of a CVO. The bad thing (for do-it-yourselfers) is that the guys at Harley do it for you.
Christopher Pruett of Hinesville, Georgia, went a similar, yet completely different, route when customizing his 2016 Road King named Marilyn, one on which he basically became a living breathing version of H-D1, an otherwise completely digital tool.
Christopher did so by bolting on as many parts from H-D’s P&A catalog as possible, on the same day he got Marilyn from Savannah Harley-Davidson. Now, you may think he decided to dedicate most of his bike to the Bar & Shield because he possesses a special affinity for Harley’s aftermarket collections, which he does. But that’s not why he did it. At the time, Christopher worked in Savannah H-D’s parts department, and this build was going to be his greatest sales pitch of all time. “I wanted to show my customers that you can put together a nice bike with mostly H-D parts,” he says.
For Christopher’s canvas, he chose a Road King, not because he wanted to sell more FLHRs, mind you, but because his personal Dyna wasn’t big enough. “I wanted a bike that would let me take my kids on trips and pack it without a backpack,” he relates.
One thing’s for sure—we hope Christopher made a lot of sales from his experiment because he didn’t do his wrenchin’ at Savannah H-D’s shop, one that undoubtedly features A/C, tunes, lifts, jacks, and anything else you can think of that would make a build easier and more enjoyable. Instead of getting all that, he got his dad’s two-car carport, which doesn’t have that much to offer except a whole lot of susceptibility to inclement weather. “It’s open to the elements,” Christopher begins. “In the summer, it can be extremely hot, especially with southern Georgia’s humidity.”
But Christopher wasn’t the only one in that sauna, dripping all over his bike. Christopher’s old man, Jim, helped out with everything. Sometimes, Jim was the only one there doing all the sweating because Christopher still had to go to work, but his dad didn’t. It pays to be retired. “Without my dad, I couldn’t have pulled this off,” Christopher says.
So in that sweltering heat, both Jim and Christopher (when Christopher wasn’t at Savannah H-D) began bolting on Harley part after Harley part. Or, to be precise, Harley part after Harley part from the Airflow collection. “I like their clean lines,” Christopher says when asked why he installed so many. “They’re also not gaudy.”
But succumbing to gaudiness was always a very real and ever-present danger.
Bolting on just one too many Airflow pieces had the potential of completely ruining Marilyn. That’s why he always adheres to the KISS Method: Keep It Simple, Stupid.
Christopher was also drawn to the Airflow collection because in 2016, his Road King’s model year, Harley made that name synonymous with the CVO brand by installing Airflows on every model from that coveted family. “I wanted to build my own version of the CVO,” he explains.
Of course, Harley, while an amazing manufacturer, doesn’t offer everything under the sun—well, at least not the same hot Georgian sun Christopher labored under. He wanted a West Coast Vicla, even though he created what Christopher terms as “Southern, white-boy Cholo.” To achieve that aesthetic, Christopher’s non-Harley parts list included, for example, Gangster apes because “they’re, well, gangster” and a Mustang seat because it’s vintage yet modern.
Christopher also would’ve loved to get H-D’s Turbine 21″ wheels, but the only ones in that size were designed specifically for Breakouts, so he would’ve needed to get some custom spacers—and he didn’t want to do that.
Speaking of hoops, Christopher originally went with Ridewright’s Fat Daddy spokes but they wouldn’t stay true. So he got a pair from Coastal Moto. “These gave me the look I wanted without the hassle of spokes,” he says.
Similarly, Christopher first installed 36″ fishtails from Sampson because he loved the sound. Well, he liked the rumble. He wasn’t too keen about the maddening tap-tap-tap racket they made each time they hit Marilyn’s frame. And that happened a lot. “The exhaust was too close to the frame, and when the motor was on, it tapped it,” he explains.
The current pipes only make good sounds. They were, however, much too close to the essential Airflow floorboards. Christopher created some extra clearance by combining the included Airflow brackets with extra supports from Kuryakyn. He did this by enlarging their slots with a hole filer. Together, the brackets pushed the floorboards out and up by 1″. But that wasn’t enough. So Christopher combined this hybrid support system with the exhaust’s brackets the same way. “All the brackets are all mixed up, but they work,” he says.
Christopher also hand-polished Marilyn himself by applying Blue Magic. “I wanted to have the pride of doing it myself,” he says before adding, “and I couldn’t afford to pay someone else to do it.”
Christopher didn’t change the paint scheme though, for the same reason he installed the CVO-defining Airflows: exclusivity. Harley only used that particular paint scheme in 2016. “Honestly, the paint was the reason I bought the bike,” he admits.
The sound system, however, was not. As we all know, they don’t come stock on Road Kings. That’s why Christopher is thinking of getting one. Upon hearing this, we just had to ask if he planned on getting Harley’s Boom! system. A Boom II is a possibility. That or a Rockford Fosgate. It just needs to have a Bluetooth controller.
Aside from having no tunes, Marilyn rides like a dream and is the most comfortable bike he’s ever been on. We believe him. He rode it from Savannah to Key West — with no Boom II.
And despite building an incredibly cool Road King “for” his customers, Christopher now works in Savannah H-D’s MotorClothes department. One thing’s for sure, we can’t wait to see what awesome idea he comes up with to sell more Harley apparel. GB
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