Custom Harley-Davidson Rocker
By Wayne Scraba • Photos by Don Kates/Shooters Images
Heavy-duty equipment mechanic Dan Krauleidis walked into his local Harley-Davidson dealership in late 2008 and rode away with a brand-spanking-new 2009 Rocker C. It was the first motorcycle Dan had ever owned. While a lot of other folks were turned off by the, ahem, unusual looks of the Rocker, owner Krauleidis could see through the skin and appreciate the bits that made up the machine. At first, he liked the machine. But, to be honest, his love affair with the Rocker wasn’t exactly what you’d call long lived. In fact, Dan was pretty much disappointed. He figured there were two options: sell the thing and buy something different or peel the skin away from the Rocker, fix what he didn’t like, and build what he really wanted.
Obviously, Dan took the latter route (hey, we’re glad he did). What he envisioned was a swoopy, raked out, fat tire machine with hard bags. The idea was uber-cool and fresh—kind of a cross between a bagger and a modern chopper. It’s a lean and mean concept that is still very practical with plenty of storage space. Fair enough, but the biggest task, according to Krauleidis, was the reworking the back end. Given the fat 18″ x 8″ wheel and 240 tire that comes standard on the Rocker, coupled with the dearth of custom parts readily available for this sort of conversion, Dan was pretty much on his own. What he did was order up a custom Klock Werks Fat Boy back fender. Next, he cut it right down the center, widened it 4″ and stretched it 8″. Finally, he lowered it and moved it rearward to fit. He had to section a set of bag mounts to fit, too. In turn, this allowed him to bolt on a set of Top Tier Viper bags with a 4-1/2″ stretch. While he was at it, Dan installed a Dirty Bird taillamp out back. Fixing the saddle was high on his list of priorities. Out came the factory piece with the stowaway pillion, and in its place went a Harley-Davidson Breakout. It wasn’t a direct bolt-on. Krauleidis had to modify it to fit the fuel tank.
With the back end getting the look Dan wanted, he turned his attention to the nose. Krauleidis really dug the big wheel look that’s still popular today, and that’s right where he headed. To get there, he added a set of HHI Wide Glide trees to the nose. The six-degree trees work perfectly with a 26″ front hoop. While Dan was reworking the front end, he also lowered it 1″ by way of a Patriot Suspension spring package. The next question was: “What do I do for a front wheel?” While browsing through several catalogs, he discovered that a Paul Yaffe Hoopla front wheel was almost a dead ringer for the OEM Rocker wheel. That made the selection easy. And to make things match, Dan had the stock back wheel polished. Bingo. Instant matched set. Up front the Rocker Bagger wears a 120/50-26″ O-ring from Vee Rubber. Out back, the fat 240/40-18″ is from Metzeler. Finally, Dan covered the front wheel with a full-wrap fender from the Bitchin Seat Company (yes, they have a line of fenders and other mechanical bits).
Krauleidis was pretty happy with the way the machine was starting to look. But a big issue was performance. For the crowd he hangs out with, his stock Rocker C wasn’t exactly the fastest of the bunch. Given his mechanical aptitude, it wasn’t a big problem. Out came the Twin Cam. Basically, Dan stripped it to the bone and rebuilt it with a big-bore kit (machining by Heads 1st in Westville, Indiana). It includes a set of 10.4:1 CR Axtell reverse dome pistons, a set of Wood TW 888 cams (0.575″ lift; 246 degrees of duration), a set of ported heads with 1.900″ Manley intake and 1.620″ Manley exhaust valves, Screamin’ Eagle roller rockers and pushrods, along with a set of manual compression releases. The fuel system consists of a 58mm HPI throttle body along with matching HPI injectors. The throttle body is covered with a Screamin’ Eagle air cleaner. Downstairs, the oil pump was reworked. A set of RSD engine covers was included in the mix. Finally, the exhaust is handled by a set of 2-into-1 shorty pipes from Akropovic. Once finished, Dan strapped it to a dyno. The result? The 107″ Twin Cam cranked out a solid 115 hp. And that’s more than enough to keep up with the crowd.
Backing up the rompin’, stompin’ Big Twin is a stock six-speed Cruise Drive, but in between Dan added an AIM variable pressure plate filled with Harley-Davidson frictions. The primary is a Harley-Davidson piece while the final drive is a stock belt arrangement and the back pulley is another piece from the Bitchin Seat Company. To bring the bike down from warp speed, Krauleidis relies on a Performance Machine six-piston front brake setup along with a matching four-piston PM setup out back.
With the mechanics pretty much nailed down, Dan stripped off the sheet metal and plastic and hauled it over to Letters, Lines, and Designs in Highland, Indiana. The bits were treated to a combination of Crimson Red Sunglow with silver leaf flames and carbon fiber details. During the build, Dan had the heads and cases diamond-cut and a large number of pieces polished by the folks at Pro One Polishing in Wheeler, Indiana. It definitely pops in the sun!
Once the painted and polished parts were done, it simply boiled down to careful assembly. While he was at it, Dan added a Headwinds headlight and front turn signals, a set
of Wild 1 Chubbys, Ness hand controls, and Harley-Davidson foot controls. Ness pegs and billet mirrors were also included in the mix.
With the motorcycle finished, Dan is finally happy with it. He rides it everywhere. In fact, he rode it up to the big Milwaukee Ride-In Show and immediately nailed down a second-place award (not bad for a home-built machine). Equally important, Krauleidis doesn’t even own a trailer. It’s a rider. And according to Dan, the ride is a whole bunch better than it originally was. “Rock Bottom?” That’s where it all started, but the end result made it all worthwhile.
This custom 2009 Harley-Davidson Rocker C was featured in issue #357 of American Iron Magazine.