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Custom Harley Road Glide Suede Rocket

Custom Motorcycle Feature

Custom Harley Road Glide Suede Rocket


by Wayne Scraba • photos by Dino Petrocelli

Shane Gatto is no stranger to the custom motorcycle magazine world. His bikes have been featured multiple times, here and in other publications. Today, Shane works his magic on in-house custom projects for his employer, Performance Harley-Davidson in upstate New York. In between custom builds and mods to customer bikes, Shane managed to squeak this one out for himself, the suede Road Glide featured here.

At first glance the rig looks like a mild machine, one that could have been built by The Motor Company itself. That was Shane’s intention, but look closely and you see a monster of a bike. Almost hidden within the sea of black is a huffing and puffing Pro Charger kit. The entire bike was built around that supercharger.

The project got rolling when Shane bought a brand-new 2013 Road Glide. In no time Shane stripped the bike to the bone so he could dig into its Twin Cam 103 engine. The engine’s new parts manifest reads like a Screamin’ Eagle catalog. Shane swapped the factory 9.6:1 pistons for a set of Screamin’ Eagle 8.5:1 slugs (supercharged engines prefer lower-compression pistons), and the connecting rods were replaced with Screamin’ Eagle examples, too. Ditto with the flywheels, although bore and stroke remain stock. The cams were exchanged for a set of Screamin’ Eagle 211-grind jobs (248/256 degrees intake/exhaust duration and 0.508″ lift on both sides). The remainder of the valve train (lifters, pushrods, rockers) is right out of the Screamin’ Eagle catalog. Upstairs, Shane reworked the heads, fitting them with Screamin’ Eagle valves, springs, and retainers. Down below, the Twin Cam has a high-capacity oil pan fitted. A set of 2-into-1 pipes from D&D round out the mix.

In terms of mechanical components it’s an extremely beefy build, but with a relatively mild state of tune. And that’s the right recipe for a blower. That’s where the ProCharger enters the equation. The ProCharger is crankshaft-driven, and it runs adjacent to the primary drive. The centrifugal blower mounts on the left side of the bike, and the intercooler (which plays a huge role in the overall efficiency of the package) mounts on the right side. Basically, incoming air warms as it’s compressed, and the job of the intercooler is to cool it prior to entering the engine. From the intercooler, the cold air charge is forced into the stock EFI throttle body, by way of a special bonnet. In between the supercharger and the intercooler sits a surge (or pop-off) valve. As far as the amount of boost, Shane isn’t talking, but, honestly, the sky is nearly the limit with ProCharger blowers. Depending on the specific blower model and how many rpm the impeller spins, maximum boost can range from 15 to 30 psi (pounds per square inch). Talk about walking around with a loaded .44 Magnum in your side holster! The installation includes a specially calibrated Power Commander to control the EFI for proper fuel intake to match boost. In Shane’s case, he strapped the Road Glide to a dyno to fine-tune the package. As it turns out, he had to detune the thing to keep it streetable. Still, it produces (get this) 170 hp and 154 ft-lbs. of torque. And it runs on 93-octane pump gas. Whew! But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Backing up the new hot rod Twin Cam engine is a belt-drive primary (with the requisite Pro Charger mods), linked to a heavy-duty Barnett clutch with V-Rod hydraulic mechanism that Shane adapted to the Big Twin. In contrast, the rocking Road Glide rolls down the road with a stock production-line Cruise Drive six-speed gearbox. Out back the bike relies on a stock belt drive with a 68-tooth pulley.

As for the chassis, Shane knew right from the beginning that the bike wouldn’t deviate far from stock. The ride height has been lowered thanks to a Legends AXEO fork kit coupled with a Legends REVO-A rear suspension kit. The combination lowers ride height one inch, and it’s pretty much perfect from this perspective. The bike wears a mix of Dunlop Elite skins wrapped over Harley-Davidson Agitator billet wheels (19″ front, 18″ rear). Front and rear brakes have stock four-piston calipers.

The ultimate vision for Shane’s bagger went something like this: “What if The Motor Company decided to build a Black-Denim, blacked-out Road Glide?” Given Shane’s concept, the entire machine was painted in semi-gloss black and/or powdercoated black, mixed with black chrome. The only deviation would be the gorgeous variegated gold leaf graphics that pay homage to a Harley-Davidson design scheme, the dimensions are the same as one of Harley’s red pinstripe paint sets for a Road Glide. Charged with performing the paint scheme was JT’s Custom Paint in Moravia, New York. S&H Chrome Plating in Madison, Tennessee, handled the shiny stuff while the powdercoating was split between two New York-based companies, Ultra Coat in Utica, and Sumax in Oriskany.

Naturally, Shane did the assembly himself. Along the way, he added a CVO saddle, CVO bars and risers, and a CVO Road Glide dash. The mirrors are from Todd’s Cycle while the headlamp is a Harley-Davidson Daymaker.

It took Gatto four months to piece together the Road Glide. And you’d think he’d be content to just show it, because it’s drop-dead gorgeous. But that’s not the case at all. Instead, this is Shane’s daily rider, weather permitting. When we spoke to him about the bike, the odometer had just rolled past 6,800 miles and climbing. He uses it.

So how does it run? Pretty much like, in Shane’s words, “a suede rocket!” What else would you expect with 170 horses at your disposal? The best part of the ride, Shane tells us, is that the power is present at pretty much any rpm, so if you happen to encounter Shane and his bike on the road, don’t be too quick to challenge him to an impromptu roll-on! His Road Glide is a ride and a half. AIM 348

American Iron Magazine issue #348

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