Custom Softail Aptly Named The Beast
Jon Schroder owns a small part-time bike building enterprise named Evocycle in Riverside, California. Essentially, Schroder holds down a day job and in the evening and over weekends he crafts custom motorcycles. Now Jon is like a lot of folks who build custom bikes (or custom anything for that matter) for fun and profit. You build one, and you say to yourself, “This is it!” The one, the keeper! As the story goes, Jon took a 1990 Softail in a trade for another bike he built. And that bike really grew on him. After all, that Softail was the motorcycle he wanted when he turned 18. It only took him a couple of decades to actually acquire it. According to Jon, the thing had a honking huge gas tank, big buckhorn bars with curved risers, extended forward controls, and a big seat that was the size of a couch (complete with Conchos). There’s more, according to Jon: “My wife said I looked ridiculous, but I didn’t care. I promptly named it The Beast, and it became my daily rider for about three months.”
All was going rather well until Anthony Pimentel showed up. As it turns out, Anthony had never owned a motorcycle before. He was shopping and had recently test-ridden a Sportster Forty-Eight. Anthony dug the vibe from the Forty-Eight, but he really wanted something special, something he couldn’t buy at a Harley-Davidson dealership. That something special would end up being Jon’s keeper Softail. Jon relented and decided he could part with it. Pimentel and Schroder cooked up a plan where the Evo-powered machine would be stripped and built specifically for Anthony’s tastes and desires (with a strong dose of Jon’s ideas tossed in, too).
Before long, Jon’s old daily rider was under the knife. He stripped it down to the point where the motor and the tranny were left in the frame. The bike already had a 16″ laced wheel out back. Jon spooned a vintage-looking Shinko classic skin over the back. It looked right, and that’s where the project really took off. The next stop was the Long Beach Swap Meet. Here Schroder tracked down a barrel oil tank, a Chevy truck taillight, a 16” wheel for the front, a smooth fork nacelle, and a set of aftermarket Shovelhead-style Fat Bob gas tanks.
Digging through his personal parts, Jon added a Fat Boy fork and fit it with a Progressive Suspension drop-in spring kit. That brought the front end down to earth a bit and simultaneously firmed up the ride. Then he added the 16″ wheel that he had scored at the swap meet (wrapped with another vintage-looking Shinko). Out back, Evocycle Jon swapped out the stock Softail shock for an air ride setup. Anthony’s new-to-him hot rod Softail was once again starting to look like a motorcycle.
Remember those aftermarket gas tanks Jon picked up at the swap meet? At this point, Schroder had the ride’s height figured out. The tanks had to match the scheme. He cut up the tanks in order to narrow the profile a bit, but he also wanted to keep the tanks sufficiently large so that Pimentel could actually ride the bike. Jon figured the tank width should match the width of the forks and at the same time the centers should hug the frame as closely as possible. In the process he fabbed a set of tank mounts (with Bung King mounts) and left sufficient room for a mini speedometer between the tanks. He fabricated a simple dash from 1/8″ aluminum (complete with lightning holes). There’s a spot beneath the dash that mounts the circuit breakers along with the starter relay.
Another of Jon’s swap meet finds was a FLH front fender. While the machine runs without a front fender, he figured it would make for a neat back fender complete with flared sides. In the process, Jon kept the frame horns as fender mounting points. Anthony wanted a sissybar on the bike, but Jon thought they looked far too bulky. The fix was to fab a custom bar from 1/2″ material. He added a reproduction Chevy truck taillight on a custom bracket and built a plate/taillight mount on the rear axle adjuster.
Right about now, he started giving the Evo some consideration. Since it ran so well, there wasn’t much point going through it. Aside from a fresh Mikuni carb and a new Mooneyes air cleaner, the thing is pretty much bone stock. The pipes, though, are custom-built pieces. When he was done with the pipes, Jon had them ceramic-coated by local Riverside outfit Car Craft. When it came to the actual look of the motor, primary, and transmission, Jon went back to basics. He simply stripped the clearcoat from the various components and gave them a brushed finish.
Upstairs, the old buckhorn bars are long gone. He replaced those with a set of Evocycle custom-bent jobs. Jon fabricated the bars to precisely fit Anthony. The bars have integral risers, and the throttle is internal. He added Drag Specialties levers. Foot controls are stock Harley-Davidson items. The sprung solo saddle is a Motor Custom job, while the oil bag is a Mid-USA item Jon found at the Long Beach Swap Meet.
Jon tells us he really likes to design the paint schemes and pick the colors on the bikes he builds. Anthony wanted red as the base color, and that’s what Jon used. But while watching an episode of American Pickers he spied an old Schwinn bicycle that had neat designs on the tank (they were really fairings that covered the frame, and they were made to look like motorcycle gas tanks). Jon tweaked the design a bit and added some striping to fill in the voids. American Modified of Fontana, California, smoothed out the imperfections and sprayed the red base clear paint. Next it went to Cal Signs and Graphix in Perris, California, where the winged panels were handpainted with one-shot ivory. Silver metallic was used to outline them along with more ivory pinstripes tossed in for good measure. The handlebars and sissybar were powdercoated gloss black by B & B Powder Coating in Glen Avon, California.
Once all of the pieces were done, Jon shook it down (in some rare California rain) and called it done. Anthony has shown the machine at several events, but the real truth is it’s a rider. And according to Anthony, it rides like a Cadillac. Have fun riding the wheels off it, Anthony. That’s exactly why it was built. AIM