Type to search

Ken Nickels Custom Harley-Davidson Road Glide

Custom Motorcycle Custom Motorcycle Feature

Ken Nickels Custom Harley-Davidson Road Glide


By Greg Williams • Photos by Shooter’s Images

Five years ago Ken Nickel built his wife, Brittney, a custom White Hot Denim Street Glide. And ever since, he’s been trying to outdo himself. “Every show we’ve entered, Brittney’s bike wins, and my bike comes second,” Ken laughs, as he talks to us about one of his latest creations, a 2015 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special. Ken, of Bowling Green, Kentucky, has spent a good portion of his life constructing and racing drag cars and hot rods, coming to motorcycles a little later in life. Now 49, Ken tuned into bikes some eight years ago. That’s when he began riding and customizing his and Brittney’s Harley-Davidsons.

Not long after, a friend approached Ken asking if he would be interested in building a custom project on the side. Ken, who owns and operates Killerwaxx Kentucky, selling a line of high-end detailing products, couldn’t say no. Now, under the Killerwaxx Kentucky umbrella, Ken also runs a small operation called Outlaw Bagger Customs.

“I had a 2007 Street Glide that I’d converted to a Road Glide with a 26″ front wheel and every other part you could put on it,” Ken explains. “That was in 2014, and when I began seeing pictures of the new-for-2015 Road Glide, I knew I had to have one.”

In October 2014, from Bowling Green Harley-Davidson, Ken took delivery of one of the first Road Glide Specials to roll through the dealership. He added some 300 miles to the odometer before pulling it into his workshop and onto the lift.

“I tore it down to the frame, leaving the motor and transmission in place,” Ken says. “At the time, there weren’t many parts available for these new Road Glides, and I wanted to do a bagger with a 23″ front wheel and extremely stretched bags. These baggers can look killer with a mild 23″ wheel. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll always be a fan of bikes with big front wheels.”

Extending the rake of the H-D 49mm fork and lowering it 1″ was first on the agenda, and Ken used a set of X23 trees from Hawg Halters Inc. The trees incorporate six degrees of rake, a dimension the company says provides stock trail geometry when equipped with a 23″ front wheel and stock-sized rear wheel. Ken kept the Road Glide’s back rim and stock tire and brake setup. For the front, he selected a 3.75-23″ Renegade Racine Phantom Cut wheel and slipped an Avon tire between the flanges. Matching Renegade Racine rotors work with the stock Harley-Davidson calipers. Still up front, and to help keep road grime at bay, a Bad Dad 23″ Mo’ FL fender was selected. Easy to fit, the Mo’ FL is pre-drilled and includes mounting spacers in the kit.

While the forks were apart, all of the components were sent to TM Motorsports in Bowling Green for a black-out powdercoat treatment, together with the Vindikta handlebars with a 12″ rise. The bars are finished off with stock hand controls topped with a set of Arlen Ness Mini Oval mirrors. Ken kept the Harley-Davidson inner and outer frame-mounted fairing, but, he added a Dirty Bird Concepts windshield and headlight bezel. Also stock is the Road Glide’s gas tank and dash, but they’re accessorized with a JH Choppers overlay.

Ken turned to the Harley-Davidson catalog and chose a Badlander two-up touring seat, mounted without incorporating the passenger strap, over the top of the TOL Designs rear fender and bags.

“TOL, that stands for Top of the Line,” Ken says, and continues, “Its parts are a great fit right out of the box, with only slight fitment adjustments to get it exactly how you want it,” Ken says, “but TOL parts are as close to bolt-on as they can be.”

TOL offers a variety of custom parts for H-D Touring machines, and Ken selected the in-rail rear fender and the scalloped bags. The bags are stretched 6″ down and 8″ back, and they’re almost kissing the ground when the bike is parked, thanks to a Dirtyworks Dirty Air rear suspension system. When in its lowered position, Ken’s Road Glide rests on an electric centerstand produced by Southern Oregon Baggers, better known as S.O.B. The air system’s compressor and storage tank are behind the right-hand saddlebag, held in place by a JNR Designed mount.

Ken left the High Output Twin Cam engine completely alone, only adding a cam cover and derby cover made by Tracecave Customs featuring the Outlaw Custom Baggers logo, machined using a CNC mill. Matching the front wheel is an air cleaner from Renegade Wheels in the Racine pattern. Ken made up his own exhaust system incorporating Fuel Moto header pipes and crossover, Harley-Davidson heat shields, and Screamin’ Eagle slip-ons with custom-made turn downs welded on, allowing spent gases to dump below the saddlebags. Ken kept the baffles in the mufflers, so he can enjoy his stock radio, modified with a Hertz HDP-4 amplifier powering two Hertz HSK-165XL speakers in the fairing together with two Mojo tweeter horns and two Hertz HCX 690 speakers in the saddlebags.

When purchased, the Road Glide was finished in Harley-Davidson’s Superior Blue, complete with a baby blue pinstripe. Ken gave all of the bodywork to his friend Jeremy Eaton at Eaton Auto Collision in Bowling Green. Jeremy prepped and painted all of the panels in the stock H-D Superior Blue, and did not return the pinstripe, instead adding ghost Outlaw Custom Baggers and Harley-Davidson logos on the tank and rear fender. Ken went over all of the factory chrome with Killerwaxx Killer Shine metal polish, while pieces such as the engine guard were powdercoated black for contrast.

“We put our bikes to use, but Brittney has a bad back so they’re usually about 400-mile rides,” Ken concludes, and isn’t ashamed to add, “Her bike still comes first at the shows, even this latest Road Glide is placing second!” AIM 353

This custom Harley-Davidson Road Glide was featured in Issue #353 of American Iron Magazine.