August 2002 Hot Bike  

2000 Pro Street Magazine Features

August 2002 Hot Bike
You Won't Find Another One Like it.
By Steve Bohn

A couple of years back, Zip Showket of Novato, California, came to grips with the realization that it was time for a new motorcycle. During the past 12 years, he had modified his 88 Harley-Davidson FXR as far as he could by customizing just about everything on the bike.

After surveying the field, Zip had his selection narrowed down to a softail or an FXR. Zip, being the nonconformist that he was (How many other guys do you know that go by the name of Zip?) just could not allow himself to build a bike as popular as a Softail. He needed to build a bike that was totally different from the rest. With that decided, the logical choice was a heavily customized FXR.

A Chopper Guy's frame was ordered with 2 inches of backbone stretch, giving the bike a slightly longer wheelbase to assist on hard launches, and a 35 degree neck to give it a more stable high speed ride. Hanging from the neck is a narrow glide front end consisting of parts from an 88' H-D FXR. Although Zip really liked the look of the chopper Guy's swing arm, he felt he could lighten the weight of the bike by fabricating a swing arm of his own design from some steel tubing. When it was all said and done, the unit he built weighed in at a mere 4-1/2 pounds; a weight savings of more than 10 pounds. A set of progressive Suspension 810 shocks was used to keep the impacts to the swing arm from reaching the frame.

Back when Sip was shopping for a frame, he came across a set of Performance Machine Cobra wheels that he knew he just had to have. The Cobras were fit with a pair of Metzelers: a 180 out back and a 110x90 up front. Slowing the bike down is a pair of Performance Machine 4 piston calipers and Russell floating rotors.

Although Zip was raring to start on the sheet metal, he decided to hold off until he had the drive train in place. This would ensure he could get a good feel for how all the parts would fit together visually. Being the eternal pragmatist, Zip figured, why change something that works well? With that is mind, he tore into his 88' FXR and pulled out the 80-inch motor. He brought it to the performance shop of his buddy, Bubbles (yet another guy with one of those single names, but not quite what you would expect forma Harley guy) for some well deserved freshening up, in addition to some performance upgrades. After the motor was torn down completely, all of the parts were cleaned and inspected. He began by replacing all the bearings in the lower end. From there he took meticulous care to be certain that the H-D wheels and rods were set just right before reassembly. With the bottom end complete, Zip gathered all the remaining motor parts and brought them over to his friend Greg Hartwell, of Hartwell Motorcycles, located in nearby Santa Rosa, California. The remaining motor building chores were completing by sliding the oversized Weisco pistons in the H-D Cylinders and topped with a set of ported Harley Heads. The heads were capped off with chrome H-D Rocker boxes that complemented the gloss-black heads, cylinders, and cases. The motor was finished up by adding a Del'Orto two barrel carburetor complete with velocity stacks, and Andrews EV46 cam, Crave Hi-4 ignition, and a ceramic coated Hooker 2 into 1 exhaust pipe.

Trying to separate his bike form other FXRs, Zip used his dislike of oil bags as an excuse to install a 96 FLH transmission that housed Andrews gears. Cleaning the look up even further Zip replaced the standard oil filter, relocating it as a flush mount until in the oil pan. By now the motorcycle was taking a look all its own and was bearing less resemblance to what one might think of an FXR. All that remained to compete the drive train was to secure the motor to the transmission via the H-D primary.

Zip started the body parts with an FXR fuel tank that he stretched and channeled by removing 1 1/2 inch of material, allowing it to sit low on the backbone. From there he messaged a WCC fender to hug the front tire tightly. Out back, Zip fabricated a pair of custom struts that was used to support another WCC fender, fit with a custom inlaid taillight and a frenched licence plate. To add to the perception of speed, Zip picked up a Ness fairing and windshield. When he test fit it to the bike, he did not like the way it fit around the forks, so he tossed the mounting brackets and built a set that was shorter to pull the fairing tight to the front end. Finishing off the body panels was a pair of Ness side covers that does a great job os visually tying the sheet metal together.

Zip and Greg stripped the frame down, put all the sheet metal in the truck, and hauled it to K.C. Customs of Santa Rosa, California, for the paint and graphics. A base coat of purple was laid down by Jason before he and Zip finalized the design for the flames that interplayed tribal graphics with red lightning bolts. As K.C. Customs was doing its thing, the frame and swing arm found their way to Miller Powder Coating to receive a layer of tough black power coating.

Back at Hartwell's, assembly was finally underway. Greg was busy in the front mounting the Ness bars, the HD headlight and the hand controls (obtained from an unknown source online) and VDO gauges. From here he put the H-D foot controls and pegs in place before moving to the installation of the Teeters/Schact seat. As Greg was busy up front Zip was completing the installation of the taillight assembly that fits inside the rear fender.

By the time the bike was finished, Zip had a truly unique motorcycle on his hands. It handled very well, rode fast, and there's not another one like it around - just the way he planned it.




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