The only thing constant in life is change. Nothing seems to remain the same for all too long. People come and go. Fashion trends and the cool factor of the latest wannabe thug rapper only seem to stay hip for about a year—maybe two. Decades-old hometown landmarks are ripped down to make room for custom condos built for yuppies. Now, the reason for these reflections isn’t based solely upon simple nostalgia, but rather the hope that when things change, they do so for the better. When one less-than-loyal friend exits the permanent rotation of hangout pals, there’s an immediate opening for a more dependable one. Hipster beards and Aubrey “Drake” Graham fans are now officially existing on borrowed time—thank Jesus. But the next wave of what’s “cool” is not too far off on the horizon, and who the hell knows what will wash up when it breaks at shore.
While some find comfort in the now, others like San Diego, California tattoo artist Dago Dane embrace what the future has in store. Now, there’s one thing that you must know about Dane before this story progresses. When it came time to revamp the look and feel of his customized ’94 Road King, he glanced to the past for inspiration. How’s that old cliché saying go —you gotta know where you came from to understand where you’re going? Well if that’s not it verbatim, it’s pretty much the same overall gist, so don’t go reporting us the national board of quotation enforcers. Dane took a trip back to the beginning—back to when he was a kid and custom cars and bikes were uncharted territories to him.
“Ever since I was little, I’ve always been into lowriders and bikes”, Dane tells us. “They were different and didn’t look like the rest of the other vehicles on the road.”
Dane had already gone the distance with his Road King one time before. It had been fully customized and featured in our sister publication, Hot Bike magazine. But there was just something about the bike that Dane grew tired of—it just didn’t reflect the styling cues and feel that he had chased when he was younger. “I started off with a lowrider bicycle when I was young and progressed into real lowriders, Cadillacs and Harley-Davidson bikes when I was old enough to drive/ride them. I needed to go back to the old school, back to what got me interested in this whole thing from the start.” So Dane, along with his good pal Rich Lora, tore the bike down to the core, deleting all the work that had been completed just 5 years before. It was the only way to truly build the bike he was after. Once the Road King was gutted, Dane spent day and night as he built the bike right back up again. There was no doubt in his mind about being able to achieve the results he was after, and he would be damned if it was going to take longer than only a few months to do.
Just to clear the air, Dane’s bike wasn’t previously an eyesore or even anything remotely close to one. It just wasn’t keeping him interested or motivated to take it out of the garage. The champagne-colored paint, low beach bars, and fat 40-spoke wheels just weren’t enough to keep him captivated anymore. Instead, Dane wanted a clean and classic OG-style appearance that was a spitting image of the cool cars and bikes he became addicted to when he was a kid. “I liked the other style, but I needed an old school bike to ride around on. I tried my best to incorporate a lot of vintage style to the rebuild. I used old Panhead emblems and Shovelhead exhaust tips that were unique at the time when we first mocked them up, but I’ve since seen them on quite a few bikes out there on the road. I tried my best to break away from the norm, even with the tiniest of details.” And boy, he isn’t kidding. This bike is all about the minuscule detailing that the untrained eye could easily pass over and mistake for stock or completely nonexistent.
Here’s a test: Did you happen to notice that the stock front fender isn’t quite a stock fender at all? To properly fit the 23-inch wheel, the fender had to be gutted and stretched 4 ½ inches to make it appear to be completely stock. A lot of work went into creating this illusion, but to the keen eye the overall shape appearance and ability to stuff the 23-inch wheel is a dead giveaway. Another detail that might be difficult (almost impossible) to notice is the functionality of the rolled up Pendleton blanked mounted on the handlebars. Yes, the blanket actually serves another purpose other than decoration. There is actually a cylinder-shaped PVC enclosure (think Bazooka tube) hidden inside that houses a pair of tweeters that are aimed out to fire on each end. One wouldn’t have a chance at finding them when the stereo is turned off, and even once it is on, it still is tough to pinpoint where exactly all the sound is coming from. While we’re on the topic of stashed sounds, there are also a couple turn signals that have been hollowed out to hide more tweeters. There are a total of 10 speakers wired up, and man, do they come together for a mean SQ session.
Even though the Road King was starting to take the shape Dane was hoping for, there are some important details to recognize that have now come together to make the bike a lot more personal. The count of one-off parts on this bike brings a respectable number to the table, not to mention overall execution. Dane had hand-drawn a series of filigree patterns that he wanted to imprinted onto a leather seat and floorboards. Luckily, he knew just the right guys to help complete the process from the initial design phase. Brett Blaisdell of Smuglabs custom laser tooled the designs onto the leather and Eli Scarbeary sealed the deal with his hand-stitch work. Now, for the seat, Dane had 4 little words in mind that he wanted to see every time he prepared for a ride—Pray For Us Sinners. “This has to be one of my favorite pieces that make up my new bike”, Dane tells us. “It can be taken in many ways when people read it. It all depends how the message relates to them.”
Now that the Road King has been custom tailored for its owner once again (this time with a snugger, more comfortable fit), it can now lead the life it was destined for. The bike gets ridden at least once a week and to occasional show around the SoCal area, and the only time it hitches a ride on a trailer is when it’s mechanically disabled and is left with no other option. Dane says the official time it took to complete the bike’s resurrection was 3-4 months. The exact dates became blurry towards the finish line, but the bike got done, and that’s what matters most. “All I really have left to say at the end of all this is thank you. Thank you to my mother for all the support she has shown me from when I was a kid working on one project or another. She made me into who I am today. Thank you also to my many talented homies who helped build this bike and make it happen for me. C/S.”
|Bike Owner||Dago Dane|
|Year/Make/Model||1994 Harley-Davidson Road King|
|Fabrication||Dago Dane, Rich Lora|
|Build Time||6 months|
|Exhaust||49-inch one-off custom pipes with Shovelhead tips|
|Special Features||All chrome|
|Manufacturer Front||Lowered 2 inches|
|Manufacturer Rear||Air bag shocks off an old Corvette and 3-inch lowering brackets|
|Wheels, tires and brakes||SPECIFICATIONS|
|Front Builder/Size||23-inch OG 60-spoke|
|Rear Builder/Size||18-inch OG 60-spoke|
|Color||PPG Ivory and Gold with some other shades|
|Graphics||Patterns, gold leafing and pinstriping|
|Front Fender||Stock stretched 4 ½ inches|
|Rear Fender||Stock stretched 5 inches|
|Handlebars||20-inch ape hangers|
|Grips||Handmade real brass grips by Hippy Killer|
|Floorboards||Custom laser tooled by Brett Blaisdell at Smuglabs. Hand-stitched by Eli Scarbeary|
|Seat||Custom laser tooled by Brett Blaisdell at Smuglabs. Hand-stitched by Eli Scarbeary|
|Horn||Chrome Hog Horns|
|Luggage Rack||Custom rack designed and fabricated by Rich Lora and Dago Dane, wood laser details by Brett Blaisdell, chroming by Oscar at Polishing Pros|
|Speakers||JL Audio (4) 6x9-in. speakers in bags, (2) 4 ½-in. speakers on crash bars, (2) tweeters and custom blanket roll with (2) more 4 ½-in. speakers by Trevor Roesch at Innovative Audio|
|Amp||2) JL Audio|