How passion and a boast started a company
Most readers have seen a lot of well-known custom motorcycle builders in Hot Bike Baggers magazine who have made it to the top of the food chain already. Huck Hemphill and Rebecca Bowes started Radical Baggers out of their garage in Rochester Hills, Michigan. Although their main professions are in the engineering field for a major automotive empire, their passion for custom motorcycles and touring bikes in particular has brought them here.
With his background, Huck is no stranger to understanding and appreciating fine details, being obsessed with cars and bikes since he was a tyke. He was raised around hot rods and motorcycles and started building them before he got his license. Rebecca's ridden bikes since she was 10 years old. It was her 2005 Softail Deluxe that started the Radical Baggers story--a trip to the Signature Harley-Davidson dealership to buy chrome bolts for the Deluxe. While waiting for the parts, Huck was struck by a new '07 Street Glide sitting on the floor. After buying the bike, Huck started out with a Native Custom Baggers front fender, but the bike still looked like everyone else's. A couple of months later, Huck told all of his buddies that he was going to morph this bike into a radical bagger and that it would be in all of the magazines. Everybody chuckled. With the help of Huck's girlfriend, Rebecca, the two started in on the project.
That fall, they tore the bike down from frontend to the rear leaving only the motor, tranny and frame intact. The front and rear suspension were completely customized and lowered using '05 Softail fork lowers with Progressive 2-inch lowering springs on the front. The Softail units were used because they are single-caliper fork legs. Huck didn't like the look of hiding the front wheel. Out back, Arnott Air Suspension was installed, giving "BAGIT" (the bike's moniker) the smooth handling and comfort you would expect from a touring bagger. It also lets the bike drop to the ground when parked. Performance Machine was called on for the 21-inch Marquee front wheel with a matching 13-inch rotor. The rear wheel is an 18x4.25-inch Marquee carrying a Metzeler 160 tire.
The front and rear fender are the stars of the show, with the custom front fender by Native Custom Baggers and the one-of-a-kind, molded rear fender with closeouts molded and painted by Ray Van. The rear fender extends out to the stretched Top Shop saddlebags. All of the sheetmetal and bags were shot in a deep, dark Black Cherry Pearl. The custom seat was matched to the bike and covered in Black Cherry Ostrich from Mad Cow Custom Leather.
Moderate performance upgrades were done to the stock Harley-Davidson Twin Cam 96ci motor. He had the heads ported and polished, added cams and increased intake breathing with a Screamin' Eagle high-flow air cleaner. Vance & Hines True Dual headers with Kerker slip-ons and Fuelpak ignition were also added.
We photographed Huck's bike well before he told us any of his story and the claim he made to his friends. Radical Baggers has goals that project far into the future. They're currently repairing, modifying and building customer bikes as well as designing more bagger-specific parts. If you're in the Rochester Hills area, look them up.