It takes a lot of nerve to buy something sight unseen, it doesn't mater how big or small the item is. Anything with a price tag is fair game to this question: would you buy something sight unseen? Hell, most guys wouldn't buy a pair of boots without trying them on let alone a motorcycle. To top it off when looking for a motorcycle, most of the time what you are looking at is an ad in the paper with a photo too small to see anything good. So you call on it, and get an e-mailed photo and it's just as bad because you can't see anything. Today's shopper can take advantage of the Internet and look at bikes across the country to find a good deal, but you still don't know what you are getting until that truck shows up and unloads it into your driveway.
Well Nathan Carter is that guy with nerves of steel and loads of will and determination, just not a lot of cash. About two years ago Nathan wanted to get a V-twin motorcycle, one that he could ride around town and a bike he could gear-up and ride to Sturgis. After doing all the research that most guys do he came to the conclusion that to do both, a bagger was the best bike for him. The only thing was Nathan was not a big bagger fan; he knows that with any long trip you need to carry gear but he still wanted the style of a Softail.
With every passing day the hunt was getting harder to find the bike. On top of that, Sturgis was less than six months away and he really wanted to go that year. If he could find a good deal on a Softail, Nathan thought he could always add a set of bags. Well the day came, Nathan found the bike he was after, and he knew his patience had paid off. On paper it was everything he was looking for, an '05 Softail with low mileage, one owner, a lot of extras, price was great, and could be shipped anywhere in the United States. Nathan did not want to miss out on this bike, he called and said he'd take it. Then the guy on the other end started to tell Nathan about the bike, he said that it could be shipped out the next day, but there was a little damage to the right side and would need some work, like sheetmetal and paint. Nathan asked for some photos but the damage was not clear. He also felt that this was the kind of thing he would change anyway, and the price was right. He just hoped that the frame was good.
Two weeks later when the bike showed up the one thing Nathan feared most became his worst nightmare. The bike showed up in the back of a truck but strapped to a pallet laying on its side, the right side. At that point all he was thinking was "I hope the frame is straight." Nathan called his father-in-law Russ over to give him a hand and ask a lot of questions about what to do. Russ is the owner of Just Dreams Rod and Customs shop in Colorado, where he specializes in rebuilding hot rods from the ground up. So the two got the bike upright and started pulling parts, the main thing Nathan wanted to check was the frame for damage, the powdercoating around the neck was cracked and flaking off. At this point it did not seem like such a good deal after all because it turned out that the frame was badly damaged. The only things that seemed fine were the motor and transmission. So the next hurdle was getting a list of parts to build the bike Nathan was after. With a bagger in mind but a Softail as the platform, Nathan needed a frame first. He researched and gathered all the parts from the single down tube Daytech frame with 36-degrees of rake in the neck and 3-inches added to the backbone. Then he ordered a set of stretched bags from Milwaukee Bagger, a fairing from Dragonfly Cycle Concepts, the gas tank and fenders from Arlen Ness, and exhaust from Samson.
The frame was sent out to get powdercoated, and as soon as it was back the frame was turned into a roller with the 3-inch over 'Big-un' frontend from J&P and wheels from Renegade. The H-D motor and transmission were installed, then the fairing was mounted to the frontend and filled with speakers and a radio from Clarion. The saddlebags were custom mounted to the frame to check fitment and clearance before paint. After all the mock up was done Russ and Nathan stripped the bike down and all the parts were taken over to Russ' shop to get painted, where the two got into a heavy discussion over color. Nathan was looking for the basics, with time running out to make the trip to Sturgis he just wanted quick and easy. But Russ on the other hand wanted nothing to do with basic. He said that a bike this custom needed custom paint, a color not seen on a bike too often, so Russ mixed up a shade of metal mini flake green over a dark silver base coat. With less than two weeks until Nathan was to head out, as soon as the painted parts were dry they were bolted to the bike. The first part being the gas tank, and as it sat on the backbone of the frame all by its lonesome it was then that Nathan knew that Russ had the right color.
It was less than two days until they were leaving for Sturgis when the last painted part was bolted on, and the fun of wiring and firing was left. The good news was once it was done (three hours before they were heading out) the bike fired right up and Nathan got to put a few test miles on the bike. It was loaded up on the trailer and he got a two-hour nap and a shower then hit the road. Once he was there, Nathan was glad to see the people's reactions to the bike, most were not sure what to make of it: Softail or Bagger? All he knows is that everyone he tells this story to says make sure you know what you are getting before you write that check.