It's no wonder Ballistic Cycles named this Road Glide "Paradigm." The bike stands out as a clear example of the shop's design philosophy (low, sleek, and badass) while showcasing the new parts it's sending into production right now.
You can find the shop 30 minutes west of Madison, Wisconsin, set back in rolling hills and cliffs, with twisting roads aplenty. It's a three-man operation consisting of Tim and Mike McNamer and Tim Klecker. Mike's the resident fabricator, Tim's the designer, and Kleck is a former USMC mechanic with a business degree who handles all the licensing and legal stuff. Between the three of them, they came up with Paradigm and took the mammoth front wheel concept to the next level or three with a ginormous 30-incher. There's a lot more to Paradigm than a fad, though. From the front air forks to the sleeked out bags, every Ballistic part on this dresser is going into general production. It took some doing, but we got the boys to sit down long enough to fill us in.
HBB: You guys aren't known for your touring bikes. What brought you into the fold?
BC: It started off around February of 2009. At that time we were mainly known for our custom one-off, long and low smooth-lined flowing look, no kickstand, air-ride bikes, but we could see the huge market with custom baggers and knew it was something we needed to get involved in. As much as we love our other machines, and the looks we get while riding them or taking them to shows, nothing beats the open road comfort of a bagger. Combining the two was exactly the route we wanted to go. In August of 2009, with less than a month of total build time, we finished our first bagger (named "Blue Bagger") with a 26-inch 3-D Phoenix front wheel made by Metalsport. We're proud of that bike, but while building it, we came up with some bigger and crazier ideas. That's why we're Ballistic Cycles.
HBB: What do you like most about Paradigm?
BC: How the body lines flow from the custom fairing to the tank to the seat to the side covers, bags, and fender. Every part must look and flow with the other. The bike wouldn't be the same without any of them. The 30-inch front wheel was just the cherry on top.
HBB: Why a Road Glide for this project?
BC: The front fairing is mounted to the neck of the frame. We wanted to move the fairing lower, and when we cut the neck and raked it out, we modified the fairing mounts to exactly where and how we wanted it so it would be consistent with the flow of the rest of the bike. We are working on a Street Glide and will have versions for every Harley touring model.
HBB: Why a 30-inch wheel?
BC: Up until now, it hasn't been done. We've already done a 26-inch front-wheeled bagger and needed to do something else a little different. A lot of people didn't think a 30 was possible or that we could make it ride, so we of course had to prove them wrong.
HBB: Tell us more about that wheel.
BC: The 30-inch front wheel brought with it a lot of controversy. Some people told us it couldn't be done. Others said there was no way we could make it a rider-friendly bike. And then of course there was the fact that there was no 30-inch tire at the time. We were involved with plenty of talks about the wheel and tire, other builders were too, and there was a bit of a race going on with it. We didn't care so much to have the first 30-inch wheel, we just wanted to be the first to put it on a bagger and have it done in time to unveil at the 2010 V-Twin Expo. There were times we thought it wasn't going to happen, but then Doug McGoon and Vee Rubber came through for us and everything else seemed to fall in place.
HBB: What was the hardest part about fitting it to a stock frame and how'd you do it?
BC: Making sure our math was right when we cut the neck and with our steel plates we used when welding back together.