'07 Radical Road Glide
Huck Hemphill, owner of Radical Baggers, is not your typical bike builder. His passion for building bikes started out as a bit of a hobby and even today Huck still maintains his full-time job in the engineering field. His Harley story began shortly after he traversed the globe with the US Marines. Huck had been into dirt bikes and three-wheelers back then, and even had a few hotrods. He honed his painting and mechanical skills and did some minor customizing for friends. Up to that point Huck never had a street bike because, like many of us, his parents said he would be out of the will if he ever purchased one (but it was okay for Huck to ride someone else's bike on the road). Fate called Huck during one memorable Easter Sunday. While Huck's dad was cutting the ham, he informed the family that since his health was better he was going to travel extensively and spend every penny that he had, not leaving anything to anyone.
With that news, Huck went out and bought a '72 Sportster the next day. He rode over to his parents house, and his Mom mentioned how pretty the XL was. Mom immediately called Huck's dad on the two-way radio, "You need to get to the house right now. Huck bought a Harley." Again, like many of us, Huck's dad kept him in the will and is still in it to this day.
So over the years, Huck had a few old Harleys and some metrics too. In 2005 Huck stopped at a Harley store to get a T-shirt and out the door he came with a Softail Deluxe. After having it a few months, Huck saw the same bike as his everywhere he went. So he tore it down and redid it. That year was the start of Radical Baggers. Everyone would say that's the baddest bike they'd seen, and ask who did it for him. "I did," Huck would say. So as people came to Huck, his hobby turned into a business.
In 2007 Huck went to Harley to buy some bolts for a bike he was working on and left with a new Street Glide that he again tore down and redid his way. Although Huck is from Michigan, I found that custom Street Glide sitting on a street in Daytona during Bike Week in 2008. I left a business card on the seat with a note saying I wanted to feature the bike. Huck called me, I shot it, and the SG made it into the August 2008 Baggers. Huck's job then sent him off to Dubai for a year; it was a great adventure, but it slowed the Radical crew down. Huck's goal was to fast-track to the top in the industry with the help of others that believe in what he does. Four years ago Huck asked Brian Klock what he learned while growing the Klock business. Brian first said, "Don't quit your day job until everything is going well."
I'd been in touch with Huck since his return to the States, and he was asking advice about his next build. Huck wanted to go big and involve many of the industry heavyweights in the project. Much to my surprise, Huck was able to gather more than a dozen sponsors for a bike that wasn't built yet and without a staff of 50 and a big rig. Huck is apparently much more connected that I had known, many of those connections coming from his engineering days in Detroit.
The bike you see here is Huck's latest build that was created from his own '07 Road Glide that was originally orange with a black stripe. After putting everything on paper, while looking it over, it came to Huck that he needed a promo bike to show what Radical Baggers could do. At the V-Twin Expo in Cincinnati, Huck went about getting sponsorships to get the promo bike going.
Huck knew this bike needed to be the baddest bagger out there; his goal wasn't to just get in a magazine, but have a cover bike. Huck figured having a cover bike would keep him in the direction he wanted to go, to the top. After choosing the sponsors he wanted to get on board, off he went. Huck came up with a brief speech after introducing himself to the prospective sponsor. Everyone asked, "What's in this for us?" Huck said two things: "One is free advertising, because the bike will be at every major event this year, and two," using his hands to illustrate, "Right now, Radical Baggers is at this level and with this build, we will be at this level, the top. We're going all out and we know this build will make a cover somewhere in the industry." After the first day, Huck already exceeded his goal of 13 sponsors and had 17 on board.