2009 Street Glide
Knowing Fred Kodlin and his 25-plus years of custom motorcycle experience, it is quite established that Fred is a true rider. No matter if touring around his European turf at the big meetings like Faaker See and Saalbach-Hinterglemm, or in the USA riding hardcore choppers (often purpose-built for the trip) along with his Hamster friends from California to Sturgis, Fred enjoys the "hot seat" as much as swinging the welding torch at his workshop. His new "BRD" Bagger was built for this year's riding season and it has a story behind it, which is worth telling.
The annual "Hamster Trek" from California to Sturgis is a quite impressive sight: some of the finest custom bikes, built for riders who can afford the best, roll along the lonely highways of the West on their way to Sturgis. Sometimes in larger groups (more often in small groups), the riders meet each day at pre-arranged hotels en route, and frequent the local watering holes. In recent years, the hot choppers and low riders were often exchanged for more comfortable rides featuring saddlebags, radios, and fairings, keeping the hot desert wind and sand at bay. Baggers are nothing new to the American custom scene. In fact, some of the Hamsters' founding fathers, such as Arlen Ness, Dave Perewitz, and Donnie Smith, have built baggers for years. It just went unnoticed when other styles got the headlines.
A visit to Fred Kodlin's showroom at Borken, Germany exemplifies just that: lined up like in Arlen Ness' museum are the wildest creations of Fred's career. It's little known that Fred too has a long heritage of building baggers. "Well back in the '80s, we stretched saddlebags and modified touring bikes as we saw it in American magazines," remembers Fred, who also built several baggers from the ground up. Nevertheless, compared with his custom-creations and choppers, the baggers always remained on the sideline.
Now Fred has created another touring bike, and like all his other creations, it had to be something special. Starting from scratch with an '09 Street Glide as the solid base, the frame and engine remained almost untouched. Harley-Davidson's new motorcycles offer ridability and performance. The Twin Cam was hopped-up with an Arlen Ness Double Barrel airfilter and Freedom exhaust system. The two-into-one exhaust leaves more luggage space, as only one saddlebag had to be modified for pipe clearance. The stock primary was swapped for a narrow BDL open beltdrive.
More visible is the huge 26-inch front wheel by Couture, equipped with Vee-Rubber's remarkable 120mm front tire, in combination with Fred's own front fairing and the high Bonanza II handlebar in its wide touring version. The seating position is almost like a high-neck chopper. Road visibility in front of the huge wheel is minimal, but that's nothing new to Fred. The instrument panel was completely taken apart for new instruments by Dakota Digital to offer a perfect view even in bright sunlight. Rather than the exhaust system, a Hawg Wired 300-watt four-channel sound system with subwoofer delivers the soundtrack for the ride. It's better for the ears on 600-plus-km day trips anyway. And less boring too.