'08 H-D Custom
It's dumbed down, but loaded." That's how Jefferson Therrien describes his '08 Harley Electra Glide. In most cases that'd be a contradiction in terms. Here, though, it's the sweet melding of chopper minimalism and the loaded electronics that are clearly bagger territory.
It's a retired police bike Jefferson picked up at auction, then spent three months reinventing. At first gander you see a pared-down touring rig covered in blue and black. Scan it from all sides though, and you start to appreciate the technical skill that went into it. From the raked neck and super-clean fairing up front to the sanitary saddlebags at the rear, there's a lot to ponder here. We caught up with Jefferson at his shop, Little Shop of Horrors, in Manchester, New Hampshire, to talk about his Glide and its complicated simplicity.
Baggers: First the obvious question. Why'd you do it?
JT: Really, I was just sick of seeing everyone's bikes covered with $10k in bolt-on garbage. It was mostly to see if I could do it.
Baggers: Why modify the frame?
JT: I've done six or seven baggers like that now. I had one last November with the same geometry. There are just a couple of aftermarket frames for baggers and they look mostly stock to me. What I like about the single downtube is that it opens up the whole front of the frame, it's a big difference but really subtle. Yet it doesn't take over the whole bike.
Baggers: How did you make it a single downtube?
JT: I just built the jig, cut the front of the frame off, put the neck where I wanted it, and basically filled in the blanks.
Baggers: What was the hardest part of changing the frame?
JT: There's nothing really hard about it. I guess that's because I've done so many of them. My regular work is so technical that this seems easy. You keep the frame true, keeping the rake and trail proper. Anyone can rake a frame but if the geometry isn't right it won't ride right. There are six different parts of the frame geometry that affect trail. A lot of guys just rake it and put it back together without taking all six of them into account. This Glide rides true at 5 mph, one-handed, in a parking lot. Of course, raked trees and the other parts help.
Baggers: If you were to do the frame again, would you do it differently?
JT: Nope, I've got it down to a science. I did another last week with the same geometry as this one. I've got it down to where they ride at least as well as stock. It's a matter of trial and error and research. I've also eliminated all wobble.
Baggers: Let's talk about running a big front wheel in that frame. That must have given you some challenges.
JT: I ran out of room pretty quick with that wheel. [Laughs] When I brought the neck up half an inch to keep some suspension travel, I dropped the fairing lower so it didn't look like I'd raised the neck. The profile appears lower, but I actually gained fork travel.
Baggers: You said in the specs that the hand controls had been eliminated but you list Joker Machine for them in the tech sheet. What did you mean by that?
JT: I eliminated all the Harley switches at the bars. The radio controls are gone. It's all hidden, which really pissed off the wiring harness and computer. It's fly-by-wire so every sensor you eliminate confuses it.
Baggers: And you addressed that how?
JT: I just got the wiring schematics from Harley and used them as a guide. I had to learn what it was doing before I could figure out what was wrong. The problem was that the computer kept going into failsafe mode to protect itself, and I had to fool it otherwise. In the end, I tricked certain sensors to accommodate the computer.