The year 2009 was a great year to buy a new Harley bagger, with the new updated frame. Laying out cash for one was a different story. With the recession going full bore, motorcycle sales suffered along with everything else. Economic crises send folks circling the financial wagons, which isn't good if you're a high-dollar luxury item on a showroom floor. That didn't stop riders like Luke Hardtke, though. When H-D launched its new touring chassis, he scooped up a brand-new FLHX ASAP.
Luke's the sort who likes a challenge. Like many new owners, when Luke rode the Street Glide home it was completely stock but no machine of his stays that way. Not only does Luke have the creativity to come up with his own concepts, he's also got the technical skills to make them happen. "I wanted something no one had yet," he recalls. "Something one of a kind-the first 240 big rear on an '09 bagger with the new frame." Simple enough in this day and age, right?
Not really. Luke tore into his scoot before anyone had a fully developed rear conversion kit available. That meant three months of painstaking hard labor. Before it was done, Luke would relocate the motor and transmission 1/2 inch to the left, cut and rebuild the swingarm, and widen the rear frame section and fender to fit a fat, 240mm rubber carrying V-rod back wheel. Then there was the, um, slightly involved matter of machining his own wheel spacers and sprocket adapters to fit the wheel and tire properly in their new home. All the while, Luke measured, measured, and measured some more to make certain the whole shebang lined up just right. It paid off, though: "Believe it or not, even though I moved the motor and tranny over, it rides just like a stock bike-nothing changed. It handles great. The bike's only 1 inch wider than stock," Luke tells us. "People said it couldn't be done and I proved them wrong. That was a good challenge."
What wasn't nearly as difficult, according to Luke, was the aesthetics. Luke geared that aspect toward cleanliness, routing the cables through a set of Cyclesmiths 16-inch apehangers. While the rear fender was under the knife to make it wider, it got a frenched license plate holder with LED lighting. Luke and Fram Fabrication slammed the front fender close in to the tire and stretched the gas tank to make it flow into the new solo H-D seat. The end result was a look so simple it hides the craftsmanship that made it possible.
Obviously the paint's not nearly that subtle. Luke's goal? Symbolizing old muscle car paint. Sublime Green was his color of choice for that and inspired by a new Dodge Charger automobile. "You don't see Sublime Green bikes," Luke says. "So I did it. And it looks cool." Its nuclear glow is offset by black, black, and more black.
The musculature doesn't stop at the paint, however. Luke gave his 96-inch Twin Cam motor plenty of personal training. Nowadays it weighs in at 103 cubes, runs stage II flowed heads with big bore barrels, and features a pretty distinct exhaust pipe. He took a Vance and Hines 2-into-1 Big Radius system designed for an '06 Dyna and reworked it to fit this bike. Between it, the 50mm throttle body, and the Screamin' Eagle air cleaner, his bigger V-twin has the cardio to match the muscle.
You'd think that with all of this work going into his motorcycle, Luke would've changed more of the parts than he actually did, but no. The brakes and controls are the stock article, as is the suspension. Think a little harder on what he's done, for a second. A lot of the changes came about with his own two hands; what he didn't want to spend in cash, he spent in time, resourcefulness, and hard work. "People thought I spent a fortune on this thing and I spent only a few grand, since I did the work myself. It gets a lot of attention and comments. People were pleased to see something new and different, but cool and functional. Most of my friends thought I was crazy to be chopping up a brand-new bike, but now they've changed their minds. They like it better now. I started this build in October of 2009. It took me six months and it was worth the time."