In the 21st century, the term “bike builder” doesn’t mean what it once did. Once upon a time, being a bike builder meant having a shop with an arsenal of machines run by men with the skills necessary to fabricate whatever parts they needed to turn their flights of fancy into rolling sculptures of steel reality. But nowadays, far too often it means a warehouse where aftermarket prefab parts are bolted onto a bike with all the creativity of a snap-together model kit.
Suffice it to say that Martin Bros. Bikes in Dallas is the former—a shop where craftsmen like Joe Martin take pencil to paper to sketch out an idea, and then roll up their sleeves and build it. Wheels turn, sparks fly, and art is created. From scratch.
That’s right, there’s not one kit part on the bike you see here, a 2007 Harley Street Glide that Joe took in trade as partial payment for one of his other original creations. When he took the bike, it was bone stock save for the 110 Screaming Eagle kit the owner had had installed. Joe saw the bike as an excellent blank canvas to design a bagger that would not only conjure up images of an old-school chopper, but would be a nod to the builders of yore as well.
“I wanted it to be clean, yet full of detail,” Joe explained. “I didn’t want to just put a fiberglass snap-on rear fender or glue-on tank sides and a bunch of globally sourced chrome covers to mask stock parts. There would be no LED disco lights on this bike. I dig old stuff—the chopper thing, and I like to build my bikes the way choppers were, where you actually build something.
First, Joe tore the bike down and started with frame mods, raking and stretching the neck, cutting the rear shock struts off and forming new rails to mount the shocks higher and lower the bike, all hidden under a handmade fender with a Frenched in plate and taillight, all made from 16-gauge steel. The tank was stretched and Frenched to fit the handmade seat pan and side covers, and the fairing was stretched and raked forward to realign the headlight. Joe also handmade a new set of bars with internal wiring to finish off the look.
When it came time to design a paint scheme (oh yeah, Joe does paint himself, too), he did what he’s done since he was a kid—sat down at his drawing table and let the ideas start flowing.
“I’ve always liked to sit around and draw,” Joe said. “And I’ve always loved the old, intricate scroll work they used to do on fire engines and stuff. I figured something in that vein would look really good and also create an optical illusion that would make the bike look longer.”
The result is the design you see—old-school fire engine meets tribal—not exactly something you see every day.
“The great thing about art is there are no rules,” Joe chuckled. “To tell you the truth, I didn’t know exactly how it was going turn out. When I think too much about it, it’s harder to execute. I’d rather fly by the seat of my pants—the bikes seem to turn out better that way.”
Joe chose a twotone finish that would match the bike’s frame on the bottom and pop on top—hence the black on the bottom, candy red over silver miniflake on the top, and pearl orange graphic separating the two. The subtly airbrushed skulls on the bottom of the bags add a nice finishing touch of badassness.
“I’ve found that candy red and black is one of the easiest sells as far as paint goes,” Joe explained. As much as I’d love to keep all the bikes I build, our business is to build them to sell. Fortunately I hit my mark with this one, because it didn’t stick around too long after I finished it!”
Hopefully the owner will appreciate what he’s riding every time he fires her up—a true piece of handcrafted art, built the old-school way. B
|Shop||Martin Bros Bikes|
|Build Time||Seven weeks|
|Wheels, Tires, and Brakes|
|Manufacturer||PPG/House of Colors|
|Colors||Candy Red/Tangelo Orange/Black|
|Graphics||Various art work by Joe Martin|
|Front Fender||B Kool Products |
|Rear Fender||Joe Martin|
|Rear Fender||Fillers Joe Martin|
|Gas Tank||Mods Stretched|
|Hand Controls & Switches||H-D|
|Running Lights||Todds Cycle|
|Rear Turn Signals||Todds Cycle|
|License Mount||Flush Mount|
|Seat||One Off |
|S Extensions||Klock Werks|
|Fairing Mods||StretchedRaked |