When Jim Robertson, a journey lineman for Detroit Edison, bought his H-D FLHX brand-new in 2007, he knew it wouldn’t stay stock for long.
“The very first year I bought a 21-inch front wheel and had bags and a new rear fender done by Ray Van,” Jim said. “Then, about a week later I saw a 23-inch in a magazine and knew I had to have one. That led me to Paul Richards at Native Custom Baggers, and the next thing you know, we decided to redo the whole thing from top to bottom, front to back.”
During the build, Jim and Paul struck up a relationship that lasts to this day, and the bike you see before you evolved over time from that friendship.
“I became pretty good friends with Paul after bothering him on the phone and in his shop,” Jim chuckled. “Once we decided to redo the entire bike, we sat down and developed an idea of how the lines would lay. The first thing we talked about was the front fender. I liked the big front fenders that were out there, but I wanted something different—something unique. Paul would send me sketches—draw it all out—and we’d talk about it until finally it was just how I wanted it.”
The result was a fiberglass art-deco–inspired masterpiece that demands attention and makes the 26-inch front wheel (23-inch be damned—they had to go bigger!) look a bit more subtle.
“I like the big front wheels,” Paul explained. “But you don’t have to show every square inch of the damned thing for them to look cool.”
Keeping with the style of the newly designed fender, Paul and Jim put their heads together and came up with tank covers, side covers, and a new rear fender built by Ray Van that expanded the bike’s sweeping lines from front to back. And besides being beautiful, the curved rear fender is functional as well.
“It allowed for more clearance,” Paul explained. “I can’t stand building a bike that can’t be ridden; I always think about practicality in the process.”
“The actual riding is what’s important,” Jim echoed. “A show bike is a show bike, but if it has wheels, then it is meant to be ridden.”
Wanting to accentuate the bike’s clean, smooth lines with his choice of paint, Jim went with a silver flake that—when viewed from its left side—makes his ride scream “1930s art deco!”
“I love the look of silver,” Jim said. “When you put chrome on the bike, the whole bike almost looks like it’s chromed. And when you get it under the lights, man, it really shines.”
However, what makes this bike so unique is that when viewed from the other side—or from the rear—you would almost swear you’re looking at an entirely different ride.
“Yeah, it’s definitely a Jekyll and Hyde, kinda situation,” Jim laughed.
The gothic/tribal graphics on the bike’s right side and rear fender, designed by Ray Armstrong at Razr Art Customs, created a bagger with a right side as detailed and intricate as its left side is clean and pure.
“Ray is up in Ontario,” Jim explained. “So we passed a lot of sketches back and forth until the design was exactly what I’d pictured in my head. I told him I loved crosses and skulls, so he started with the cross on the gas tank as the centerpiece. When we got the tank just how I wanted it, I let him do his thing for the rest of the bike.”
Without a doubt, the bike’s finishing touch is its one-of-a-kind LED cross taillight.
“Ray Van did that for me,” Jim said. “He just said, ‘Tell me what you want and I’ll cut a pocket for you and French in the LED pocket light however you want it,’ and it came out great—exactly how I’d imagined it, just like the rest of the bike.
Thanks to a clever ad campaign by Chrysler, we all know that Detroit is experiencing an automotive renaissance, but Jim’s bike lets us all know that when creative minds combine forces, there are some pretty cool things coming out of Detroit these days besides cars! B