When the cops found this stolen 2007 Screamin’ Eagle Road King, its life was over. Damaged and abused by the thieving bastard(s) who’d torn it from its loving owner, the bike went into the salvage auction graveyard. The only question at that point was would it be (A) restored or (B) would its corpse be cannibalized for parts?
Seeing as how you’re reading a story about it, the correct answer would be A. Ballew’s South Central Customs scooped it up, loaded it into its meat wagon, and brought it back to the shop for serious rehabilitation.
The King was exactly what shop owner Mike Ballew needed for his next build—a hot-rod-esque V-twin with some storage capacity. All of the damaged goods were parts he was going to replace anyway, so the half-dead machine was perfect for him. He also has the biker chops needed to rebuild a scoot better, stronger, faster than it was before. That’s what tends to happen when you’re born into motorcycling like Mike. His father was a Harley dealer for 20 years, see. In 1995 the younger Ballew followed into the family business by opening his own shop where he handles everything from tire changes to one-off frames. It’s been almost 20 years since that time and he’s collected his share of awards along the way to boot.
Obviously, phase one was the tear down. The motor and frame were sound (which is pretty much what you want in a salvage project), so the necessary work on them was mostly cleanup. The key word being “mostly.” Mike’s plan called for a streamlined, cleaner look. Getting rid of the little scrapes and bruises was a great start. While the skeleton and heart were separated, Ballew shaved and molded the chassis with just that in mind. That set the stage for the cool custom Road King that you see before you.
The inverted fork set was restored to its former glory and kept its job but the bump absorbers out back were another matter. Mike pulled the old springs and valves for an upgrade, healed the road rash, and reinstalled the reinvigorated rear shocks.
Up until this point the work was mostly a matter of tweaks, albeit very involved ones. That all changed with the wheels. Changing in a 23-inch wheel to a stock bagger frame tends to be that way, provided you’re the sort of rider who likes having his motorcycle handle properly. Ballew changed over to a stylish EgoTripp wheel set, with matching dual rotors up front too. He saw no reason to change the back rotor since the bags hide it anyway. All of the calipers are Harley-Davidson, but the fronts wear EgoTripp covers.
A lot of people like a smooth, shaved rear and apparently so does Mike. Just take a look at what he did with the Corbin saddlebags and back fender he applied to this Road King. Just like with the skeleton, he streamlined the skin (front, rear, and sides) to match. Uniting the profile through judicious cutting and molding was the biggest difficulty the shop faced with this rescue operation and they met the shit out of it. Mike rid himself of the Harley gas tank for a Wernimont fuel box capped with a matching dash. However, that made the stock seat look like a sour note in a symphony, which is why he re-shaped the butt rest to better match its new surroundings.
A lot of times, when someone “sanitizes” a Harley, they go so far that the bike looks more custom than stock—that’s usually part of the plan. Less stock means more individuality, right? Mike didn’t take it that far and he likes it that way. His idea was to simplify a Road King without losing its Harley-ness, if that makes any sense. Maybe the lighting and controls explain it better than I can. By leaving the H-D controls and Screamin’ Eagle handlebar on this machine, he preserved part of what he originally liked about the bagger, much like how he left the 110-inch Twin Cam motor unchanged. Losing the bulky lighting in favor of Corbin signals, taillight, and license mount disposes of the bulky stock cousins The Motor Company insists on using on its Road King models.
In its old life, the Road King was more of a good guy, with plenty of shiny chrome to announce its presence in the light of day. Death, however, is kind of a downer; just ask anyone whose ever come back from it. Perhaps the machine insisted on a darker look to match its mood. Or it could just be because Mike wanted it darker in its new reign. Either way, he told painter Danny Morgan he wanted black, black, and more black.
I love a great comeback (unless it’s to one of my jokes) and Mike made a great one when he gave this beautiful machine a second life. Hopefully karma is going over the thieves that ended the first one with a chainsaw and jumper cables. •