During one of my favorite rallies of the year, the ROT Rally in Austin, Texas, I rode past a certain group of baggers coming towards me in the oncoming lane with one in particular that made me do a double-take. Craggie Polley and his cronies were cruising down Decker Lane, just a few hundred feet from ROT Rally HQ, and as I was riding to town for some world-class barbecue, I realized my hunger pangs would have to wait. I pulled my Arlen Ness Victory Vision over, turned it around as fast as I could, pointed it in the direction of the pack of baggers, and laid rubber to asphalt.
You see, as a magazine editor, my favorite way to find a feature bike worthy of these pages is to happen upon it accidentally. Whether in a parking lot, riding down the street, or at one of the local dealerships, it's the thrill of the hunt that makes featuring it that much more enjoyable. Such was the case, when I rode past Craggie and his pals.
After catching Craggie, I motioned for him to pull over so I could get a closer look. The guy must have thought I was a total nutjob since I was frantically flailing my arms and doing my best impression of taking a picture while pointing to the Baggers logo embroidered on my work shirt. After about a mile of making a fool of myself, Craggie and company finally veered right.
"Have you ever had your bike featured in a magazine?" I shouted over the idling engines. "Nope," he replied. That was all I needed to know to set up an appointment to shoot Craggie's Street Glide. After a few minutes chatting with Craggie and his partners, I took down his info and told him I'd be ringing him at some point during the rally.
Velocity Motorsportz, in Tomball, Texas, is co-owned by Orlando, Tom Tucker, and Fredrick Hudgens, with Orlando handling the design, fabrication, and general bike building. You have seen Velocity's work in Baggers before. Remember the Green Goblin from the July 2011 issue? And you'll probably be seeing much more from Orlando and his partners in future issues. Velocity is a pretty solid operation, and that's just how Craggie and Orlando came to meet.
Fast forward to the date of the shoot, I spotted an ideal location just off the beaten path near the rally's grounds. Craggie and his boys rolled up in a pack with the Glide's builder from Velocity Motorsportz, Orlando Aviles, in tow. Orlando and I started chatting while I was squirming around on the ground trying to capture the perfect shot. I asked him about Velocity Motorsportz and how his shop came to be while I photographed Craggie's Street Glide-I'm quite the multitasker.
It was around the time of the 2011 Lone Star Rally when fate would come knocking on the doors of both Craggie and Orlando. While en route to the rally, Craggie's saddlebag flew off his bike, so he rolled into Velocity Motorsportz in search of a replacement, but Orlando talked Craggie into one of Velocity's stretched bag kits. Well, Orlando must have quite the silver tongue since he was able to talk Craggie into a whole lot more. Who knew that rolling into a shop looking for a rear saddlebag, one would leave with plans for a completely new bike. Lo and behold, the two became friends immediately.
First, the skeleton of the bike was shod in some new clothing courtesy of Bagger Nation's stretched gas tank and flush-mount cap, Sinister Industries' front fender made specifically for huge front wheels, and Velocity's own stretched saddlebags and rear fender combo cleaning up the rear. A Le Pera seat and Battistinis footrests were then strategically placed to give Craggie and his Glide the ergonomic compatibility Orlando worked hard to achieve. The big wheel wasn't decided on until a little back and forth from Craggie and Orlando.
After the shoot, I wrapped out with Orlando about the build process. I liked the Metalsport 26-inch front wheel in between the fork legs, so I asked him why he built a bagger with such a large front wheel. He mentioned Craggie's initial indecisiveness to go with that wheel. "He ended up saying he was going to go with a 26 then he'd change his mind and go back to a 23. He then said he was going to stay with a 21-inch," Orlando recalls. After flip-flopping, Orlando made him an offer to put the 26 on that Craggie couldn't refuse. In order to get the Metalsport wheel to fit, Orlando had to rake the neck out and install a set of Hawg Halters' (HHI) raked triple trees to give the Glide a new rake of 45 degrees, up from its stock 26. Of course, a new HHI six-piston caliper and larger floating rotor was installed to get the bigger wheel/tire combo to stop.
After all the mods had been made as far as parts and fabwork were concerned, it was time for Velocity's own in-house painter, Erik Contreras, to work his magic with an airbrush and paintgun. Erik laid a sparkle silver and HOK Pagan Gold base with some very intricate airbrushing and graphics. Once the paint dried, Craggie picked up his bike and rolled off into the sunset. But he'd soon return.
It's true what they say about bike builders and their customers: there's a bond that forms between some of them that can never be broken. Orlando and Craggie now ride together on a consistent basis and have become really good friends from the time they met when Craggie was desperate for a new saddlebag. Strange how destiny unites us, isn't it?