Way back when horsepower involved an actual horse, someone may (or may not) have asked Michelangelo, “How do you sculpt an elephant?” To which he may (or may not) have replied, “That’s easy. I find a block of marble and cut away everything that doesn’t look like an elephant.” The veracity of that anecdote isn’t nearly as important as its moral, though—build with what you need. Everything else is extra baggage.
Bryan Fuller and his mystery customer G.E. embraced that philosophy for this sweet ’69 Electra Glide. The bike blends stock nostalgia, aftermarket looks, and modern performance in an appealing package without losing its classic roots in the process.
By the time Bryan’s shop, Fuller Hot Rods, got its mitts on G.E.’s machine, though, some of the groundwork had already been laid by Jimmy Slim. That would be the pony power part of the equation. The Electra Glide’s venerable shovel mill was pretty spry for its age thanks to the S&S big bore kit, carb, and air cleaner Jimmy used to muscle it up and give it plenty of room to breathe. That’s what really brings this bike into the modern era and lets it keep up with its Twin Cam–powered descendants. Throwing a set of V-Twin fishtail pipes into the mix helped too while also giving the Glide just the right touch of classic custom. None of this is to say the bike was trouble free, though. Old motors mean old motor issues. Harley’s Shovelheads weren’t exactly famous for being leak-proof. Knowing that, Bryan turned to Arp Fasteners to lock down the motor and trans from weeping crude. Or, as he put it: “It had a nice motor already but we went through it and added fasteners where needed. Slims had already built it and it ran like a top and pulls really good. The big thing for us was getting rid of leaks and adding in the baker transmission, putting in a drive clutch.”
Most of the other changes were cosmetic. According to Bryan, “In typical G.E. fashion, he didn’t like the bars. We started there and with the seat, then the leaks. After that, it was tearing it all apart after Sturgis. He likes them finished but I’m a shop guy. I’m not bothered by the oil, dirt, etc. He likes his bikes on the clean side. Basically, it snowballed like they all do.” Much of that snowballing involved chrome, chrome, and chrome. “You’d be amazed how much chrome was there,” says Bryan. ”We took a mainly stock bike and re-chromed it. There were so many parts, it was kind of like tearing apart a car.” In fact, that was the biggest hurdle Fuller had to overcome. Not just the sheer size and amount of parts to chrome but also trying to mix and match some of the aftermarket parts to keep the looks in line.
In the end, though, Bryan Fuller seems pretty happy with the job he and his shop did on G.E.’s Electra Glide. “It’s grown on me as one of my favorite baggers that we’ve done,” Bryan told me. “The classic ’60s-era stuff runs better than the ’50s bikes. It’s like the ’60s-era muscle cars that took off: with modern technology it becomes a fun, reliable bike on the highway.”
Considering he grew up tinkering on bicycles and dirt bikes, this should not be surprising to hear. After he went out on his own, he was jazzed to play on motorcycles. “Old American bikes are similar to the hot rods I’m familiar with,” Bryan recalls. “Now I’ve had three old bikes and I’m completely hooked. We’re doing a cool skinny S&S reproduction knuckle for the same customer now. We usually do stripped-down projects. Every time it’s a learning experience. You get exposed to different ways things work and fit. Switching between countries, years, two or four wheels, that all lets you find a lot of tricks for your creative toolbox.”
Having those tricks to work with may or may not help you turn a brick into an elephant, but it certainly lets you take away all the extraneous parts from a stock machine to tailor it into a custom car or motorcycle.
|Shop Name||Fuller Hot Rods|
|Fabrication||Fuller Hot Rods|
|Assembly||Nick Erickson/Field Farrar|
|Build Time||3 months|
|Special Features||Big Bore Kit|
|Wheels, Tires, and Brakes|
|Caliper||H-D drum brake|
|Caliper||H-D drum brake|
|Color||House of Kolor Black|
|Handlebars||Custom/Fuller Hot Rods|
|Hand Controls/Grips||H-D/Hippy Killer|
|Seat||Ryan Wasson/Anvil Customs|