For those of you who aren't James Bond geeks like me, The Property of a Lady was an Ian Fleming short story that was the basis for 1983's film Octopussy. Aside from having the most hilarious titles ever, this Bond film was centered around some cool custom jewelry (a Faberge egg) and a Soviet nuke (not made by Faberge). Like the egg in the movie, this jewel is also the property of a lady-Jen Shade. Unlike the movie, however, no cheesy villains were harmed in the making of this custom machine.
While Jen put in a lot of work on this project, she had some expert help from a serious professional: Ed Kerr. As many of you know, Ed has been building award-winning custom motorcycles for more than 40 years. Always humble, he has carved out a place for himself as a visionary that stands alongside some of the world's top builders. We pinned down both collaborators in one sitting for an interview as soon as the ether wore off, of course.
Baggers: What shape was this King in when you found it?
Ed Kerr: We found this Road King at a dealership in Central Pennsylvania while looking at another bike. It was in good shape with only 9,000 miles. It was yellow with black leather hard bags and was a color only Steelers fans would admire.
B: Why did you build it? What was the inspiration?
Jen Shade: As a female, there are not a lot of options on a showroom floor unless you like purple or pink, and that is just not who I am. I wanted to create a bike that was in line with my character and one I can grow with. Initially, with Ed's help, I was able to achieve a custom look without it costing a ton of cash and since we painted it with Krylon, eventually I can change it without a huge financial hit. You know how we women like to change our minds!
B: What was the most difficult part of it all?
EK: Assembly is always a challenge, but the interesting part came when painting the accessories. Rather than drive to a shop, we painted the parts on a rabbit hutch while dodging wind gusts! Sometimes you just use what you've you got.
B: Why did you have to paint the accessories on a rabbit hutch instead of going to a shop? How did you compensate/deal with the wind gusts?
JS: I don't know if it was because it was a nice day or being too lazy to drive. We had a good day, clear shot, not too much wind, we got lucky. It was a nice day and we saved some money.
B: What was the design plan going in?
EK: To make a neat bagger. Jen wanted extended bags and a matching rear fender. We had a friend stripe it. She used pieces of cut glass on it to help it shine and define it as a woman's custom bagger.
B: What is/are the most interesting aspect(s) of the bike?
JS: I love the long lower profile. The extended bags mean I can fit all of my shoes and make-up for a weekend without having to ask the guys to carry any of it (another girl thing). The Krylon paint (less than $400 for body, stripe, and stones) means I can touch up a scuff myself and repaint the patio furniture at the same time! And ... the paint with added crystals says, "I can still be a woman while kicking it with the men!"
B: If you were doing it over again is there anything you'd do differently?
JS: I don't think so. For a first real build, one may want to have a little more money in the bag before you start. We did what we wanted to do with the money we had, made it into something no one else has.
B: What do you like most about your bike?
JS: I love the way it looks, I love that it didn't cost a fortune to get it there. Having an imagination and working with someone like Ed who knows how to make it happen. It looks like something a woman would ride without looking girly pink or like a guy's custom bike.
B: What about this bike makes it your style? How is who you are translated into the finished bike?
JS: Through the gem work. It was an education for me. Women are often not told how to customize a bike. I come from an artist's background and we took to catalogs and worked through what to do and how to get it done. It makes it mine because I put my hands on it, getting furious when things in the garage didn't fit the way they were supposed to. The whole process was a real education from start to finish.
B: What did you do on the project?
JS: I picked all the parts. I made a lot of the more cosmetic decisions, picked the paint, colors, striper, put the stones on myself. Blacked-out some of the motor. I had a hand in a lot of it with Ed's guidance on the tiller.
B: How did you attach the crystals?
JS: Quick-dry jewelry glue. You've got a pair of tweezers and one shot to get it right. I didn't design it around the crystals. I let the stripers do the striping and didn't know what they were going to come up with. I didn't want it girly curly and I didn't want it super masculine. When the striping was done, I placed them on to accentuate it.
B: What's your riding background?
JS: I grew up riding quads and racing quads. I didn't get on the road until about 10 years ago. That's when I traded in my enduros for my first street bike. From there I went from a Katana to a Harley. I loved the Road King but it was too tall, too this, too that. Then I met Ed. Now I don't know if I'll ever have a bike that isn't custom one way or another.
B: Why a Road King?
JS: We lowered the front 3 inches, the back 2 inches, and I was home. I love the way it feels, the way it moves, sounds, and handles now. It took awhile to get there. Don't accept it for what it is when it comes off the showroom floor. That was one of the big things I learned about customs. B