Unlike most jobs where a person punches in at 9 a.m. and clocks out at 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and avoids any thoughts of work on his or her time off, being an editor at a motorcycle magazine is a 24/7 commitment. We always have motorcycles on the brain; they dominate everything we do. Everywhere we go we look for motorcycles or motorcycle-related items, such as thumbing through every magazine that features a two-wheeled, V-Twin-powered machine while we’re picking up a gallon of milk at the grocery store. Even when we attempt to take a break from the motorcycle madness, it seemed to follow us.
Take the raked and stretched black-cherry chopper you see here. Two years ago over Memorial Day weekend, we took a trip down to San Diego for a weekend of sun, sand, and sangria. The goal of the weekend was to not talk about, think about, and-if possible-not look at motorcycles. This was a weekend to recharge our creative minds and fuel up on fun. Everything was going great; the first night passed without the slightest utterance of the “m” word. But everything changed on Saturday afternoon, when we heard music blaring out of the backyard of a house party down the block. Being the inquisitive, self-imposing animals we are, we wandered out to find the location of the shindig and join in the festivities.
As we rounded the corner leading to the house, the wailing guitar riffs and intoxicated giggling of sorority girls had us entranced. We had almost made it past the front gate when, off in the corner of the front lawn, a glimmer caught our attention. Like bass spotting the flickering blade of a spinner-bait, we had to explore. As we wove in and out of the sea of people, we chased the shimmering light. Finally pushing through the last wave of people, we reached the source of the fascinating light. It was the mid-afternoon sun reflecting off a Mean Street super-fat and super-long, inverted, Wide Glide frontend.
Crawling all over the bike (with our eyes, of course), we noticed that the champagne-colored frame (the color of the bike at that time) wasn’t just a regular Softail frame with a long frontend bolted to it. No, this frame was designed for that high-neck, raked-out look that was so popular in the ’60s and ’70s. The backbone appeared to be stretched some 5 to 7 inches, with at least another 6 inches added to the downtubes. The neck was raked out some 40-plus degrees, and the raked trees helped pitch the front wheel out far enough that the lower framerails sat parallel to the ground. No front fender, 8-inch risers holding a set of no-nonsense V-shaped handlebars, a RevTech motor tied to a Primo 3-inch open belt drive-this bike had that classic late-’60s/early-’70s chopper look with modern features. Someone-either the owner or the builder, or both-knew what they were doing when this bike was built. And like that, the no-motorcycle policy for the weekend was tossed out the window; we had to find the owner.
After several hours of interrogating just about every female in the vicinity and questioning the manhood of every drunk fratboy who claimed the bad-ass ride was his, we were about to give up and let this chopper go when we heard the familiar sound of a set of straight pipes coming to life. Rushing to the spot where we had originally found the chop, our hearts dropped when we saw it was gone. Fortunately, luck was on our side-but it wasn’t on the owner’s side. Apparently San Diego’s finest didn’t hold the same appreciation for loud pipes as we did and lit the owner up before he could even reach the end of the block. Never ones to interfere with an ongoing investigation, we patiently waited as the owner pleaded his case to the officer. After a few minutes of some heated debate, the cop kicked rocks and rolled out with a pissed-off look on his face.
We introduced ourselves to the owner and quickly learned that apparently luck was on his side after all. “Hey, man, what’s going on? My name’s Oscar Marin,” he said. “Did you see that cop? He wanted to impound the bike. He was so pissed when I told him I was a captain with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. I guess he was in the military at one point as well and just couldn’t bring himself to take the bike to write me up.” Oscar then began to fill us in on the list of violations the cop wanted to write him up for: loud pipes, no turn signals, no registration, out-of-state plates…the list went on, but we were more concerned with who built the bike.
“Well, originally I’m from Miami, FL. Back in ’02 before I was sent out here to Camp Pendleton, San Diego, I had this bike built by a shop called Boneshakers Choppers in Miami. I had met the guys at the shop a long time ago, so when I decided I wanted a custom chopper I didn’t even think of going to anyone else,” Oscar said. “I knew exactly what I wanted, so I started collecting parts. I picked up a Rolling Thunder frame, gas tank, rear fender, and hand controls from Eddie Trotta’s Thunder Cycle Design. I also bought a set of Whisky Bars from Choppers Inc. and 21-inch and 18×8.5-inch Pounder wheels from Xtreme Machine, and then I got a hold of a RevTech 100ci motor and six-speed trans. I was at Boneshakers every day either dropping off parts or just helping out wherever I could. We’re all drinking buddies, so it was more than just a business transaction.”
Oscar went on to tell us that the build took about five months, and when the bike was finished he spent all summer tearing up South Beach, specifically Ocean Dr. At the end of August of ’03 he was transferred out to San Diego, and naturally the bike came with him. As we continued to talk, we expressed our interest in featuring the bike, and Oscar jumped at the opportunity.
For the next several months we unsuccessfully tried to coordinate schedules to get the bike photographed. Then in September of ’04 Oscar was scheduled to leave the sun and sand of San Diego for a six-month stint in even sunnier and sandier Iraq. However, before shipping out for a little place called Fallujah, Oscar and his bike headed back to beautiful Miami for a two-week pre-departure party. While stationed at Camp Fallujah, Oscar’s bike was once again in the caring hands of the Boneshaker’s crew for a mild makeover. Over his six-month tour, Oscar corresponded with the head Boneshaker, John, via e-mail as to what changes he wanted.
While Oscar was out wreaking havoc in Fallujah, all he could think about was riding his chop along the Miami and San Diego coastlines. Meanwhile, John and the skeleton crew were busy tearing down the chopper and prepping it for a black-cherry and black-ghost-flame paint job. They also crafted a set of one-off pipes, cleaned up the handlebars by running a La Briola Jockey shift and internal throttle and connecting the front brakes to the brake pedal. Last of all, to further enhance the rigid chopper feel, the traditional Softail shocks were tossed and replaced with a pair of solid steel rods that Boneshakers fabricated.
When Oscar returned to Miami from Iraq in March of ’05, the first thing he did was run over to Boneshakers to pick up his semi-new ride and hit the strip. A few weeks later he was back in San Diego with the bike, and he phoned us to arrange a shoot. Needless to say, we weren’t about to let the bike slip away from our cameras again and made arrangements to photograph the bike at the HOT BIKE Super Show that June. The photo shoot went off without a hitch, and Oscar informed us that he was in the process of selling the bike. About two weeks after the photo shoot we received an e-mail from Oscar stating that the bike had been sold and he was in the process of procuring parts for another chopper.
As you may have noticed, we said we’d shot the bike in June of ’04, and it is now finally running in the magazine more than a year later. While we tried to get the bike in much sooner, it just didn’t pan out. Oscar has been very understanding and very patient through the whole process. We’d like to say thanks-and we promise that if the next one is as cool as this one, we won’t drag our feet getting it into the mag.
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