Going Professional: A Harley flathead bobber from a shed builder


There’s often a little trepidation after we hear from a {custom} builder that we don’t know. Is their work any good, or are they a chief instance of the Dunning-Kruger impact? However we weren’t fairly ready for a way exhausting our jaws would hit the ground, when this Harley-Davidson WLC flathead bobber landed in our inbox.

It comes from Slobodan Cirkovic—a Croatian ex-pat residing within the UK. And though that is the primary time we’re seeing his work, he’s been plodding away in his workshop in Corby, simply north-east of Northampton, for a very long time already.

1943 Harley-Davidson WLC flathead bobber by BobC Custom Motorcycles
The story behind this bobber is a fairly a saga, because it was the catalyst that helped Slobodan step up from tinkerer to severe {custom} builder. It began fourteen years in the past, with a 1943 Canadian army-issue Harley WLC engine discovered on eBay. “I needed to start out engaged on the bike, however I knew I would want satisfactory house, good instruments and numerous spare components,” he tells us.

“I made a decision to make some adjustments to my storage and use it as a workshop. That storage continues to be in use as my most important workshop, and it has produced some wonderful bikes through the years.”

1943 Harley-Davidson WLC flathead bobber by BobC Custom Motorcycles
Slobodan first constructed a metal desk and a jig, then purchased a lathe, pipe bender and different necessities. Utilizing a pile of metal tubing, and metal plates salvaged from a scrapyard, he began piecing the bike collectively.

“I welded every part collectively, which was more difficult greater than I assumed it will be,” he says. “It was the primary Harley I used to be engaged on, so it was a steep studying curve. I received’t lie—lining every part up was a nightmare.”

1943 Harley-Davidson WLC flathead bobber by BobC Custom Motorcycles
Then, because of a mixture of private circumstances and unavailability of components, the bobber mission stalled. Slobodan didn’t decelerate although—he stored constructing café racers and scramblers, and confirmed them off at native occasions just like the Bike Shed present in London. All whereas the Harley sat quietly within the nook of his workshop.

The spark was reignited when the UK’s Kickback {custom} bike competitors rolled round final 12 months. Slobodan rushed the construct over the end line and took it to the present, the place it was nicely acquired. However he noticed room for enchancment—so he stripped the bike down, hacked up the body he’d constructed and began over.

1943 Harley-Davidson WLC flathead bobber by BobC Custom Motorcycles
With a transparent imaginative and prescient of how he needed the mission to end up, Slobodan put all his focus into constructing the bike you’re now. Step one was to throw away every part however the steering neck and decrease engine mount from the unique body. Fortunately he had materials left over from the primary construct.

“For the body,” he explains, “I initially used Vary Rover subframe tubes that I received from the corporate I labored for, after we stopped manufacturing of that mannequin. There have been many leftover tubes, so I requested my staff chief if I may have some. After I determined to get again to the Harley mission, I discovered these tubes in a bag underneath my workbench—a bit rusty, however nonetheless good.”

1943 Harley-Davidson WLC flathead bobber by BobC Custom Motorcycles
Slobodan had since offered his pipe bender, so he constructed the curves of this body by reducing, welding and smoothing every part. Further care needed to be taken, as a result of the Harley’s oil is saved within the new high tube. A brand new jig was constructed too, to be sure that this body was more true than the final one.

The rear triangle makes use of slimmer tubing, welded to metal axle plates. The largest problem although, was constructing the varied engine mounting plates. There needed to be sufficient clearance for the rear wheel and chain, and Slobodan needed to be sure that the varied drivetrain elements had been correctly matched up.

1943 Harley-Davidson WLC flathead bobber by BobC Custom Motorcycles
This previous Harley truly runs with a combined bag of components. The 45.12 ci flathead engine sits middle stage, fed by a Linkert M88 carb and exhaling by way of a home made chrome steel exhaust. However the transmission is a four-speed unit from a shovelhead, with the open belt drive coming from Belt Drives Ltd.

A bunch of different bits are sprinkled in between, from {custom} brackets and covers to handmade copper oil traces. Slobodan even made his personal foot boards, including wooden trim to imitate the look of a yacht’s deck.

1943 Harley-Davidson WLC flathead bobber by BobC Custom Motorcycles
Up entrance is a Harley-Davidson springer front-end, however even that would go onto the bike untouched; it was in such a nasty state that it wanted severe massaging to put in. The bike rolls on 16” laced wheels, wrapped in classic rubber and kitted with a combined bag of braking components.

The entrance brake makes use of a Harley disc and a classic AJP trials bike brake caliper, mounted with a {custom} bracket and spacers. The rear brake setup is from Exile cycles, and makes use of a mix rear sprocket and disc. Sure, this classic Harley bobber has disc brakes.

1943 Harley-Davidson WLC flathead bobber by BobC Custom Motorcycles
Up high is a custom-made gas tank, fabricated to consider the form of the engine, and with hidden cutouts to deal with bits just like the ignition coils. Slobodan constructed a {custom} seat too—however then tossed it, choosing a classic Brooks bicycle seat mounted on springs as an alternative.

It looks as if numerous effort simply to sacrifice consolation, however Slobodan explains that his largest objective was conserving the general design as svelte as attainable. “I’m all the time the man who chooses the exhausting manner, by no means the straightforward manner. For me, it was essential to make a smaller, good trying bike with easy traces, with out utilizing many aftermarket elements.”

1943 Harley-Davidson WLC flathead bobber by BobC Custom Motorcycles
A set of custom-built handlebars, outfitted with brown leather-based grips, Okay-Tech controls and solely essentially the most important of switches, equipment out the cockpit. Eager eyes will discover a headlight bracket too, though the sunshine itself isn’t fitted right here. Slobodan’s not in a rush to make the bike totally street authorized, and desires to check trip and tune it a bit extra first.

The one factor Slobodan didn’t do all by himself, is the fetching blue paint job. However every part else was his work—proper all the way down to all of the small brass items that got here off his lathe.

1943 Harley-Davidson WLC flathead bobber by BobC Custom Motorcycles
“Folks is not going to consider how difficult this mission was,” he provides, “and the way rapidly it was finished on a extremely small funds.” We consider him. And searching on the completed mission, it’s exhausting to pigeonhole Slobodan as a shed builder.

His pals agree, in order that they’ve been goading him into turning his pastime right into a enterprise. He’s calling himself BobC Customized Bikes, and if he retains this up, it’ll be a reputation to observe.

BobC Customized Bikes Instagram | Photos by Del Hickey

1943 Harley-Davidson WLC flathead bobber by BobC Custom Motorcycles


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