Bike Reviews.

Yellow Pearl

The chances of jagging a day with a clear blue sky in Townsville over the past six months have been slim, very slim indeed. Yet in the middle of the one of the worst tropical wet seasons on record, that delivered one of the worst cyclones also on record, the clouds finally parted early one Saturday morning and Angela Donovan finally wheeled her bike out of the shed for a few photos.

From a cosmetic point of view, apart from a few nuts and bolts, the pearl yellow paint on the tins and gloss black frame are about all that remain of the original stock Fatboy that Angela picked up back in 2006. From a performance point of view, it has been given a few modifications that get the TwinCam-88 producing a hearty torque package along with a tad more horsepower, ideal for the rides around Far North Queensland.

Angela and her husband Leeroy run Townsville Custom Cycles on Ingham Road, Townsville and are well known in the region for their service, repairs and performance upgrades.

“We took over the shop in April 2006,” Leeroy began. “We thought of building a flagship bike that would highlight our workshop capabilities something we could put in the showroom for a while then eventually sell. At the same time Angela was getting sick of being a pillion behind me so when I asked her what sort of bike she would like, she promptly replied a pearl yellow ‘Fatboy’ and that’s how we ended up with that bike.”

While Leeroy tends to the bikes at the shop, Angela fills in her days as a Registered Nurse working as the Clinical Nurse at the Mater Hospital, Cardiac Thoracic Surgery Division (Hearts) in Townsville.

“It’s a great bike to ride,” Angela added. “Now it’s my pride a joy and I’m in no hurry to sell it. There are still a few more things that I’d like to do to it,” she smiled.

Leeroy’s first introduction to custom bikes was back in the UK when he was seven years old helping his uncle rub-back the tank on his old Sunbeam.

“They were sort of the Pommy’s version of a Harley back then,” Leeroy recalled. “I was hooked on motorcycles after that. I did my apprenticeship as a mechanic then got involved in drag racing up north and in 1990 I bought my first Fatboy. I loved them at first sight,” he added. “Naturally I had to tinker with it to get it running at its best.”

“With Angela’s Fatboy we wanted to broaden the torque range as it didn’t have the torquey snap that we’re use to. It also had the annoying habit of farting and popping on deceleration something that most stock Harley’s experience around this area,” Leeroy explained. “What a lot of people don’t realise is that we have quite a diverse range of operating environments here in Far North Queensland from right on sea level here in town to 320 meters above sea level with a far dryer dry atmosphere an hour and a half away in Charters Towers to the west.”

“However you notice it even more when you head north towards Cairns, its a great ride and if you care to detour up the Palmerston Highway or head up to Mount Bartle Frere which incidentally is the highest mountain in Queensland at an elevation of 1,622 meters and the atmospheric changes are extreme.”

“That’s a big ask on any engine to maintain the optimum engine tune through conditions like that”, Leeroy continued.

“To counteract the constant changes in the environment we chose the Thundermax Auto Tune ignition module,” Leeroy revealed. “Firstly because it increases horsepower, torque, and fuel economy, secondly because there is no need to dyno tune the bike and thirdly because it adapts to aftermarket upgrades such as exhaust and intake modifications and cams easily. Basically the Thundermax Auto Tune constantly assesses how the bike is running and makes necessary tuning fine adjustments while the bikes is running.”

Nevertheless, probably another important feature is its flexibility later on when minor changes such as high-flow air cleaner, pipes or major changes like cams, heads, pistons, etc are performed to the bike the system will get the engine right in tune with a simple download of a base map from Thundermax’s huge library of engine modifications and combinations. Once you load a good base map in, the AutoTune feature will further refine and adjust the map for even better performance and ridability.

As well as the Thundermax Leeroy swapped the standard HD cam for an Andrews 37H Cam along with a set of Andrews adjustable pushrods. This hot street cam is designed to broaden the torque range between 2200-5600 RPM while still retaining a smooth idle.

“It’s really important to use the adjustable pushrods when you install these type of cams so you get the engine tune spot on,” Leeroy explained. “If you’ve got everything right with the tune it’s easily possible to get 80 plus horsepower at the rear wheel, with this set up.”

“Basically what we’ve done to Angela’s bike is pretty well our signature ‘budget’ performance upgrade,” Leeroy volunteered. “That includes an oil cooler, high-flow air cleaner, set of performance pipes, the Thundermax Auto Tuner and Andrew’s cam. What you end up with is a bike that really performs well through a diverse range of conditions, which is both economical and reliable,” Leeroy stated.

“Sure we can do even more to the bike if customers want, but this a good economical starting point,” he added.

Now they had the bike cracking down the highway, it was time to give it cracking look and Angela started custom look with neat set of Performance Machine’s (PM) Heathen wheels with matching brake rotors. She then added a PM billet pulley along with their hub kits and HD front and rear axle covers.

The standard amber turn signals were replaced with smoke lenses and a Kuryakyn low profile smoke LED taillight, which is damn bright. To finish the rear end off a streamlined curved lay-down license plate mount was added.

Angela chose a flamed theme for the derby and timing cover and continued the theme through to include the floorboards, rear foot pegs and handgrips. All the standard cables were replaced with brilliant silver finish diamondback braided cables and Wind Vest smoked shield fitted above the huge chrome headlight with the optional trim rim.

Finally getting a functional air-cleaner that matched Angela’s theme is a task given to cool looking Roland Sands Billet air-cleaner.

“This open element five slot design allows optimum airflow without compromising the bike’s style,” Leeroy revealed. “They’ve got a well engineered back plate which is designed to promote smooth airflow in the throttle body and they’ve neatly hidden the internal crank case breathers as well. The actual element is merely a tried and proven K&N performance air-filter.”

Leeroy is first to admit the project has grown into far more than a simple ‘budget’ performance upgrade bike for his showroom floor as he and Angela had originally planned.

Judging by the wear marks on the bottom of the Vance & Hines side shots Angela’s not afraid to wind on the wick or lay her ‘Yellow Pearl’ into a tight corner either.

“It’s a truly great bike to ride,” Angela concluded. “And, its awesome to get out riding with Leeroy and our friends on the weekends, that’s when its not raining, she smiled looking at the sky.”

Words and Photography by Stonefeather

September 22, 2011