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"Baggers", September 1, 2012



WORDS: Jennifer Chesak

PHOTO: Mike Calabro

Scott Heyden’s newest bike pays homage to ’60s-era hot rod cars and old-fashioned bobber cycles. Builder Hals Harley-Davidson in New Berlin, Wisconsin, started with Scott’s 2010 Harley-Davidson FLHTP (a cop bike) and morphed it into a retro ride sporting modern muscle.

“When I decided to do this build, it was the right frame for us to start with,” Scott says. The FLHTP wasn’t that old and was in great shape since — as a police bike — it had been sidelined during brutal Wisconsin winters. “I liked that the seat was Air Ride,” Scott continues. “For long-distance riding, it’s actually very comfortable. And the seat is basically all we kept from the original.”

And man, is it some seat. Made of alligator and buffalo hide, it features a fringed skirt that flies in the wind. “The people who’ve seen it so far have gotten a kick out of it,” he says. “People have ogled.” Scott included fringe on the bags, too, but not just because he’s obsessed with the ’60s look. “The fringe prevents dust,” he says, which can be a problem on his beef cattle ranch in Gays Mills, Wisconsin, a ranch he simply runs for the fun of it.

“I was used to working seven days a week,” Scott says of the businesses he ran before retirement. “I had to do something.” In Mequon, Wisconsin, just north of Milwaukee, Scott had owned a retail garden center, nursery, and landscape business. Now he sells bulls for breeding in addition to spending more time on his bikes.

“I ride all over wherever I can, just using a bike as a daily vehicle,” he says. He saddles up on his Road Glide most often, but has taken his customized Harley FLHTP on several long rides already, the first of which was to Biketoberfest in Daytona, Florida. “I picked it up at Hals when they weren’t even done with it,” he says. “I cranked like 500 miles on it at home in Wisconsin for a test run and then drove to Florida in two days, doing 600 miles a day.”

His new ride garnered plenty of compliments from other bikers and builders, thanks to its streamlined look. With the blinkers inside the headlights, less cabling, no fairing and no sound system, Scott’s bike has a rather tidy appearance. “You don’t have the clutter,” he says. “I only have one gauge. That’s why it looks so sleek. All those things that are normally on a bike aren’t there and we get a sleek, fast hot rod.”

The fast in the equation comes from the gutted Harley police bike transmission and the addition of a Baker seven-speed. “We kept the outside portion of the Harley tranny,” Scott says. “Not too many people have a seven-speed, which is a little quicker at the start and delivers a little more at the top end if you are cruising on the highway.” The custom tranny also sports a suicide shifter that reads, “GO – BABY – GO!” The shifter pays tribute to the old ’67 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Eleanor, which featured a nitrous button with the same phrase.

The loud comes from a customized Rinehart exhaust. “They chopped off the back end and made a special plate to reroute the exhaust to come out the side of the bags,” explains Scott. “For the frontend, you can’t buy things like that, it had to be made.”

With all of the revamping completed by Hals H-D, the bike is hardly a straightforward Harley anymore. Scott’s careful to say, however, that he likes Harley and that the bike was built tough with good Harley bones.

That toughness will come in handy when Scott puts his bike through its paces out west. He’s moving to the Redding, California, area for his “real” retirement, which will include a slew of long-distance rides. “California is a nice starting point for anywhere I would like to go,” Scott explains. “We are going to move outside the city and have a lot of land for privacy and for animals. I’m not stuck in Wisconsin for a job. And there are days where I’m doing the ranching in a couple of feet of snow and it’s 20 degrees below.”

Where will he go? “My buddies and I do thousands of miles, sometimes a thousand in a day. I’m not one to stick to any schedule,” he says. “We may have a general idea of where we are going or when we want to get there, but if we see something interesting...” The rule is “GO – BABY – GO!”

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