A BLACK-HEARTED VILLAIN
WORD: Jeff Holt
PHOTO: Tim Sutton
I’m pretty sure Arturo Sanchez wouldn’t have titled this story after an ’80s kid’s movie, but he did characterize this bike build as never ending. I’m hoping that if we ever meet in person, he’ll just let me off with a severe concussion for my choice of titles.
He bought the Harley FLHR brand-new in April 2008, just four days before the Laughlin River Run, then broke it in on the hot desert roads of California and Nevada on the way to said event. He shopped around that run for chrome accessories and ideas. At some point during all of the gambling, drinking, and general mayhem that goes with bikes and casinos, he browsed the vendor stalls searching for inspiration. He found it in the form of PM’s Heathen wheels and the color black. “I realized I didn’t wanna be like everybody else all in chrome so I chose to go mostly black!” he recalls. And once you go black...
Well, let’s just say that once he started tweaking his bagger, Arturo never went back. Very soon after the run he got down to business in his garage. He stripped the bike and started ordering parts, expedited somewhat with the help of a friend. “I owe big props to my homeboy, Tom Foster, for hooking me up with his connections,” he said. The 96-inch V-twin heart stayed largely stock, although he did optimize breathing courtesy of a Vance & Hines exhaust, Performance Machine air cleaner, and a Power Commander.
This being a home-garage project, and Arturo not having a frame jig in his pocket, the chassis retained its stock configuration too. Although he didn’t change the frame he did alter the profile by lowering the bike with a shorter Progressive Suspension fork setup front and an adjustable Legends Air Ride at the rear. Those PM Heathen wheels I mentioned earlier also found a new home on Arturo’s ride. He naturally gave them the matching rotors and pulley, but he opted for Brembo brake calipers instead.
So far what I’ve described to you may sound like a pretty cut-and-dried, bolt on this, bolt on that affair. It wasn’t though, and that doesn’t do justice to the hard work Arturo Sanchez invested into this machine. Anyone who’s ever tried an alleged “simple bolt-on application” knows that there’s no such thing. Case in point: Arturo’s ape hangers. “Carlini didn’t make bars for the fly-by-wire throttle and the H-D dealer told me I couldn’t put these bars on because there were problems with apes and the wiring,” he said. “After a few hours of grinding and cutting, I had the throttle installed and soldered to extend all the control wires up. I also put the front brake line in the handlebars and was gonna go with a hydraulic clutch inside the bars as well, but I like the look of the clutch cable sweeping around the front.” In fact, he did all of the wrenching himself, except for during the dyno tuning process.
Including some welding on the new Klock Werks rear fender. Arturo welded on some fillers between the bags, all the way up to the top shock mounts to eliminate gaps between the fender and the hard bags beside it. While he was at it, Arturo lowered the license plate frame and changed over to a solo seat to really show off the gorgeous curve of the back fender. The tombstone taillight he installed is nod to nostalgia that he thought would be a little different on a modern Road King.
Although the welding and wrenching was 100 percent Arturo, the finishes were a totally different animal. His paint booth is right next to that frame jig he doesn’t have in his back pocket. Arturo’s friends, Gilbert Alvarez and Louie Vasquez, took care of that, though. They laid down the cool gloss black that cloaks the Road King. All of the coating was handled at Concept Powder Coat, which did the coating for Arturo and even the exhaust shields were done in gloss black. Twenty-three-thousand miles of road later, he says they’re holding up great.
In the time Sanchez has owned this baby, it’s been everywhere — Laughlin four times, the Rosarito Harley run four times, Rocky Point Sonora Mexico three times, and in 2010 it made the trek to Sturgis. I said at the beginning of this tale that the story was never ending. It is. Although it seems he made the transition from build story to tour story, that’s not entirely true. Arturo has already planned another dose of custom for his Road King. Next up is a custom exhaust with stretched bags and an open primary from Performance Machine.