Customizing an OEM Harley-Davidson with Rucker Performance
March 26, 2007
Filed under Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Road Tests: Reviews on Harley Motorcycles, Motorcycle Features: Bikes, Blokes, Culture and Beyond
By Buzz Buzzelli
[Customizing an OEM Harley-Davidson with Rucker Performance was originally published in American Rider]
The problem with stock Harleys is that they are infested with all those boring original-equipment parts, so they all look the same.
What we need is a road map with a route to rout out all that common stuff. The thing is, there are more pathways than one, leading from a complete custom modification at one extreme to a simpler bolt-on approach at the other.
How would these two diverse approaches turn out? If you turned your Harley over to a professional custom shop and told ’em to “have at it,” you might end up with something like the wild Rucker Performance bikes sold by Bruce Rossmeyer’s Harley-Davidson dealerships. Or, you could bolt on replacement parts and accessories that either look better or work better (or both), and you might end up with a Küryakyn-equipped bagger. To check out the route to your kind of rout, turn the page….
Proving that you can have a Harley with custom looks and high performance, too, Bill Rucker of Rucker Performance collaborated with Florida-based Harley-Davidson dealer Bruce Rossmeyer to convert pre-owned Harleys into high-caliber touring bikes. Rossmeyer acquired 120 Police and Fire/Rescue Road Kings, and Rucker supplied the customizing services. The whole idea, according to Rossmeyer, is to provide a unique vehicle “…for customers who want a cruiser motorcycle and the look and feel of a one-off custom.” Rucker describes these bikes as “wide-tire production customized Harley-Davidson touring motorcycles.”
More than a simple stock-bike facelift, the finished products are built on the high-performance foundation of H-D police models, giving them features not found on civilian models. First there’s the anti-lock brake system, exclusive to Harley’s law-enforcement models. Then there’s the police suspension, tachometer and heavy-duty electrical system with high-output alternator.
Building on the high-performance theme, Rucker Performance adds a big-bore upgrade. The engines are dismantled to check the crankshaft assemblies, then re-assembled with a Screamin’ Eagle 95-inch kit, 510 cam and a high-flow air filter with a billet cover. Using a D&D exhaust system, the EFI system receives proper upgrading.
To handle the speed and power with aplomb, 18-inch wheels are used shod with a Metzeler VR200/50 on the rear and a VR140/70 up front. Rucker’s 200 Wide Tire Kit makes this possible, which includes all the mechanicals necessary to accommodate the added tire width, along with a wider fender with a frenched license plate holder. The front fender is smoothed and lowered, and both the front and rear suspension are lowered by 11?2 inches.
All of that basic structure forms the foundation for Rucker Performance to do its stuff. As Bill Rucker says, “We take the same skills it takes to do a $60,000 custom bike and apply it to this.” Rucker, whose business designs and manufactures what it calls “American Muscle and Chopper motorcycles, high performance street rods and professionally restored vehicles,” was a cofounder of American IronHorse Motorcycles of Fort Worth, Texas, in 1995. He left the company to pursue his own customizing business in 2004 and almost immediately became a leading designer and certified EPA manufacturer of custom-style motorcycles. The company has an in-house design department that generates Rucker’s “extreme signature graphics and paint.”
Rucker’s customizing ability is certainly apparent, not only in the paint and graphics, but in the details of the Enforcer. It starts with one of the symbols of a custom creation, a stretched tank. With a classic console, the tank has 6-inch wing extensions at the rear, setting it apart from a stock Harley tank. The Buffalo handlebar is embellished with H-D chrome switch housings, switches, levers, and billet mirrors.
Touring riders won’t be shortchanged by all the attention to custom modifications, because the bags have been converted with roomy extensions, civilian-style lids (the police units have funky screw-knobs on top), and chrome latches. Custom faceplates, locks and brackets—along with the bag-to-bike cover plates—set the bags apart from anything that might be mistaken as OEM. The added spoilers with LED turn signals and matching paint only serve to emphasize the bike’s custom-shop roots. Routs? Routes?
The rider will find the leather seat and Aileron Style Floor Boards with billet shifter pegs quite different from stock Harleys, offering much more room for moving your feet around. The term “different” does not describe the Enforcer’s performance; however, the term “vastly improved” does. The first thing I noticed during my 3-hour ride was the engine’s free-revving nature, effortlessly accelerating from a stop. Out on the highway, a quick downshift puts the power in its afterburner mode for rocketing away from traffic.
Those 18-inch wheels make a noticeable improvement in handling. There’s nothing mushy about steering response—this bike feels more nailed-down than a stocker. It rides well considering the chopped suspenders, gliding over all but the worst pavement without ruffling the rider.
Braking is absolutely astonishing. The bike hauls itself down to a stop without any fuss, and there is never a worry about locking up the wheels. The front brake feels a little spongy due to the anti-lock system, but the braking performance is flawless and very powerful. It gave me confidence in quick-stop situations.
Okay, so much for the Enforcer converted cop bikes, but what about your current Harley? You can get the Rucker treatment, including the engine services, bags, bars and all the bananas, by turning over your Road King and about 10 grand to Rucker. The custom paint and graphics are optional, of course, but Rucker’s in-house designers—along with paint guru Carl Tryndell—can offer a dizzying array of paint options with solid base coats, candies, crushed glass, and old-school designs or the latest fads.
For more information about the Enforcer program contact Rossmeyer’s dealerships by calling 954-724-2800, or visit www.brucerossmeyer.com; for more details about Rucker Performance Motorcycles log onto www.ruckerperformance.com.