If there’s a trend in the custom movement, it’s that form and function are finally starting to play nice. Many builders are now balancing aesthetics with functional mods—and the results can be astounding.
That said, we still have a soft spot for custom shops that sacrifice some practicality for the sake of building über-cool bikes. Like this low-slung Softail Rocker from Taiwan’s Rough Crafts. ‘Dark Cannon’ is menacing enough to grab our attention.
Rough Crafts’ Winston Yeh understands this, which is why he built it for himself. “I tried to pitch it to customers,” he says. “But no-one wanted a bike with slick tires and drag-bike looks. It was just a bit too scary for my regulars.”
The project started after one of Winston’s Sportsters won an AMD World Championship trophy. The Sportster had a girder front-end—and Winston had manufactured a spare, just in case he needed it. “The idea was to build the same concept, but with a Softail,” he says.
After two years of thinking about it, Winston got his hands on a 2009-spec FXCWC Softail Rocker C, and got to work. The Rocker was never a successful model, but it has a raked-out neck and a spacious swingarm. Exactly what Winston was after.
After installing the girder front end, he fitted a 23-inch Roland Sands Design Slam wheel in a ‘black ops’ finish.
The rear wheel is a Rough Crafts part, measuring a whopping 15×7, and shod with a Mickey Thompson ET drag tire. Dunlop supplied a prototype racing slick for the front.
Winston then beefed up the braking at both ends with ISR 4-piston calipers and Lyndall rotors. And he fitted a Progressive Suspension shock out back.
There’s a Mikuni HSR 45 ‘smoothbore’ carb to boost power, and a Performance Machine primary drive. The exhaust system and air cleaner are both Rough Crafts parts; a Baker DD7 transmission sends the horses to that hefty back wheel.
Regular Rough Crafts collaborator One Hand Made fabricated the tank and fenders in Winston’s signature style, and the standard oil tank is modified to match. The push rod collars, steering neck and tank are all adorned with individually made badges.
The bike’s finished with a host of other top-shelf parts. From the Rough Crafts catalog we’ve got the lights, handlebars, risers, grips, rocker cover, gas cap and seat. The throttle and handlebar controls are a mix of Performance Machine and Rough Crafts bits. And to keep the rider’s feet happy, Winston added his own floorboards with controls from Arlen Ness.
“The floorboards sure help for thousand-mile rides,” he quips. Which is exactly what the bike has been used for. Despite the drag-inspired stance, Winston rode it from Wyoming to Montana on the Hot Bike Tour.
And before you ask: ‘Dark Cannon’ has already been sold. It might not be practical, but it’s not short of fans.
Read more about the Hot Bike Tour/Build-Off in Hot Bike’s January/February issue, on sale at newsstands December 1, 2015.