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ONE FOR ALL. Rough Crafts’ ‘Sterling Musketeer’ Harley Softail

Posted on April 13, 2017 by Andrew in Bobber. 18 comments

Welcome, Harley Davidson Executive Management! You might not have visited our website before. There’s not too much here for you normally, but maybe you’ve stumbled onto Pipeburn looking for inspiration for future models. It’s hard making those big decisions, like picking between gloss black, matte black, denim black or black black. But why not build something different? Like this custom Harley Davidson 2008 Softail Cross Bones, built by Winston Yeh and the team at Rough Crafts, based in Taipei, Taiwan.

And HD designers take note: custom paint doesn’t have to feature airbrushed flames and skulls and half-naked girls straddling dragons. There’s more to the custom scene than that. Look at Rough Crafts. They’ve been making some of the world’s gnarliest customs over the last few years. They’ve always had a distinct style but in recent years they’ve settled into a groove with blackened, beaten down Harleys turning heads across Taiwan and overseas.

“New bikes to the island require a host of emissions testing, roadworthiness and an unusual interpretive dance routine…”

I know, you’re probably still shocked that Harley Davidson customs aren’t confined to the great United States of ‘Murica. In stock form, this one made its way to Taiwan (a small island off the coast of China, but don’t worry – they don’t get along) as a second-hand import. Tariffs on motos there are prohibitively expensive and new bikes to the island require a host of emissions testing, roadworthiness and an unusual interpretive dance routine performed by the intended owner. As such, there’s not many big Harleys on the island. The Taiwanese tend to buy motorcycles that do crazy things like travel more than 90 miles on a tank of gas and go around corners.

But now that stock Cross Bones serves as a platform to showcase the workmanship Winston and his team can do and the quality of parts they build and sell in-house. The damn thing’s incredible. And while there’s hardly a standard bolt left on the bike, Winston isn’t quick to yell about the bits and pieces that adorn the custom. ‘I never want anything to stand out on my builds,’ he says. ‘I never want anything jumping out at you when you see it.’

Dear HD Executive Management™ – Winston is being humble. Because all the customers who bought the Cross Bones on it’s release in the late 2000’s will be quick to realise that the bike on their screen has no resemblance to the softail bobber that struggled to move off the showroom floor.

Long gone is the bouncing springer front end. It’s been replaced by an Arlen Ness forks, with titanium coated inner tubes. It’s all held together by a 41mm triple tree supplied by Speed Merchant. And check out that front 6-piston Performance Machine caliper – that’s how you pull up a bike. And the rear runs a four piston from the same manufacturer, too. Both are mounted to Arlen Ness rims and run Firestones. I know, Mr Executive, they’re Firestones. But if you wanted a bike that really handled you wouldn’t sell the Softail in the first place.

That tidy tank and rear fender were fabricated up in-house by Winston and the team at Rough Crafts, with the standard oil tank altered. Engine-wise, not too much has been changed from the stock unit, but a Rough Crafts stubby exhaust and air filter will help the bike breathe and sound like a Harley should.

Neat little touches adorn all corners of the bike, with company branding on the pushrods and more obvious locations like the gas cap and oil cap. All those other custom bits and pieces you’ll spot are also by the Taiwan shop – the rocker and timing cover, the primary drive as well as the headlight, grips, bars and brake light. Paint was done by Air Runner Custom paint studio, which doesn’t have as many flaming skulls as you’d like and has a shameful lack of the Freedom Eagle, but maybe it’ll be in the next update. In the meantime, the thing looks as tough as a coffin nail.

But Winston himself is humble about his latest build. ‘I wouldn’t say the build itself is that special,’ he explains. ‘It’s all about fit and finish, the wheel choice, the brake set up and the way the smallest details come together for the whole concept.’ Well maybe he’s right, but he’s done a damn good job of making a bobber that’d look as good banging around the backstreets of Taiwan as it would bombing down the interstate of the good ol’ USA. Please Milwaukee – close this browser and go build something like this.

Rough Crafts – Instagram – Store | Photos by JL Photography ]

  • John in Pollock

    It’s a nice build, (aside from the sliderstones) if you’re into that kind of thing. -I’ve unfortunately had my experience with these kind of bikes ruined by the local scene of middle age crisis yuppie/wanna be badasses, that infiltrate the local bars, hi-fiving each other, and stroking each other over their uber dollar bikes that none of them know a damn thing about, much less ever have swung a wrench upon, wearing their too tight squeaky leather that cost more than my bike alone, passing people over double yellow lines, and generally bullying everyone they can, because they were unpopular in high school, and their mommies a daddies never let them ride a motorcycle, but now they can afford to.

    • Don

      Wow, Someone has daddy issues!

    • Issues indeed. I’d suggest that the people you are talking about wouldn’t be on a Rough Crafts bike. I know the type. They just walk into a Harley dealership and ask for a V-Rod with the lot. They just don’t have the taste to ride a RC bike…

      • guvnor67

        Plenty of them around sadly. This bike is one of my favourite Rough Crafts builds so far, probably because he has transformed a bar hopper into something that looks like its begging to be ridden, even with the Firestones.

    • Bultaco Metralla

      I gotta admit, I generally don’t take much notice of Harleys because of that “crowd” of middle aged wannabes. However, this is really tasty. I still mourn Buell though.

  • the watcher

    He just never misses, does he? I admit bias, I sit on a Rough Crafts seat while listening to the air being sucked through one of their filters.

    • Thanks for oversharing. 😳

      • the watcher

        Better too much than too little (as the actress said to the bishop).

  • Duke Fan

    Curves?? Try a softail on a corner you’ll change your mind in my experience they don’t corner much! The fuel tank? Each to his own he couldn’t park by me but OK

  • For me, the highlight is clearly the tank. I’m a big fan of the way Winston has drawn influences from the original shape but improved the look. Thoughts?

  • Al

    Nice rear fender.

  • Robert Henry

    Now that’s a Bobber.

  • Jim Roberts

    it has a look of its own…but it’s incomplete. the rear fender should have been mirrored at the front. balance, grasshopper.

  • martin hodgson

    Winston and the Rough Crafts Crew are just insanely talented! To even design a bike like this requires incredible vision, but to transform it into a real life, functional machine that just screams “ride the shit out of me” (internal monologue) just show the level of their talent.

    The ability to combine traditional lines with modern aesthetics is just brilliant. The seat of 40s Bobber, the tank is straight out of 2017 and yet they work perfectly together! I love it, even the firestones!

  • John Kurt Clotfelter

    Did I miss the speedometer?

  • Marek Kazmierski

    in a time when we’ve just about seen it all, when everything is derivative of something else, the word “evoke” is decisive. RC builds are evocative of the wrong sorts of things, for me… antique fountain pens. singer sewing machines. ancient elevators withbrass detailing… too clean, too cute, too curio. might work better with modern Ducatis or KTMs as bases, but not Harleys. not things that have always bled hot oil.