Every Harley model ever made has its own hardcore cult following. Logic and reason have their place in making a cultist chose their model of choice to worship, but there's something else that drives them even more. It's simply an unexplainable passion and FXR freaks are right at or near the top of the list. And, our own Mark Barnett could just be the undeclared de facto leader of FXR worship. I don't think I've ever seen or heard of an FXR that he didn't see the good in even if he didn't like a particular bike for aesthetic reasons. If it's an FXR of any vintage or almost any style, he makes sure to mention it and I can't think of another model he always sees something good in. So just to let you FXR freaks know, if you've got one, take some good pics and send it in to us as it's almost automatically set for an Article of the Day online.
That's just about exactly how El Paso's Brian Sowder got to feature his customized ex-police FXR. Not that it's not a cool real-world rider or a neat custom bike, there are a lot of them out there. It was an FXR. As soon as I saw the email from Mark about an FXR he was going to get photos of, I knew it was a go if I valued my job at all (and I do). Luckily (for me) Brian's 1991 FXRP is a clean custom that doesn't show a lick of its former life as a bike you'd really rather not see in your rear view mirror. Every piece of law enforcement equipment from lights to bags to windshield or fairing is retired and replaced with something much cooler. "I found the bike at Topeka Harley-Davidson and as soon as I saw it, I knew it was in great shape. The tank was painted, but it still had a lot of stock police crap on it," said Brian. "A lot of ideas of what to do came from sitting around drinking beer with my buddies."
There was a little thing that got in the way of actually getting the project going, though, and that was Brian's deployment to Iraq in 2009. "While I was deployed, I had plenty of time to think about what I wanted it to look like and ordered a bunch of parts. In 2010 when I came home, I'm pretty sure my wife was fed up with all of the boxes sitting around the house so I got to work," he said. "As money let me, I'd get the stuff I couldn't do get done like having to get it completely rewired by Prairie Hawg Cycle in Manhattan, Kansas, because when they decommissioned it as a police bike, they just cut the wires. I always wanted to build a bike from scratch, but this bike confirmed that I didn't have the skill set. A beginner's note: Just because it's raining doesn't mean it's a good time to start yanking parts to put on new ones. A wet day without riding turns into a week or so."
Basically Brain left the FXR goodness in, but changed the look completely. The good-running 80" Evo was left stock except for a set of staggered dual Cycle Shack pipes to give it a sound that was a little less cop-like. The fat 19" front mag wheel and chunk 'o love front fender gave way to a tall and slim 21" with a petite fender to match. Although he didn't specify it, the trees appear to be changed as everything seems so much narrower up front. Brian did keep the twin cop discs, though, instead of going for the usual single disc treatment. The 19" rear mag was swapped out for a slotted 16" Softail wheel and the new fat and low look was accentuated by a set of shorter 10.5" Progressive rear shocks.
Meanwhile the stock floorboards hit the trash and were replaced by a set of Excel forward controls. The stock cop bars just wouldn't do and were changed to a set of spiky apes. "They're Rock Chops 14" Coffin bars out of Evansville, Indiana, with hand controls I got off eBay and Avon grips," said Brian. "The handlebars freaked me out at first. I thought I was going to crash her about a block from the shop after they were put on. After I rode her all weekend, I ended up liking them better than the stock ones." Completing the rider portion of the build, Brian chucked the tractor-style cop seat for a Mustang Vintage Solo seat. "By the way, Mustang is the nicest company ever with great customer service," he added.
One thing Brain didn't have to deal with was painting the tank. If you remember at the beginning of the story, he mentioned the only deviation from cop bike was the painted tank. In fact it's his favorite part of the bike. "I could never have come up with that and I have never seen another like it," he said. All he's done graphically is add a POW/MIA sticker on the oil tank. Still being in the service and stationed at nearby Fort Bliss, you can understand his sentiment about that addition.
As far as the finished bike, Brian said, "She rides pretty good. I ride it whenever I can. I try to ride it to work every day and get together with some buddies for weekend rides." And in a final statement that Mark Barnett would definitely give a thumbs-up to, Brian said, "It's an FXR. What else needs to be said?"
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