Nicknamed 'Walka's Jalopy' this Kraft Tech framed, Harley powered custom creation is a true work of motorcycling art... Words: Kris Hodgson, Images by Knackers BDP
The first thing I noticed about Walka’s Jalopy is just how clean a build this is, with an exceptional attention to detail that extends right down to the customised rims, making for a truly unique custom bobber.
Ian ‘Walka’ Walker, the creator of this awesome machine he explained that in modern times Harley bobbers come in different forms, from the traditional old school builds to the Japanese styles.
For those less familiar with the genre, traditional builds often feature pre-‘80s factory frames, with off the shelf custom parts from the ‘40s through ‘80s, and avoiding late model or new parts.
In comparison the Japanese style bobbers are built with a bit more freedom, featuring factory and aftermarket components of any age, with the emphasis on modifying these accessories, as well as featuring hand made on-off parts all towards a vintage theme.
The general gist was that the trend started in Japan some time ago because of the lack of parts available, while these days many consider that the Japanese lead the way in custom motorcycle styles. This particular machine is a mix of old and new and is very typical of the bikes that you would see getting around the streets of Japan.
The project itself had simple beginnings with Walka feeling a bit bored and deciding to see what he had on hand for his next project. Needless to say, with 12 years’ experience building bikes and cars he had a few odds and ends laying around.
The basis was a Kraft Tech rigid frame, alongside a set of Harley Sportster wheels, while a 1986 Harley EVO powerplant was sourced for the right price to provide the go.
Now if you’re imagining it was a case of just bolting this all together, well you clearly aren’t familiar with Ian’s level of ingenuity. The frame for a start was sandblasted and all unnecessary brackets removed, then modified with new mounts added for the 80ci EVO and is the 30 degree rake offering for a 150mm rear tyre. The frame was then eventually powder coated, once the colour scheme was settled on, while a K Tech oil tank to match was also used.
The Sportster wheels were vapour blasted to bring them back to life, and while they are quite a cool design as it stands, Ian felt something more was necessary for this project and set up a jig for the wheels so he could countersink the rims.
The final addition to the rims was Shinko E270 tyres, to stay true to the era, while on the rear a brake rotor and sprocket from Weld Racing – neither available anymore, but new old stock (NOS) – were added. A custom bracket for the Wilwood four-piston rear caliper was also created, which would seem like overkill on the rear if it wasn’t the only brake fitted.
The rigid rear end was a little simpler than the front, with Ian starting off with an Attitude Inc Springer front end the first option on the table, with customisation taking place to get it sorted for the Sportster front wheel. However Ian wasn’t happy and instead went with the Vintage OEM style springers, which replicate an original Harley setup with all the benefits of modern technology when it comes to production, while Cherry’s Company in Japan made the stabilisers specially at Ian’s request.
A set of billet aluminium risers in black hold the custom bent ‘bars by Luke of G. Works Custom Cycles in Geelong, who also took care of all the wiring for this build.
The EVO powerplant was looking pretty sad, so Ian went to work with paint stripper and started the long process of getting it polished right back up to a mirror finish so it could be installed into the Kraft Tech frame.
Additions include a set of EMD XR rocker boxes and a hefty side-draft 45 DC OE Weber carburetor, which is fitted thanks to a modified Magnuson manifold, which was picked up off eBay. A Harley five-speed gearbox is also used, with an EMD Billy Boy primary cover, and a Ultima kick starter kit, ensuring that real authentic old school feel is retained.
Capping off the powerplant is a Paughco two-into-one exhaust system, which – you guess it – was also modified to suit, with Walka trimming 12in off the length and adding a Baffled Turnout Tip from Moon, which he’d picked up on a trip to Japan, and ensures the bike had plenty of bark.
When it comes to the bodywork, which comprises the tank and rear guard only, it was once again a matter of fabrication and modification to get the right end result. The tank itselt started life as a left over, and had Sportster mounts, with plans to eventually sell it. This never eventuated and instead it was marked for the build, starting with considerably more volume.
Not suiting what Walka envisaged, he went to work and trimmed the tank right down, removing the central section, and the bottom of the tank, before spot welding it all back together. This was followed by fabricating the inside of the tank, starting with an exhaust tube to accomodate the frame, and welding on the side plates, rather than trying to bend a piece to suit.
It’s an innoccuous enough item on the bike now, but serious man-hours went into the production of the tank, which was finally welded and then polished down to remove all the joins. The tank also received the Navy Blue paint by Dean Boyd, with the eye catching artwork on the tank by Aaron from Freedom Expression Company.
With the rear guard Walka originally started with a rounder profile that more closely followed the wheel, however changed his mind and went with the current item fitted, which straightens out at the rear, while offering close clearance to the tyre, helping accentuate the wheel. The guard is finished in Navy Blue, and rather than mar the guard with a taillight it’s mounted to the underside of the frame at the rear wheel.
Another eye catching feature is the track racer style seat, which was custom made by Silvereye Industrials, while Vintage HD Boards are also fitted, with a Mooneyes brake pedal control.
Providing light on the front end is a single Walka headlight unit, with controls the essence of simplicity, there’s no switchblocks, just a clutch lever and throttle. Never mind mirrors or indicators, this is a super clean, stripped back creation, with huge presence, and an amazing attention to detail.
It’s unquestionable that Walka knows his stuff, and we can’t wait to see what the next project entails.
- Adrian, Silvereye Industries
- Dean Boyd – Paint
- Luke G. Works Custom Cycles in Geelong – Wiring
- Aaron, Freedom Expression Company – Artwork
- Kurso, Cherry’s Company Japan – Stabilisers