Shaw Harley-Davidson Spyder first ride

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If you have enough money, you can have anything you want. If the object of your desires is a custom Harley styled like the Porsche Spyder that killed James Dean, star of iconic movie ‘Rebel Without a Cause’, then Shaw Speed and Custom is the place to spend your cash.

Everything on the Spyder is about the attitude – the riding dynamics are of lesser concern than the owner looking and feeling like a badass.

The Roland Sands seat pan sits you far back of the forward-set billet aluminium foot controls and the trials-style bars, stretching you out in a slight hunch. The Springer front end and Performance Machine Phatail kit (a massive swingarm and 240-section tyre) sit the bike and rider low to the road.

Never mind the fact that hard leather seat is slippy and makes it difficult to brace against the 1450cc twin’s torque – it puts you in rebellious state of mind, feeling like you’re on the fringe of acceptable society.

The bike is on the fringe of acceptable handling. At low speed, it’s OK – you need to be reasonably tall to use the steering lock, but above 30mph it seems to develop a lot of inertia, and resists direction change. Of course, the new owner of this bike isn’t likely to want to chase supersport bikes – it’s not about that.

The 2003-spec Fat Boy’s 1450cc is left untouched, with only a Vance and Hines exhaust and a Domino air filter changing performance. So it’s all about the low-rev torque, and small throttle openings being rewarded with the throbbing drive, rather than wringing its neck for high revs.

It gets up to 60mph fuss-free, and holds it in a relaxed way – that’s about all you need to get from one posing location to another. The pipe is loud, but the low-revving motor means you can get away without completely offending onlookers.

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Chris Newbigging

By Chris Newbigging