A ‘bagger’ is, arguably, one of the last classes of motorcycles a custom shop would opt to work on. Why would they when there is a plethora of naked or faired bikes or even plain ol’ cruisers from the past for them to get their hands dirty on? Well, not calling said shops for making the wrong decision but there are times in life where being different from the crowd is the only way to get the jump on them.
Case in point is Rough Crafts, a Taiwan-based custom shop led by Winston Yeh. While the fact that this build exists proves that there is demand for a customised bagger, Winston stressed that this wasn’t always the case. “Through all these years, we’ve never built a Bagger and have been asked if we refuse to build one so many times, but it’s never the case, after the success of our Sportsters and Softails,” said Winston.
“Somehow customers who asked us to build bikes never asked for a Bagger,” he added. The birth of this build, dubbed ‘Noir King’, was initiated by none other than legendary motorcycle customisers, the Ness family. Led by patriarch, Arlen Ness, the project was a form of tie-up between Winston and Arlen’s grandson, Zach Ness.
“Their Down-N-Out bag/fender kit is hands down the cleanest and nicest looking bag kit on the market for me, so me and Zach had been talking about when I do build a Bagger it would be only natural to make it a Rough Crafts X Arlen Ness build, as we don’t have many parts for Baggers and they do offer a wide range besides the bag kit, so it challenges me to do a Rough Crafts twist on their world famous parts,” Winston recalled.
With the donor motorcycle acquired and crates of Arlen Ness parts in the workshop, Winston had one decision to make to set the tone for the build. With several exhaust options to pair with the aforementioned Down-N-Out kit, Winston committed to one in no time. “I always think the coolest look for a Bagger is to have no exhausts coming out, so the bags and fender creates a full ‘skirt’ look from the rear.”
Next up, the front end features a modified Arlen Ness Wrapper fender for a more balanced look. Another component that required a fair bit of crafting was the fuel tank for it to work with the range of Ness parts. The diamond-stitched leather seat itself was made in-house while the matte black paintwork was handled by Air Runner Custom Paint Studio – the graphics were applied by Rough Crafts, though.
Following that, Winston went with a 23-inch wheel option. “Instead of going for the trend of the bigger the front wheel the better, we decided to stay with a 23″ front, looks more balanced for the whole bike.” Yes, 23-inch is considered relatively conservative. Said wheel comes from Arlen Ness and is wrapped in a 130/60-section Pirelli Night Dragon.
The stock 16-inch rear wheel was retained although said unit was painted in the same colour as the Ness item and wrapped in a 180/70 Pirelli Night Dragon tyre. Elsewhere, the standard rear shocks are replaced by a Legend Air Ride system. Other add-ons include Rough Crafts’ own floorboards paired to Ness foot controls while the lighting system is taken care of in-house.
Powering the ‘Noir King’ is a 1,573 cc Twin Cam motor that has obviously been kitted to the teeth with Arlen Ness covers for the Rocker tops, lifter blocks and primary drive. A custom exhaust system with twin pipes provide the necessary aural accompaniment. Finally, a Performance Machine hydraulic clutch slave that works with the stock six-speed gearbox rounds off the list of modifications.