Rory McKenzie is a 24-year-old, fourth-year motorcycle apprentice training with MTA Institute and working for Morgan and Wacker Harley-Davidson in Brisbane.
So far, so normal, right? Wrong. Rory is not your ordinary motorcycle apprentice. In fact, though he is technically still ‘learning’ his trade, the level of skill and ingenuity that he is bringing to his work is pretty remarkable.
The proof? This stunning, modified, 2016 Harley Softail Deluxe – a project Rory started just five months ago.
With air suspension (part oif which means that when it’s lowered there’s no need for a side-stand), some tricky fabrication work and a paint design that is truly stunning, this Harley is something you might expect to see after months of painstaking work from an experienced bike specialist.
“I hand-fabricated the guards,” said Rory. “I extended the rear guards seven inches and the front guard five inches, and did a lot of other things such as running brake lines through the handlebars, putting on a hydraulic clutch and, of course, putting in the
“To make it sit low with the air suspension, the swingarm became a big part of the project,” he added. “My father-in-law owns an earthmoving company and employs his own engineer and, after I came up with the idea, I asked him what was the easiest way we could get this thing laying a little bit lower. In the end we redesigned it using the same grade tubing but putting in big 16mm steel pins through the centre to give it extra strength.”
As for that remarkable paintwork, Rory did use a specialist for that piece of the project – Nathan Bilsborough at Livin Loco Garage on the Gold Coast.
“Nathan paints low-rider, Mexican-looking Bel-Airs and Chevy trucks and so on, and they are all show-quality,” he said. “I knew I wanted the teal colour and I gave Nathan seven ideas for shapes. He did the rest and put it together.”
It’s the icing on the cake of a stunning piece of work – one which really tested Rory’s skills.
“I did everything at home and learned some new skills along the way,” he said. “I learnt a bit of panel beating and used an English Wheel to create elements such as the 7-inch panel for the rear guard. Doing this sort of project does test you.”
A bit of a Harley fan (he has owned 13 of them in the past four years!) Rory said he would continue to work on similar projects in the future. And it might not be long before the next project comes along, for it was only a couple of weeks after finishing this bike that he was offered a big bundle of money to part with it.
“I did have a guy call me and make an offer,” he said with a smile. “And if someone were to offer me the right money I might part with it.”