The other day I was showing a friend a picture of my parents at a Halloween party and they asked me, “Why are they dressed up as a biker and a hippie?”
Dave Cripe — my mom’s boyfriend — was not in costume. And neither was my mom, for the record. But when it comes to bikers, Dave just looks the part. Covered in tattoos, bald, built, and with the quintessential biker facial hair he oozes rad and ready for the open road. His relationship with his bikes is the same as most: part art, and part focused on the freedom you get while behind the handlebars.
Dave has always had one foot in the creative world and one foot in the motorcycle world, so his builds have always been tailor-made and inventive. I am by no means an expert on bikes — and I’m sure I am biased — but I’d say just about anyone who sees Dave’s custom-built Harley-Davidson bobber can tell the thing is something special. And when you know the person behind the build, it becomes even more so.
Trevor shot Dave’s other bike a few years back when Dave — and his bikes — lived in Hawaii, though Dave has since relocated to be with my mum in California. Just like Dave, the 808 bikes are now California cruisers and, needless to say, we are happy to have them all in the family.
Dave grew up in Chico, California before he moved to the islands, so it felt opportune to shoot this bike in Northern California where Dave’s love of choppers was conceived.As Fate Would Have It
A self-proclaimed late bloomer, Dave purchased his first motorcycle at 22. He wanted a Harley, but the reality of their premium price meant that he ended up with a 1974 Honda 400 Four. In retrospect he says it was probably for the best at that time in his life, as “building riding skills on the little Honda probably kept me out of a lot of trouble.”
When Dave was 32 he went all-in and purchased his first Harley, an ‘86 Heritage Softail. “I’ve been hooked on them since,” he says. After that, there was no turning back and Dave has housed an eclectic collection over the years.
But despite the many bikes that have come and gone, one creature in particular has especially made its mark on Dave’s heart.
This bobber is the first project Dave ever completed from start to finish. During a recent chat he mentioned, “All through my late teens and twenties I started at least 15 project cars and never completed one.” But things changed when he moved to Maui in 1998 with a vision of his custom Harley.
The bobber began as a bare Santee rigid frame – that was later stretched 3-inches – and took a good three years to mold into something Dave was satisfied with. He rode it for two years while working on another bike, but then he decided to put the bobber back under the knife with a renewed vision.
Dave says that halfway through the rebuild “life happened,” and he was pushed to sell the bike in order to move back to California. After four years bouncing around with another motorcycle on the mainland, he made it back to Maui.
As luck would have it, after a couple of months of searching for the next project he ran into his beloved bobber. Dave had laid the foundation for an exceptional build during his second go-around, and this new owner had applied the finishing touches. Not only that, the ultimate builder had picked up on the initial style cues Dave had infused, and he happened finish it exactly how Dave would have himself.
Despite the extra flourish, Dave immediately recognized the bike and of course told the owner the beauty used to be his. Understandably, the guy didn’t believe him at first because, honestly, what were the chances? What was at first a suspicious story became indisputable fact when the paperwork was pulled out and the old title read ‘Dave Cripe.’ As fate would have it, the new owner was looking for a Road King and Dave happened to have one he was working on at the time, so a trade was made.
The bike was finally back with its rightful owner.It’s In The Details
Dave has made some tweaks and final adjustments over time, and as this black and blue beauty sits now it weighs just under 400lbs. Its Pacho Springer front end was powdercoated by PF Restoration in Maui and gives the front end an aggressive, uncluttered look. The Pastrana Pro handlebar features a race-bred contour and 2-inch Pro Taper risers were utilized.
A 21×3-inch spoked wheel rolls up front and a wider 16×7-inch wheel wrapped in an Avon 180/60 tire chases behind. A large, single disc brake resides at the rear; no front brakes in sight. Dave handles the beast with custom-made foot controls from Rob Gist.
Especially for the weight of the bike it propels, the 80ci Harley-Davidson V-twin packs a huge punch. The twin inhales deeply through a Mikuni carburetor topped with a velocity stack, and it exhales through wrapped LAF short pipes, that — sometimes, if you ask nicely — shoot flames.
It sounds insane, too. And with no fancy electronic rev limiter, nor even a tach, it requires a delicate touch to approach the theoretical redline.
The whole thing is finished off with custom paint and pin-striping by Jon Pagaduan. All the parts and pieces when put together make this thing the balanced beast it is — and just very Dave.
The bike is purebred Hawaiian. Not only was it built in Hawaii, but its paperwork, title, and registration were also all specific to Hawaii. So when Dave made his recent move back to the mainland, the logistics proved a little tricky since the Santee frame wasn’t issued a VIN number when new. Even though it was technically legal, shipping regulations wouldn’t allow it on a boat. But there was no way Dave could imagine leaving it behind again.
So, Dave had to get inventive. He took it apart, built a wooden crate, and shipped it across the Pacific as motorcycle parts. Once he put it all back together in California, he rode the ‘parts’ to the local CHP station. The officer that handles special construction was very thorough, but after much investigation he decided it wasn’t stolen and certified it with a new California VIN number. It is now truly a California-Hawaii hybrid — just like Dave.
Although I could go on and on about how cool Dave and his bike are, I think I’ll end here with well-put words from the man himself: “I think anyone that builds a bike just for themselves is expressing what is perfect for them. The bobber is exactly that for me. This bobber is me. I’m never letting it go again.”
Photos by Trevor Yale Ryan