Softail Predecessor – 1981 RoadWorx

In America, Cruiser, Custom by AbhiLeave a Comment

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Did you know that Harley-Davidson’s iconic Softail frame was originally developed outside of the company? It all goes back to a company called RoadWorx, the brainchild of Bill Davis. Bill owned a FX Super Glide but didn’t love the styling of it – he created a new frame and had enough success with it that he patented the design. He also met with a couple of HD bigwigs (including Willie G.) who liked his work but weren’t ready to acquire anything. Bill kept evolving, eventually creating a version that would eventually become known as the Softail. Here’s one of the few bikes Mr. Davis built before going out of business and selling his design to Harley.

For more about Bill and his frames, check out this story on Savage Roads: “Davis found that the Road Worx frames were labor-intensive to build and while his frames were selling well enough, the money wasn’t rolling in fast enough to cover a series of loans. Unable to find a way to scale up production, RoadWorx came to a sorry end and closed up operations. Unwilling to give up on his idea, Davis placed another call to Bleustein at H-D headquarters, and this time, the Men From Milwaukee wrote up a suitable offer. But there was one troubling caveat to the deal – all royalties would be capped. Davis, trapped between a rock and a hard place, signed the deal in January of 1982 , and the first bike featuring his revolutionary frame design (the FXST) rolled off the production line during the summer of 1983.”

This example has a rebuilt motor with double plugged heads, a S&S Super E carb, 4-speed Ultimate transmission, Showa shocks, the front end off a Wide Glide, La Pera seat, and a 21″ front wheel. It’s not my personal style, but I think the history is fascinating – if it’s true. The Certificate of Authenticity weirdly calls the company Road Works instead of RoadWorx, and in my admittedly limited research I couldn’t find anything about the signor (John Hancock) with relation to the original company. Still, the CoA says that RoadWorx made two sets of frames, the second of which comprised of 11 units – five of which were stock and six of which had a 3″ stretch in the front forks. If you know anything about John Hancock or RoadWorx, please share away in the comments!

Find this pre-Softail for sale in Union, Missouri with a BIN of $24,999 or best offer here on eBay.

This bike-uriousity brought to you by Robert B!

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