Here at Pipeburn, we’ve had a long association with Tom Gilroy of Purpose Built Moto, and two things are for certain every single time we get an email from him about his latest build. The first is that no matter how hard you try, you’ll just never guess what kind of bike he’s built and in what style. And the second is the incredible detail he goes into, explaining all of the ins and outs of the build process. It is perhaps for these two reasons that so many people seek out Tom and the PBM crew to build their dream bike. He can make you whatever your heart desires and it will be built to an unbelievably high standard. The latest creation to roll out of the Queensland workshop is ‘Gravel Gorilla’, a showing-stopping 2021 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob, with mega power and remarkable practicality.

The basis for the bike is the thumping M-Eight engine and that all-new HD chassis, which has truly transformed the Milwaukee product. And the owner Phil had some ideas that fell well and truly outside of the usual Harley setup. “That’s where the conversation started with building him a custom Harley Davidson that would suit his newfound riding love. Our rider found himself on destination-less rides through northern NSW and regional QLD often staying out overnight after winding his way down gravel roads for the day. Phil’s needs involved creating a better handling motorcycle, retaining an upright ‘all day’ riding position, removable luggage racks for his weekends away and releasing a bit more power out of the bike,” Tom explains.

It’s not often you see a bike with show-winning style, that’s capable of such an adventurous weekend away, but with his talented team behind him, Tom knew they could pull it off. The first port of call was to change out the wheel and tyre package and the crew at Canyon Wheels had a slick solution. The lightweight items measure 5.5 x 17 front and rear, with gloss black rims and hubs and beefy candy copper spokes. They’re simply incredible to look at and wrapped in dual sport Pirelli MT60RS tyres, you get the sort of rubber that is just as happy cruising down the highway as it is blasting up some mountainous dirt roads.

But to truly have that kind of capability, the suspension would need a major overhaul and Joe at Ride Dynamics was happy to give his advice on the best parts and setup to achieve the task. The rear features 3.5in raised Legend shocks, while up the front end, an Ohlins cartridge kit drops in to transform the stock forks.

These have then been raised up around an inch with custom fork extensions, which not only help to balance with the rear but provide for a more agile steering angle. The HD is no lightweight, so braking is beefed up too, with Lyndall Brakes supplying Brembo radial calipers for the front and a rear caliper kit from Free Spirits Parts.

“My next job was to figure out how to create a tracker-style tail and mount it on this less than inviting frame. The solution was a hand-shaped aluminium box that lifted the rear profile closer to a flat line with the tank. This provided a base for me to build the tail section and provided some good storage under the seat. The next task was to get this tail section shaped.

This one was a great exercise that taught me a lot about sheet metal shaping, creating a nice rounded tail that suited the new lines we were creating and the factory HD tank which was to stay in place,” Tom tells us. Some fork shrouds, a cool as can be number plate holder and a sweet front fender setup and things were looking good.

The next fabrication job was to sort out Phil’s weekend away requirements, which could be sorted by building some tasty bag racks. These have been shaped out of a Chromoly tube and attach to the frame with three bolts each, for an easy on-and-off system for some saddle bags. At the front end, there is also a tool bag rack “that’s fitted to the custom risers we designed and had machined to lift the bars and offset them rearward for a better ride position.” These are teamed up with Performance Machine mid-set pegs, and both the rider and luggage are positioned in the perfect spot!

Time for paint and it was over to see Nathan at Livin Loco Garage who is a whizz with the spray gun. “I took Nathan a few loose ideas and some colours we wanted to be included and over a couple hours he’s sketched out and started work on the impressive, yet understated paintwork.

Blending a predominantly black design, with some copper candy, copper leaf detailing and flat grey hand brushed pinstripes. The best results in paint work always come when we give our painters a few specific points to be included and let these artists do what they do best, paint.” When combined with the stunning leather work for the seat, and those spectacular wheels, the look is spot on.

Jesse got to work on the engine and it’s been given a Stage 3 Screaming Eagle kit, and a whole suite of Arlen Ness x Rough Crafts engine covers. Then with welder in hand, Dylan began to add to the glorious fabrication work with one hell of an exhaust. “We’ve dreamed up a 2 into 1 into 2 set-up that utilises a pair of Competition Werkes Mufflers,” Tom explains.

Dylan knocked it out of the park with the custom fabricated seamless finish, which has been ceramic coated in black. The engine has been tuned by Jamie at Dynomite Moto to pump out a stonking 116HP and 125Nm of torque at the rear tyre.

Photo by @ninefivers

Tom and his talented team have once again delivered, and ‘Gravel Gorilla’ will impress on the local strip and then take Phil away for some truly wonderful weekends.

[ Purpose Built Moto | Studio photography by Gold Coast Studio ]