Bates Beefy Body FX
Owning and riding a venerable Shovelhead isn't the worst way of spending the hard earned buck when you're a friend of last century's Milwaukee machinery. But, if you make the mistake to drop by at one of the custom shows in Norrtälje, Sweden, or Punta Bagna, France, not to mention Born Free U.S.A., you may catch the customizing bug. Among the galaxy of styles that populate motorcycling's deep space, between vintage AMF tanks, and home built cafe racer bum stops, between bobbed fenders and curved fender struts, king & queen seats and solo saddles you'll discover, if you look long enough, a special breed of bike parts:
The Stuff that Dreams Are Made of When H-D acquired a fiberglass production facility in the Sixties Willie G. Davidson was quick to see the endless possibilities offered by the new material. In 1971 Sportsters and the all new Super Glide were offered with the revolutionary boattail seat combos. Made from, yes, fiberglass. Fiberglass, that’s ultra thin glass fibers held together by epoxy resins had been in use since the Thirties in housing and for insulation purposes. When surfboards were invented, the shapers soon discovered that fibreglass with it's ability to follow compound curves was just the thing to strengthen the balsa boards. Using the stuff for bikes soon followed. The boattail was a marketing disaster and was discontinued quickly. The few surviving examples however are all in the hands of discerning collectors.
A young dude by the name of Tracy Nelson was smarter than the Milwaukee gents. His California shop „Tracy's Fiberglass Works“, later just „Tracy“ went on to be a legend. Tracy built „monobodies“ for diverse brands and models. A monobody is a one-piece combination of tank, seat pan and rear fender, often also including side panels. The Tracy catalog was full of strange and crazy creations, kicking off a veritable fiberglass craze in the 1970s. No monobody was too crass, no paint scheme too off-the-wall. But, monobodies for Harleys were rare even then, and if you manage to find one, the condition is often rough. Fiberglass is tough, but 50 years are a long time. A leaky tank is no joke when you just spent $1.500.00 on that far out paint job. That's why there now is the Beefybody.