Blackbird Harley-Davidson Rocker

The Harley-Davidson Rocker model has been controversial since day one. Many custom builders who have customized it will tell you that the bike, more than many other Harley factory models, needs some heavy “redo” in its geometry to turn it in a very cool ride. At the same time, they acknowledge that the Rocker has a lot of hidden potential – I agree – and that the final result can be spectacular without affecting original mechanical and handling integrity.

This Blackbird is the order of UK based Oxford Harley-Davidson to a local young independent shop called Rocket Bobs Cycle Works. Because the budget was right, a huge opportunity for Pete Pearson and crew to demonstrate their skills at turning a Rocker from ugly to pretty (their words.) First major modification was to cut off the rear part of the frame, then to rebuild it with a lower seat rail and much cleaner lines. Swingarm is a one-off made at the shop with their own stock, built with a geometry giving a lower stance to the bike. Suspension stop was set to give the bike a full 1″ of travel. The Deuce gas tank with its center console has never looked right on the Rocker. So it was replaced by a Street Bob tank whose tunnel was modified to slam it tight to the motor.
Front end got a Mid Gide tree conversion, full damper rods and progressive wound springs. Forks are 4″lower with stanchions honed, cut DLC coated and then TIG welded back together. The result creates 1″ of front travel ! The brakes are billet Rocket Bob race callpers matched to a front 13″ rotor and a tiny 190 mm rear stainless disc. Wheels were provided by Andrei at HD Wheels. Pipes are one-off thin walled 316 stainless (now in production) Bars are proprietary and called the Zombi 4″ Race. Motor was kept stock apart from a 103″ kit and Reaper Cams. Like a blackbird, bike is almost all black with a yellow eye-ring coming from the headlight. Rocket Bobs Cycle Works.

38 Responses to “Blackbird Harley-Davidson Rocker”

  1. 1 Wiz Jun 20th, 2011 at 7:57 am

    You fergot to mention ass-burner exhaust, hemmeroid-killer/ten mile max seat, ‘an little tiny rear caliper on a big rolling-wieght wheel! Wiz

  2. 2 Greg Jun 20th, 2011 at 8:01 am

    I guess the MoCo found the same difficulties since they are killing it.

  3. 3 GRIP ACE - HIDDEN MOTORCYCLE SWITCH SYSTEM Jun 20th, 2011 at 8:29 am

    Clean up those bars and remain legal. This is a Nice custom Rocker

  4. 4 FatBoy Jun 20th, 2011 at 8:33 am

    Woah! Thats freakin’ cool. I like the bobber style on a softail frame.

  5. 5 Todd8080 Jun 20th, 2011 at 8:46 am

    Caution: Not for use on wet roads

  6. 6 bobx Jun 20th, 2011 at 9:28 am

    bike looks good.

  7. 7 lonny Jun 20th, 2011 at 10:45 am

    I have built 2 custom Rocker. The HD Rocker has allways been a Great canvas for customizing. Not much left of the Rocker in this one. Great looking Bike.

  8. 8 sk8rod Jun 20th, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    just a little input here, the exhaust is angled away from the rider. The seat actually runs more foam that a stock Rocker and its Gel also. The rear caliper is a race unit that i would put up against the OEM any day of the week, plus the wheel is now a lite unit and not the OEM one.

    but thanks for the comment 😉

  9. 9 jordanball33 Jun 20th, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    rocketbobs builds the best modified harley davidsons out there. hands down.

  10. 10 chopperfreak29 Jun 20th, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    First rocker I’ve seen that isn’t butt ugly.LOL I like it.

  11. 11 JC Jun 20th, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    This rocker blows away any other I’ve ever seen.
    The exhaust, bars, seat, machining details and overall scheme makes for one knarly scoot.
    The Stance is killer. Who cares about riding in the rain. If you do, you get wet regardless.
    It’s like the guys who tell me the oil bags on the side of the frame isn’t a good idea bc if you wreck you could puncture it. Well, if you wreck you have far bigger concerns?
    The small brake in the rear Is perfect bc it shows off the wheel. Plus, look up front. There is plenty of braking power on this bike. I have one of these brakes in my shop and I can tell you it is a beast and I recommend it to anyone!
    Congrats Pete!! Fine job, real fine…. And congrats on that third place finish at last months AMD show.

  12. 12 Tigger Jun 20th, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    Pete you didn’t take the “Rocker from ugly to pretty”…

    You & your crew made her outright fckin’ – Beautiful !

  13. 13 Rob Campbell Jun 20th, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Nice job Pete! That scoot is bad to the bone!

  14. 14 fredp Jun 20th, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    I guess I’m getting old. Why would you not want a rear fender on your bike. I’m tired of skunk marks up the back.

  15. 15 Rob Campbell Jun 20th, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    Wildly guessing here, Fred, but I’m thinking it’s something along the lines of hiding the skidmark I get from more natural causes after hitting the warp drive on a rocket like that. Just a wiseass cartoonist, I could be wrong.

  16. 16 Paul Jun 20th, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    Nice looking ride.
    If your 5′ – 2″

  17. 17 Mixtacy Jun 20th, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    Sick bike..u see the craftsmanship and attention to bolt on chrome crap there..that how u customize!

  18. 18 Eric Maurer Jun 20th, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    this thing is sick! I love seeing people do modern custom softails, this thing is rad! The only question I would have is how the seat pan can ride soo close to the rear tire, it looks like it would hit, snag, and trash both seat and tire (and your ass in the process). If I read right, the swingarm is custom from the builder and if thats the case, I want to know more. Love the bike, nice work and the pipes are crazy cool!

  19. 19 JC Jun 20th, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    2 points on this bike that I’m unsure anyone has noticed.
    Ok, maybe so but havent posted on..
    1. I see black fork tubes. Not legs, but fork tubes. What coating would hold up?
    2. That setting must have been a real PITFA to shoot.

  20. 20 sk8rod Jun 21st, 2011 at 12:31 am

    @ Eric the OEM arm left us no option but to chop it up, we needed 10mm lower at the top plus a slight change in dimensions. The shocks are ours and are longer, adjustable but nothing extraordinary, so in the pix the bike is sat about 15mm lower than it would be in day to day use. The seat was fabbed on the new frame with the swingarm and wheel in place and fully bottomed out , it has just under 10mm clearance when the swingarm hits the bump stop. The bump stop is also ours, if you look at the stock one and imagine just using the strip of rubber from it then that is approx where the new cross member is on the frame.

    @Paul, the bike was built for our customer, Jim, who is 6` and it fits him 😉

  21. 21 baddad Jun 21st, 2011 at 2:34 am

    I like it, just yellow headlight is bad joke.

  22. 22 luSca custom design Jun 21st, 2011 at 6:26 am

    nice work…
    from the rocker remains only the frame and the oil tank?

  23. 23 dmj Jun 21st, 2011 at 6:37 am

    Ok, I gotta ask, how did they set it down in a mud flat with clean tires and no foot prints? Helicopter? crane? Long arms?

    I want video of them riding it out.

  24. 24 BigAlyts Jun 21st, 2011 at 8:02 am

    How much did it cost to take a Rocker and make it look like that Trophy Winner in that Photo? I’ll bet
    price of that Transformation Plus the price of a Donor makes a “Pretty Expensive” Rockist!

  25. 25 A 1 CYCLES Jun 21st, 2011 at 8:18 am


  26. 26 Larry R Jun 21st, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Guys. This one beautiful bike. If I could, I’d have one.

  27. 27 sk8rod Jun 21st, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    @ JC ok first off, yeah it was a real PITA to shoot 😀 It was at Lindisfarne in the North of England and it was cold and fckin windy.

    The fork stanchions are DLC coated (diamond like carbon), its a high temp, high pressure process where acetylene is blasted onto the surface. The carbon in the Acetylene forms into diamonds on the fork tube, the result is a black coating thats very tough, very slippery and ideal for forks, cam lobes etc.

    theres a little more to it than that, the prep for the stanchions gets pretty involved,, but thats basically it

  28. 28 Eric Maurer Jun 21st, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    sk8rod…. thanks for the info….. the mods to the awingarm are soo subtle (I had a hard time even telling it wasn’t factory), but soo impactful in the overall build. Amazing work! I am glad to see such custom work on a Softail, so many people are in the Softail hatin business these days, but chopping Softails are awesome as they are such a great platform to start with. Twincams and Evos both…. I just love seeing chopped Softails. Kudos to you on this bike!!!!


  29. 29 ecommerce best practices Jun 22nd, 2011 at 6:19 am

    Awesome! No other word to describe this machine 🙂

  30. 30 robinn banks Jun 22nd, 2011 at 9:34 am

    you folks just customized yourself a nice ride but i sure shit would no longer call it a rocker…aren;t you suppose to highlight the stock product…you made a cool ride that does have a bobbin appeal..m.l.r

  31. 31 tom pauly, Oceanside, CA Jun 22nd, 2011 at 9:44 am

    sk8 -you have outdone yourself,congrats on 3rd place finish at last months AMD show.

  32. 32 Teetotaler Jun 22nd, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    Those pipes are freakin’ AMAZING. Overall this bike is beautiful.

  33. 33 wade Jun 23rd, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    this is one cool bike and a great build from Rocket Bob, pete your the man, tis the only rocker i would ride.

  34. 34 THUG CUSTOM CYCLES Jun 24th, 2011 at 9:36 am


  35. 35 nuno maroco Jun 26th, 2011 at 8:23 am

    Great bike simple, clean and nice look.

  36. 36 Andy D Feb 3rd, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Yo buttmunch. The yellow headlight, its that colour to mirror the beak on a blackbird. beautiful bike.

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