Royal Enfield Bobber – ThunderDuck v5

ThunderDuck v5 was to transform to into a Royal Enfield Bobber. This motorcycle started off as a stock Royal Enfield ThunderBird, about 12 years ago.  I have wanted to make one of these for a while now. ThunderDuck had been lying idle at home for about 18 months. It had to go away or become something else that I could build as a project.

Indian Larry tribute. ThunderDuck as a Royal Enfield Bobber

I started working on this late in 2015. The plan was to build something that would be single seater and a return to its “cruiser” roots while going a little more extreme. Over time, the ThunderDuck had gone from being something that Royal Enfield released to a cafe racer, then more touring with hard cases, later became a little dirt oriented and then kind of lost its way and sat in the garage for a year and a half.

ThunderDuck’s seat

Started off with changing nothing but the seat. I needed to get this nailed down, before anything else. The original seat plate is great, served us for many years. But, just not what I wanted for this project. So, I got that done first. I had to get the plate a bit modified and the seat cushion was redone to make it low and comfortable.

As you can see from some of the outdoor shots, was to ride the final product to BOBMC RiderMania‘s 2016 event. And this is how it looked out on the highway, after about 500kms of riding nearing Hyderabad.

On the road comfort of a Royal Enfield Bobber
ThunderDuck with a soft tail bag and tank bag.

ThunderDuck’s Handlebar

Everything was hand made. Nothing that you see was a part of any kind of a bobber kit. Like what you would find for say, a bobber Harley. Let us take a look at the handlebar since that was the next important thing for me. I knew the height but was not sure of the pattern. But, remembering the good old days of watching Indian Larry’s beautiful builds, I thought this would be a good direction to head as a tribute.

ThunderDuck v5 Larry Abhi's bike

I wanted nothing in the middle of the bars to give an unrestricted view of the road. Meant all meters and controls needed to go. Good riddance to data that does not matter most of the time.

Royal Enfield Bobber handle bar.
View from the v5’s seat.

ThunderDuck’s Rear fender

One area of the motorcycle that I am not completely satisfied with. This works for now and is pretty good at keeping off the dirt from the road from reaching me. But, for me, it is a compromise on the form for the function. Given the dirty roads of where I live, this is something I will live with.

Royal Enfield Bobber parts
Lots of new parts at this end.

ThunderDuck’s Sissy bar

The next thing I worked on was the sissy bar. The height seemed extreme for most people when I shared the design thought. I was convinced it that was the way to go. Made it feel more balanced. And, it would be functional too, for the travel that was coming up.

ThunderDuck v5 Larry's rear fender
Intra-city cafe cruising mode.

“I don’t want this to be a be a sissy motorcycle. Just a motorcycle with a sissy bar.”

Target achieved. While out on the road, the sissy bar held up really well. It was built for the load with appropriate strengthening  and it really worked well. This below picture was shot after about 400kms of riding, 300 of that in the rain.

A traveling Royal Enfield Bobber, the ThunderDuck v5
A traveller’s Royal Enfield Bobber

ThunderDuck’s Tail Light section

And, I was sure that I wanted the lights and number plate to be mounted on the sissy bar. I wanted a specific type of tail lamp. Once we got it, it did not work as well as I hoped. Asif* found me a tail light similar to the one that I wanted and the best part was that it is all integrated. The indicators, tail light, brake light and the numberplate light. And, it fit well on the base plate we had already made with the older design. Neat!

Sissy bar tail light setup on Royal Enfield Bobber
Sissy bar tail light setup on ThunderDuck v5

ThunderDuck – Greasehouse Customs

I hated the stock exhaust that I had been running for the past few years on this motorcycle. It served the purpose, kept the motorcycle silent. But, for this project, it was an eyesore. Prashanth and Anand of IndiMotard and Throttle Wide Open fame have been producing some interesting exhausts. And, for me, what I wanted for this project was what they call the megaphone. Short, upswept and a nice sound. It supposedly makes more power, but that was not my immediate worry. But, it is a plus point!

Connect with Greasehouse Custom parts directly for this or select from a range of awesome upgrades for your motorcycle.

ThunderDuck v5 Greasehouse Custom parts

Royal Enfield Bobber – On the road

We did hit some bad patches and the wiring did get affected. Mostly because of clearance and wiring. Those initial design faults have now been fixed after the ride.

There were plenty of other smaller changes and customizations, but I will leave that out from this for now.

Designing for the end user

The motorcycle itself was very comfortable for me. I have ridden this now for 3,000 km from the time I built it. 2,500 km on the highway and 500 km in the city. Remember everything was built for my body measurements, so someone else who is very different in size from me may not have the same level of comfort.

Royal Enfield Bobber
What started off as Royal Enfield Bobber project turned into the most comfortable version.

* Work was done by or arranged for me by Asif, HM Garage, Bangalore. Let me know if you need an introduction.

Indian Larry Chopper Shaman

One book that I would like to (affiliate) link out from here is Indian Larry: Chopper Shaman by Dave Nichols. Amazon’s description of the book is below the image.

Indian Larry Book

A stunt man and sideshow performer made famous by the Discovery Channel, Indian Larry Desmedt is best remembered for his remarkable custom motorcycles, his wild tattoos, and his love for building and riding rolling art. This book, by those who knew him best, offers a closer look at this chopper shaman admired by so many.

Full of photographs that document a uniquely colorful life, the book follows Larry from his humble beginnings to his unlikely stardom, tracing his short career as a bank robber, his time in prison, his spiral downward into heroin addiction, and his rebirth in 1994 as the spiritual bike builder revered by so many—and, running through it all, the love of hot rods and motorcycles that finally brought him happiness.

Why was he nicknamed Indian Larry? Because early in his career, he ceaselessly rode his Indian Motorcycles through the street of New York City.

Photos of the Royal Enfield Bobber are either from a Moto G 3rd Generation or a Nikon D7100.