As a well-scrubbed youth in the 1950s, Willie G. Davidson, grandson of Motor Company co-founder William A. Davidson, headed west from Wisconsin to attend the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif. Out on the west coast, the sun was rising on the world of motorcycle customizing, with men like Ed Roth and Von Dutch on the crest of the new wave. The impact of the emergent custom scene would linger in Davidson's sketchbook as he joined Harley-Davidson's design department in 1963.
When Polaris industries launched Victory Motorcycles in the mid-1990s, the upstart did not exactly cause The Motor Company to quake in its engineer boots. Polaris made snowmobiles, personal watercraft and ATVs—scarcely a threat to the primacy of the big boys in Milwaukee. In 1998, Victory introduced the first all-new, mass-production, American-made street bike in over 60 years. Despite listless sales, Polaris persisted, knowing that something big was on the horizon.
My first impression of the Boss Hoss hit me on a Sunday morning when Jay Leno, in typically larger-than-life fashion, pulled up on the massive bike at the Rock Store. The strange conveyance brought to mind the Hooters corporate slogan: “Delightfully tacky yet unrefined.” In the Venn diagram of my mind, the hot wings and cleavage section doesn't typically overlap with the motorcycle category, but “typical” bikes aren't powered by small block Chevy V-8s, either.
Of all the reasons that lead to the creation of a custom motorcycle, those behind the birth of the Ashcroft Flyer rank among the most unusual. Its gestation was inspired, in large measure, by Lynn Ashcroft's desire to provide a rolling canvas—if that term may be applied to a creation hewn of various alloys, rubber, and resin—for artist Mitch Kim.