This article was originally published in the Spring 1996 issue of Cycle World’s Big Twin magazine.
John Siroonian is no novice when it comes to building fabulous rolling creations; he’s been making custom hot-rods and go-fast sprint cars since the Sixties. But when he recently bought a spanking new Heritage Softail, he just didn’t have the heart to light the torch and go a-cuttin’.
He did, however, have the heart to build a custom from scratch, even naming the extensively plated finished product “Chromey.” And although this was Siroonian’s very first custom Harley effort, the bike’s 104-inch, nitrous-pumped monster-motor definitely qualifies Chromey as the bully on the block.
Working in his Fresno, California, facility, Siroonian and his fabricator, Don Raiskup, started with an Atlas frame that got some extensive modifications, including a five-degree rake. They fabricated the handlebars, pipes and fenders to fit Siroonian’s vision of how a smooth-flowing custom should look, then lengthened the Ness gas tank and moved the filler cap to centerline. They even molded the lights and gauges into the top triple-tree and hid all of the wires.
To further enhance the bike’s sanitary appearance, the rear turnsignals were built into the back of the nitrous bottles, and they, in turn, were incorporated into the rear fender struts. CycleArts of Fresno, California, created the stunning graphics which include rivulets of silver leaf that tie the chrome together with the paint.
Then there’s that laughing-gas motor. Bruce Fisher of AccuTrue in Newport Beach, California, assembled this fire-snorter built around Sputhe cases, pistons and cylinders working beneath Branch heads. An Andrews EV72 cam and a 42mm Mikuni carb help make this brute so streetable that it belies an ability to crank out 105 ponies on gas. And with a breath of the dentist’s little helper, the motor can bellow out 145 bodacious, belligerent horses.
With all the horsepressure at the ready, Siroonian took precautions to prevent the engine from running away with itself. “I put a little microswitch on the throttle at the carburetor,” he says. “I can feel the switch when I twist the throttle, and at the point where I feel it, I’m able to make the decusion whether or not to twist it farther and engage the nitrous.”
Not only did Siroonian create the baddest bike on the block, he created the baddest bike within several states. In its very first outing in Irvine, California, Chromey garnered Best Of Show, Best Engineered, and Best Chrome of the show.
For a first effort, that’s mighty impressive. But for a man of John Siroonian’s background, you really expect nothing less.