Custom Chrome Forward Controls: FAIL

Last week I picked up a set of Custom Chrome forward controls for the ’77 Ironhead. I bought the on eBay from a reputable dealer for about $200, and while I didn’t expect them to be the fanciest forward controls, I did expect them to be good basic controls.

The forward controls I bought we’re made for ’78 and up Ironheads, but looking at the photos on eBay, I knew I’d be able to fit them on the bike with just a few tweaks.

After doing a “Buy It Now” in eBay, it only took a few days for the controls to arrive. The eBay description said I was purchasing a complete forward controls “kit”, but my idea of complete and Custom Chromes idea of complete obviously differ.

The box was missing instructions, but I’m mechanically inclined enough that I was able to assemble the controls on my kitchen table. I had no problems assembling the kit until near the end, when I started hunting for the brake peg. After a bit of head scratching, I realized the box had three fold-up foot pegs and a shifter peg, rather than two fold up pegs, a shifter peg and a brake peg.

I contacted the eBay seller via eBay’s messaging service and tried to track down the company’s phone number. I did manage to find a possible number via Google, but the mailbox was full.

A bit frustrated, I tracked down Custom Chrome’s contact information and left a harried message on their voicemail.

i admit, I threw my weight around as a crack motorsports blogger, letting them know the product review I was working on probably wouldn’t be that great if they or their dealer didn’t get their act together.

A few hours after my flurry of emails and voicemails, I got a call back from the eBay seller, who apologized for the problem, saying these packages drop-ship from the manufacturer. He arranged for a footpeg to be rushed out to me. In our brief conversation, I did find it odd that he mentioned how cheap the Custom Chrome forward controls are that I selected compared to some of their other, pricier options.

He did send me some basic instructions for installing the forward controls. I was a bit annoyed that they called for me to cut down and drill my shifter knuckle rather than just including the part in the kit. The brakes lacked any real instructions.

Shortly after I got off the phone with the eBay seller, I got a call from a business development executive at Custom Chrome. I told him about the Oden Motor Shop blog, the Ironhead project, and the review I was writing on the forward controls. Like the eBay dealer, he mentioned the low quality of the forward controls I purchased, saying they were actually the product of a company they acquired several years ago.

So, after all of my parts arrived, my expectations for the Custom Chrome forward controls wasn’t too high. Because of my low expectations, I wasn’t too upset to discover just how crappy these forward controls actually are.

On the plus side, they bolted on easy.

And that’s it.

Once they were on, I mocked up the positioning and saw that the shift lever was too close to the peg, and the brake lever deflected so far forward that it hit the front fender.

Essentially, these forward controls are too far forward and too high.

Modifying these controls wouldn’t be too big of a deal (if you don’t mind trashing your existing controls) to make this kit work with the ’77 Ironhead, but it would be nice if Custom Chrome just mirrored the left controls to the right rather than providing a fancy bracket with mount points for a master cylinder.

But I didn’t bother modding the Custom Chrome controls. When I got on the bike to test the positioning, it became clear that it was made from seriously cheap components. I would feel unsafe with these on my bike.

I’ll give CustomChrome the benefit of the doubt and assume it’s top-dollar forward controls are top-notch, but they should really ditch this “value” line altogether.

And until someone comes up with a good quality “budget” forward control kit, I guess I’ll have to keep hunching over to ride my 1977 Ironhead Sportster.

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DC Motorcycle Parking FAIL

I recently found out an interesting trick when trying to park a motorcycle in DC. To start off, there’s not a whole lot of street parking in DC, and most garages don’t serve motorcycles (i.e. the attend starts waving his arms around like a chicken being electrified, while yelling unintelligible curses in his native language).

I considered myself extremely lucky when I found a row of motorcycle parking just a block from my office, and there was still a space open!

I parked my bike and went to feed change into the old-school meter. Most meters in DC now work with Parkmobile app, or you can give your credit card over a toll free number. In the city, most meters are limited to two hours, but these coin-op motorcycle slots were good up to twelve hours!

So, I went around to feed the meter, and it has a great big “FAIL” on it.

I was running late already, so I locked my bike and prepared to eat the fifty dollar ticket I was sure I’d find upon return.

Later in the day I ran into my coworker who rides in on his crotch-rocket almost every day. I told him about the meter, and said: “Ah, don’t worry about it. Those meters are always broken. When you find one, you’re supposed to call a number and give the broken meter number. They may come and fix it sometime next year.”

So, if I your trying to park your bike in downtown DC, a FAIL is a good thing. But try to remember to call the number; I haven’t every gotten through due to “higher than expected call volume”, but now I always take a picture of my bike and the failed meter. Just make sure you get the meter number, or you may have a harder time getting out of those tickets…

You can report a Broken Meter by calling the DC Mayor’s Citywide Call Center at 311 or (202) 737-4404, or online using the District government’s Service Request Center.

Identify the meter by its unique meter ID number (located on the inside of the dome of single-space meters and on the front of multi-space meters) and describe the specific problem (i.e. coin jam, out of order, flashing fail, out of paper, etc.) A service request will be put into the tracking system, and you should receive a service request number.

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