Business Reviews

Fat Baggers Incorporated

Written by  March 31, 2006

In the history of free trade, there are those rare business opportunities where product, timing, and market conditions converge with great opportunities for success. For Fat Baggers Incorporated, aka FBI, the timing appears to be right!

Motorcycle customization’s start occurred when soldiers returning home from World War II wanted to personalize their newly purchased machines. One of the early custom bikes, the bobber, first focused on cleaning up the front end, leaving forks and a naked front wheel. Owners would then adopt an automotive tire to the rear wheel to get the early fat look. Changes that followed included custom built frames, longer front ends, tall handlebars, modified exhausts, wild paint schemes, gleaming chrome and multitudes of engine upgrades.

The most significant trend in customization of recent years has been the development of the fat tire. The first custom bike to incorporate a rounded profile (non-automotive) tire appeared on the cycling scene nearly 20 years ago. In that time, the growth in wider rear tires has been the most consistently requested modification. Many custom builders today offer quite a variety of fat tire bikes, predominately in either rigid or softail frames. Most, however, are not built with traditional rear suspensions, and certainly very few are made specifically for the Harley-Davidson touring line.

Ironically enough, the baby boomers, children of those WWII veterans and the fastest growing segment of cycle enthusiasts today, are fueling the sales of customized bikes. Now thanks to FBI, middle-aged riders can combine the comfort of the FL line with the demand for fat tires and the market convergence begins to take shape.

Gary Chipp, one of three sons of Bob Chipp, owner of C&C Cycle of Chariton, Iowa, was always a tinkerer. At 16, he built and raced his own drag bike. A few years later, he made a bet with dad that he could modify the frame of an Electra Glide to incorporate a 240 series tire and still utilize factory saddlebags. With trial and error and patience, Gary won the bet. That experience led him to the idea to create and market a bolt-on, wide tire kit for FL models.

The challenge to create an FL wide tire kit was two phase. It started with the stock rear fender and swingarm, both of which limit tire width to a 140 series. Once that was accounted for, the final drive alignment must be addressed. Gary’s design resulted in a new swingarm, rear wheel, axle and a custom rear fender, wide enough to extend over the rear frame struts. For the drive alignment, 3/8” spacers inside the inner primary, as well as an extended transmission shaft allow movement of the final drive out to eliminate tire contact. Custom saddlebag attachments that loop under the new fender then rise up and allow use of stock luggage bags. The mounting brackets and required hardware are CC milled from either stainless stock or aluminum.

The result is a strikingly beautiful wide tire custom touring machine. Clients can choose from a variety of fender styles, taillight assemblies and docking hardware to allow attachment of stock backrests. The kit includes a powder coated swingarm, axle, primary spacers, Metzeler 880, 18 inch 200 series tire, fender and all other associated hardware, with pricing starting at $3,500. Since wheel options are many, the cost of the rear wheel is not included, but FBI does offer a full line to choose from.

The response for FBI products has been very well received! The fabrication and installation facility, next door to C&C Cycle, has more than tripled in the past year, from 5,000 to 16,000 square feet. To spread the word about their product, FBI purchased a custom semi trailer and now travels to national bike rallies, taking orders in advance and scheduling on-site upgrades. Just last month, 15 kits were sold and installed at Bike Week in Daytona.

If you don’t have your own FL yet, you can pick from a line of already customized Fat Baggers, ready to roll off the showroom floor. Say you have a tour pack that you cannot give up? No problem, a customized, removable chrome mounting bracket is available.
If you are into radical wide tires, FBI also offers in house customization for tire widths up to 300 series.

The market is ripe, the product is quality, the staff is friendly and the service is excellent! For more information, contact Gary or his staff at 641-774-7499 or go on-line and check out the gallery at

By Nic