The Lowrider style is constantly evolving and becoming more refined. It only takes a set of wires and hydraulics to give a Lowrider a certain appeal, just like it only takes a few modifications to give a motorcycle that Lowrider look. But what separates a headturner from a neck-breaker? The search for the answer is over. Steve Castillo’s 2007 Heritage Softail is the bike that all others will be judged by and he’s here to show you why.

Steve’s Softail represents the current pinnacle of custom Chicano bikes. While the build time was surprisingly less in terms of months, in reality, the bike was the accumulation of a lifetime of planning and growing. “What inspired me to build a bike like this was the work of two bike builders named Jimmy Monugian and Johnny Quintero. The first time I laid eyes on their bikes I knew that’s where I wanted to be,” Steve explains. It started in 2005 with a new Heritage Softail that I purchased off the showroom floor. I fixed it up to a certain level, and I stayed with that for like a year.” Steve’s two-wheeled monster was receiving the types of accolades many would be satisfied with, but not Steve. “I took home some trophies but the bike wasn’t doing for me what I wanted it to do, so I sold it and bought the same bike again in 2007. That’s when I decided to tear it all down and build a full show bike.”

For inspiration on his motorcycle, Steve reflected back to a time in his life when the cars and lifestyle he was exposed to influenced his upbringing. “I was introduced to Lowriding when I was six years old,” Steve recalls. “I can remember back in the day, my dad had a Ford Galaxy and we used to cruise down Whittier Boulevard. I grew out of it and wanted to find something that interested me like Lowriders did, but I wanted something different. When I saw the bikes that Jimmy and Johnny built, and I saw how [building bikes] touched them, I got that spark and totally made the conversion from traditional Lowriders.” The inspiration was enough to motivate Steve through the transition. “I sold my Impala and my Bomb and immediately bought a Harley,” he says with a smile. While he may have been entering new waters, Steve held on to his sense of Lowrider aesthetics as the backbone for all of his designs. “The bike style was inspired by a lot of heavy hitter cars like El Rey, The Darkside, and Perfect Score. I wanted my bike to look like a show class Lowrider, but on a Harley. That’s where the look all comes from.”

So what does it take to be a trendsetter? For starters, the amount of one-off fabrication and unique parts often propels a bike to that seemingly unattainable level. “There are a lot of one-off parts on my bike that people don’t realize. Fabricated exhaust, stretched tanks, stretched front and rear fenders, hand crafted engraving, molded frame, etc. It’s the little specific details that separate my bike from the bikes with only nice paint jobs and chrome covers.” Steve is quick to give credit where credit is due, as he understood early on that to achieve this level of a build, he was going to need help. “The specially fabricated exhaust system was all CNC’d by Torres Cycles out of Moreno Valley, California. There are only two of these systems. I have one of them and the other belongs to Johnny Quintero, who he handed down to me when he retired his bike. Mike, over at Platinum Air Ride put the air ride system together so it could be polished, engraved and chromed. The stretched rear fender is a fabricated piece. The tanks are one-off tanks. The frame is a Harley frame, but its hand crafted and molded. The floorboards are one-off and are all molded and engraved. We took a piece of billet aluminum to make the rotors. The calipers were also CNC’d.”

While the level of fabrication on Steve’s bike is astounding, building a bike like this one does come with a certain risk. One-off parts can either flow like water or look like a Mr. Potato Head with different pieces stuck on without reason. What really sets Steve’s ahead of the pack is the fact that the bike flows from front to back, and this can be accredited to Steve Deman, the man who brought it all together. “That part of the process was all designed through Steve Deman. He’s a very well known painter in the Lowrider industry and he’s the one who made it all work. If you can lay the paint down correctly, this is the result you can achieve; a look that flows.”

Earning the respect of the public is certainly an achievement, but to earn the respect of the public and your peers is proof that your bike has truly raised the bar. At each showing of the bike, it seems to take on a presence of its own and appeals to virtually anyone, not just other bike builders. “I can load up and go to any kind of car show and it attracts all walks of life. The reaction is just breathtaking; [people] don’t know how to react. To my knowledge, I’ve never seen a Harley out there to this level.” With that line in the sand drawn, the bar has been set. Catch up.

2007 Harley Davidson Heritage Softail

Owner: Steve Castillo

Builder: Steve Castillo, Steve Deman, Fineline Cycles

Paint: Candy Teal by Steve Deman CA

Wheels: Landmark 80 Spoke 21-inch front, 16-inch rear

Modifications: Custom one-off exhaust by Torres Cycles Moreno Valley, CA, Platinum Air Ride installed by Fineline Cycles, custom molded frame, custom stretched gas tank, rear fender by Steve Deman, Engraving and chrome by Hernan’s Custom Engraving, Custom headlights, one-off floor boards

Special thanks: Steve Deman, Hernan’s Custom Engraving, Fineline Cycles, and my kids and family for standing by my side when they were telling me “enough is enough,” and I knew it wasn’t enough.