View Full Version : The story of the "Flying W"

08-07-2009, 10:01 AM
We built this bike for a couple of brothers who happen to be some kick ass designers and they put together this little write up about their bike..

Two northbound rigs crashed together and spun out of control, according to a nearby trucker. My brother (Casey) and I were gridlocked for two hours on the interstate at 3 in the morn. Temps dropped, heavy rains turned to sleet and the road became the kind of ice you couldn’t walk on, but somehow you could drive on. The wreckage was pushed aside on I-65 and as soon as traffic cleared, we dropped the hammer and drug the Holsclaw along the icy super slab into Illinois. There, the perfect donor bike was waiting for us with a negotiable owner. We hoped.

If a talented bike-building kinda guy, with a shop full of all the tools you’d ever want, says he’ll build you a bobber if you'll provide the motor...you drop what you’re doin’ and make a bee line to a donor motor. Jon Ard is the capable fella I’m referring to. Ardcore Choppers and our design shop, Wilkinson Brothers, struck a deal and our mission was clear: Find a healthy XS650 engine and get it in his greasy hands, ASAP.


Our predicted 4-hour haul turned into a 7-hour trudge, including an exit-lane pass around a crawling wall of Chicago snowplows. Their 4-wide swath wasn’t gonna set us back any further, dadgumit. We soon entered barren lands where, unfortunately, “just outside the City” turned into “way the heck out’n the country.” Craig’s List ‘poetic license’ at its finest.

We found the li’l town where the ‘78 Yammy resided. Got a little bummed that we couldn’t test-ride it due to glacier-like roadways and we’d soon learn that:
(1) it would be leaking a little oil
(2) it’d have a hose clamp holding on a muffler
(3) it was more haggard than its glamour shots
(4) its owner wouldn’t budge at a lower offer
But, seven hours in the truck and the fear of not locating another increasingly hard-to-find XS650 soon, meant the dude was holding all the aces. So, ten minutes after walking that stiff-legged, road-wary walk up to a stranger’s house, we were strapping it down to our trailer.


It’s now around noonish with blinding white snow everywhere. The bike is photogenic, God bless it, and as we retraced our way back to Indiana it grew on us. It’s a cool bike after all, with the kind of nostalgic qualities that lure restorers and chop-fiends alike. Confirmation of its coolness surfaced as a guy in a fast-approaching, clapped-out BMW paralleled us in the fast lane; he checked out the bike and made sure we acknowledged his thumbs-up. We smiled, assuming he had hunch we were gonna sacrifice it for something less practical and less wholesome. We hoped it would run as well as it sounded in the garage of the Illinoisan Craig's Lister.

Back on home turf with the donor bike, we’re a step closer to owning a bobber. After roads thawed, we wanted to thrash it around before it goes under Jon’s knife. I suited up for the sub-freezing conditions as Casey found the appropriate starting methodology. It popped to life and idled like we’d hoped. An old Cycle World review of the XS650 described this very moment: “...the engine growls to life with a subdued roar, then settles into the loping gait of a large vertical twin, the sound of an even series of cylinder explosions separated by flashes of silence.” Yep. It’s neat. I rode to a gravel lot to see what the ol’ bike felt like when tossed around and revved to the moon. Bombing frigid puddles with throttle pinned and tires spinning, the powerplant proved it had umption in its gumption. Mission: Donor Motor...accomplished


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08-07-2009, 10:02 AM
For folks that prefer moto-preservation, this is the end. The soul of this XS will live on though, we’re just giving it a new pair a’ shoes. Now, for those who dig hardtailed hooligan bobs and chops…we’ve only just begun. The donor bike is now in the hands of the Ardcore crew. While there, we saw the new bones of the Flying W; an existing roller awaited. It was clear that we were in good hands after seeing the clean welds and one-of-a-kind frame.


08-07-2009, 10:04 AM

Alright, we’ve now got a motor and roller wanting to be united. So what’s this thing going to look like? Too many choices. Too many things we wanna try. We started with these basics:
1. Gloss black frame
2. Stock XS rims, gloss black
3. Old school tires (Classic Shinko rear and Speedmaster front)
4. Silver and black tins (man, did THIS change)
5. Low bars
6. Mids!

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08-07-2009, 10:05 AM
he choice of paint style was our biggest hurdle, maybe because we’re graphic designers/illustrators. A conversation with Nate was in order. He’s Ardcore’s painter (known as “sure” to forum folk). Nate plopped down the binder o’ swatches and walked us thru the many color options and provided some schooling on candies vs. flakes and how they’re applied. He’s full bore into this painting thing; definitely has his finger on the pulse of what is different, authentic, and groovy.

We had to pick a color scheme; no more hemming and hawing. Silver and black fell by the wayside to a candied yellowy-gold and gloss black. Exclamatory. We then sketched and toiled over some simple-but-neato scallops, stripes, etc….changing our minds umpteens of times. But soon, the clouds opened up and the angels sang when we landed on a paneled theme with a fat black top-stripe. (Later, we’d benefit from Nate’s shoot-from-the-hip painting style when the tins made it to the booth; stay tuned.)


08-07-2009, 10:08 AM
Thanks, guys, for following these chopper chronicles!

My brother and I each have families to feed and motorcycles to ride. So we’ve gotta keep our noses to the grindstone to keep the kids healthy and support our bike dependency. Lucky for the guys at the shop, that means we can’t be there to experience every step of the build (as much as we’d like to). We’ll try to be politely impatient while the hard parts come together and get gussied up. These goodies include Ardcore’s 9” diamond-stitch seat kit, the shortie Top Fools exhaust, and the clean n’ simple Model A taillight/license bracket.


Items would soon come back from powdercoat and even when you know they’re gonna come back lookin’ good, it’s like Christmas morning when they’re finally beheld. Gloss black frame: Check. Gloss black rims, hubs, and lower fork legs: Triple check. Black is beautiful.


08-07-2009, 10:10 AM
So while the metal things get situated, we visited Nate’s paint shop for almost the entire process of painting the tins. If you appreciate custom painters for what they do and can recognize their value, well, good onya. If you’re skeptical and uneasy with their cost estimates, it behooves you to witness such a tedious and methodical endeavor.

When we arrived, Nate had most of the sanding and smoothing done, part of the laborious paint prep that can’t be ignored. The House of Kolor cans soon emerged to fill an impressively crafted German spray gun. We watched him begin the first of many walks around each tin thru the night (Note: don’t expect this privilege from your painter; we were lucky). The rear fender, tank, and oil bag came screaming to life each step of the way.


Nate provided some keen insight for the design; his experience and knowledge of varying styles helped enhance our early concepts. Laying down a silver Shimrin base coat and applying the wonderfully gold candy was cool enough, then he dropped a bit of a copper into the gold to create blends and fades that conjure up the good ol’ days. Far out, man.

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08-07-2009, 10:12 AM
Since this build is in the hands of others, we try to refrain from rushing the craftsmen. However, we can’t help but nudge and hint along the way, “Man, we’re reeeeally looking forward to riding that work of art!” While this is strategic flattery, we’re bein’ genuine when we say it’s art. What was a humble, do-gooder bike, is now becoming a lowbrow little punk…and we like that. In need of a visual update, we stopped by the shop to see how things were gonna mate up.

As we watched the big parts being tacked together, it was the first time we’d seen the bold golds near the black and metal of the frame and engine. We’re goin’ ape! Tank bolted, fender mounted, forks slid in, wheels put on, seat perched, pipes wrapped, and the oil bag in place, this initial assembly was the Flying W’s rite of passage. We’d shake our heads several times; all the black was the right decision. We concurred that the luminous funky stripes and panels were the proper exclamation point. Of course, this preview would only be a tease; much more has to be tweaked and fitted before the bike gets its first shot of petrol as a bobber. In the meantime, we'll pace the floors of our office in agonizing anticipation.



08-07-2009, 10:15 AM
More progress to report!

A necessary amount of days passed and we got a call from Jon Ard; he said the bike would be done by the end of the week. In its near-finished status, he predicted that we were gonna love it. Over the phone, I pre-agreed. We set a time to view the Flying W in all its assembled glory…and we would hold Jon to it.

Friday is a good day to begin with, but this one was gonna be extry special. When we pulled up to Ardcore’s parking lot, a 3:30pm sun was cast upon our new bobber. Sweet. The stark black rims, tires, and frame held up the in-yer-face goldness of the tins. Looked like it was waitin’ for a fight. We saw, for the first time, the custom-fab’d brake arm, linkage, and shift-lever. And, at last, the TT-esque handlebars were mounted with basic black grips sans frills. Of course, the icing on the cake was hearing it pop to life and fall to an amplified, cackling idle. The proprietary Top Fools exhaust did their job and we’re sure they’ll cause the shirt-n-tie guys to believe we’re among the great unwashed.


look for more videos soon...

08-07-2009, 10:31 AM
Man, that bike came out great. Pics and the right up rock it.

Killer job on the paint Nate.

08-07-2009, 10:32 AM
that things fuckin bad ass. i wish i had that good of a donor bike. but i gotta ask, whats in the oil tank? did you hide like the rectifier and coils and shit in there? i had a dummy tank but opted against it. yours looks like its part of the bike all along. heres mine. almost done. just waiting on my frontstreet ribbed fender so i can take it all back apart and paint it, scott


08-07-2009, 10:36 AM
Scottienooo, the oils tank is where all the electrics are...Our tanks look like they belong because we use oil tanks not some tube with caps on it that is illproportioned to the bike..

Thanks Knuck..

08-07-2009, 11:08 AM
I'm not a yammy hammy guy but that looks like boobies!!

08-07-2009, 1:15 PM
bike looks great.

08-07-2009, 1:32 PM
that paint job is sick, my brother and I are also building a 650 and I'd be totally stocked if our's turned out half that good.

08-07-2009, 3:17 PM
I'd like it better if it were red.....

HAHAHA just bustin your balls nate, that bike is sweet

08-07-2009, 3:19 PM
Great scoot, great story, and Awesome pics/collage!

08-07-2009, 3:44 PM
Nice work on both the bike, story layout and taking the time to share it here.


08-08-2009, 7:47 PM
thanks for a the good feed back guys..
here's a little vid with our own Rider X...
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08-08-2009, 8:06 PM
Ardcore does it right, and it's pretty obvious how rad the Wilkinson Bros are at what they do.

08-08-2009, 8:18 PM
damn, makes me wish my xj wasn't shaft driven

08-10-2009, 12:23 PM
Note the mileage bonus, Sure.

Our way of saying thanks for taking the time to post this.

08-10-2009, 12:32 PM
I hadn't seen the vid yet...turned out nice..the only thing I don't like about it are the bars...but sick job and esp paint

08-10-2009, 12:34 PM
Man, that looks great. The paint is amazing.

08-16-2009, 2:12 AM
Truely a top notch xs build...Great job!!

08-16-2009, 10:58 AM
Thanks for the write up, that bike is sweet.

08-16-2009, 11:18 AM
That is one sharp looking xs. I can't wait 'til I get mine done.

08-17-2009, 2:27 AM
Yeh same here - I watched the video the other day of this thing, very cool.

08-17-2009, 3:37 PM
Bike looks great as does the writeup, very nice.

I do a Flying W every time I go ride dirt

08-17-2009, 6:57 PM
What diameter is the oil tank? I'll admit, I'm going to knock mine up with some tube and endcaps, but I can at least look at getting the proportions right!

08-19-2009, 8:01 AM
tearin' shit up....(these are throw away shots for a possible Icon add..The Wilkinson Bros designed the helmet...)


08-19-2009, 6:43 PM
tearin' shit up....(these are throw away shots for a possible Icon add..The Wilkinson Bros designed the helmet...)]

Hey, all. Casey here. One of the Wilkinson Bros. Thanks for the comments about the write-up and bobber. The "shop bike" is a blast and we're already logging a buncha miles. As for the pics, nope, those are just a couple shots we grabbed as creative promos for our biz...not near as cool as what Icon does with their photography!!

10-10-2009, 1:03 PM
What's the dimensions on the frame,..stretch?,....rake?

10-10-2009, 3:14 PM
Want to see the jump on the finished bike. Just F-in around nice bike. Killer paint. Ardcore keep those bikes coming. CRAZY TALENT over there!

10-11-2009, 12:10 AM
I would also love to know more on the frame as well

12-09-2009, 3:31 PM
The stretch is 4" and I believe the rake is 32 ??? This may be incorrect. I think the stock rake on an XS is 27.

Hey, Sure, can you confirm?

Here's a link to their frames page for any other info:

Yeah. We're still itching to create the final vid. We have a lot of nice footage but haven't had much time to wrap it up....jumping the finished piece?...that'll more-than-likely happen :)

12-09-2009, 6:44 PM
The dims are our standard xs rigid frame..just like this one http://www.chopcult.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1820 < this has our hidden axle blocks.
4 in stretch,w/ a bit up and out and 32* rake.

12-09-2009, 10:09 PM
man, the paint totally sets this one apart....killer work!