I’ve known George Counes of Spartan Frameworks for probably 7-8 years now, and he’s always struck me as a guy that is generous with his time and knowledge. I’ve also worked with him on a couple of photo projects and can attest that he is also meticulous and thorough. I’ve shared several photos of George’s build in various media platforms and, almost without fail, someone will ask “is that a Spartan front end?’ He has bikes, frames, and front ends across the globe but remains a humble, hard-working dude and definitely has a distinctive style that has influenced many in the industry.
Where are you from originally? Tucson, Arizona. My family is from the Midwest; my dad had a restaurant, the Northwoods Restaurant, that was kind of a rustic-themed steak and seafood house. There were animal mounts and stuff on the walls, that’s kind of what I grew up in. I’m first-generation Greek; my family immigrated from a small town in Greece near Sparta.
How did you get into building motorcycles? I wanted a motorcycle. I was working in a welding shop, and my cousin came to me and asked me about building frames for recumbent bicycles (those ones where you sit in a reclining position), and I started doing that. Someone said to me, why don’t you just build your own motorcycle frame? It was 2003; I remember it was the year Mt. Lemmon burned. I built my own jig that September and then made my own frame. I still have the frame; it’s the panhead my son Jimmy has now. I just built it up from there when people started asking me for frames. I rode my own for about six months before I did anything for anybody else, I wanted to be sure it was solid and safe first. I was hanging out with some drag racers and car guys, and they taught me how to use and work with chromoly, and that’s how I got started using that.
How long have you been building? I built my first bike in 1987; it was a ’67 shovelhead in an old D&D frame. I’ve been making frames for about 15 years now.
What influences your design? Simplicity. I wanted everything clean, simple, and as easy to work on as possible for whoever has the bike. I like the hole-y look where you can see through the bike. And, I wanted it so everyday people can work on their bikes, people can work on one component without having to mess with 4-5 other parts. I’ve put miles and miles on my designs, so I know the work and learned what works through breakdowns, things coming apart, having to trailer them, and having to do shit roadside. Simplicity.
Where does the name Spartan Frameworks come from? I’m Greek, my family is from a suburb Sparta area, and I still have family there. The town square is named after my uncle, and they own a bakery, a welding shop, and a farm all in that area. It’s a way for me to honor my heritage.
How has your business changed over the years? It moved pretty quickly into bike building from frames. But I always took my time road-testing everything for months while refining my designs for safety.
Is there anyone in the industry that inspires or inspired you? Yeah, actually. When I got out of the Marine Corps, I met a Vietnam Recon Marine vet named G. He had this badass Panhead with drag bars that I liked. It kind of made me realize that if I ever wanted a bike like that, I’d have to build my own. And, I saw Lou Facigno’s shovelhead, Hell’s Castaway, on a cover of Easyriders and it had an impact on my design style.
What inspires you outside the industry? Oh, man. Music? Yeah, music. Black Sabbath, Motorhead, Jimi Hendrix, Zeppelin, blues. That kind of stuff. And, probably my granddad who always told me to keep it simple. He was an easy-going guy. He came from Greece and then wound up going back as a combat engineer with the military.
What has been your favorite build? My knucklehead. It’s why I’m building another and, I’m NOT selling it. When you get a knucklehead dialed in, they just run great.
What does the future hold for Spartan Frameworks? Fuck if I know! I’m an optimistic mother fucker, but I just don’t know. Whatever it is, it’ll all be good.
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