A great way to ease into what has become the greatest custom motorcycle show in the country is to spend Friday night at Cook's Corner. Show Class magazine hosts this getdown every year and the six final People's Champ bikes are proudly displayed. Everyone at the party gets to cast a vote for their favorite bike and that builder gets to put his machine on display with the rest of the Invited Builders at Born Free the next day. Chopper democracy, hell yeah! We've been proud sponsors of this since day one and it is always a good time. This year was no slouch and Cook's was packed with neat bikes and rowdy folks. The People's Champ entries were all top notch, the beer was cold, the girls were hot and in the end, Daril Borba made Central California proud with the win.
I did as much of the work as possible, but definitely got plenty of help from some talented friends. I enjoy the collaborative nature of the process and Iâ€™m always amazed with the skilled group of friends that Iâ€™m surrounded by. Of course itâ€™s a show wagon for our parts and I used a bunch of â€˜em: Whiskey Throttle, Kung Fu Grips, RE-Bars, Stainless Seat Hinge, Builderâ€™s Pipe Kit, Model E Tail Light, and Norman Pegs.
Rouser Rob pitched in on some of the early stuff last fall and then we cranked on reassembly together for a couple days before he headed back to surferâ€™s paradise in Costa Rica in March. Heâ€™s a great mechanic, so tapping his knowledge and experience is huge to me.
I built the two-piece seat pan so that I can easily flip it up and access the battery, oil filler and circuit breakers. Duane Ballard and I shaped the foam together and we used this weird physical therapy mat foam for the first time and it feels ridiculously comfortable. Way more expensive than regular foam but I think itâ€™ll be worth it on long days. I made the tolerances on the pan too tight and after DB covered everything, it just didnâ€™t fit. Rookie mistake on my part, but I learned in the process and thankfully Duane lives close and didnâ€™t kill me for asking him to re-cover the back half after we massaged the pan to fit. The nifty little pouch on the back of the seat is a leather-covered steel box that holds a ever-useful Gerber multi-tool.
The paint was a big challenge for Matt Ross and his girlfriend Jen Hallet. I know it sounded weird when I described the concept: creepy trees, twilight metallic teal color, etc. They watched a few Bob Ross videos, scratched their heads a little and then just murdered this thing. Iâ€™m so happy with this paint. Itâ€™s weird. Iâ€™ve never seen anything quite like it. I love flames and traditional paint, but it feels like weâ€™ve seen it all so I just wanted to do something different. Matt remarked that it was one of the best ideas heâ€™s ever been given by a customer, so thatâ€™s a neat compliment. His molding work on the frame is world class and I know he had to be cussing me with over 40 perfectly blended joints on this frame.
Kosovo Joe and I did the fab work on everything, including: building the sissy bar, brazing on the Lowbrow cast bungs, gas and oil tank mounts, modifying both tanks, adding the brake stay, seat hinge mount and a pile of other fab bits that hold everything together. Iâ€™ve learned a lot from Joe over the years and it was nice to show him a trick or two on this bike and fun to work together. Heâ€™s now inspired to build his first chop.
Westy is our product manager here at Biltwell and a devoted motorcycle and tech nerd. He can also wheelie pretty much anything. When I brought him a shitty sketch of the 3-D printed wiring guides that I wanted to do he understood the idea immediately. Iâ€™m not big on internal wiring, but I wanted this bike to have a more show-quality appearance and since these widgets completely recess into the hole in the frame, thereâ€™s no sharp edges to rub the wiring raw. We went through a couple resin prototypes before we got the shape nailed. Once we were happy with â€˜em we ordered them 3-D printed in aluminum and polished â€˜em up. A few people have asked if we would offer these as a Biltwell product and thereâ€™s no way to make them cost effective. We did put them up on Shapeways website though and you can grab a few at cost ($20 in aluminum) if you want: http://www.shapeways.com/shops/clutch-inc
Dalton Walker built the wheels and I love â€˜em. Ovalized 0.120" wall tubing for the spokes means these things are beefy. We covered this process in the first Mile Muncher video episode, and itâ€™s worth watching. Dalton builds insane show bikes that I canâ€™t even wrap my head around. The level of detail and depth of his fabrication skills are sincerely inspirational. Iâ€™m happy to build a sissy bar or radius a fender and old Dalton builds a whole truck from scratch to haul his Born Free bike. Iâ€™m not sure how he finds the hours in a day to pull it all off, but he does every time.
Other details on the bike include moving the seat post mount for the oil tank up higher, raising the tank, building in two additional mounts on top and frenching a hole for spark plug wires to pass through to the coil hidden underneath the tiny Anti Gravity battery. Thereâ€™s also a couple resettable off road circuit breakers in the tank. This keeps everything tidy and while it is pretty tight, everything is serviceable without removing the fender or any of those kind of show bike compromises. The gas tank is an old Santee that I got from CZ Big Scott. He schooled me at our parking lot sale earlier in the year about how perfect these old ones are shaped with no flat spot on top and Iâ€™ve been enamored with them ever since. The forwards were a beat up old set with weird mounts that I threw away. I made new mounts and designed some spindles that Mikeâ€™s Precision Welding here in Temecula machined up so I could mount our Norman pegs to â€˜em and they also act as the pivot point, complete with bronze bushings. I thought a Honda CFR450 brake caliper and master cylinder would look lighter and work better than old Harley junk so thatâ€™s what slows things down up front.
Drag Specialties is our exclusive distributor in the USA. That means that shops all over the country stock their shelves with our parts and gear that they buy from our friends at Drag. They have a massive catalog, actually several of them, and my favorite is the â€œOld Bookâ€ that came in real handy on this build. Big things like the BDL clutch system all the way to small commodities like throttle cables, wiring bits and gaskets and seals, Drag had it and ordering was easy.
Weâ€™ve been friends with the Lowbrow crew for years so of course we used as many of their parts as possible. Little stuff like bungs and isolated rubber gas tank mounts go a long way towards making the bike building process so much easier. Their Manta Ray fender is burly and well made. I love the little fork cap and steering stem bolts that use a 3/8â€ ratchet. Nicely crafted problem solvers like these never go out of style.
The Baker trans is a true work of art. This damn thing is made with pride. Itâ€™s not all just good looks either, it shifts smooth as glass and everything fit with it perfectly. Their customer service crew was great to work with when making such an expensive decision and it was confidence-inspiring to talk to a tech who can guide you through the process. I chose the four speed because this is a foot clutch bike and I enjoy the wide spacing with less gear choices and didnâ€™t feel the 5 or 6 was needed. Keep it simple, right?
Starting a bike for the first time never gets old. Especially one you have to kick. I sweated my ass off getting it to fire the first time, but once it got oil and fuel moving through its guts, this monster farted to life, and Iâ€™m getting the starting sequence more wired every day. Once itâ€™s broken in properly itâ€™ll be even easier. Riding for the first time was equally elating. I had the clutch pedal adjusted way too far back so it was a bitch to start out but I wasnâ€™t gonna let that stop me even if I looked like a kook. This 93â€ mill with 90hp out of the box rips and I was relieved that the ergonomics fit me just like I had hoped. I was instantly comfortable and that goes a long way towards the goal of munchkinâ€™ the miles. The whole idea with this bike was to build something funâ€“a look that is inspired by proper vintage choppers, but loaded with modern, high-quality parts, disc brakes and a rugged and serviceable design on everything: a Go-Bike, not a Show-Bike. Parts List:
S&S Cycle SH 93 Engine Forged pistons 8.5:1 Super E carb Hydraulic valve train and roller rocker arms Super Stock single fire ignition system 585 camshaft Cast gear cover Biltwell Whiskey throttle Kung Fu grips RE-Bars Stainless seat hinge Builderâ€™s pipe kit Model E tail light Norman pegs
Drag Specialties Paughco frame BDL clutch assembly Metzler ME 88 Marathon tires 39mm fork legs, 4" over PM rear brake caliper Rear master cylinder All lines, wires, fittings and cables DID O-Ring chain Chrome sprocket, brake rotors
Lowbrow Customs Bungs, cast and machined Isolated gas tank mounts Fork caps Steerer stem bolt Steel manta ray fender Gas Box air cleaner backing plate Cable guide for brake line
The June 4th, 2016 Hooligan Dirt Dash took place at Gruene Harley-Davidson in New Braunfels, Texas. This is quite possibly the coolest dealership in the country. Their big grass field was just begging to be carved into a hooligan dirt track. Weather was not on our side, and with half of Texas underwater already, we were sweating bullets and fearing that the event might get rained out.
We flew in one of the best track builders in the business, named Kit Stokes. By Saturday morning, the rain had transformed the track into a muddy, pothole-filled war zone but Kit along with some New Braunfels heavy equipment operators whipped it into shape in a matter of hours. All the riders agreed that the track was more fun to ride and safer than what they were used to.
Multiple classes of racers kept things interestingâ€”Run what ya Brung, kickstart race, and of course the Hooligans. Heavy doses of slideways practice and racing combined with stunt shows by the Unknown crew and a Chopper/Dyna/FXR show made for a busy day of action-packed entertainment. Whether it was Mark Atkins sliding his Sportster around the track or a New Braunfels local railing corners on the FXR he rode into the event, the track was constantly buzzing.
Just after the main event we handed out trophies, Wiggins popped the champagne from the podium's top spot and the heavens opened up and doused everything. Timing could not have been better!
Thanks to everyone who came out for the races and Gruene Harley-Davidson's 10 year anniversary party, we appreciate the hospitality and can't wait to get back to Texas again soon!
Ol' Mikey Revolt (^^ above ^^) and our buddies at Lowbrow and Gasbox know how to throw a bike show. As a Cleveland native, the Bringer of Chaos loves to showcase two of his favorite things: his hometown and sick ass choppers. This year was interesting with the venue being changed to the indoor mountain bike park known asRay's MTB. The bikes were sprinkled throughout the park and it was a unique way to stage the show as compared to a traditional gallery format.
Mitchell's in Cleveland. Yes, we went twice in three days. #ridemotorcycleseaticecream
We started the weekend off with a pre-party at Mahall's bowling alley in Lakewood. Free lanes, lots of cold beer and live rock and roll by the three-piece fuzz rock gods Moonbow made for good times. There was no shortage of cool local bikes parked out front and it was a good indicator of how things were going to go the next day...
Saturday was a busy one with plenty of vendors out side, a couple dozen show bikes inside and a few hundred bikes of all kinds stacked up in the parking lot. Late in the day the skies finally broke loose and washed everything down, but Ohio knows how to take this kind of weather in stride. It was over pretty quick and when the crowd finally thinned, most of us headed over to the Sidetrack Cafe for the Show Class afterparty.
The following day was a proud one for the Lowbrow Customs guys as they got to give their new HQ a proper break-in. The freshly paved parking lot got it's share of used 50wt donated, and friends, family and customers got to enjoy the new showroom, a birthday cake (12 years!) and a casual bike show. Congrats guys, it's been fun to grow beside you and we can't wait to come back again next year.
We stole this photo from Mikey since somehow we didn't nab any pics at Sunday's celebration
When Michael "BuckWild" Ramirez was commissioned by Sailor Jerry to paint a lid for the upcoming 'Ride with Norman Reedus' show on AMC, he knew starting with a Biltwell helmet was the first order of business. Though Buck's known for his wild and highly polished lowrider and dragster paint schemes, he thought that a departure from the norm was in order, no pun intended.
Drawing from Sailor Jerry's abundance of traditional tattoo flash, but still wanting to come up with something unique, Buck chose to ditch the masking tape and HVLP spritz machine and instead opted to hand paint and age the brain bucket for the star of "The Walking Dead". Since the new show follows Reedus' journey across some of the best roads America has to offer on his L.A. SpeedShop-built Harley Davidson FXR, Buck figured some luck was in order and chose to adorn the Biltwell Bonanza with a Sailor Jerry lucky 13 and a black cat. Bad luck is still luck, right?
Time for an update on the NORRA 1000 race last month. This tireless crew of the Rippin' Rooster successfully piloted their 60-year old desert hot rod from one end of the Baja peninsula to the other over some of the gnarliest terrain you can imagine. We were so stoked to see our helmets, gloves, goggles and even gasolina bottles put to good, filthy use.
My plan was to meet up with them for the second day and co-drive a section with Jim. Me and a couple buddies were also pitting for an old friend who was racing a Baja bug. As usual, the desert had it's own agenda and it included us changing a front spindle on the beach in the middle of the first night. This put me a day behind the Rooster crew, so I missed my slot on day two. Sad face. More importantly, at the end of the fourth day Jim made the podium with a hard-fought third place finish. Well done, Rippers!
Huge thanks to the Jim, Eric, Duran and the rest of the Rooster family for letting us be involved. You can follow this intrepid team on Instagram @rippinrooster
Anyone who's racing a vintage bike next year and would like some support, hit us up, we'd be glad to pitch in. Hit up firstname.lastname@example.org
Well, the dry hump is done. This project is getting blown apart tomorrow and next time we show an update it'll be a wrap. The seat is at Duane Ballard's palace of pleats, Matt Ross gets the tins tomorrow and me and Rouser will finish up a few little fab details on the frame while Christian takes a load of parts to Tijuana for chrome. We've got a bunch of riding to do in April, so the timing is perfect to get some of this stuff into other people's hands.
This has been a pretty seamless project and definitely lots of fun. Using quality parts makes a big difference, and having a relaxed time line to work with kept it from feeling stressful. Having smart, talented friends to pitch in when needed has of course been a huge help.
When we show the finished machine, we'll also publish a full parts list. Huge thanks to Lowbrow Customs and Drag Specialties for pitching in so many neat bits to go along with the incredible S&S Cycle SH93 engine. I can't wait to ride this beast to Sturgis and then on to the 10th annual Gypsy Run.
The Fuel Cleveland show is a great time put on by our buds at Lowbrow Customs. This year is gonna be wild since it's held inside Ray's MTB park. We're pitching in by throwing a pre-party the night before at Hooples Bar at the corner of Columbus and Franklin.
Matt "The Beard" Bischoff's band:Moonbowwill be destroying your ears with maximum rock and roll. This is guaranteed to be a good time and the bar has plenty of bike parking, great food, and cold beer.
Party start at 7:00. We'll see you there! Click here for map.