I had promised this last week and got totally submarined at work. Sorry Travis. Absolutely bitchin build. I’m a big fan of the unpainted look and it works extremely well here.
What do you do when a client shows up with a half started project and an Ipad filled with pictures of another builders work in some far away state, and asks you to please finish the build and make it look just like this? At first I was a little perplexed, I had never been asked to build a bike just like something already finished and all over the interweb. Well sort of but not really. I wanted it to be different, special, with my own personal touches and not totally recognizable. Many of you might think this bike looks very similar to one created by James Crowe of Crowe Customs in Portland OR for the Tarantulas. I won’t deny it, she is strikingly similar, but in this economy who am I to turn down good paying work strictly on principal? So before I dove right in, I contacted James Crowe and explained that if he was vehemently opposed to it I would decline and insist with the client that we went a different direction. I think at first he was flattered that someone liked his work so much that they wanted to copy it.
A week after our first conversation I contacted him a second time to answer a couple questions and that is when he told me, “well if I were to do it again, here are all the things I’d do differently and why.” We had a great conversation and he suggested that some aspects of a project you just can’t foresee until it is completed and road proven. We agreed that placing the oil tank under the seat created several inherent problems that needed to be addressed. After some trial and error on his part he noted the necessary longer upper shock towers to increase rear wheel clearance without increasing rear end travel. Those two small parts insignificant parts had to be custom made and turned on a lathe and then welded to the stock Progressive shocks after literally cutting off the upper shock mounts.
Although Crowe used steel for his under seat oil tank, I chose aluminum. Mostly for the alloy fittings and filler cap I already had in my shop, and for the ease to hammer form the complex shape from just a couple pieces of material to reduce the amount of welded joints. I changed my oil tank design three times after each prototype showed other inherent problems. The outer seat shell is hammer formed steel that we intentionally left the welded seams slightly visible. It follows the oil tank contour with only a 1/4 inch air gap so the hot oil doesn’t transfer heat to the seat pan and ultimately the rider’s butt.
All the engine cases and covers were disassembled and shot with glass beads, while a new top end and head work were preformed by Harold’s Machine Shop in Richmond, TX. Only the chrome of the brand new Sun rims, the stock gauge trim rings and the new halo headlight assembly were left untouched. A Carpy 4 into1 exhaust system was polished with Scotch-Brite pads and 6 layers of VHT clear were applied, only to have it bake and discolor during the break-in period. The primer-less clear coat on the bare steel tank and seat is a special DuPont PPG DAU-75 with a hardener DX-80. Carbs were treated to an ultrasonic cleaning dip, a Dynojet stage 3 kit and a set of K&N pods added to keep her on the road. Hidden under the seat are the electrical components and an 8-cell Li-Ion Ballistic battery. A micro switch cluster on the left side clutch perch serves double duty with the engine start button and horn button routed through individual 30Amp relays. The LED halo was wired to be always on and is very brite with the headlight hi/lo having a kill switch for daytime running. Rearsets are Tarrozi’s and are well engineered but have to be completely disassembled to adjust and that is a two hour job I have done three times. Many late nights over the last year to complete this build, but we are really happy with how she turned out.
James Crowe does amazing work at Crowe Customs and is a very nice guy. He was quite helpful in the few conversations we had. I can only hope that if he see’s this he will feel I did him justice. Although imitation is the ultimate form of flattery, no one wants to be copied without recognition. Thank you for the opportunity to create a unique work of art. My client also thanks you for giving us a great inspiration to follow.
If you want to see more pictures of this project and other bikes I’ve created visit my work page on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/IronSpadeCycles
Thanks again Steve for taking the time to help expose each of us for our talents and abilities. Talk soon, Travis