This project has been a really fun machine to build and is finally wrapped up. Starting with brand spanking new components like the S&S SH93, Baker trans and a pile of nice parts from Drag Specialties and Lowbrow Customs made the process smoother and less stressful than usual. There wasn’t much parts hunting to do and that’s generally a very time consuming process. This left time to focus on a few neat details like the internal wiring guides, building forward controls, stainless trim on oil tank and the hidden coil with frenched plug wires. Everything was built with durability and serviceability first and aesthetics a close second. Simple things like robust exhaust mounts and properly routed wires and lines result in less time fussing with it in the future.
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 I’m always amazed with the skilled group of friends that I’m surrounded by. Of course it’s a show wagon for our parts and I used a bunch of ‘em: Whiskey Throttle, Kung Fu Grips, RE-Bars, Stainless Seat Hinge, Builder’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 surfer’s paradise in Costa Rica in March. He’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 it’ll be worth it on long days. I made the tolerances on the pan too tight and after DB covered everything, it just didn’t fit. Rookie mistake on my part, but I learned in the process and thankfully Duane lives close and didn’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. I’m so happy with this paint. It’s weird. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. I love flames and traditional paint, but it feels like we’ve seen it all so I just wanted to do something different. Matt remarked that it was one of the best ideas he’s ever been given by a customer, so that’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. I’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. He’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. I’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, there’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 ‘em we ordered them 3-D printed in aluminum and polished ‘em up. A few people have asked if we would offer these as a Biltwell product and there’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 ‘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 it’s worth watching. Dalton builds insane show bikes that I can’t even wrap my head around. The level of detail and depth of his fabrication skills are sincerely inspirational. I’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. I’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. There’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 I’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 Mike’s Precision Welding here in Temecula machined up so I could mount our Norman pegs to ‘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 that’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 “Old Book” 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.
We’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 3/8” 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. It’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 didn’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 I’m getting the starting sequence more wired every day. Once it’s broken in properly it’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 wasn’t gonna let that stop me even if I looked like a kook. This 93” 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 munchkin’ the miles. The whole idea with this bike was to build something fun–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:
SH 93 Engine
Forged pistons 8.5:1
Super E carb
Hydraulic valve train and roller rocker arms
Super Stock single fire ignition system
Cast gear cover Biltwell
Kung Fu grips
Stainless seat hinge
Builder’s pipe kit
Model E tail light
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
Bungs, cast and machined
Isolated gas tank mounts
Steerer stem bolt
Steel manta ray fender
Gas Box air cleaner backing plate
Cable guide for brake line