I recently took a trip from LA north up the coast, mostly on US1 aka the PCH. I rode to San Francisco, then to Sacramento, then over to the coast and back down again. The trusty “Interceptor” was a champ, not one problem…
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I got a phone call from my friend Matt Olson asking if I wanted to ride out to Born Free this year from his shop (Carls Cycle Supply) in South Dakota. We had 4 days and had to travel approx 1600 miles, and would do it on our rigid bikes. I’m not one to pass up something cool, so I was in.
I arranged to have my bike (Icarus), shipped from the shop here in CT to SD, and chose AA Motorcycle Transport to do it. Mind you this was over 2 weeks before we were planning on leaving from Matts. The person on the phone assured me that despite the “remote location” Matts shop is located in, it would be there well before the departure date. I faxed in some forms, gave them the credit card, and a few days later the bike was picked up.
Mind you, anytime I ship a bike I spent over a year of my life building from scratch, with almost $35,000 invested in components and materials, I am a little nervous. This time I had reason to be.
A few days after the bike was supposed to be at Matts, I began to get worried. After the runaround trying to get the right person on the phone, and giving them dozens of confirmation numbers and codes, I was told that because of the “remote location” Matts shop is in, the bike was being held at some shipping terminal in Minneapolis, and wouldn’t be to Matts for another 10 days or so. No amount of pleading would motivate them to get it there in time, so Matt sent one of his friends to pick it up for me. This took her over 6 hours of driving, but got the bike safely to the shop in time for us to leave. Thank you Terresa!
Lesson learned- FUCK AA TRASPORT. Don’t use them, they tell you what you want to hear, take your money, then don’t deliver.
Anyway, here we are at our first fuel stop in SD. Matt is riding his mint 1936 knucklehead.
The trip across the plains of South Dakota and Nebraska are fairly boring, but amazing none the less. Doing this on a bike is an eye-opening experience- so much land. I can’t imagine doing this in a covered wagon.
We didn’t take much, just a few spare socks, and about 50 pounds worth of tools and spare parts. We could go about 100 miles between gas stops, thanks to both of us having about 4 gallon tank capacity.
We crossed the Rockies in CO, which is the dividing point between tons of flat grass, and tons of flat desert. A welcome change in scenery. The massive changes in elevation and temp forced us to stop often to adjust our carburetors.
There was one problem staring us right in the face- heat. The further into the desert we rode, the hotter it got. Mind you it was hot the whole way, but now it was getting really hot. Our rest breaks were getting longer, we had to stay in long sleeves to keep from getting sunburn, and our bikes were on the verge of meltdown. We had no choice though- Born Free or bust.
By the time we got to Las Vegas, it was 120 degrees. Riding into it is like riding into a hairdryer on full hot mode. We adjusted our carbs full rich to keep the motors cool enough to survive.
Any shade was a welcome sight, like this bombed out crackhouse in the middle of nowhere. It was dead silent, except for the occasional gunshot from deep in the desert.
At this point I stopped taking pics, mostly because I was beginning to see the effects of heat stroke. Once we got across the mountains outside LA, the temp dropped to a survivable 100 or so. I spent the last night before the show curled up in a hotel bathtub puking my guts out and chugging water. Hey, if it was easy everyone would do it!
more pics of the show coming….
I have been involved in the planning of this bike for quite a while now, but construction has officially started.
I am always experimenting with how my mind works when building bikes in different orders. For example, my first bikes were made mostly from the outside in; drawing the completed bike, then buying a motor, trans, etc and working inward until I achieved what I wanted.
As my motor building knowledge and skills have increased, I have began to build more form the inside out- starting with the bore and stroke, compression, type of case, etc. Then building the frame around the engine, then adding wheels and sheetmetal to it.
Since I cant escape my own brain, creatively, at least I can trick it into thinking differently by changing these processes purposely. Also, I want to have maximum control over what is happening inside my motorcycle, and the only way to achieve that is to start at the heart and then grow outward.
The motor for this bike is a combination of what I feel are the best characteristics of and HD evolution and a twin cam, in one motor. I am combining the undersquare evo dimensions (3.5″ bore and 4.25″ stroke), with the superior flywheels, bearings and oiling system of the twin cam.
After riding many different types of motorcycles, there is something I like about the small bore and longer stroke of shovelheads and evos. Obviously every motor combination has its pro and cons, and the twin cam 88 and 95’s are amazing engines. However, twin cams never seem to have that “break your neck” torque that evos have right off the line. And I don’t think they sound quite as nice either. In reality, these observations are just an excuse to engineer something you cannot buy.
The bike will also be a tribute to some of the bikes that I loved when I started building in the late 90’s. I always liked NYC style choppers, early Indian Larry, Steg, Psycho Cycles, Queens County Cycles, etc. That influence has been in all of my bikes, but especially this one.
The frame is made entirely of 7/8″ chrome-moly tubing. A smaller diameter than most frames, but the end result will be stronger than a typical rigid frame of larger material. Chrome moly is an amazingly strong steel, used extensively in the motorsports world for chassis work.
I am often asked, “why do you build these elaborate, expensive motors when you could simply buy a new one?”. The answer is that I am dedicated to being a motorcycle builder in the truest sense, and without getting “inside” the motor, I feel as if I didn’t go “all the way”. I need to understand exactly how my machine works. I am a very visual person, so for me to understand something I need to hold every part in my hands and see it work. Once I began to understand, exactly, how these engines worked, it was impossible for me not to change them.
I am at a point now where the rest of the bike is simply being wrapped around my engines. This is a form of bike building that I have always been trying to achieve, but didn’t know it for a long time. I think that this is the main reason why the majority of “choppers” don’t look quite right; they are built from the outside-in. I want my machines to look like every part came from the same factory.
I am going to be documenting this project extensively from this point on. I hate to give away the surprise factor, but it is the only way to show the amount of work involved in a full scale custom motorcycle.