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Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Greasy Kulture - The 345

I'm so pleased to be able to say that Guy from Greasy Kulture came over to photograph the 345 for the magazine.

I thought that it might not happen as it had been in showclass; but guy has asked to feature it.

I met Guy a good number of years ago now, and its great that he gets to shoot the bike. I had originally said that he could shoot the bike - but with the competition it had to be featured elsewhere first. 

Guy has always been a great support to me - he's very well connected and as he says himself - although he's not a bike builder - he does look at photos of hundreds of bikes a week to vet them for the magazine. It great because guy came round several times through the build and saw the state I was in at various points. He knows that i'm totally winging it and learning on my feet.

I still have to remind myself that its my second bike. I've very critical of my own work. but you know what - its by far exceeded what I thought I could have achieved when I set out building it. 

I think the bike is going to have a little holiday out of the spotlight now. It starts, moves and stops under its own steam, but it was always built as a show bike. I'm sure i'll get back to it later in my life and iron out the little niggles, but for now I'll be concentrating on finishing the Knuckle - which is being built to ride...

Monday, 18 July 2016


Got a bit excited and silly with the brake pedal - just cant help myself... looks cool though. One less spanner and conrod in the collection! 

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

plodding on

Been making slow progress on the bike. Work and family life keeping me busy - but mustn't grumble.

Starting to get to the end, and its coming together. loads of little fussy bits to do and fitting things together etc. really liking how its coming together. 

Monday, 13 June 2016

Tower Motorcycle Show / Kustom Kulture Forever

I was delighted to have been asked to take my bike over to Germany to the Tower Motorcycle show (part of Kustom Kulture Forever).

The bike has largely sat in the barn for months - I was so blown out from doing it, and busy with other distractions that Not much had been done with my little beauty.

With a bit of a clean up, and a few bits re-chromed I took it over to Germany in the new Truck.

The show was great, such a great atmosphere, and nice to experience a bike show in another country.

I got to catch up with loads of people I knew, both from real life and on the internet. The weekend was capped off with a trophy for the best flathead. I think the person choosing the award must have been drunk, but i'm not arguing - the trophy is amazing!

The bike is having a few photographs taken this week, then I think its time for it to go into hiding for a while and focus on getting the knuck finished and riding well. 

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Work Smarter

Its amazing how routine creeps into your life and how you take things as a given. Before I got the proper bike lift i just had 3 wooden benches. I put my current squeeze on the one at the far end of the barn, i have no idea why, but I soon got into the habit of having my most current build on that bench. 

I put the 345 on the proper lift bench when it arrived, but last week I got it off to get it cleaned and ready for its trip to Kustom Kulture and the tower Bike show in Germany this weekend.

It suddenly dawned on me that i should have the current build close to my welder an d grinding bench. The number of slip ups I've made by not being able to properly tack things onto the bike in situ. What an idiot!

Anyways - a word to the wise, make your space no matter how small as effective as possible for you to build your dream machine.

Bike cleaning tonight and then on my return, full steam ahead on the Knuckle. 

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Narrow springer - Phares Cycle Parts

Managed to get the new front end on the Knuckle. Its so damned good!

I was leaning towards a front brake and foot shift, but this thing just looks so good its hard to even think about taking it off again. 

Also got the read muddy mounts on. a job I always hate doing. I've hidden the hardware under the mudguard, and used another rivet for some detail. 

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Narrow VL springer

How nice is the narrow VL springer that Jasin Phares has narrowed up for me.

it would have taken me months to do this, and he's done it and got it looking great in no time.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Morning muses - the biker life for me?

I'm feeling a bit reflective today, and with a cancelled meeting and accounts get done it seems like a great opportunity to sit down and reflect.

this is probably going to be all over the place - so you probably shouldn't waste your time reading it.

Last Saturday we were all set to take a ride out to Hebden Bridge for the sideburn event that was there. I barely rode last year as all my spare time was involved in building the 345.

I was hoping that going to Born free was going to give me some clarity of mind as to what I wanted to build next as my main riding bike. Before going I thought in my head that it would be a long, skinny springer bike - very much akin to Caleb Owens bike Uncle Sam. That bike with him on it looks cool as hell to me; I think the backdrop of the pacific road may has as much to do with it - but that's what I thought I wanted. Even to the point that I had some extended springers and an old beaten up knucklehead frame there ready to work with.

I may have mused over this on here before - but Born Free wasnt exactly what I had in my head - that isn't a slight on the show in any way shape of form; as I think the expectation in my head was all wrong. I think I was expecting to walk back in time to some 60's event where EVERY bike was old. That's the power of the internet I guess, its all smoke and mirrors, and people showing you certain parts of their lives (as I also do through instagram).

I know some people use bikes as their daily commuters etc; but to me this "chopper world" is largely dressing up for adults. Escapism from your normal life. That's not to say your normal life sucks; personally I'm blessed with a great family, was born into a time where hard work and determination means you can succeed, and have good friends; BUT I do fantasise about taking off on a bike and living some weird nomadic biker life. It'll never happen, I'm far too much of a worrier and like consistency in my life but it doesn't stop you from thinking about it.

Anyways - back to born free - I was amazed by the sheer numbers of bikes, but modern bikes - all Harleys. over here it would be swarms of superbikes. but it got me thinking - I just needed a bike to jump on and ride. not worry about what needed to be fixed, what might fall off, how far I'd get before having to phone the AA. I ended up buying a stockish sportster.

I also realised that I had far too many projects on the go, and its at that time I swapped out the custom frame 45 project for a Sportster long chop. I now had a dilemma - I had 2 bikes that in theory were push button and go bikes - so wanting to live my long bike dream, within 2 weeks of buying the sportser I moved it on again.

The problem is that that I never got on with the long chop. Yeh, it looked the part, but there was 2 issues - I hadnt built it, and it was awful to ride! Form over function! I know some people argue the toss and say you get used to long fork bikes etc.... well not this guy.... I did a sale / part ex deal with it last week. I had given it a few laps around the race track at the barn as a parting ride, but I wasn't sad to see it go. The deal involved a 76 xs650. After the lad tentatively rode off with a look that exuded both elation and fear in equal proportion I fired up the xs and did a few laps. It was great fun; it wasn't trying to kill you, it handled well, and even had a front brake!

My main issue was now that a stock 57 plate sportster had been acquired a few days earlier, and as I only needed 1 "go to" bike the xs has just left my possession. so sadly that bike had also left despite me trying to reason with myself to keep it.

Roll on to Saturday morning and the much anticiapted ride out - I left the key in the bike so it was flat on saturday morning. while bump starting it it got hit by a car overshooting a side street so my day was finished before I started. The bike is fine, my knees are cut to shreds, but they'll heal.

Its given me a bit of a shake up, and time to sit and think; something i'm not very good at doing - I always like to be doing something.

Its had me thinking:-

The internet and now social media - are they a good thing for you?

why do I spend so long building these bikes sat alone in a barn?

Should I jack bikes in all together and focus on being a good dad and businessman and thats it?

these are the answers I've come up with so far:-

The internet and now social media - are they a good thing for you?

  • with all good comes evil, both platforms allow you to meet people, share knowledge and information, and provide opportunities for other ventures along the way. They do promote an unrealistic and sometimes an unachievable image / lifestyle. Take it with a pinch of salt in some cases - people only put the good stuff online, and you never know what peoples personal circumstances are (especially financially) walking into this world. Use it for the good - and ensure you add to the community rather than becoming like a lot of people who resent or bitch about the achievements / possessions of others. 
why do I spend so long building these bikes sat alone in a barn?
  • because I need to. I need to feel like can achieve tangible goals in my life. I can go to work and produce a good report, or procedure or whatever the client wants, but for me a real achievement is in learning, and creating. I could definitely do other less expensive hobbies, but the "fancy dress" escapism side of things definitely appeals to me. I also have a lot invested in this - not just financially, but the learning that I've done. I'm very quick to put myself down with the amount that I don't know. but with all the trial and error that I've put in over the past 7 years or so, I guess I know more than most these days. The solitary bit is also good for me, when i'm making things my brain is fairly clear and the pressures of life dont seem to be present for that time.
Should I jack bikes in all together and focus on being a good dad and businessman and thats it?

  • This is the hard one for me. the compromise between being the provider for the family, and then the guilt of the time and money that I put into selfish personal endeavours. I think that I have a good compromise in reality. a lot of the money I spend on bikes is generated from that life - buying, selling, making etc. I'm guilt free on the knucklehead engine as all that money came from my buying and selling which I have a separate Paypal for. As for being a good dad- I feel that this compliments them. I hope that my achievements will inspire the kids to see that if you want something in life that you have to go and get it. That isn't sat on your butt doing a 9-5 its putting in the hours and always trying to better yourself. they probably wont like bikes, I'm cool with that - but hopefully they will learn from the values that I can pass on to them.

So in light of all above I'll carry on down my merry little path. No matter what the world will keep spinning, and people will keep doing what they are doing. Some times you have to walk down a path and see where it leads. 

Sometimes you have to stop for a minute, think about where you have been and where you are headed and decide if that is still the path you wish to follow. 

I choose to keep making mistakes, and to keep learning from them. Its the only way I know how. 

now if you've got to this point youve probably a lot of work to catch up with, or you have been on the toilet that long that youre legs are dead. go forward and live your life the way that YOU seem fit.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Repop and Rocksteady - Knucklehead

The motor is now in, and pipes have arrived, loving where its going.

this bike needs as much go as show as it will be my main squeeze going forward. Buying new parts and chopping them may seem weird, but buy having them as they first should be it is allowing me to be informed of the function before I start chopping. 

Bars - Modified Cro's Nest Clamp

I got these bars with the 345 and knew they would look rad on a bigtwin. fast forward 2 years and I can get them mounted. I chopped up and angled a set of Caleb's Cro's nest clamp and then welded up the bars. Hoping to run an internal throttle with them, should look super slick with the Pangea grips that I have put to one side... 

Saturday, 16 April 2016

foot controls

Started on the foot controls. only so much I can do without the motor in. That's the next step.

More scrap parts being re-used. conrods again in this instance...

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Motortechnic Knuckle motor

I'm feeling a bit wordy and reflective today, so lets see how this goes.... 

Yesterday the day finally arrived where I could go and pick up my Knuckle motor from Baz. 

There were a few small issues in getting the motor together, mainly around me using the aluminium heads. When I originally planned to buy the engine I consulted with Baz to see if he thought the Ali heads were a good option. He said that the cast iron heads can get pretty hot and hold the heat for a long time. This had only been an issue 1-2 times in all the years he had his original knuckle, and recalled a story of being lost in Belgium and having to pull in on the bike after getting lost and circulating in traffic for about an hour.
The Ali heads were available through Germany, so I ordered with cast iron heads, but then found out they were available in the states. with a deep breath my pockets were rinsed dry and I "invested" in a set of "raw" Ali heads. Herein lies the rub - I assumed this meant no rocker boxes, rocker arms etc, but it really did mean raw - the pressed insert for the seat was not cut into the head, and there were no tins etc (valves and guides must have been missing from the main box, so I was relieved when they were sent at a later point.
The time waiting had been spent waiting for the machining shop to be able to cut in the seats. needless to say Baz was on the case and ushered them along to get it all done.

His impressions of the motor are good - it looks just like an original motor and you'd be hard pushed to spot one - not like the S&S or delcron alternatives. Baz would have liked to have done more porting on the heads as they didn't seem as refined as the cast iron ones - however there wasn't significant meet there to protect the valves etc to do this. We'll run the engine and see how it goes.

I had to do the mandatory " her'es the engine in the passenger seat" photo - its almost an essential thing to do these days! haha!

For the moment there is it sitting in my office. I have sold the original springers from the project, so I cant put it safely in the frame yet. I have a set of skinny VL's coming from the states in a few weeks, lets see if I can last that long!

I do feel like I've achieved something by getting this motor, I know I haven't built it, but its been the culmination of 6-7 years of determination and obsession to get to this point. I'm fortunate enough to be able to afford one, but I feel like I have to say that I have paid for this motor through the buying and selling activities that I keep myself busy with outside of work. 

I think most things are in people grasp if you go out and get it. 6 years after I initially wanted a Knuckle I've got to the point where I have one. Its not original - and frankly I don't care. I think it was the best option for me to have as a long serving bike that I wasn't worries about riding. 

People outside (and maybe some inside) the world of bikes wont know or care much about it - some will scoff and say its not original, and some will probably think i'm a dick for having one. They are all probably right. I think people worry too much about what others think. 


Tuesday, 5 April 2016

New parts

I've spent years trying to make parts from nothing - but with this bike I'm learning a load about the stock parts. I wish i had started with a full bike and slowly pulled it apart and learned - but that's just not my way. 

What that would have done is taught me how the stock parts worked so I could modify or even (dare i say it) improve from what was first conceived. 

I still find it funny that I don't know how some stock Harley parts fit together. took me until this year to realise that the gearbox sits on a plate which in turn is bolted to the frame on a Harley...

lack of experience and not having those parts to hand is mostly to blame. but slowly I'm learning.

anyways - nice new shiny parts for the knuckle...

Friday, 1 April 2016

a clean bench

Took some time to tidy up and move stuff about last night.

Good to sort out some shit, throw crap out. I need to get focussed and that means getting rid of those things you buy as a good idea 6-7 years ago!

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

front wheel.

Front wheel is all laced up - I genuinely took over 40 mins trying to put the tyre on - what a tool!