I STARTED building motorbikes originally through airbrushing. I’m a sign-writer/air-brusher by trade so I’d find myself doing someone’s paint work and noticing welds missing and all sorts of other things wrong with the bike… then I’d start fixing them up. I’ve got a panel-beater background and I’ve been around the hotrod scene for a long time so I was easily able to work on them.
My dad was involved in hotrods and that’s how I got into the scene. When I was a kid I’d be out the garage with him painting; he was an air-brusher too. I was maybe 12 or younger when I started riding bikes; started off with dirt bikes because we lived on a property, then we did up an old Suzuki into a café racer style bike which was my first road bike.
It wasn’t until later that I got into Harley-Davidsons. A friend gave me a petrol tank and said, “Build me a bike around this.” He knew I wanted to build a motorbike; we’d discussed it before and I had painted enough of them. So that was the first one I built which turned out very well. Since then I’ve been building custom bikes.
So I paint, build bikes and I’m a tattooist. I’ll give anything a go.
I built this bike over a two-and-a-half year period. I probably could have built it in a couple of weeks but I only did it an hour a night or once a week because I was building other bikes for people during that time.
I had to get a 23-inch front wheel made. I went with solid wheels because it had to have an old look but still be new. The front wheel is from Dragway Engineering and the rear is Custom Chrome.
I used a Ford eye-beam, which is the down-tube with all the holes in it, and built the bike around that and the wheel. I had a picture in my head of exactly how I wanted it to look. I guess because I’m a painter, everything revolved around the paint as well.
My mate Darryl had a jig so he helped me modify the frame, then I started all the fabrication and moulding of the guards.
I wanted the moon oil-tank at the front to fit in with the hotrod theme, and because the bike had the Ford down-tube, I moved the oil-tank from underneath the seat to the front of the bike.
I wanted the tail-light a certain way so I went and got an old hotrod tail-light with ‘Stop’ written in it, then had to mould that in and make it look neat.
I sourced out the gold crown that’s on the fuel cap, and a friend milled the castle tops that are on the handlebars. Everything is basically hand-made. I sourced the headlight from the States.
I wanted a lot of copper and brass through the bike without going overboard. I actually found a lot of parts from funny bits of mesh found on building sites and just cleaned them up and put them together.
The Zodiac speedo is near the seat because I didn’t want it on the handlebars; that way you just have to glance down and you see it. I think it’s neat there.
The handlebars were just made up out of an old set of drag T-bars.
The tank’s a modified Sportster tank and I didn’t use the original mounts so I could mount it differently.
The motor is a 113 S&S and the gearbox is an S&S five-speed. The belt drive is an Ultima old school, two-inch, belt drive.
It’s got 23-carrot gold in it and the ‘Thirteen’ represents an old sailor’s tattoo tradition. Sailors used to get thirteen tattooed on them so when bad luck came past, it looked as though bad luck had already been there so it passed on by them. Thirteen’s my lucky number. I pin-striped it and did the gold-leaf myself. It’s the ‘Day of the Dead’ girl in the paint, which is a Mexican tradition. I used candy black paint because no-one had used it in a paint job before.
I designed the pattern with the rose in the seat, and my mate, Dave from Bad Arse Trim Co, did the leather work.
Registering it was no worries, although it’s always a bit of a long procedure getting it engineered. I’ve ridden it and it’s awesome. I’m not a trophy hunter. I’m not worried about winning any shows but I do want people to look at it and admire it.
Photos by Wall 2 Wall; words by Blake @ Killer Customs
Make sure you check out the feature on Bella Rouge who we photographed with Blake’s Killer Custom — Skol.