WELL I guess the VIPER bike idea actually started when I was a little fellow. I used to catch all sorts of snakes and lizards, and the crazy fascination has just continued throughout my life to the stage where I now have a large reptile collection and keep some of the deadliest snakes in Australia. Then, after building three other custom show bikes (each winning their share of shows including Bankstown), I decided it was time to build a theme bike.
I had the idea in my head for about two years to build a bike with a snake theme, and finally I jumped in the car and headed to Uralla to sit down with Scotty from Scotty’s Choppers. I had seen Scotty’s work and really liked working with aluminum myself. We made some sketches and finally settled on the design. I gave him the go-ahead to make me a frame, tanks and guards. I was still keen to do much of the metal work once I got the rolling chassis home.
I then sat down and designed some rims with snakes all over them and sent that off to Dragway to cut for me. While they did that, I hunted down some rubber for the two back wheels. I finally found them in Melbourne and think they must be lined with gold for what the guy charged me. Luckily, you don’t burn through them too often.
I then saw Richard from Redgrave’s and had him order me a brand new SS engine and gearbox. Everything was going well until I ordered a reverse gear from USA. When it finally arrived we found there was no way it was going to fit my SS gearbox.
So I went to see a mate of mine, Pete from P&L Performance Cycles. He sold me a Harley-Davidson gearbox and made a spacer so my reverse gear would fit.
I finally got the phone call from Grant at Scotty’s Choppers that my bike frame was ready so I jumped in my car and headed up there again. When I got there things weren’t quite ready so while Scotty put some final touches on the passenger seat, I started the long job of die-grinding the scales into the snake.
We finally got the body home and started the build.
A Mean Street front-end gave me the rake I wanted. Dave from Bad Arse Trim made me a seat with snake skin print leather.
While all this was happening, I set about making the gear shift rod that I wrapped a snake around, the ignition cover, and all the smaller stainless steel pieces—and when I wasn’t making these I was sitting on the floor in my shed die-grinding more scales into the head and bodies of the snakes running over the whole bike. This was a never-ending job but I think the end result was well worth it.
I then designed a snake carby intake, and on one of my many phone calls to Sean at Titan Trike & Bike, he asked me if I would let them have a go at making a carby intake. Two weeks later a box arrived at my front door, and to say I was impressed would be an understatement. The metal snake he made is a credit to the workmanship of the guys at Titan Trike & Bike, and I would highly recommend you look them up for any of your bike needs. These guys are in Tasmania but don’t let that put you off; if you need any parts and they will get them to you no problems.
So finally the bike was ready to be stripped down for paint. I gave the job to Tony Brooks Airbrush Art. Tony has been painting for a long time and when I got the frame back it was very obvious from the quality of his work.
The final build went together pretty well. With a few urgent visits from Mark and Mike from Exodus Custom Cycles, we finally got the engine rumbling. Then on its first show to win Best Trike at Bankstown (four out of four first places) was a nice achievement.
SPECIAL THANKS: I have to say a big thanks to Adam, Glen and Fabian for all their help; Mark & Mike at Exodus Custom Cycles (0417-459-961);
Sean at Titan Trike & Bike (03-6272-1700); Pete at P&L Performance Cycles (02-9636-9955); and to all the guys at Northern Beaches Social Riders for all their support—when the project got frustrating you guys spurred me along.
pics by Wall to Wall; words by Simon
Luca the Snake Charmer
I DID ACTUALLY work with a snake before at a comedy show, but it was for only five seconds. Today it was a much bigger deal with the snake crawling all over my body. I was sweating at first—I wasn’t too keen on the idea and everyone thought it was pretty funny—but now I’m really relaxed with it. I actually really like the snake now. I can’t wait to hold it again.
I’m 24-years-old. I do promotional modelling, TV presenting for the Naked News, dancing, waitress at buck’s parties, things like that. I used to be into the clubbing scene but now I work at people’s parties on Saturday nights so I feel like I’m getting paid to party. I love entertaining. It’s great fun.
I’m a Sydney girl—North Shore. As a matter of fact, I went to one of those posh private girls schools. Oddly enough, I don’t know the girls from school anymore; most of my current friends are in the same industry as me.
For fitness I like to work out. I do cardio-type stuff and weight training. I have a personal trainer who’s also a girlfriend of mine—another hottie!
I love music—music is my religion. I sing in the shower and definitely in the car! My Ipod is permanently attached to me and I just love all kinds of music.
I had heaps of fun today. I thought the Viper trike was beautiful. I wouldn’t say I’m into bikes but that trike today is completely unique and I thought it was just very sexy, and the whole snake thing just makes it even sexier.
I’VE BEEN to many photographic sessions, shooting cover bikes and topless girls. For the most part, they’re pretty interesting. This one, however, was probably the most stressful.
You see, we didn’t tell the girl about the snake before the shoot; actually, I hadn’t told the photographer either.
The shoot started like any other: the girl was in make-up and the photographer was happily setting up the lights around the trike. Meanwhile, Simon, the owner of the Viper trike, was carrying this suspicious-looking hessian bag around.
“Ah, Walter,” I said to the photographer as he returned to his tripod and camera. “We have this small problem. We’re using a snake in this shoot…”
“What!” he said.
“The owner of the trike has brought a snake and he wants to put it on the girl.”
There was brief silence while Walter assimilated this bit of information.
“Okay,” he said. “Let’s shoot the girl ‘without’ the snake first so that we’ve got a cover in case she freaks out.”
And so we went about the shoot as usual—the lights are moved around until the trike was lit perfectly; the girl is introduced and another set of lights used to get her skin tones correct. Walter takes a lot of time getting everything right and then takes one photo. It’s perfect.
“Right,” says Walter. “Let’s bring in the snake.”
I wandered over to Luca, the model, and explained the situation. I must admit, I was expecting the worst, but to her credit, she said she’d give it a go.
Simon opened the hessian bag and withdrew the huge snake—I thought Luca’s eyes were going to pop out of her head.
“Oh my God!” she said.
With Simon’s help, the snake was allowed to wind itself around Luca’s body and the photo shoot continued.
They say you should never work with children and animals. The snake was no different. It was difficult to work with as it always seemed to be going in the wrong direction, and there were many times when Simon had to rescue Luca as it slithered its way up her legs or over her breasts.
I have to congratulate Luca. She was a true professional and carried on despite her fear. As the session continued, she became more relaxed, and at the end, she was actually asking to hold the snake.
I don’t know about you, but I reckon there’s something sensuous about girls holding snakes… Enjoy the Luca and snake photos.