Originally Published In The September 2012 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
I’ve never had so much fun building a bike, and it’s not even for me. This one-off custom, art object, long-run bobber/chopper, will be awarded to either a Cycle Source subscriber or a Bandit’s Cantina subscriber on Bikernet. com. There’s always a growing buzz around building any bike. The vibe could be associated to a deadline, the run to Sturgis, a Bonneville land speed record effort, or for many shops, it’s a particular customer’s dream project. In this case, Gary Maurer and Jules from Kustoms Inc., created the aura of the build. I Okay, it started with Prince Najar and spread to the Crazy Horse Engine Company and Jason from Texas Bike Works. I can feel it anytime I speak with Gary at Kustoms Inc. or John White from Crazy Horse. John runs a massive construction equipment company, but when we discuss his bottle cap engines, he glows and gets pumped. Gary and Jules built hotrods for years. Much of their fabrication codes come from building recordbreaking dragsters. They still hold a 6.51 second record at 209 mph with a Larry Morgan 500 cubic inch pro stock engine. Kustoms Inc. is a talented team capable of almost anything mechanical, but it’s their level of passion for the craft and every element of the build that’s captivating. Take for instance mounting these classic 3.5 gallon Biker’s Choice repopped tanks.
During the initial design, Gary planned the bike around classic H-D fatbobs and bent the backbone of the frame to match the radius of the tank tops. “It’s basically a 12mm or 1Ž2- inch roll to match these tanks,” Gary said. “The tanks are almost flat at one point, but we work around them.” With a ring roller/radius machine containing two dies on the bottom and one on top, he pushed the 1 3/4-inch tubing down 1mm at a time, forming the radius. He rolled the backbone slightly and then compared it to the tank, and rolled it some more. If his tubing length was long enough, it would form a 20-foot diameter circle. He selected 3.5-gallon tanks since the exposed frame backbone spreads the tanks and gives them the appearance of larger 5-gallon tanks. “Five gallon tanks would be too large. During the mounting process, we level out the 3.5-gallon gas caps, eliminating the droopy look, so they appear similar to 5-gallon tanks when finished,” explained Gary. Gary constantly keeps ride-ability in mind; consequently, he vents his tanks with a tee between the tanks, which he runs near the neck to be above the tanks. “The caps don’t always do the trick,” Gary said, “and once in a while can cause a vapor-lock.”
Then Julie went to work fabricating cosmetic caps to cover the indents in the front of the tanks, the speedo portion of the tank, and the stern indents. Each chunk of metal is bent 90 degrees in the metal break. Then she uses another tool to stretch and shrink each piece until it fits the contour of the tanks perfectly. Gary started to chuckle as we talked about the classic tanks. “I’ve never run across a set of fatbobs that matched. One is always slightly longer than the other.” Julie attempted to make up for the difference when she formed the caps at the rear of the tanks. With each cosmetic cap fabbed and tacked into place, Gary goes to work mounting the tanks using his tab kit, duct tape and wooden slivers. “If we TIG-welded and ground the caps you couldn’t tell where they were from photographs.” First he welded two front/upper mounting bungs to the frame, and then positioned the tanks with duct tape and wood wedges to fine-tune positioning. With the tanks in a perfect location, Gary tack welded the 1Ž4-inch thick Kustoms Inc. tab kit elements in place, and then moved to the lower front tabs.
“I usually afford a 3/16-inch gap when it comes to rubber mounting components. Since the tanks don’t generally match, we use this bottom mount to correct any oddball positioning. The J-tab might not be perfectly centered in the frame, but the tanks will be positioned exactly right,” said Mauer. Here’s a quick indication of Gary’s involvement in this project. He has loaded this puppy and displayed it at seven shows around the country so far, next being Mountainfest in West Virginia, July 28, then off to Sturgis. The bike can be seen at the Chopin Block at the Broken Spoke Campground all week. Come out and sign up to win. Also, the bike will be displayed at the Cycle Source Chopper Show on Friday, August 10th. Okay, so this bottom J-hook mounting arm also acts to spread the tanks slightly, so the caps stop drooping. The final tabs run off the back of the tanks and replace the stock tabs. “I make our tabs as heavy as I can,” Gary said. “I would much rather replace a five-buck rubber insert every five years than a $1,000 paint job and a cheap tab.”
The final bike “building code of the west” lesson blossomed from Gary’s rule regarding mounting anything. “I never force anything. Every part fastener should finger-spin into place and set as if in a natural state, no stress,” said Gary. Next issue, Gary will modify a Bare Knuckles’ rear fender, and we will see the spinning process. Then Julie will mount her handmade oil tank, right after Gary modifies Jason’s frame for proper spacing. In the meantime, make sure to put your info into the hat for a definite chance to win this one-off, hand-built custom motorcycle by some of the masters in the industry. This is an opportunity like no other. The award ceremony takes place this summer at Las Vegas Bikefest, and no, you don’t need to be in Vegas to receive your prize. Just step up and subscribe to Cycle Source or Bandit’s Cantina on Bikernet. You help support our efforts and receive a shot at a world-class motorcycle in the process.