Article by Jimmy Frizzell, Photos by Mark Adams, originally published July 2019 Cycle Source Magazine
In life, there are no valid excuses for following your passion. With three daughters and a full-time union gig, most of us would push passion to the side in order to maintain sanity, but if you added a full-time custom motorcycle shop into the mix you would have the exception to the rule, you would have Austin Martin Andrella.
Austin Martin Originals is no side gig. It’s where craftsmanship and quality meet up with attention to detail in the production of award-winning builds. But as one can imagine with a plate as full as Austin’s some overlap may occur. Enter the Russ Brown’s Daughters of Custom, a motorcycle build competition that brings builders and their daughters together to benefit our veterans. With a father awarded the purple heart twice as a Marine in Vietnam and a grandfather who fought in the Korean war as proud member of the U.S. Navy, Andrella as a product of Veterans was more than happy to be part of something that may help a veteran in need and mix a little business with family.
Austin was given a five-thousand-dollar budget for his build. He promptly hunted for an unmolested donor bike, but what he got was a little more. His first potential option, unfortunately, had a poorly grafted hardtail section well outside anyone’s acceptable tolerances. Luckily, Dave Force had just put his 1981 XS650 on the market, and he had more than Austin could ever need. The price of the Yamaha was right where you would expect a well-executed build with one award already under its belt to be. But that being said it was about a grand north of where Austin wanted it. Honest to a fault it was made clear that the bike was on the verge of full disassembly if acquired and that most of the extras wouldn’t be needed in any shape or form. On this information, a deal was struck. With the price now one thousand lighter the bike was liberated of the seat, fender, tank, handlebars, and exhaust and loaded up on the truck. It was a win-win for both parties.
The foundation was solid, a rarity in most cases but with a time crunch, it was a very welcome bonus. At nine years old Austin’s youngest daughter Ady possesses a drive that most kids her age don’t. Accompanied by her father’s guidance the tear down soon began. The thirty-eight-year-old Yamaha was put on the jig, and the two began fabrication of the hardtail section. Austin handled all the heavy lifting with his daughter firm at his side. With such attentive supervision, the pressure was on. With every bend and every bead, Ady was there, as much a part of the build as she possibly could be.
The springer front end was fabricated at 138 Cycle Fab. Cole Rogers donated all the jigs and material for the narrow four under design and Austin welded it all up. With only ¼ inch clearance on the sides of the 21” wheel, the bars were attached, inspired by the old Knuckleheads, and welded to the sides of the top clamp. The rear legs were powder coated black, and the fronts were chromed. Ryan Gore heard of the build and reached out to the Andrellas with the donation of a set of his beautiful hand made grips, the perfect accent to the front end.
The five-thousand-dollar budget would never have stretched as far as it did without the generosity of so many donations. Lowbrow came in hot with their mid-tunnel peanut tank, Manta ray rear fender, cloth wires, and exhaust bends. Austin and Ady quickly gave the new pieces a proper home on the XS650. The dual exhaust was welded up in house with machined ribbing and brass inserts. The carbs were rebuilt with tops machined at Austin Martin Originals. Mark Stakley Austin’s right-hand man donated the Custom Tech brass clutch lever and Austin’s grandfather, at 90 years old, machined the recesses for the axle adjusters, a true family affair. With the confidence of a solid runner, the motor was painted and polished with Pandemonium Customs vapor honing the side covers. The rear wheel remained a sixteen-inch stock being relaced and polished while up front a 21” Lowbrow was installed wearing a thirty plus year old Dunlop. The electronics are all hidden within a military first aid box, a slight nod to the bikes purpose without overstating the obvious. Barebones Leather produced a battlefield inspired seat that in itself is a work of art, while up front perched on the headlight are a set of aluminum wings with Austin’s fathers nickname “Mad Dog” laid upon them. Flame Thrower Custom’s Steve Hennis blanketed the tins with enamel genius and Atomic Bob, pinstriping mad man, added the accents.
With the build completed in just over 40 days, the bike had yet to be started. When you have to dial in your XS650, there is only one person you would want in your corner. When the door opened that last Friday before the show a slight fog rolled past a shadowy figure serenaded by the chants of Shaolin Monks a bright light backlit the silhouette of Daniel Donley of Pandemonium Custom Choppers, and at that moment Austin knew his XS would be unstoppable. The next day Andrella took his daughter’s creation for its resurrection shakedown and Sunday the Yamaha was immortalized on film.
Ady joined her father at the ROT Rally, her young age nearly stopped the ball right there being a tad shy of the thirteen-year-old entrance limit. But once in she was a pure rock star. A raffle was held for a chance to win the choice of one of the three builds, open to only veterans. The remaining two bikes would be then auctioned off. The Austin Martin Original bike would go to benefit Fisher House a charity that provides a place to stay for families while veterans recover. By this time the sentimental attachment of the father-daughter build was way more than could be expected. The outpouring of donations to the build and the helping hands all around made the bike almost priceless. Austin watched the auction intently on the Cycle Trader auction, but as fate would have it, he missed the final bid. But fate is mysterious, He reached out to the highest bidder and told of he and Ady’s build and the story behind it, it could go no other way, Austin bought the bike, all proceeds going to Fisher House.
You can’t put a value on the dedication and sacrifice of those who serve our country, and you’ll never put a value on the time you spend with your children. For Austin and his daughter Ady these memories are forever and priceless…. well done.