Rules Like Zeus

Article By: Chris Callen

Photos By: Michael Lichter

Originally Published In The August-September 2020 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

“Zeus”, a leather tank ridged, built from a 93″ S&S Knucklehead, by Kevin “Teach” Baas in Prior Lake, MN. Photographed by Michael Lichter in Sturgis, SD on 7/29/18. ©2018 Michael Lichter.

By now, you probably recognize the name Kevin Baas or at least the handle “Teach” that he goes by. For the benefit of those that may not know what an extraordinary human being this man is, let me take a paragraph and explain the reason I am proud to call him my brother. We all, well, most of us, remember how badly high school sucked and how none of the teachers understood us back when we knew it all and were getting ready to kick the world in the ass. Well, some 26 years ago, a then young man was embarking on a career in teaching shop class to high school students. In his early years, I suspect that his story was much like any educator, wondering how to connect to the students armed with a desire to mold young minds and help them along their path. Going into his fifth year, Teach found that solution. He rode his old Panhead into the classroom at the start of the new year, put the front wheel against his desk, did a big smokey burnout, and when he got off, introduced himself to the class as their teacher. Now, I won’t go play by play here, but his introduction of motorcycles into the shop curriculum raised many eyebrows along the way. While the administration greenlit this program, they advised Kevin that if the class cost the school a dollar more than their regular program, it was over. Fast forward 22 years. Kevin not only won over the hearts and minds of those administrators and parents that may have had doubt, but nine other programs would model a classroom environment around his “Chopper Class” with Mr. Baas. This is the story of a real man, knowing his value to the world around him, going into his own pocket for the belief that he had a chance to make a difference…. And Winning!

 

Whew, sounds like a lot to squeeze into 26 years, right? Well, this is the story of Zeus, and although the man that built it is extraordinary, the bike is equally out of this world. As if sent down to us by the Gods themselves as a symbol of their adoration for us, Zeus stands as a symbol of so much of the beauty that surrounds Kevin’s story. You see, Zeus started back in the beginnings of that first school where Kevin launched the Kennedy High School Chopper Class, a few years into the program, he had scored some extra dough through friends helping him raise money for the class with an event called the Knuckle Shuffle. While it was a hand to mouth situation coming up with the parts and pieces to have a class project every year. This event gave them a little extra and money for the program, so he upgraded  what the class had already started on, mostly parts from his own stash. There they were treated to the S&S Knucklehead. This was a big-ticket item that may be out of reach to many young builders, but Teach felt like they needed to have a power plant that would fit the already fast tight package Zeus was shaping up to be. It looked quick sitting there with no motor; it had to have the S&S Knuckleduster matched with a Baker tranny. The whole time the bike was taking shape, Kevin would reiterate one of his famous sayings: “This bike is gonna rule like Zeus.” To him, it meant that it was going to hit the streets, pound piss and shoot bolts of lightning. Little did he know that eventually, that would be the namesake of the bike.

 

The shortest Sugar Bear front end ever made adorns the front of this rowdy little bobber and matched the Spartan frame. It is all about light and lean. The class was into the build, and the bike was starting to come together, but it was time for Teach to move on. His story with Kennedy that had lasted 22 years was coming to an end, and he was moving on to a new school to build a comparable program for them. As you may suspect, with the passion Teach took with him, there was a vacuum that saw his old school dismantle the program and sell off all the “Chopper Class” assets. Now before you blame them for this, you can imagine how hard it would be to replace a good shop teacher but to replace this type of man, impossible. The one silver lining was that the administration contacted him before the assets went to auction and gave him a fair price to buy it out. In the deal, Teach managed to get Zeus along with some other stuff and took it to Lake View North, where a whole new crop of young minds was about to be blown away by this very different type of teacher. Wanting them to understand what he had already done and what he would expect from them, Kevin presented Zeus as an example of the abilities of those students before them. He made them agree that they would strive to learn and achieve the abilities to match what had been done before. It was the perfect challenge and kick-started this  new chapter of Chopper Class.

“Zeus”, a leather tank ridged, built from a 93″ S&S Knucklehead, by Kevin “Teach” Baas in Prior Lake, MN. Photographed by Michael Lichter in Sturgis, SD on 7/29/18. ©2018 Michael Lichter.

Kevin’s Chopper Class has been featured as part of the Donnie Smith invitational for a quiet a good long time now, but this would be the first for the new Lake View crew. They showed up that first year with Zeus as a roller, unable to take it across the finish line but determined to come back the following year with a solid finish. During that time, Kevin had reached out to Christian Marsh from Xian Leather to do the seat. As they talked about the bike, Christian asked him what it would look like. “I don’t know” said Kevin, “but it’s gonna rule like Zeus.” That was it. Christian told Kevin that the bike would have no paint, and from front to back, it had to be covered in his leatherwork, as this would be the piece he wanted to be remembered by, and it would be called…. ZEUS! Without hesitation, Teach boxed up the unpainted tank and fenders telling Marsh that he didn’t even want to know what it would be until he opened the box when it was finished. The day it came in, Kevin and a buddy were in the garage and sat for nearly an hour just going over every tiny detail that Christian pounded into that leather outer skin.

 

It had gone out to him tough as nails, but it returned as “The God Of Thunder!” When Baas brought it to the school to be assembled with the bike the kids were floored. They never even knew something like this was possible. They finished the bike for Donnie Smith that year and got invited to Lichter’s “Passion Built” show in Sturgis, the perfect platform to feature the work of this man and the next generation of those who would follow in our footsteps. Isn’t that the trick to begin with, to teach a young person to dream, to believe in themselves, and to chase those dreams relentlessly? As for Teach, he had fully expected to sell Zeus when it was finished since it was a modern Knuckle, and all of his collection was that of the OG nature. It turned out to be just too damn special in the end. It marked the last bike from one class, the first of another, the height of Christian Marsh’s career, and an example of how much more we can all achieve together than any one of us can alone. Hats off Teach, another outstanding build, but as far as the level of achievement for you as a man, just another chapter in a bestselling novel title “Chopper Class With Mr. Baas.”

 

ZEUS TECH SHEET

Owner: Kevin “Teach” Baas

City/State: Prior Lake, Minnesota

Builder: Teach & His Chopper Class

Year: 2019

Model: God of Thunder

Value: $35,000

Time: 2 Years

ENGINE

Year: 2013

Model: Knucklehead

Builder: S&S

Ignition: S&S

Displacement: 93”

Pistons: S&S

Heads: S&S Knuckles

Carb: S&S

Cam: S&S

Air Cleaner: Lowbrow Customs

Exhaust: Paughco

Primary: BDL Belt Drive

TRANSMISSION

Year: 2013

Make: Baker

Shifting: 4 Speed W/ N-1 Drum

FRAME

Year: 2010

Model: Ground Pounder

Rake: 33°

Stretch: Stock

FORKS

Builder: Sugar Bear

Type: Springer, A Short One

Triple Trees: Sugar Bear

Extension: 4”

WHEELS

Front Wheel: Led Sled Invader

Size: 21”

Tire: Metzeler

Front Brake: None

Rear Wheel: Led Sled Invader

Size: 16”

Tire: Metzeler

Rear Brake: Exile Sprotor

PAINT – ALL LEATHER

Leather Craftsman: Xian Leather

Color: Godlike

Type: Leather Dye

Graphics: ZEUS/Medusa/Minatour

Chroming: Dubois Custom Polishing & Plating

ACCESSORIES

Bars: Drag

Risers: 5”

Hand Controls: Jockey

Foot Controls: JayBrake

Gas Tank(s): Lowbrow

Oil Tank: TT Style Knucklehead

Front fender: None

Rear Fender: 7 Metal West Aluminum

Seat: Baas Metal Craft

Headlight: Lowbrow Customs

Taillight: Paul Cox

Speedo: None

Photographer: Michael Lichter

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