The Solomon Special – 2014 Artistry In Iron Winner

Featured In The February 2015 Issue Of Cycle Source

Article By: Chris Callen  Photos By: Bart Mitchell

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I first met Rick Bray, owner of RKB Kustom Speed and the builder of this incredible machine last year at Las Vegas BikeFest. He rolled in a sweet ass shovel and I was a big fan right off the bat. You know how these shows go though, we all pick our favorites but you never know who is going to win in the end, especially with talent like the builders that are invited to Artistry In Iron. In the end, a jury of Rick’s peers decided that they felt the same way about his bike and he was awarded the win for Artistry In Iron 2013. This blew Rick’s mind because getting invited was all he ever hoped for and that build, he hoped, would get him invited back to show another bike he already had in the works, “The Solomon Special.” Well the win ensured that he’d be coming back and come back he did. This year Rick was not only voted as 2014’s Builder Of The Year by Cycle Source readers but he also backed up his second Artistry In Iron win with this very build. That would be an amazing enough story but compared to the story of the bike itself, it pales in comparison. Back up to a younger Rick Bray, just finishing high school getting his first job at a race car fab shop. He worked there for ten years learning the trade and honing his metal working skills. Some time later Rick would meet Colby Solomon from Idaho and his older brother Rob who were big race nuts and had moved to California to be closer to a better race scene. Rick and Colby would work together at the fab shop for the next six years. Colby was a driver and a fabricator himself and the two became very close as they built Micro Midgets that run 600cc motorcycle engines. Around the end of 2003 Rick built his first bike and rode the piss out of it. He got the itch real bad from that, telling me that race cars are cool and all but bikes are where it’s at. For Rick a motorcycle build represents a type of freedom you can’t get from building a race car. With a race car you always have to think about speed so there are things you just can’t get around. Now a bike on the other hand is a wide-open pallet and this challenges his mind. It’s been about five years now since Rick opened RKB and has been building his own race cars and bikes, he’s making good and has had some pretty sweet accolades from the motorcycle industry but it would be through a personal tragedy that he’d do his best work. Close to Christmas in 2012 Colby had come down with the flu and got so sick that he went into the hospital and as Rick put it, he never came out. Rick’s brother in speed had passed away. Being close to this man and his family a decision was made to build a bike in his honor: The Solomon Special. Now Rick is the kind of quality individual that he actually had dinner with Colby’s family and made sure it was ok with them first. They agreed and he started on the project. To properly pay tribute to his friend Rick would infuse components and features from the type of race cars that the two of them had built but more specifically from the kind of racers that Colby raced. Features like the bell crank linkages on the throttle, the Hunt Magneto and the Hilborn Fuel Injection would make this a rolling tribute to Colby. Even the colors he chose for the bike were right off his car and the signature number nine on the magneto that Rick now puts on every bike he builds make this a tribute to his late friend.

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It doesn’t stop there either, there are so many little details on this bike that you almost need to see it several times to truly take it all in. Every detail from fit to finish was carried out with exacting detail. The gentle swoop in the fender that seems more as if someone molded it with clay rather than forged it out of steel. The speed holes and brass accents, all in perfect position, not too many, not too few. For the motor Rick did all the cosmetic work and sent it off to Dale Yamada at Mad Jap for the build. This is where the gremlins come into play. Up until this point everything with this build had been going smoothly. When Dale received Rick’s motor though the crate had been destroyed, the gaskets were missing and it was a mess. From that point on it was like Colby was messing with Rick. Every possible thing that could became an arduous task. Thinking back on it now Rick laughs but with everything on the line leading up to Artistry In Iron he didn’t think it was so funny. He finished this build on Wednesday morning, the same day he left for Vegas to be in the show. All in all there was nothing he couldn’t overcome but there were times that it got nuts. When they called Rick’s name making him a two time AII Champion he was floored. He could have never imagined that he would receive so much respect from the industry but what made it even better, and something that was unknown to most of the other people in attendance at the award ceremony, is that Colby’s brother Rob was right there with him. Rick posed for his pictures, received his $10,000 check and priceless Steve Sofa championship bracelet but the win meant so much more. There would never be a show, award or trophy that would outshine this moment. This was a split second in the universe were everything was right. Rick had done his buddy proud and the whole world agreed. So, from here Rick says that he knows there has never been a three time champion at Artistry In Iron but he’s not letting that stop him from doing his level best. Already in the process is a gasser style Panhead with 12 spoke American Racing type wheels and a 19 inch slick on the back. From the pictures we’ve seen on Facebook so far he’s off to an incredible start. No matter how it goes we’ll be on the edge of our seats waiting to see the finished product. Good luck Rick!

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Owner: RKB/Solomon Family
City: Hanford, CA
Fabrication By: RKB
Year: 1977
Model: CS9
Value: Priceless
Time: 12 months
Year: 1977
Model: Shovel
Builder: Mad Jap Kustoms
Ignition: Hunt Magneto
Displacement: 76”
Pistons: KB
Heads: H-D
Cam(s): Andrews
Carb: Hilborn Fuel Injection
Air Cleaner: Hilborn Ram Tube
Exhaust: RKB
Primary: RKB 530 chain
Year: ?
Make: Cal Products / H-D
Shifting: Hand
Year: 2013
Make: RKB
Rake: 30 Degrees
Stretch: 1” up 1/2” out
Type: Girder
Builder: RKB
Triple Trees: RKB
Front Wheel: RKB/Excel
Size: 21”x1.60”
Front Tire: Firestone
Front brake:
Rear Wheel: RKB/Excel
Size: 19”x3.5”
Rear Tire: Firestone
Rear Brake: RKB/Sporty Drum
Painter: Kool Hand Luke
Color: Pearl White
Type: Kustom
Graphics: Kool Hand Luke
molding: Tommy Rhoads
chroming: Imperial Chrome
Bars: RKB
Hand Controls: RKB
Risers: RKB
Gas Tank(s): RKB
Rear fender: RKB/Lowbrow
Seat: RKB/Angie Dixon
Foot Controls: RKB
Oil Tank: RKB
Headlight: RKB/Packard
Taillight: E-Bay Special
Photographer: Bart Mitchell

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