Project Bikes


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I decided I wanted to build a bike according to my principle on what it truly meant to build, not bolt, something together

I decided I wanted to build a bike according to my principle on what it truly meant to build, not bolt, something together – which seems way too common these days. Equally important to me was the challenge. When the timing and money finally lined up in my favor, I bought a 'ragged as hell 89 Sportster. With the advice of Tom Stevens at Independent Cycle and Machine in Verona, Virginia, I rebuilt a Sporty and couldn't get enough from the finished project.

I wanted to build a bike – frame and all – to see if I could, and because nobody around here seems to build bikes anymore. So, I started the Outcast bike project after picking Tom's brain again – kind of a crash course in frame construction. I scavenged my Sportster for an engine and front-end. I began by jigging up the engine, rear wheel, and steering neck, then designed the bike by the seat of my pants, keeping all the laws of physics in mind. I wanted a low drop-seat frame, so I went with 37-degrees of rake in the neck and added 4 inches in the backbone with another inch in the downtube. After building the oil tank inside the gas tank, I finished it off by running copper tubing for oil lines to show off the mechanics of the bike. I also wanted a low-slung board tracker set of handlebars. But by the time I made them clear the tank, the bars looked more like the old panhead style.

I avoided using a bunch of pre-machined parts – I want to look at a part and see how it was made by the sweat of the brow. There is quite an extensive list of unique parts on this bike: the rear fender is off of a small trailer, the headlight is from a Ford Model A, the fork boots are for pickup truck shocks, the toe shifter is made from a MIG gun nozzle, and the air cleaner is made from MIG tips. I was determined to have my hands on every inch of this bike.

After making the seat and using an old blanket for padding, I turned my attention to the wheels. I scavenged the front wheel off of the Sporty, purchased the rear one dirt cheap, and finally added a new set of spokes. I was adamant about a simple paint job, having grown tired of flashy paint with too many graphics. I laid down original Ford Model A gunmetal blue (which looks more green really), and added black panels and scallops. I found a Sailor Jerry-type graphic on the Internet for the gas tank.

In the end, I felt like I had stayed true to my purpose. I think the coolest part of this bike came from a lack of three things: money, experience, and the proper equipment. Only then are you forced to be creative and just try to see if it works. — Jeremy Cupp, LC Fabrications