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Cro Custom's Sporty Tracker: The BS1

Few words give modern chopper jockeys douchebumps like "Boardtracker" and "Sportster" in the same sentence. A description like that conjures up images of mix-matched styles and eras of machinery that lack both continuity and authenticity. Caleb Owens of Cro Customs in Culver City, California, had a similar reaction well over a year ago when his friend and fine artist Conrad Leach approached him to build such a bike for one of his patrons. Now Caleb's no uptight, period-correct spoke sniffer, but he has some pretty high standards when it comes to things he's willing to put his name on. After spending some time discussing details and ideas with Conrad, Caleb agreed that the Sportster-powered boardtracker concept was a solid one, and he accepted the challenge.

 

Caleb is known for his hand-fabbed, hard-ridden, real-world motorcycles, most of which are at least 40 years old and generally fall loosely into the chopper/bobber/custom/whatever category. Although all of Caleb's bikes are nicely finished, they are never what he would call a show bike. Cro's latest creation defies that pigeon hole entirely. Sure it's totally rideable and the new owner plans on giving it a thrashing, but it's still finished in show bike quality, and the attention to detail is amazing. This pictorial shows those details close up in dozens of images, so there's something to learn in here for all of us. But, clever brass bits do not a real motorcycle make. All show-winning bikes are festooned with trinkets and farkles, but 99 percent of them don't know where to stop. The restraint required to critique one's own work with a realistic eye and say, "That's enough" or, "That's just too much" is usually the difference between a bike that looks like a Christmas tree and one that's a work of art. Caleb's discipline and eye for balance kept him from jumping the shark on a concept that very easily could have ended up an over-decorated eyesore. 

The engine on this beauty started out as a humble 1986 H-D Sportster, but didn't stay that way for long. After sharing several concept drawings between Conrad and Caleb, the shape, overall stance and proportions began to emerge. Twenty-three-inch wheels front and rear helped establish the board track posture. The stock frame was hacked until the only thing left original was the engine cradle. Repop cast big-twin axle plates look the part much more than the easier route of flat laser-cut units. The curved backbone has a graceful arc that lets the custom tanks straddle each side, carefully encasing both the oil tank and battery. Look closely at the springer and how narrow it is. Caleb didn't invent the idea of slicing and dicing a repop 45 springer, but he's done more of these than anyone I know and his perfection of that task is evident here. Keeping the exhaust tucked between the frame rails and the rear tire keeps the profile narrow without a lot of fussy vintage mufflers or other unnecessary clutter. These are the broad strokes that define the motorcycle's intent. Smaller, but still important details like asphalt-covered wires, handmade brass bits, hand-stitched Messigner saddle, custom-fabbed rearset foot controls make the bike complete and cohesive without being fussy.

A bike this scratch-built is basically several hundred sessions of problem solving. JD Sansaver, Caleb's good friend and righthand man on the build, was there through the whole project and could always be counted on for his creative thinking and tireless work ethic. Having a partner to share this load was a key element to the bike's final outcome and JD deserves credit. Keep an eye out for a feature in DicE magazine soon.

You can see more interesting stuff here: Conradleach.com and Crocustoms.com and keep an eye out for a full feature in DicE Magazine soon.

Note: You can click on any image in this feature for a full 1200 pixel wide photo.


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Commented on 8-16-2010 At 12:16 pm
 

Fucking KILLER bike.

Commented on 8-16-2010 At 12:43 pm
 

An outstanding build of one of the most traditional vintage race forms out there. I would ride this bike to hell and back on a corkscrew, with my leg out and drifting it all the way. Superb build!

Commented on 8-16-2010 At 01:34 pm
 

Very, VERY nice.

Commented on 8-16-2010 At 03:11 pm
 

Caleb you effing rule man!!!

Commented on 8-16-2010 At 03:34 pm
 

It really doesn't get any better than this bike!
Caleb & JD are good guys with great minds and the skills to bring it all together.

Commented on 8-16-2010 At 03:42 pm
 

Looks great buddy!!

Commented on 8-16-2010 At 04:10 pm
 

I clicked through the pictures 3 times and caught something different each time. Awesome bike!!!

Commented on 8-16-2010 At 06:02 pm
 

Fucking sexy! I heard of this bike at the Philo and was waiting for an article on it.

Commented on 8-16-2010 At 07:10 pm
 

Sick...I love a good sporty that is go fast...great build, the pipes are tasty.

Commented on 8-16-2010 At 08:54 pm
 

Board trackers aren't usually my style but this bike rocks! Great job Dude!

Commented on 8-17-2010 At 12:13 am
 

WOW!!! I love this bike! I want Video of it moving, right now it's Playboy, I want some hardcore XXX liquor store dvd action.

Commented on 8-17-2010 At 12:35 am
 

Nice job Caleb! Really well done. I love the style of the parts you made. And that exhaust is pretty trick too. It almost looks like it isn't there. The mechanics in the controls are sweet as hell too. Your customer had better be more than pleased or he needs a slap in the junk.

Commented on 8-17-2010 At 01:21 am
 

amazing details and it looks super fun to ride. Nice work Caleb!

Commented on 8-17-2010 At 04:40 am
 

Bring back the board-track! This bike is tits on the detail. Slick all around.

Commented on 8-17-2010 At 05:48 am
 

bad ass man!!!

Commented on 8-17-2010 At 06:55 am
 

100% pure!
very good and clean work!

Commented on 8-17-2010 At 03:55 pm
 

What else can be said.....Stunning!

Commented on 8-17-2010 At 08:06 pm
 

Thanks for the hi fives folks! It was a challenging project and something very different for me. Very stoked how it came out and proud to have been part of it.

Big thanks to Conrad, JD, Biltwell/ChopCult folks, Kiyo, Jason @ Sacred Steel, and T. Markus for the outstanding pro paint job.

Even cooler for me, the owner just spent the last week up in Pebble at the Quail breaking the bike in on the beautiful central coast roads!

Commented on 8-17-2010 At 10:08 pm
 

Wow, now this is a beautiful thing! Truly one of a kind, oozing with style and creativity. Hats off to Caleb!

Commented on 8-18-2010 At 10:09 am
 

amazing detail, not for me but i'll give credit were its due.

Commented on 8-18-2010 At 03:11 pm
 

rad ride! all the little stuff is amazing!

Commented on 8-20-2010 At 02:23 pm
 

Museum quality art that you can ride...brilliant!

Commented on 8-20-2010 At 04:34 pm
 

By far my favorite bike right now..

Commented on 8-21-2010 At 12:22 pm
 

That bike is killer!!!!!!
I'm gonna go build something.

Commented on 8-24-2010 At 02:43 pm
 

that bike is very tight, tight like a tiger.

Commented on 9-7-2010 At 01:03 am
 

Just stumbled on to this and that is a slick build there Caleb. Beautiful work.

Commented on 9-20-2010 At 02:55 am
 

style and function f@ck ya nice ride

Commented on 10-29-2010 At 09:56 pm
 

It´s a dream... Nice work!!!

Commented on 11-12-2010 At 11:21 pm
 

Miles Fuckin Davis!

Commented on 3-8-2011 At 05:10 pm
 

ATTENTION to detail is amazing on this bike.

Commented on 4-14-2011 At 11:30 pm
 

Haha, douchebumps.

This bike is very nice.

Commented on 8-26-2011 At 08:51 pm
 

that fucker is dirty homey!!

Commented on 12-14-2011 At 03:16 am
 

LOVE IT........WANT IT.

Commented on 12-15-2013 At 09:00 am
 

I love the look of this scoot!!

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