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Joel's Panhead

Joel is one of our favorite riding buddies of all time. He's had a ton of old bikes since I've known him, but I've never seen him on one that was actually totally finished. He was sitting on this nice old '48 frame and engine for a while and decided this would be the one. He reached out to several small shops for help, JD at Flying Monkey Fabrication, Kim Boyle at BCMSlim's Fab and Bob at Temecula Motorcycle Service all pitched in on this thing. In the end, Joel decided that crusty old bikes are more his style and this one's gonna have to go before he scratches it. It's for sale right now on eBay, or you can hit up the old bike broker directly if you are interested. 

Biltwell x Unknown

A couple weeks ago we had a chance to hang out with Buddy and Nick from Unknown Industries. They're not very "unknown" these days – you've probably seen them ripping in person at events all over the country or at least on the internets. We fit some of our parts to their trusty FXR's and then kicked back and watched them session our parking lot and a little cul-de-sac down the street. 

Best photo of our Murdock risers in action. Ever.
Watching their bike handling skills in person makes it really obvious how much control these guys have. What makes it even neater to me is that they are doing in on nearly stock bikes. These are real motorcycles that you could take a trip on. Nick's is a stock 80" Evo FXR with a Mikuni, Thunderheader, and a chain conversion. OK, Buddy's FXR has a twin cam crammed in there, but he can do this on a totally stock bike too. Once to make a few internet naysayers eat their words, the crew rented a few stock Harleys and rode 'em all over doing 12 o'clock wheelies and all the usual stunts. I think it cost 'em a taillight or two, but proved the point – these guys have serious skills.

Our buddy Geoff shot some great photos of their afternoon in Temecula, and Flynn put together a tidy clip for our YouTube and Vimeo pages. Hope you dig it as much as we did!

Nick Leonetti

Buddy Suttle

Operation Why2K?

We split into two teams for this trip; Alpha did a full 2,000 miles in eight days and Bravo met up two days into the trip for right at 1,500 miles in five days. Not like that is record-breaking mileage, but that was the point. We found time along the way to chill, take a swim in a river, do a little fishing, eat ice cream at every available stop, and hole up in an interesting tavern here and there. In other words–it was a near perfect pace. The goal was to make Belden Town, which is a little camp/hotel/bar spot on the Feather River where some of our buds from Nor Cal get together once a year for a little chopper-party action. On the way back we hit some hot springs in Bridgeport and then camped in Mammoth. Bravo hauled balls home, while Alpha spent one last night up on the Kern River.

Our friend Geoff Kowalchuk went along on the shorter portion of the ride and shot photos for next year's catalog, so you may notice a few prototypes of the upcoming Gringo "S" model with an integrated shield and some new color ways of the Gringo and Bonanza helmets.

At one point our crew was well over a dozen riders, and it was pretty amazing that everyone stuck together and other than two flat tires, we really didn't have any issues that couldn't be solved quickly on the side of the road. The line up was something like this: 2 cone shovels, 1 S&S shovel, 1 evo rigid, 2 FXR's, 2 Sportsters, 3 modern Triumphs and a couple Dynas. 

Hauling ass to cool places and doing fun stuff is what motorcycles are made for. If you can do it with good friends and ride something you built, or at least modified, then it's even better!

Thanks to our bros up north for the invite, we'll see you next month at the Nor Cal Cycle Swap!

Ride to the Pines 2014

We always try to get some riding in when we go up for the Nor Cal Cycle Swap.  This time around we figured it would be fun to invite more people and do a big loop around Lake Tahoe. It was a simple deal, no raffles or prizes, no bike show, no entry fees. Just a group of weirdos riding around the lake more or less together. We met up in Auburn on Saturday morning and had a great turnout–around 30+ riders on all kinds of bikes; cafes, choppers, Triumphs, H-D's and modern bikes too. Some people just did a leg or two of the ride, some met us half way and others did the whole shebang. Tahoe was crowded as expected but we made the best of it and really enjoyed the sections on the 20 and 49. We ended up in the California bar in Auburn for a couple hours at the end, meeting up with more friends and calling it a day. Thanks to everyone who came out and especially to local tour guides, John and Roy who helped us find good roads and good eats. We'll probably do it again next year, so stay tuned if you wanna roll out.

Ride to the Pines

The next Nor Cal Cycle Swap is coming up August 10th. We're organizing a little ride the day before and you are welcome to join us. Nothing fancy, just gonna ride motorcycles all day and probably eat ice cream at least once. Here's all the details and there are a few more at

Of course we’d prefer you ride an old or customized motorcycle, but we don’t discriminate, so ride what you’ve got.

It’s simply an excuse to get out and ride some gorgeous country and hang out before the swap the following day. We don’t have road captains and all that official stuff. We often get lost and are generally pretty unorganized and someone always breaks down. Print out the map and know where you are going. If you get bummed on the pace or shenanigans, you can always jump ahead, fall back, etc. We will stop for gas frequently since half of us will be on bikes with stupid-size tanks.

August 9th, 2014

Kickstands up 9:00AM
 Awful Annies
160 Sacramento St
Auburn, CA 95603

: Bridgetender Tavern & Grill
65 W Lake Blvd
Tahoe City, CA 96145

Old Town Pizza
150 Sacramento St
Auburn, CA 95603

WHERE: Check the map in detail here. It’s about a 250 mile ride so have your shit together, bike dialed, etc. We will start out headed south towards Pollock Pines and do the route counter-clockwise, finishing up back in Auburn at the end of the day.

Born Free #6 Details

This is the '47 Knucklehead built by Small City Cycles that you can win on Sunday IF you buy a poster/ticket
From invited builders pulling all-nighters, to east coast dudes prepping to hit the road any day now, Born Free 6 seems to be on everyone's mind right now. We are proud to say we've been there from the beginning. In fact, I'm pretty sure we sponsored the taco cart at the first one held in Tony and Andy's parking lot.

It's been neat to watch Grant and Mike have fun and struggle with it at the same time. The scale of the event must make it a real monster to administrate, but also what makes it so cool for spectators; nowhere else can you see so many hand-built machines of this caliber, meet the builders, buy stuff, party, hit on chicks in cut-off shorts and listen to Huber make fun of people all in one place. Oh yeah, or win the motorcycle of your dreams two days in a row.

In fact, there's the rub. This year is gonna be so big and so much is going on that figuring it out has almost become overwhelming. If you are like me with the attention span of a gnat, you look at a wall of text explaining fast passes, knuckleheads and pink wrist bands and you just start clicking on pictures hoping for some of Davis' vintage playboy

So, I thought it might be useful to break it down into bite-sized chunks.

THE WEEK BEFORE (June 23-27th)
There will be a shit ton of pre-parties all over. The only one I know for sure right now is the Show Class People's Choice shindig at Cook's Corner. Your best bet is watching the Blog Dump on Chop Cult for flyers and info.

Saturday: 10:00AM - 5:00PM
Sunday: 10:00AM - 4:00PM
Note: Fast Pass riders will get in around 9:00AM

Saturday: 4:00PM Invited Builder's Awards / Invited Builders Giveaway winner picked
Saturday 5:30-7:00PM Biltwell Gnarbeque at Cook's Corner
Sunday: 3:00PM Winners for Spectator Bikes, Best in Show, Born Free Award and '47 Knucklehead Giveaway will be announced

Buy a Fast Pass if you want to park your bike inside the show area and be considered for Spectator awards. This also gets you in about an hour before walk-in spectators. If your BFF is on the back, he's gonna need a fast pass as well. Get 'em here at Lowbrow Customs. Once this inside area fills up, no more bikes will be allowed inside the show area.

If you wanna walk in, you can just pay $10 per person, per day at the gate.

Buy a ticket/poster from Lowbrow here. These will also be available at the event, but there is a limited number. Buy online so you don't get skunked. One ticket is good for the Giveaways on both Saturday and Sunday, you don't have to buy additional ones (but of course you can).



• You have to present to win either Giveaway bike

• Without a Fastpass, there is no guarantee that you will get to put your bike inside the show

• Online sales for Fast Passes and Giveaway tickets end Midnight (Eastern Time) Monday June 16th!

• The winner of Saturday's drawing will get to pick his favorite of 12 Invited Builder's bikes

• The winner of Sunday's drawing will go home with the '47 Knucklehead chopper built by Small City Cycles and shown at the top of this post

• Address is:
Oak Canyon Ranch

4700 Santiago Canyon Road
(at Blue Diamond Haul Road)
Silverado Canyon, California

• More info on the Born Free site HERE

We'll see you there!

Flattrack Fever

Eric showing some style. Right before he hit the wall outside turn four and crushed his pipe. Doh!

Our buddies over at
Sideburn Magazine were in town last week before heading up to Oregon for the first annual Dirt Quake USA. The crew at Deus ex Machina in Vencice, CA thought it would be a good idea to take these hooligans out to our local flat track raceway: Perris. Somehow they made a mistake and actually invited us. An excuse to ride around the track in a no-pressure environment and free food? You couldn't sign us up faster. We called our buddy Eric "Third" Ryke who races Open Amateur and asked him to meet us out there, loaded up the square bodies and hit the road.

We've enjoyed spectating at the races for the years, and of course I was interested in actually racing, but I'm also interested in being an astronaut and that's probably not real likely either. I have enough distractions, unfinished projects and poorly healed collar bone fractures already and the last thing I need is one more bike to work on and one more thing to suck at. But... even on my old beater TT250, I had an absolute blast on the track. Apparently I'm not the only one, because a week later most of us (Black Rob, Christian, Otto, EZ) are all talking about ways to find the time and money to actually start racing.

Gringo + Moto Goggles = perfect set up

So, that's the plan. It's not a serious one and none of us expect to be national champs any time soon, but it does sound fun. My take on the whole practice night was that it's super easy to get out there and have fun, but will take a lifetime to actually get any good at it. When Supercamp comes around there will be a couple new students on the track for sure. In the meantime, it's time to hunt down a couple bikes and get out for more practice laps. Thanks Eric for putting up with all my stupid questions after the fact, and thanks to Shandra for the snappies!

Even on a slow old bike, it's great fun to just go as fast as you possibly can.
At least my number plate is a canteen in case I get thirsty

We should put a "stop" sign here for Ryke...

Otto leads the way on his FXR

Christian was flingin' knobs all over

Dorinda was a crowd favorite and I think she may have ridden more laps than anyone. Animal!

EZ-DT got some sick five minute flames an hour before

Classiest dude there: Kiyo. He had a blast and ripped on his CB750. 

Style points for Sideburn!

Pretty much perfect, eh?

"So, you sure this thing is supposed to have oil in it?"

Gary getting' after it

Hayden runnin EZ's $200 bike through the ringer

Team Ellis
One glorious Harley JD getting a hot lap with Ben as the lucky pilot

Back it in!

Anybody wanna buy a TT250?

Rouser Rob. Where is he now?

McGoo did an interview for ChopCult a few years ago with Rob "Rouser" Galan, and the Arousing One's answer to "What would be heaven on earth?" read as follows:

"A desolate beach with a good waist- to chest-high wave, add a 9-foot longboard, a sack of the Devil's Lawn, and an ice chest stocked with sweet tea and tasty treats."

Spicolli would be proud! Unlike most of us dreamers, Rob actually managed to pull it off. I was fortunate enough to take a family surf trip to Pavones earlier in the year. We were all excited to spend some quality time with our gypsy friend with his infectious smile and amazing girl friend, RL. Between sets we caught up on chopper gossip, who's doing what, who's no longer with us, who's still sticking it out. Rob was a very influential builder in the good old days of just a couple years ago, and his style is still evident in what a lot of people are doing with Sportsters. I thought it'd be fun to pick his brain and share the results with our friends who know him and introduce this fine character to anyone who's not already aware of him.

The Gimmick
Ferris Bueller

A Way Out

Hello Moto

Meekum Pholim Breau

TFL 3.5 (different versions)

How long did you seriously plan on checking out before you pulled the plug?
In the early 2000's I started daydreaming about living south of the border.  In December of 09 I took a last minute trip to Costa Rica, spur of the moment with no plan at all.  I found my self traveling around the country by bus, visiting different surf spots on the Pacific coast.  I separated from my traveling buds when we reached the end of the road in the southern zone. This is where I experienced a different way of life that had my name written all over it. I remember laying in a hammock with a notepad writing down everything I needed to finish, sell, and kiss goodbye.  I made a plan and stuck to it, two years later in December 2011 I hit the road.  It was a bit scary not knowing how things would turn out, but that's part of what I was looking for. Uncertainty was the draw, having to figure things out was the work, and the satisfaction of pulling it off was the reward.

Has there ever been a moment where you thought "Man Rob, you should fly home, buckle down and get a job, cause this just ain't gonna work"?
No, that has never crossed my mind.  Why, does Biltwell need a janitor or something? 

When was the last time you put some real miles on a Shomper?
On a classic old school chopper shomper  bomper you say? EDR 2011, my buddy Reg and I rolled in a few days early and met up with the Bolts crew. That run was a memorable one, one night I found myself naked in the women's restroom of Kiki's Campo puking and shitting all over the place, it was a real fucked up mess.  Sorry ladies...

What's your "Daily" moto these days and how often do you ride it?
I'm on a 2003 XR400R, and I ride it everyday whether its a surf check, mercado run, or just a jaunt with the wizard.  There are two things you absolutely must have in our village, a surfboard and a dirtmoto. 

You have built quite a few inspiring XL's. Any tips or suggestions to share with someone new to building/modifying these bikes?
Know that your name is on everything you do, take pride in your work, do it once do it right.   And remember function and reliability should always trump glam and flare. 

Ever get the itch to build another one? And, why always a Sportster? Why not a shovel or über-knuckle?
No, I don't have any urge to build again.  But I do have a build file stored in my brain of what I would do if the opportunity arose. Building was just a small fraction of my "career" as a Harley mechanic. I will always be a wrench whether its Armando's weed eater, RL's Land Cruiser, or my XR, turning wrenches will be part of my life to the end. 

As to why it was always Sportos and not Big Twins. It goes back to going against what your elders tell you, youthful rebellion is what they call it. When I first started working for Harley Davidson my shop foreman would always tell me Sportsters aren't worth a shit, and to stop investing money in mine. That would drive me crazy and just make me bond with my XL even more. As the years past I learned that Harley's XL was the hot rod of the family, they are nimble, fast, and reliable. When building came into the picture Sportos and Buells were the perfect base for me. They were cheap donors, and they were what I knew best out of the HD family. Plus at 5'8" with a 29" inseam, Harley's girls moto is a perfect fit for the petite man. 

What do you think of factory adventure bikes like the big Beemers, Triumph Tiger, etc? Any interest in something like this?
Yes is what I think!  Though I would probably fit better on one of the smaller displacement engine models. Take the 2007 KTM LC4 Adventurer, jeeze now thats the ticket.  I have always liked the idea and looks of adventure motos. Dirt on the street and street on the dirt, a moto for all roads paved or not, how could anybody not dig that?  Can you get KTM on as a supporter of Rouser South of the Border?

Tell us a little about Pavones; how'd you settle on the place, why did it stand out as the place to stop and dig in?
Pavones is unlike any other place I have ever been to. It's an hour and a half to the nearest gas station, an hour to the closest ATM, and more than two hours to a hospital.  All dirt roads, with sketchy bridges that can and will wash out. Only one way in and one way out, its literally at the end of the road in southern CR. The power goes out regularly, and sometimes the water supply dries up. Crazy birds, sloths, monkeys, iguanas, poisonous snakes, and giant insects all around.  Fruits and vegetables growing right in your yard. Whales and dolphins can be seen from the beach. The temps range from the mid 60's to the mid 90's depending on the season and the water is always around 84 degrees. It's truly paradise.  About 200 people live in the village and surrounding area(not including the thousands of indigenous people that live deep in the jungle). Everyone knows everyone, there is a well established tight knit community here. Then add the world's longest tropical left hand surf break. To me Pavones has it all, even though it has very little. 

This is what I wanted, a life not as easy  but with greater rewards, Pavones gave this to me and for that I am great full.  

What's a typical day like for you right now?
Pretty simple, wake up at 6:02, brew some organic coffee for RL and I, feed Elvis, take a shit, brush my teeth, do a surf check, stretch, surf, eat lunch, maybe surf again, check in with the wizard around sunset, feed Elvis,  eat dinner, shower, peruse the interweb for a bit, brush my teeth again, then hit the sack around 21:00 to do it all over again the next day.   

It's not all shakas and coconuts all the time though, there are days when there is no surf, or something needs to be fixed, or we head up the mountain to work on the farm.  

What do you miss from the USA in general, or Corpitos specifically?
Ben and Jerry's Coffee Heath Crunch is what I miss the most, but I also miss shooting guns from the back porch, visiting my grandma and trying to get her to toke on a joint, yelling at Slovy for using a flat blade screw driver to change a tube, riding a dirtmoto in the mountains of Colorado, and going to Schlotzsky's with my mom.

I know you have innerwebs down there, but you've been pretty much radio silent except for a cameo here and there or a new surf video posted to Vimeo once in a while. Do you cruise the chopper blogs and whatnot or have you checked out of that too? Have you seen anything inspirational in Chopperland since you split?
Yeah I still check Church of Choppers and FTWCo video of the day every night. I'll creep Biltwell's Facebook from time to time, as well as the Bolts and Deus Instagram accounts.  But other than those my moto interwebing is dead. 

Got any tips for the intrepid traveller who plans to bail for good someday? Anything you would have done differently now that you've experienced it firsthand?
Do it and don't look back!  Make sure you have a skill set that can help you survive in your desired destination. Blend in slowly and be a part of the community especially if its a small one.  Small villages like Pavones can make you or break you.  Every year someone new gets chewed up and spit out, having to hit the road with their tails between their legs.  

Yeah I should have brought my KTM down with me instead of selling it.  Trying to find a KTM 200 is turning out to be just about impossible down here. 

How's the surf this week?
The first good swell of the season finally hit, buenas olas y mucho gente.  We have been skipping
on the point and heading to Sawmills lately, so fun!  The swell is still on and we are expecting some crushers to thin out the crowd.  

You ever coming back?

My thoughts? I'm glad to have so many truly inspirational friends in my life, and riding custom motorcycles has been a conduit for many of these friendships. Rouser Rob is at the top of that list and I really do cherish the time I get to spend with the guy. Pura Vida, mi Amigo, I'll see you again next year. -Bill



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