Showstopper: Duane Ballard's Pink Taco


Duane Ballard's addiction to all things kitschy, creepy and retro is well known among his close friends. The Rat Fink back piece. The Herman Munster armpit tattoo. Revell models. Star Trek trivia. The slivers of dead cow all over his man cave. Equal parts Henry Ford, Henry Rollins and John Henry, ODB is a crazy cat.

DB's first hand-built death trap was the infamous Funkenstein. This gleaming digger with the chrome girder fork, groovy casket tank, and the fire-breathing CB750 mill has graced the pages of magazines on three continents and established the leathercrafter as a serious bike builder in his right. Following up such a wild ride wouldn't be easy, but a rivalry with Kutty Noteboom—another fan of Choppetown's Jive District—provided the inspiration both friends needed to give their oeuvre a new direction.

To keep their build-off lively, Duane and Kutty established some ground rules early on:

Each bike would feature a frame and fork built by the legendary digger maestro, Freddy Hernandez.

Both bikes would be christened with a name swiped from a teenager's lexicon of sexual double entendres




When I saw Duane's Freddy-built frame for the first time, I dubbed it and Kutty's Shovel-powered sibling the homoerotic lawn darts from space. Their long, lean profiles, monocoque top tube/fuel cells and razor-thin cockpits were outlandish, and just what both builders had dreamed of. The race was on.

The triangular monocoque top tube on Duane's Pink Taco holds over three gallons of fuel. Fuel that shoots out of the vented pop-up gas cap every time Duane stabs the super-powerful Hawg Halter front brakes. To minimize this dick-sizzling shower, Duane only tops off the Taco to two-thirds full. The rebuilt but essentially bone stock CB750 motor gets about 100 miles to a tankful, so its range is more than acceptable for a bike so wild.




The curved triangle beneath the seat and behind the quad carbs is the oil tank. Duane and his friend Alex Cardone fashioned this section with four pieces of hand-cut sheet metal and welded it air tight at S&M BMX in Santa Ana. The fuel tank was fabbed in a similar fashion but was crafted with a single sheet of 16-gauge steel. Duane accomplished this feat by first making a cardboard pattern, just as he's done a thousand times for customers' chopper seats. Cardboard, Duane has learned, is easier to tweak and cheaper to replace when screw-ups occur. Once Duane was happy with the fit of his four-sided fuel cell, Courtney Hallowell contributed tips and technology. Courtney is an old hot rodder and desert car fabricator, so his expertise was invaluable.




While Duane and friends did extensive shade-tree fab work on the Taco's chassis, a local Honda mechanic set about building its polished CB750 mill in the shade of his cluttered garage. Dennis Trudelle from Hemet, CA, is a stocky man who knows more than can be told about resurrecting and maintaining stock Hondas. Not all Hondas, mind you—just CB750s from '69 to '85. As Dennis will tell you, before that they didn't exist, and after that, they didn't matter.

Because Duane's vision for his Honda differed immensely from the factory that gave birth to it, Dennis wasn't in charge of engine cosmetics—if Honda didn't do it, Dennis doesn't get it. The job of polishing fell to the hands of a man named Geronimo, the best-kept secret in SoCal customizing. In a filthy little shop five miles south of Duane's home, Geronimo sanded and buffed and polished every surface of the Pink Taco's motor components to a mirror finish. The process took weeks and cost hundreds of dollars, but it was worth it. When Duane delivered the parts to Dennis for final assembly, Mr. Trudelle was speechless, a state anyone who has commissioned the ex-Marine's services will tell you is very rare, indeed.




With everything now on deck—the Freddy frame with Sonny Boy paint, the Dennis-built mill and all associated bits and pieces—it was time for final assembly. Duane gave himself three weeks to accomplish this task before the Pink Taco's unveiling at Las Vegas Bike Fest in early October, a steady target with little pressure, or so it seemed. Then the coils arrived.

Staring at the neon-pink, high-tensile steel phallus before him with one green coil in each hand, Duane realized no bracket for these essentials had been considered during the dry build. Never one to be bested by a mere machine, Duane found a scant two-and-a-half spare inches beneath the breathers where the coils could hide. A trip to the Murrieta scrap yard yielded a 1-inch wide x 1/4-inch thick strap of 6061 alloys from which Duane fashioned a rudimentary coil bracket. A visit to his friend Maximum Bob at Intense Bicycle Co. in Temecula provided the TIG welding Duane needed to dodge his brain fart in the eleventh hour, and one potential headache was avoided. With spark solved, Duane moved on to fire.




Because the quad carbs on his bike seemed well north of the petcock, Duane logically assumed an electric fuel pump and pressure regulator might be required. Fair enough, but where to put such a contraption? Why, inside the hand-made, mirror-polished wiring box behind the cylinders, of course. The box Duane and Alex fashioned for this purpose is beautiful, and provided roughly the same cubic volume as a small shoe box. Unfortunately, the fuel pump, pressure regulator, fuel line, key block, light switches, starter relay and voltage regulator had the same footprint as three of Duane's own 13 Charlies. Roadblock number two appeared in Duane's nightmares as the quintessential blivet: 10 pounds of shit in a five-pound bag. What next?

After considerable fidgeting with his fuel pump and electrical Rubik's Cube, Duane estimated that the former gizmo wouldn't be needed. This epiphany freed up more than enough room inside the stainless-steel light box, and the race raged on.

Kutty's Plum Smuggler eventually beat Duane's Pink Taco to the first test firing, but both friends rode side by side down the Vegas Strip for their double digger debut at Dino's Bar. It was a glorious occasion, and many friends and fellow builders were there to enjoy the show. The next day Kutty and Duane met Wes Drelleshak in the Nevada desert to shoot for Street Chopper magazine. With less than ten shakedown miles under its belt, the Pink Taco performed flawlessly at its media debut. The same could not be said for Kutty's finicky Shovel-powered sex machine, but the friends pooled their talents to make sure both bikes delivered. Duane and his Pink Taco were riding a high all weekend until Bike Fest judges announced the winner in the metric custom class: a South-Beach style Hayabusa with neon lights and a chrome-plated mega stretch swingarm. Duane was disappointed with the results of the bike show, but he wasn't surprised. You know what they say about pink tacos: If they smell like fish, eat all you wish. If they smell like cologne, leave them alone. That Hayabusa had Axe Body Spray dripping all over it.

Don't sweat it, Duane—your Pink Taco tastes mighty sweet.


Check out Duane's world: Website / Facebook / Instagram

Comment with Facebook


Comment with Chopcult (22)

Commented on 1-19-2010 At 04:51 am

This dude rules and this bike rules. Funny write up!

Commented on 1-19-2010 At 05:01 am

Ya gotta love this Pink Taco.
And they always say, their all pink on the inside.
Whatta bitchin sled.

Commented on 1-19-2010 At 05:29 am

Damn! Nice frame, superb engine works!
Really amazing bike...

Commented on 1-19-2010 At 05:51 am

Harold, that is some great writing you did on this bike... super photos. Definitely NOT my cup of tea, but nontheless, I fully appreciate the bike.

Commented on 1-19-2010 At 06:42 am

Love this bike!

Commented on 1-19-2010 At 07:01 am

Great write-up. I would love to see some photos from during the build especially the fab work. That part of the build sounded like it involved a lot of creative brain power and it would be cool to see how the experts work through the process. Killer bike!

Commented on 1-19-2010 At 07:19 am

recently saw this bike firsthand,amazing bike.unbelievable craftmanship on it and the plum smuggler.

Commented on 1-19-2010 At 11:17 am

not my style but damn thats a clean bike

Commented on 1-19-2010 At 12:03 pm

Love the funky color. Seen this many times online. Awesome.

Commented on 1-19-2010 At 03:36 pm

Nice work, Nice words

Commented on 1-19-2010 At 06:03 pm

Kinda reminds me of a bigger version of a Honda Mini Trail 70...hahaha

Commented on 1-19-2010 At 06:16 pm

killer it!

no large DL image? bummer!

Commented on 1-19-2010 At 06:18 pm

looks like it was a fun project. dont care for the color a whole bunch. did any of you guys see kutty notebooms bike? they both tried to out do eachother, both bikes are the same style except notebooms was a harley.

Commented on 1-19-2010 At 07:32 pm

This bike is not my style, but damn if it's not one of the cleanest builds I've seen and can totally appreciate the work and craftmanship that went into it.Hyabusa,neon lights,are you f#*!in kiddin me.

Commented on 1-19-2010 At 09:24 pm

PINK TACO. HAHAHHAHHAHA. the name already makes it fucking cool.

Commented on 1-19-2010 At 10:00 pm

Got to roll with Duane and his Pink Taco in Vegas. Looks good, and sounds good too.

Commented on 1-19-2010 At 10:21 pm

Be VERY careful hangin' out or ridin' w/ this Duane Ballard cat...Soon, you'll be wantin' to build a Honda chop of your own...Dont say I didn't warn ya

Commented on 1-21-2010 At 06:43 am

You got to love it..More than anything else I like the fact that,as stated. DB had help from his friends.In this home built culture we tend to forget that not all of us can do everything ourself.But just because we had to farm out the welding or use a bracket made by someone else.Doesn't meen we didn't build our own bikes.
Great write up Mr H.
Great build Mr.D

Commented on 1-21-2010 At 08:27 pm

Incredible. Awesome snaps too.

Commented on 1-27-2010 At 02:58 pm

great paint job

Commented on 2-14-2010 At 02:34 pm

sweet ride nicily built and stylish,too. I think for pink chopper it's a hum dinger
and beautiful,too.

Commented on 11-18-2012 At 01:21 pm

A lot of people say they would love to see more build photos.
But when I have posted photos of my builds there are almost no comments.
Like 10 comments on 825 views.
So I wonder if all the work to post photos is worth it.

People like to see and get more, but will not take the time to say anything.

Please Login to Comment


ADVERTISE    |    CONTACT    |    ©2009 - 2017 ChopCult    |    REPORT ABUSE    |    CONDUCT

Chopcult on Instagram Chopcult on Pinterest Chopcult on Tumblr Chopcult on Facebook Chopcult on Twitter