There’s a bike builder I’ve never met or even had a conversation with that seems to share my cheap ass “No man can live on cheeseburgers alone” theory. That guy, Eric Allard of FNA Custom Cycles in Lakeland, Florida, unconsciously subscribes to my “… cheeseburgers alone” theory except his cheeseburgers are motorcycles. You want a great Harley-based custom? Eric can make you a great ‘burger.’ But if you’re looking to spice up your two-wheeled escapades just for the living hell of it, instead of a steady diet of Milwaukee bratwurst, he can cook you up something fresh from England, Germany, or Asia with the same verve he instills in every Milwaukee dish he creates. He’s talented, imaginative, and skillful, but most of all he is daring and totally unafraid to try making a new dish especially one as dangerously daring as our feature bike appropriately called Blue Smoke.
Over the years there have been a few bikes that have so blown the performance envelope that they usually became known as “widow makers.” The early ‘70s Kawasaki H2 750 two-stroke triple was just such one of those legendary bikes. When you saw one riding by you might think, “There goes a man with gonads the size of cup cakes!” Well, maybe not ‘cupcakes’ as that’s a really stupid reference, but you get the point. I’ve seen H2 drag racers, road racers, land speed bikes, and a lot of street posers, but I’ve never, ever seen an all-out custom. Leave it to Chef Eric to whip up an all new recipe that fills that last category with a touch of another. Yup, a drag racer-inspired all-out custom digger for your viewing pleasure.
After acquiring a couple of boxes of H2 parts in exchange for something he obviously didn’t need or want for a V-twin, Eric just chucked them in a corner. After stumbling across a willing patron who apparently had a remarkable palette for wild things, Eric formulated his own recipe and got to work. When you’ve got a triple with a small, but explosive top-end power band, apparently it only made sense to build a rigid drag-style digger.
Well it made sense to somebody (i.e. a customer) so work started from ground zero with a pile of tubing and a long, low, really low frame to be made. In true drag bike/digger style, Eric fabbed up a drop seat/gooseneck frame with 44-degrees of rake with an additional 8-degrees in the trees. Yup, that’s a digger. Hanging off the front end is a set of vintage leading axle BMW forks with the lower legs milled, shaved, and polished to a fare-thee-well.
Sitting between those legs is an 18x2.5 Harley Sportster rim laced to an early ‘70s Triumph dual-leading shoe 8-inch conical brake while out back another similar size Sporty rim was laced to another Triumph conical brake drum that had been converted to run another 8-inch backing plate brake instead of the stock Triumph 7-incher. Eric wanted every bit of classical braking he could get when it came time to rein things in (two-strokes offer zero engine braking so shutting off the throttle is like free wheeling). Besides, the Triumph conicals are a very pretty and unusual looking setup when they’re all polished to within an inch of their life. The old school-beefy, vintage square tread Michelin rear tire Eric chose along with the skinny ribbed front tire definitely gives a strong hint of old drag bike and who doesn’t appreciate an old drag bike?
Obviously the bodywork is minimal as you can clearly see, but what there is hits the old school custom vibe perfectly with a small Eric-made prism tank molded right onto the frame. The simple, slightly square-edged rear fender is held up by Eric’s version of a sharply angled strut to solidify the tank’s prism aspect. Oh, and there’s a seat there too, but I’d probably refer to it as more of an ass pad that a seat. A man known only as “Uncle Terry” covered anything that was unpolished or chromed metal in a simple, but always appreciated, lustrous shade of gloss black. The rectangular headlight and narrow raised drag bars with their cool angled-reverse levers complete the vintage custom vibe just a little bit more.
And no, I’m not skipping the Kawi triple, just leaving the best for last. Eric rebuilt the engine from the inside out until things were as good or better than new. All the engine side covers were polished until you could see your future in them while the cases, cylinders and heads were cleaned up enough for a doctor to perform surgery on them if need be. Where he took a sharp left turn on this triple was using a ‘50s era Fairbanks magneto from a six-cylinder Continental generator to replace the Kawasaki capacitive discharge ignition which was quite the innovation back in 1972. I’m not exactly sure why Eric did this other than he can and he likes it and that’s cool enough for me. The amount of work involved in not only making it work correctly, but having to fab up the gorgeous polished covers from scratch to make it harmonious with the rest of the bike is not for the easily afraid. I now count Eric in the very small, not easily afraid segment of our population.
The other incredibly zany aspect of the engine are those triple expansion chambers Eric designed that constitutes a lot of engineering know-how and a bit of black art to get right. Not only did they have to custom-wild in the angular-prism way, but they are a make-or-break-it proposition whether the bike runs well, extremely badly, or even not at all. Successful two-stroke exhaust design is is not like bolting on a set of 4-stroke slip-ons and re-jetting or re-flashing using known parameters and riding away like nothing happened. Eric carefully came up with 15 separate conical pieces (I counted them) that not only look great, but function spectacularly with a sound unlike any 4-stroke ever. Maybe not your cup of coffee, but it’s music to a small, but devoted bunch of enthusiasts,
All the power is at the top end, but Eric says, “When the 110 horsepower all hits at once . . .” Well you get the gist. Along with building a radical H2 two-stroke Triple, you get the idea that Eric’s not afraid of much even a 110-horse hit all at once.
All I can say is that Hot Rod magazine’s mantra of “Dare to be different” would go right over Eric’s head. Anybody who thinks outside the box as a way of life doesn’t have to try and dare to be different.
For more info on all of FNA’s wide range and brands of customs, be sure to click on http://www.fnacustommotorcycles.com/.