I.C.E. Trakker Eastern Lowlife

Written by  Story by Greg Friend and Photos courtesy of Horst Rosler Monday, 05 February 2018 12:00
Published in Pro-Street
Building a modern bike with a nostalgic feel isn’t a simple matter. A builder has to pick a period to emulate, design an overall look, and decide whether to build a new bike that looks old or build an old bike that looks new. Jeff Kessel, co-owner of Independent Cycle East, built a new bike with an old look to it. “The customer came in and asked for a bike with a board track racer feel combined with new technology. He didn’t want the bike to look complicated, it had to be clean,” Jeff said. He knew just what frame to use to accomplish the customer’s goals, an Independent Cycle Inc. LOWLIFE foundation. With a softail-style rear end and adjustable Legend Air Suspension, the LOWLIFE is comfortable on any road according to Jeff. Its seven-inch stretched and curved backbone supports a steering neck raked to 40-degrees to achieve a more aggressive stance. “I’ve built six bikes with LOWLIFE frames, the geometry is unbelievable. Ride a bike with one of these frames and you’ll see what I mean. Jesse Jurrens [the owner of Independent Cycle Inc.] really did his homework when he designed it,” Jeff said. Mixing nostalgia with a sleek new design, a Redneck Engineering springer was built 3” longer than a stock length front end to give the bike ideal trail for excellent handling. On top of the springer Jeff fabricated a pair of wide handlebars that he felt added to the board track racer appearance.

A custom that is intended to resemble a racer better have more power than a stock bike. Jeff made sure this custom wouldn’t be underpowered with an Arlen Ness 124” S&S motor with rounded fins that create a distinctive appearance from the left side of the bike. A Goodson air cleaner cover smoothes air into the motor while a set of LMF pipes from Creative Cycles help get it out. An Independent Cycle Inc. open belt drive was coupled with a Primo right-side drive 6-speed transmission to spin the Performance Machine Hooligan wheels. As a nod toward the present, the rear wheel is 10” wide with a 280mm Metzeler tire, but the tall 21” wheel in the front is reminiscent of the racing wheels of a vintage bike.
The sheet metal was custom fabricated for this frame one piece at a time. The gas tank is two completely separate sections divided by and attached to the backbone tube. Additionally, the tanks are fastened to a small portion of the down tubes and connected by a strap on their bottom side. “My partner and I spent about twenty-five hours on each side of the gas tank,” Jeff said. Utilizing the newly created space, he tucked the ignition coils and the turn signal module between the tank halves. Jeff modified one of his fender blanks by fashioning a raised ridge along the top, securing it to the swingarm at the base and with struts leading to a small taillight. Underneath the seat area, Jeff made louvered inserts that hide the battery, air compressor for the rear suspension, and the fuse panel. As with all Independent Cycle Inc. frame kits, the oil bag is a tidy little tank stashed between the motor and transmission located underneath the bike. The last bit of metal work went into constructing a final belt cover that also hides the hydraulic clutch actuator. 

He had the frame, front end, and handlebars painted black and then had the sheet metal painted an interesting greenish color from a ’58 Nash. “When the painter suggested the color and showed me a paint chip, I didn’t think it would look good at all. He insisted on it and I’m glad that he did, now it’s one of my favorite looking bikes,” Jeff said. He completed the bike’s exterior modifications by taking 320-grit sand paper to all the chromed and polished aluminum parts like the entire driveline, wheels, and foot controls. Lastly, he sanded the stainless steel parts like the Crime Scene Choppers seat, seat springs, and all the shiny parts on the front end to create a brushed look that muted the mirror-like qualities of the metal’s former finish.

I.C.E. had built a custom that was more practical than a real race bike, which is good because it would be hard to click off the miles on a bike that needs to be filled at every gas station. “The guy rides the bike all the time. It had four thousand miles on it at the time of the shoot. It’d have more miles on it, but I always steal the bike to take to shows,” Jeff said. Both the builder and the buyer were more than satisfied with the bike’s outcome with I.C.E.’s LOWLIFE Trakker successfully combining new parts with a vintage exterior.

Up Close: Creative Cycle's LMF Exhaust Pipe

First off we’ll cover the pipe’s initials, LMF. It stands for Loud Mother F***er and it is one of a variety of Doug Keim’s Creative Cycles’ exhaust systems. They’re not kidding when they say loud, either. The Creative Cycles website claims the pipe sounds off at 98-decibels with a 3dB reduction when baffled (according to the National Institute on Deafness’ website, a train produces about 100dB. They say that the human ear can only tolerate about fifteen minutes at that level, unprotected). It’s a far cry from a stock pipe in every respect and unlike a stock system; the LMF barely has a straight line to be seen, if any. The header pipes curve down and merge together behind a motor’s nose cone with a four-inch wide collector that culminates where the frame’s seat tube connects to the front of the tranny plate. What differentiates this particular pipe from their other MF’ers is the diameter of the collector and the shape of its tip. Their other MF pipes have a smaller diameter collector and different shaped tips or outlets, where the outlet of the LMF curves upward slightly in a shape they describe as a claw.

It may have an unusual number of bends, but the pipe fits just about anything with a big twin motor (Harley Evos and Twin Cams, Big Dogs, and most custom applications) and forward controls. Other than the black heat wrap covering the head pipes and the black “high-endurance” coating seen on I.C.E.’s bike in these photos, Creative Cycles offers a number of pipe coating options and are also available raw or chromed or with any combination of the three.
Get your own Loud Mother F***er pipe from Creative Cycles at 732-751-1403 or online at www.creativecycles.com.

Builder: Jeff Kessel, Independent Cycle East

Independent Cycle East (I.C.E.) didn’t pinch Independent Cycle Inc.’s name, it’s a separate shop that is helping promote Independent Cycle Inc. on the east coast in Hanover, Pennsylvania. Located around fifty miles north of Baltimore and seventy miles northwest of Washington, DC, they sharing shop space with another company, Winebrenner Motor Service. “Winebrenner’s shop is a big retail store with 50-60 stock bikes for sale on the showroom floor and they do a lot of service work. We, on the Independent Cycle East side of the building, take care of all the custom work plus we build full custom bikes,” Jeff said. Jeff Kessel and John Little opened I.C.E. about four years ago with Jeff working with the nuts and bolts and John hammering out the sheet metal. “We won’t name names, but we sell a lot of gas tanks and random sheet metal work for many well-known builders,” Jeff said. 

So how did Jeff get into the motorcycle industry? He used to build hot rods full-time, mostly from the 1930s. He received some recognition for a ’35 Ford pick-up that was truck-of-the-year in the mid-nineties. He continued to build custom cars and trucks but within the next few years he put together a bike. After he finished his first bike he wanted to build another one, until it got to the point that he was building more motorcycles than anything with four wheels. “I just got tired of building hot rods all the time,” Jeff said. Now I.C.E. is a licensed manufacturer and he and his partner build about eight bikes a year, but they still wrench on a few cars and trucks. Jeff says the variety keeps his mind fresh and he doesn’t think he’ll get stuck in a rut again. “I come up with ideas for bike parts when I’m working on trucks and car parts when I’m working on bikes,” Jeff said.

Visit ICE online at www.independentcycleeast.com or call Jeff at 717-870-4109.

Owner: Independet Cycle East (I.C.E.)

205 Lowlife

Fabrication/Assembly: I.C.E.
Engine: S&S 124”
Ignition: Crane HI-4
Carb: S&S Super G
Pipes: DOug Kelm LMF
Air Cleaner: Goodson
Transmission: Primo RSD 6-speed
Primary: Independent Cycle Inc.
Clutch: Primo
Frame: Independent Cycle Inc. LOWLIFE
Rake/Stretch: 40-degrees/7"
Forks: Redneck Engineering
Rear suspension: Legend Air Suspension
Front wheel: 21x3.5" PM Hooligan
Rear wheel: 18x10" PM Hooligan
Tires: Metzeler
Brakes: OM 2-piston (f)/4-pls-ton(r)
Fuel Tank: I.C.E.
Oil Tank: Independent Cycle Inc.
Fender: I.C.E.
Handlebars: I.C.E.
Headlight: I.C.E./Jammer
Taillight: I.C.E./Jammer
Hand Controls: PM/I.C.E.
Foot Controls: Independent Cycle Inc.
Painter: Jeff Thompson, Cliff, and Skip
Graphics: Pin Striping by Skip Eckert
Molding: I.C.E.
Seat: Crime Scene Choppers

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