Born Again Customs: Wood 'N' Shock Me

Written by  Story by Buck Manning, Photos courtesy of Horst Rösler and Born Again Customs Thursday, 05 November 2009 19:16
Published in Ultra Customs
Taking a look at the customs you see in magazine feature spreads these days, you’d think that the world consisted of just bobbers and dressers. Yeah, these hopefully rideable customs are used as they’re designed, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for a designer to just let his imagination go wild and build a bike that startles you upon seeing it under show lights or roaming the streets in the flesh. There are still a few builders creating mind blowing customs that make you want to quote the late John Denver and exclaim Far out! when you encounter one. Such is the case with Mike Alexander of Born Again Customs in Monroe, Michigan, who has an imagination that strikes at the unlikeliest times. “I was having lunch with my dad and I broke out a napkin and said, ‘I have to draw something right now,” said Mike. “I had a photographic image of WOOD ‘N’ SHOCK ME in my head that I drew on the napkin which I gave to my dad and forgot about. After I finished the bike, he showed me the napkin and said, ‘You did everything you were gonna do to this bike on this napkin. Actually, it turned out almost identical, the whole shape, the gooseneck, the tank under the backbone, the front end, the monoshock swingarm, every curve of the bike was just like what I had drawn.”

 

As you can see, what Mike had drawn was a curvaceously fanciful bike that incorporated original thinking and lots of fabrication to produce. The frame is more like an exoskeleton than an internal sub assembly and holds the required motivation pieces like exposed organs. The 8” out and 1” down frame swoops around like Walt Disney animators designed it and there’s not a straight line to be seen besides the required steering head, which hangs at a reach for the horizon 50-degrees. As Mike said about the size of the frame tubing, “It’s very big,” is somewhat of an understatement, the 2” tubing provides a stiff chassis for this spread out ride. Engineering his own swingarm that utilizes a monoshock adapted from a sprint car, he spent more time at his tubing bender until it gracefully mimicked the curve of the backbone before coming to a pointy end. Mounted under what appears to be a seat, it’s adjustable for preload and valiantly tries to cushion the shock of a triangular seat comprised tubing with an underlay of Lauan wood. Asked if it was somehow comfortable in a way I couldn’t comprehend, Mike bluntly said, “No, the monoshock is a very soft ride though. This is a bike you take down to your local bike night and shock everybody or take it to a show and win. It is what it is and it doesn’t bother me.” There’s also a matching wood insert in the swingarm and he said, “I wanted to give it a retro look like a woodie, the headlight I used looked like it was off an old boat so the wood mixed with metal gave me that aspect.”

Joining the fray of the meandering frame tubing is a striking front end straight out of Mike’s gray matter (see Up Close sidebar) that is not just a design statement, but a true working piece that incorporates hard numbers to provide correct rake and trail figures. With everything else he made, I’m surprised that Mike didn’t grab a couple of billet aluminum slabs and carve out his own wheels. The choice of Weld Racing Jet wheels adds a nice delicate touch to the look and helped him to finish this project from napkin to running motorcycle in four real world short weeks, just in time for the AMD Official World Championship in Sturgis this past summer. “I generally build a bike in four weeks,” said Mike. “I usually drop everything else on Earth and spend my life for a month getting it done.” Even though there’s a set of brakes front and rear, there wasn’t on the napkin. “I wasn’t going to do a front brake at all, but decided to go with the Pro-Tranz transmission brake,” he said. “I thought if the chain ever snaps, I’m not gonna have any brake at all and I’m gonna die or I’m gonna wreck the bike and really be peed off! So I took a rear GMA softail 2-piston setup and modified it to work up front.” A 300mm Metzeler does its best to break the chain out back while a skinny 90x21 Metzeler gives the chain a chance up front.

The reason for dual brakes might just be the 120” Ultima mill sitting in the center of this bike. Way more than adequate power is amped up by this big block for runs down to the local bike hangout. In case there’s a highway on the way there, a Trik Shift 6-speed keeps the revs and the vibes down to reasonable levels. Passing along expended torque from the crank is an open belt drive with an outer cover that is one of many intricate religious inspired designs (notice the shift rod) that Mike offers through his website. Doing its best to be like a supercharged church organ with all the pipes but a couple of bass ones removed is the Venom exhaust chosen by Mike to warn the locals he was on the move.

Finding bodywork is not an easy task and the containers for petroleum products are the only qualifying items present. The fuel tank hanging between the top frame rails was knocked out by Mike and gets you where you want to go, but don’t pull out a map and start daydreaming. Originally he planned an under the transmission oil tank, but a Twisted Choppers set at a jaunty angle up front just looked right to him. Everything was powdercoated except the tank that was painted by Mike and pal Brian Hensley.

WOOD N” SHOCK ME is now happily off with a new owner, but thanks to Mike’s dad Jim, he’s still got the napkin where it all began.

 

Builder: Mike Alexander
Born Again Customs

Being addicted to motorcycles has no known cure with side effects that range all over the spectrum. A saner person might contact Dr. Drew or just check into a rehab (if one exists for this) and logically try to gain control over this two-wheeled obsession. Once you’ve been bitten however, you just might as well go with it and enjoy it for all it’s worth. Such is the case with Mike Alexander of Born Again Customs who was a successful jeweler, of all things, before he dove into custom bikes full time. After having his shop space rent nearly tripled, Mike is back working in the jewelry business, but spending every free moment still cranking out outrageous customs like WOOD “N” SHOCK ME at his home shop. Cutting needless overhead has enabled him to continue unabated. “I’ve got some other ideas for bikes that are pretty radical,” said Mike. “For instance, I might do a Ducati that’ll probably look like something from Mad Max. With the constant support of his retired auto worker dad, Jim, cleaning up behind and keeping him going, Mike said, “I was born drawing. I try to come up with stuff of my own.” His art talent was evident from chopper drawing his mom still has from when he was seven to the air brushing talents he showed at 12. “I was the local air brush kid. My dad had me air brushing bikes, boats, and murals,” said Mike. This kind of youthful spunk led him to learn welding, painting, and fabrication to the point where he started turning out show winning customs at an early age. If you’re looking for a jewel of a custom, give Mike a call at 734-735-7490 or visit www.bornagaincustoms.com.

This bike feature originally appeared in Barnett's Magazine issue #61, April-May 2008.

 

SPECIFICATIONS
Bike Name: WOOD 'N SHOCK ME
Year/Make: 2007 Born Again Customs
Fabrication: Mike Alexander /Tony Beaber
Assembly: Mike Alexander/BAC
Build time: Four weeks
Engine: 120" Ultima
Cases/ Flywheels: Ultima
Rods/ Pistons: Ultima
Cylinders/ Heads: Ultima
Cam: Ultima
Ignition: Ultima
Carb: 42mm Mikuni
Pipes: Venom
Air Cleaner: V-TWIN MFG./BAC
Transmission: Trik Shift 6-speed RSD
Primary: Ultima/BAC
Clutch: Ultima
Frame: BAC Goose Neck Mono Curve
Rake: 50-degrees
Stretch: 8" out/1" down
Forks: BAC Curve Inverted
Fork length: 8" over
Rear Suspension: Pro Shock Series
Front Wheel: 3.5x21 Weld Racing Jet
Rear Wheel: 11.5x18 Weld Racing Jet
Front Tire: 90/90x21 Metzeler
Rear Tire: 300/35x18 Metzeler
Front Brakes: GMA
Rear Brakes: Pro-Tranz tranny brake
Fuel Tank: BAC
Oil Tank: Twisted Customs/BAC
Handlebars: BAC
Risers: Custom Chrome Inc.
Headlight: V-TWIN MFG.
Hand Controls: V-TWIN MFG.
Grips: Pirate/ V-TWIN MFG.
Foot Controls: Pirate pegs/
V-TWIN MFG.
Electrical: Mike Alexander /Dave St. Bernard
Painter: Mike Alexander /Brian Hensley
Color: Pearl blue/ silver metalflake /candy blue
Graphics: Mike Alexander
Polishing/ Moulding: Brian Hensley
Seat: Wood - Jason Reno
Special thanks to: My dad, Jim Alexander, for the 20-hour days

 

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