It doesn’t take too long to figure out this isn’t the real thing or a clone, but a tribute to an era with a combination of old and ultra-hip technology rolled into one package that owes nothing to anybody except its extremely talented Gas Monkey Garage designer and fabricator, Aaron Kaufman. “He’s the kind of guy you might not notice in a crowd, but when you sit and talk with him — his mind is just spinning!” said David.
Although you’d never know it, Aaron based this build on an Independent Cycles LOWLIFE frame. Logical to do as it accepts wide rear tires and sits long and low, like a real ‘60s dragster. Yeah dragster, as you can’t miss the obvious showpiece this bike was built around, the M&H Racemaster slick, the pride of Watertown, Massachusetts, that demands you to know it means business. If you saw a tire like this on a bike back in the day, you gave the owner/rider silent respect. Making it seem even more right is the way cool 15” satin–finish Radir Tri-Ribb III wheel Aaron mounted hot-rod-style on a ’64 Buick finned brake drum. Aaron hung that off a single-sided swingarm he fabbed up too. How cool is all that?
Looking like it was stolen from a ‘60s front-engine rail is the 12-spoke Radir Dragster that sits brakeless between a set of forks unlike any you’ve probably seen. Aaron used the early Ford I-Beam front suspension for his inspiration for what looks like a single-piece rigid fork, Then you notice the rockers to the wheel axle which have aircraft-sourced push-pull cables running up each drilled-out I-beam leg to the frame’s neck area where they’re connected to an air-bag suspension that Aaron concocted. Previously David mentioned that he noticed Aaron’s “mind is just spinning,” well that’s nothing compared to the way my mind was spinning after checking out the quiet details of Aaron’s build so far. All the right hot rod cues, all the right stuff used, this was getting to be way more than just a pleasant drag bike recreation.
Originally, the rendering for this bike featured a long boardtracker-style tank hanging under the length of the top tube, but David said, “When Aaron created that contraption of an air bag, we’re like, ‘ Oh hell, we gotta show that.’ It was just so much hyper-technology.” Aaron made two tasty-cute stainless tanks for the engine’s liquids that provided a cool piece of style on their own and didn’t interfere with the fork-tech. He also finished more neat touches like the fender, seat pan with leather cover by Exclusive Auto, handlebars, and those far out H-D running boards with a grass weave cover to match the ’31 Ford’s floorboards.
Another change to the original rendering was doing away with the old Harley green paint. “I’m like, ‘Nope, I don’t want anything shiny. It needs to look like it happened back then,” David said. Aaron and K.C. Mathieu gave this bike a patina using red primer on H-D green with graphics by Brian Bass to achieve the barn fresh look.
The drivetrain was the simplest part of this project. A ’64 FLH was procured, the rebuilt engine pulled, and installed connected to a BAKER RSD 5-speed tranny via an Aaron-built open-belt primary. Header-wrapped wrapped headers give it attitude and sound.
David Coker has the last word, “ How many ways can you do a bike? Well, we found another one.”
Up Close: Independent Cycle Inc.'s LOWLIFE Frame
Most people would describe Independent Cycle, Inc.’s LOWLIFE frame as being sleek, slick, long, low, or some other such descriptive term. A while ago I might have referred to it the same way, but now it’s the ubiquitous LOWLIFE frame. That’s because it seems that every time I look at a pile of custom bike photos for feature bike consideration, there’s a bunch sporting a LOWLIFE frame. Independent Cycle’s Jesse Jurrens’ has figured out how to hit a home run and circle the bases twice with this setup.
There are a lot of very good reasons why it’s so popular and it isn’t just as a pretty styling exercise, although frankly, that’s a damn good one. It’s also a looker that gets down the road with comfort provided by the rear suspension, which does nothing to take away from those looks. Strength-wise, the entire frame is made from .157 or .187 DOM tubing with radial bends and each piece from the triangulated solid machined top motor mount to the .5” thick transmission plate ensures it tracks true. Another nice Jurrens’ touch is the machined neck that takes pressed-in bearing races instead of traditional fork cups. Handling is not taken for granted and the engine and transmission are centered in the frame necessitating RSD only. Hey, if you’re starting from ground zero, why not do it right? Like Henry Ford’s choice of Model T colors, you can get the LOWLIFE in any dimensions you want as long as they happen to be 40-degrees of rake and a stretch of 7” out only. Legends Air Suspensions’ complete rear suspension setup bolts right in too. No surprise there.
Check out www.independentcycleinc.com or call 605-737-4200 for info.
Builder: David Coker Newstalgia Wheel
David Coker is not your typical “builder” you find in the Builder Sidebar accompanying our feature bike articles, but he’s got quite an interesting background and with cool bikes like his Newstalgia, we can only hope he’s got a few more up his sleeve.
“It was pictured in my head, but I’m not the builder, that was Gas Monkey Garage in Dallas,” says David. “Richard Rawlings is the owner of Gas Monkey Garage (www.gasmonkeygarage.com) and he and I had a conversation about the bike. I gave him the gist of what I was wanting and it wasn’t a month later I get a package in the mail with a professional rendering done and I’m like, Oh my God, that’s it right there. Then he gave me the price and I rolled it back up and put it in my closet. I tried not to build it, but it just kept nagging at me until I did.” It’s obvious that David is into hot rods after seeing his chopped and dropped ’31 sedan that just doesn’t get any lower. The ’31 and bike go together so nicely that David’s had GMG build an air-ride trailer to pull the bike on.
“I’ve been in the tire and wheel business all my life. My family business is Coker Tire and I left that business five years ago to start Newstalgia Wheel (www.newstalgiawheel.com). This business catering to wheels for street rods and musclecars with a small line (so far) of motorcycle wheels keeps him more than busy, but he still finds time to do little things like, oh, starting up new company, Rocket Racing Wheels (www.rocketracingwheels.com) or driving his ’37 Buick Indy race car in cross- country races.
“I guess I’m a little bit quirky in that I don’t like what everyone else likes, I want something a little bit different,” says David. “Good for you,” says Buck.
|Year/Make:||1964 Harley-Davidson FLH|
|Fabrication/ Assembly:||Aaron Kaufman/ Gas Monkey Garage|
|Build time:||4 months|
|Engine:||1964 74” H-D FLH Panhead|
|Pipes:||Aaron Kaufman/ GMG|
|Air Cleaner:||Velocity stack|
|Transmission:||BAKER 5-speed RSD|
|Primary:||Custom built- Aaron Kaufman/ GMG|
|Frame:||Independent Cycle Inc./ Aaron Kaufman/ GMG|
|Rake/ Stretch:||40-degrees/ 7” out|
|Forks:||Custom built -Aaron Kaufman/ GMG|
|Rear Suspension:||Single-sided swingarm -Aaron Kaufman/ GMG<|
|Shocks:||Legends Air Suspensions|
|Front Wheel:||3x18 12-spoke Radir Dragster|
|Rear Wheel:||6x15 Radir Tri-Ribb III|
|Front Tire:||4.25/ 85x18 Roadmaster|
|Rear Tire:||8.5x15 M&H Motorcycle Racemaster|
|Rear Brake:||1964 Buick finned aluminum drum|
|Fuel Tank:||Twin stainless steel- Aaron Kaufman/ GMG|
|Fender:||Aaron Kaufman/ GMG|
|Handlebars:||Aaron Kaufman/ GMG|
|Headlight:||1914 Oakland brass automobile|
|Electrical:||Aaron Kaufman/ GMG|
|Painter:||Aaron Kaufman/ K.C. Mathieu|
|Color:||Vintage H-D green/ red primer|
|Seat:||Exclusive Auto/ Aaron Kaufman/ GMG|
|Special thanks to:||Aaron at The Old Bike Shop in Dallas for pinhead advice|