Paul Ponkow’s Black Rainbow Time Machine

Written by  By Russ T. Jones Photos by Jack “Shoot first and ask questions later” Cofano Tuesday, 26 November 2013 14:00
Published in Ultra Customs
   If I had to guess (and I do), I’d say that Paul Ponkow does not give a damn what you think of his bike he calls Black Rainbow. Anybody who has such a perfect single vision of the motorcycle custom past can’t be bothered by with the “Why…” or “How come…” questions that I’m sure he has to put up with whenever he engages the general public at a motorcycle show. You know, the “How come you used a Triumph engine instead of a Harley?” or “Why is the tank molded into the frame?” or whatever silly question Paul never thought he’d have to answer. Matter of fact, the first couple of motorcycle people I showed photos of this bike to curiously (to me) said, “What’s that thing?” and they really meant it. Nothing was ringing a bell to them, but that’s what happens when you go knocking around in the past.



  What “that thing” is is a 1973 Triumph engine that found itself ripped out of its old home and, after being totally refurbished to a high-degree of twin-cylinder jewelry that wouldn’t surprise me if it had Tiffany & Co. stamped on it instead of Triumph, stuffed into a long and low NorCal-style digger frame. In case this digger-style of bike is not familiar to you, think “Ness” and you’ll be in the ballpark.


  For Paul, this is nothing unusual at all as he makes his own version of the past every day at his Las Vegas, Nevada, shop called Bones Legacy. Here he knocks out one Old School beauty after another based on engines ranging from Harleys to Triumphs to BSAs and whatever else floats his boat. Each one is a tribute to days gone by, but more importantly, his mentor, friend, and former business partner, the late Bones himself. I’m not sure whether to refer to Paul as the owner of Bones Legacy or the curator of Bones Legacy, but either way, I certainly appreciate what this guy’s been up to keeping the past alive and fresh. 


    When you check out the Bones Legacy website and I absolutely insist you do, you’ll find every flavor of real Old School-style of bike, not some imagined re-interpretation utilizing a Twin Cam Harley model or a post-Y2K Triumph. This is all the old crap we loved coming to life again where it never existed previously. The wild styles of the early ‘70s are covered in even wilder paint schemes featuring vivid colors that all fight for individual attention in surprising harmony. There’s something that is just so right about this whole venture that Paul deserves kudos for having the balls to take on and make his own. It’s got to be a bit daunting to take on the big time builders of the past in spirit without trying to out do them. Although, with modern building methods, machinery, and materials, I personally think Paul’s work surpasses what we once looked on as the best. That’s not saying Paul’s bikes are better customs than the old ones, just that the quality level has come a long way for all builders today and if those same ‘70s builders had access to today’s equipment, they’d be right up there on every finish level too.   


   Like most of the choppers of the ‘70s, I don’t think about actually riding them as I only remember them as  down right scary and pretty painful to ride, but they sure look pretty and that’s what they’re all about as far as I’m concerned. The wild flowing lines, the outrageous hand-built parts, and their trademark intricate-beyond-all-belief paintjobs entertain me in ways no custom bagger ever will. You couldn’t put that stunning Santino “Sonny Boy” Mouneu paintjob on your Road Glide without looking like you were trying too hard. Does it look great and correct here? Absolutely. Now, take another look at that Sonny Boy paint and tell me that’s not the very definition of timeless.


Paul’s got his finger on the trigger and his eye on the bullseye of what’s right and what’s not when it comes to motorcycles with Old School flavor. Nostalgia is just such a lovely thing when it’s done well and it doesn’t get much better than what Paul Ponkow’s been up to. Hey, check it out for yourself at the Bones Legacy website and see for yourself.

Leave a comment