Editor's Note: Prince Najar did an admirable job with this feature, but I want to bang the gong harder. This builder and his crew is a one-of-a-kind team, who build state-of-the-art customs, multiple show winners, and market their talents in the most magnificent manner. This feature demonstrates the sexy style, yet it empowers women to wrench, teaches even old veteran builders new techniques, inspires timid builders to get involved, and shows us how much fun building motorcycles can be. Hang on!
In the heart of California’s historic Mother Lode, 45 miles east of Sacramento and Stockton, the custom bike ASUMATI rumbles to life built to honor an ancient people, the Miwok Indian Tribe. Once this highly customized Honda VT750ST sled rolls out the winter bike show circuit, it will be carefully displayed in the Sierra Nevada Foothills, in Amador County, at the Jackson Rancheria Casino.
The lead designer on the build was Jim Giuffra, owner of AFT Customs. AFT Customs is three businesses in one… a fab shop, a modeling agency and a custom metric bike shoppe. Jim designed the bike, oversaw the build, and worked with his bevy of mechanical intern models to fabricate it.
The AFT Models do about 70% of the work. These ladies learn to weld, lace wheels, fabricate, and race. And damn, they look damn good doing it. All of the agency's models are experienced in motorcycle tuning, repair, and custom bike fabrication. Cyndi & Kristin are TIG certified in welding & Nalani (18 years old ) is good with sheet metal. She made the side covers on Asumati.
So, what’s it like working with the best looking crew in the industry? Do they spend more time on finishes or performance? Are the crew’s shop clothes always color coordinated? We asked Jim to share the difference between working with guys and working with models:
“One reason I like working with them is that they take direction,” said Giuffra. “They don’t come with preconceived ideas, they don’t have egos. I don’t have to retrain them and they are good listeners. They do come from a different point of view so as issues surfaced the build was advanced in ways that I never foresaw. This unique feminine point of view covers everything from design to tool naming. For example, they renamed the ball hone cylinder tool, the pine cone.”
“As they have matured as builders, their knowledge has deepened. At first they looked at paint, now they are deep into fabrication and what it takes to make the modifications they see. To a woman, they are interested in working on the engines and want to understand how things work.“
"They all have careers - the bikes are their hobby & they love it. A lot of the girls had never held a wrench in their hand until they came to work with us. Kirk Taylor is going to give them a crash course on how to paint this winter. They're really excited
about that. When ever we go to shows I always have the guys give the girls the high points of their bikes. Cole Foster showed Cyndi how he makes patterns. Bryan Fuller gave the girls his new book & they're all looking through it and reading it. They pick up little bits & pieces from everyone. When I see the excitement from them when they weld something or make a part or put something together it reminds me of why I started in this business. IT'S FUN!"
ASUMATI, the name on the tank, was translated from Miwuk means grizzly bear, the monarch of the forest. The bike began life as a Honda VT750ST. It evolved into a 750cc Honda Street Tracker-style custom bike with race inspired suspension, supermoto handlebars, and HIPO engine upgrades. A Street Tracker is a considered a bobber on steroids.
Giuffra’s tribe of friends helped pull the build together with custom-made taillights by TPJ Customs, hand-fabricated risers by Kraus Motor Co and digital switches came from Grip Ace. Duane Ballard built the custom under-the-seat radiator unit.
The front forks belong to R1 and the rear shocks were custom built by Race Tech. Asumati rolls on custom wheels with Avon Cobra front 120/70R19 and rear 180/55R18 tires. The license plate can be rotated vertically or horizontally.
An old-school touch is the stunning engraving on the cylinder heads and engine cover. It adds nostalgic touch to this long and low street tracker. If you look closely, you will see Indian themed art that includes a dream catcher, bear claw, arrowhead, and feathers.
A hammer and chisel were used to create these designs. And the investment for this craftsmanship was $50 a square inch, or about $5k.
Asumati was unveiled at the Los Angeles Calendar Show in June, then competed in the American Motorcycle Dealer World Championship of Custom Bike Building in Sturgis, South Dakota and the Rat’s Hole Custom Bike Show. It can be seen at the Ultimate Builder Custom Bike show in San Mateo on November 18-20,2011, www.ultimatebuilderbikeshow.com
About The Ideal Intro Custom Bike Platform
The 750 A.C.E. is an ideal platform for a custom build. The bikes were built from 1998 until 2003. The VT750 chassis is compact and lightweight, with geometry that creates easy, natural handling. It is based around a strong double-cradle steel frame with a square pipe backbone and forged steel pivot plates.
Giuffra will pick up clean ones on craigslist.org for $3,000 and sell off the unused parts on eBay and recoup from $500 - $1,000 depending on the build.
AFT Customs has developed an engine kit that includes pistons, cams and gaskets that pump the power from 37HP to as much as 48HP. In addition, their custom bike shop designed an under-the-seat radiator relocation kit to clean up the lines. So, with a modest budget, intro custom bike builders can build a cool bobbed hot rod for around $10K.
BIKE BUILD SPONSORS:
Jackson Rancheria Casino Hotel
Kraus Motor Company
Paint - Todd Evans
Leather - Duane Ballard
Powder Coat - Dynamic Coatings
Anodizing - Pacific Coast
Thanks for your support!!
About AFT Customs
AFT Customs is operated by Jim Giuffra. Jim has been involved with motorcycles for most of his life but officially started working on other folk's motorcycles in 1977, when he worked at Spinetti’s Bike Shop in Jackson, CA. They were one of the largest multi-line dealers in the nation. Jim was factory trained by Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha. In 1987. He kicked-off Amador Fine Tune where they repair all makes of motorcycles and handle custom work. AFT Customs is a division of Amador Fine Tune.
About AFT Models
The AFT Models specialize in show promotion and print modeling. They are available to promote and advertise products, services, or businesses. They are available for commercial print, editorial, fashion, casual, swimwear, artistic, lingerie, glamour, lifestyle, and beauty.
Builder: Jim Giuffra / AFT Customs Girls
Owner: Jackson Rancheria Casino
Location: Jackson, CA
Bike Name: Asumati
Make/Size: Honda VT750ST
Make: Yamaha R1
Front: Custom 19-inch
Tires: Avon Cobra 120/70 x 19
Brakes: Beringer/Moto Master/Honda
Rear: Custom 18-inch
Tires: Avon Cobra 180/55 x 18
Paint: Todd Evans
Hidden radiator, Naked engine, removable passenger seat, all components on this bike are custom made for this bike. AFT Customs Engine Performance Package (intake, exhaust, pistons, cams) 70% of this bike was built by the AFT Customs Girls.