Cole Foster and his Bride-to-be, Susan.
I’ll begin this rant with a clear definition of the story
direction. If you know me, you know a clear definition ain’t
possible, but I’ll give it a shot. I believe that Cole Foster of
Salinas Boys Customs, Salinas, California is one of the very best
at what he does. I’m not just writing that because he’s a
of the notorious Sinners So. Cal., featured in the first
DVD, a documentary.
When I mention what he does, I mean that he embraces
a custom motorcycle style that only a few touch on, and few
handle it as well. So what the fuck am I talking about? That’s
hard to define (see!). I would call it an abbreviated and refined
Frisco Style. A buddy called the other day and told me that he’s
writing a story on the definition of the bobber. Actually that
definition would take less than a page to describe, whereas
Frisco style deserves a more delicate response. Ya see, bobbers
were just bobbed stockers for racing in the ‘40s. The Frisco style
reached deeper into the custom world, and many Frisco style
bikes contained highbars.
This could be considered a bobber, except that
the Panhead rear fender wasn’t bobbed. Cole also creates classic
Before I step on my dick any further, I’ll add a disclaimer.
we slip farther and farther from our historic roots regarding any
custom culture, the past becomes a blur, or worse a
generalization. To be completely honest, there were probably a
multitude of various custom bikes being built by crazed torch-
wielding maniacs in Bay Area garages during the ‘60s. But an
image has always surfaced in my acid-soaked mind. My vision
a Frisco style is a stock rigid frame, untouched by TIGS, MIGs
and torches, except to shave off unnecessary tabs. It’s a narrow,
well-handling, minimalist, ride-able chunk of iron that’s
of handling narrow, winding, wickedly steep, damp, Frisco
In the past that meant, narrow Sportster tanks, British
ribbed fenders, short sissy bars and shotgun pipes that wouldn’t
drag against the pavement. They called for shaved and trimmed
springers, 21-inch front wheels, jockey shifts and apes. They
were slim, light and agile bikes with sprung Bates solo seats and
single Bates sealed beam headlights. They were tight and right
for the wild streets of San Francisco. Okay, so some builders
stuck with this style, while others took drugs and were swept
into the wild psychedelic world of constantly changing customs.
But we’re not going there, we’re sticking right here.
We (Bikernet crew) are going to build a light narrow,
small scale, Frisco styled custom for Nyla, the woman of my
dreams, with Lucky Devil Metal Works in Houston Texas, but
much of our inspiration will come from the Cole Foster style,
because we believe in our heart of chrome hearts that he
represents the absolute best of this style.
Much of what we’re planning mirrors this bike,
another Salinas project. We’re working with a VL front end, slim
rigid, slimmer tank and even slimmer rear fender. Hang on.
So that’s why you’re about to see a feature on Cole, Jeff
Decker, the board track motorcycle art sculpture and the Salinas
Boys. In the July issue of Garage magazine, they called Cole,
“King Cole” the builder who rules. Maybe they were right?
I spoke to Cole about the bike commissioned by artist Jeff
Decker, for Jeff’s wife Kelly, who also rides. Jeff and Kelly reside
in Utah and they’ve been friends with Cole for several years.
Jeff’s a cohort of the Salinas Boy and a fabricator casting parts
for them, including the headlight bucket and the outer shell of
the aluminum oil bag that Cole originally designed for Custom
Cole confirmed my assertion that this bike is of the Frisco
style heritage. “Yep,” Cole said, “It has a stock wheelbase and
rake. No mods to the frame, just like a Panhead.”
With that aspect confirmed I quizzed him on various
aspects including the axle plates. “I usually follow pure form and
function. Modification are designed to improve mechanical
ability but not this time,” Cole said. “This mod trimmed the rear
of the low-buck Santee frame and made it look better. That’s
all.” Axle adjusters are on the inside of the plates.
Cole grew up in the San Fernando Valley, California, or
It was a Mecca for the blue-collar class mechanical minded.
Jammer grew up there, Gary Bang has roots there, Easyriders
was started in the offices of D&D distributors in Burbank. The
Satan Slaves ruled the streets and since the sun shined
constantly the brothers built hot rods and choppers day and
night, year round. “I spent my first 20 there and in ’81 I moved
to Monterey,” Cole said.
Cole’s Curt Hammet project ’36 Ford.
Although he has a past with cars, like the ’36 Ford he’s
building for Curt Hammet of Metallica, he’s looking to escape
the cumbersome 4-wheeler. “I’m hoping it’s my last. I love
motorcycles and the ability to display mechanical workmanship
on the surface,” Cole said, “not hidden by sheet metal. Besides,
car project can last for years.”
I asked about the shapely, Sportster oriented gas tank and
Cole proudly pointed out that it’s a stock Salinas Boys tank
developed for Custom Chrome. “It’s stock out of the catalog,”
He also developed the aluminum oil bag, but Custom
Chrome didn’t pick it up. He took a stock job and designed an
outer finned cover and Jeff Decker cast the aluminum mold for
the skin. Then Cole built the inner walls out of .120 thick
aluminum sheet to be twice as thick as stock for additional
strength. When Jeff delivered the outer shell, Cole welded it to
the frame and mounted it solid. “We pinched the outside design
slightly,” Cole said, “so the tank wouldn’t protrude outside the
Cole mirrors my feelings for chromers. “I don’t like the time
it takes or losing control of my parts,” Cole said. “I avoid chrome
although there’s a plater next door.” He bead-blasted aluminum
parts and polished stainless ones, or gave them a Scotch Brite
texture. He uses a gun coating called Gibbs to protect bare
aluminum. “It works like a champ and won’t collect dust and
debris like WD-40. Painters aren’t bothered by it either.”
He made the clutch lever by hand and will ultimately install
a front brake for Kelly’s safety. “The clutch lever was CZ
out of stainless steel,” Cole said. “
It’s similar to dirt bike levers.” As a side note he mentioned the
following low-buck inspiration”
”If I was going to build an inexpensive
scooter. I would start with a wrecked Honda CR 500. It has killer
wheels (21/18) forks, trees and brakes. Adapt them to a rigid
frame with a stock Harley driveline and it would be a sharp
Frisco for a kid.”
I need to check out a CR500. Could be another
Bikernet project. We shifted to his handmade, 8-piece,
aluminum nacelle and headlight bucket that appears to be
seamless. It may be inspired by a K-model or Harley Hummer,
but this one was hand fabricated from .080, dead-soft 3003
The top nacelle cap before the riser holes were drilled.
“Forming the ribs close together like that is next to
impossible,” Cole said. He also made the sliders out of sheet
aluminum. The headlight bucket ring came from a hot rod E&J
football-style headlight, then Cole shaped a bucket to fit, which
ya can’t see, and Jeff Decker cast it.
The Lower legs were shaved and shortened from the top, 1-
inch, to insure enough travel before bottoming against the
The exhaust pipes began with stock exhaust flange
tapered to 1.5 inches diameter, then Cole TIG fastened lengths
of stainless tubing and finished each pipe with a ring of stainless
welded from the inside of the pipe then ground it to have a
seamless flowing appearance, as if it was manufactured that
The air cleaner takes on that hand-built appearance, but
there’s a hidden secret. “One of the guys hit an army surplus
store,” Cole said. “He was looking for a threaded cap and found
an aluminum military canteen. After he sliced it, I discovered the
remnants.” Cole shaped the canteen mouth with another layer of
aluminum sheet, bead-blasted it, then polished the fin shape
a new look.
The rear brake is a drum Euro Components. Cole
modified the anchoring system to hide it behind the frame and
allow chain adjustment. The ignition/toggle switches are hidden
under the frame near the front of the seat. A single Nology coils
is tucked under the tank and fires from the Crane 4 ignition. The
engine is a bone stock Evo crate motor from Bob Dron’s Harley-
Davidson in Oakland, California.
One of the many jewels on this bike came in the form of the
rear fender from a ’36 Ford spare tire cover. “I made the rib
grow then shaped plastic to form the taillight lens.” As it turned
out he destroyed his favorite screwdriver. “It contained the
perfect red plastic. It had to go.”
The Sportster kickstand style came from Matt Hotch.
“It’s the cleanest on the market with a hidden ball and spring,”
Cole said. Then I asked Cole about his love life and he gave me
shit about being married five times. “I waited until I was 42 to
get engaged,” Cole said.
“Okay, okay,” I said. “I’ll just write the story and shut
Special K Spec Sheet
Model: Salinas boys “Special K” Rigid Evo
Engine: 80 cubic inch Harley classic
Ignition: Custom Chrome
Air Cleaner: Cole Foster Aluminum
Transmission: Harley-Davidson 5-Speed
Primary: Performance Machine
Frame: Cole Foster zero rake, zero stretch
Tank: Cole Foster Distributed by Custom Chrome
Fender: Old Ford
Taillghts: Cole Foster red acrylic worked into rear fender
Painter: “Wild” Bill Carter, Chattsworth, CA
Headlight: Cole Foster/jeff Decker—Cast Aluminum
Mid Controls: Performance Machine
Oil Tank: Cole Foster Aluminum, Salinasboys.com
Grips: Cole Foster marbilized, acrylic
Fork Tin Nacelle: Cole Foster hand shaped from aluminum sheetmetal
Tires: Avon 21 front, 18-150 Avon rear
Sinner boss working around the shop, like brothers do.
Fork Sliders: K-Model Harley-Davidson
Wheels: Aluminun discontinued Performance Machine
Front Brake: None
Rear Brake: Evro Components Hydraulic, Italy, Eurocomponents.com
Tips: Cole Foster hand made
Seat Pan: Cole Foster
Upholstery: George Atkins, San Jose
Fender Sturts: Stainless “Bicycle Style”
About The Salinas Boys Shop
Have you been to their website? www.salinasboys.com.
Salinas Boys Custom car and bikes is a full service shop
specializing in customizing your classic car or creating your
dream motorcycle. From a full custom rebuild to a smooth chop
- Cole Foster’s style is simple and pure, his cars simply flow.
For 20 years Cole has honed his skills as a master fabricator.
His designs have been featured in numerous magazines and TV
shows world wide. Attention to detail and craftsmanship is of
the up most importance. Each bike or car is fit the customer’s
A standard custom starts at $40,000. For an automotive
estimate, please bring your car to the shop. Based on time and
Salinas Boys Customs
1328 Burton Ave A8
Salinas, CA 93901
(831) 424-7753 shop
(831) 776-2423 cell
Cole Foster Bio
From Hot Rod Royalty comes classic customizing.
Cole Foster, owner of Salinas Boys Customs, has been
constructing rolling works of metal art for 15 years. Son of
drag racing hall of fame member Pat Foster, Cole creates cars
that are so clean they don’t have lines – they simply flow,
as evident from the numerous magazine features written on
these customs that roll from the bays of the Salinas Boys shop
in the quiet California town. At the 2001 Grand National
Roadster show Cole left with the Chip Foose Design of
Excellence Sweepstakes award from his 1956 Ford F100 Truck.
Yeah, he rides ‘em. Chasin’ his girl. Don’t let her
get away. He’s now engaged to Susie, the girl in these shots.
Fosters designs have been much coveted by rock stars who
are into hot rods. He has built customs and bikes for guys like
Sammy Hagar of Van Halen, frontman, Mike Ness of the punk
band Social Distortion and currently constructing a 1936 Ford
for Metallica’s Kirk Hammett.
In 2001 Cole built the blue bike a bobber style motorcycle
that promptly set the bike world on its collective ear. The Blue
Bike, as it’s referred to, is a tribute to classic styles. The bike
was featured on Speed Channel’s “Corbin’s Ride On TV” and on
TNN with “Popular Hot Rodding TV” plus no less than 20
magazines worldwide, including Easyriders, Cycle World, Iron
Horse and Freeway.
Cole in Vegas at the Biker Build-Off awards banquet.
Coles design’s are timeless, stylistic and subtle yet making a
screaming statement collectively with the final product.
Searching for the original designers clean lines of the car before
corporate restrictions were placed. Attention to detail,
maintenance of pure lines and skillful craftsmanship are the
qualities respected by those who have seen Cole’s work.
Passionate and obsessive in the pursuit of the perfect custom is
what defines Cole Foster the artist.