Editor's Note: I'm under the gun writing a couple of stories regarding Victory motorcycles and our ride from New Orleans to North Carolina, a 1000 miles on the Long Road to the Smoke Out 12. I asked Caleb Owens if he would sketch out a handful of notes to help me launch his killer bike feature. He did a bang-up job of writing his own feature. It helped a lot and meant I could deliver this classic chop to you sooner.
This is my first real attempt outside the BS1 at a "show" quality bike. I've never been much for the "show" thing, I love riding my bikes so much that the idea of sitting at a show all day looking at my bike makes me anxious. I've done this once already with this bike and it's not easy. Make no mistake, this is no different than any other bike I've built--It WILL be ridden!
I've had this motor for a long time and ran it in the Gran Sancho. Once the motor was ready for a rebuild I decide while I had it apart, to polish the heads and cases, and so it began. The '66 was ready for a rebuild too, so that basic chassis would end up on this bike. The motor is an OEM '56 lower end with original flywheels and rods. The top end is original '48 jugs and heads.
The writer and the builder, Caleb Owens.
I scored the early Cycle Engineering rocker covers at the LBC swapmeet. The NOS super B with accelerator pump came from a stash of parts scored on a Santa Cruz visit. I've had the new Morris mag for a while and ran the same mag on a few bikes now. I went through it and popped in a new coil and points.
The idea for the 23-inch wheel on the front was sort of a goof. First time I saw one on a chopper was my good friend Warren Lane in Miami. I liked the look, but it didn't really speak to me. While building the BS1 back in '09 we narrowed a big twin springer and had the big 23 on the forks. I slapped it on my Shovel for a goof and thought it just worked. I've since narrowed a few springers. Narrowing a big twin isn't anything new. The old timers did it, although very rare, back in the '60s and '70s. I hadn't seen it done in recent years, so I stepped up in '09. I've seen a lot of this mod recently, so I think it's run it's course, at least for me.
The narrowed springer needed a narrow rim. This 23 is a speedway rim 36 hole laced to an early chopper spool hub. It just needed a rear 18 to balance the stance better.
When it comes to customs bikes, or most things, my aesthetic tendencies are "organic." I tend to be drawn to things where the pieces work in combination to make a bigger statement. Flashy paint is great, but if that is all I see then it loses my interest. Contrast is a big one for me too. Complete chrome or polish just gets lost in a wash.
The intent of this bike was to be a little deceptive. At a distance it looks like another black and shiny bike, but at close inspection you find things you could easily miss if you didn't take your time. Kind of like riding.
The tank is an old Wassell, of course. I ran this on the first version of the my '66. It was narrowed in the rear, tunneled and Frisco mounted.
Another intention was to keep things as stock as possible but to modify each part in a creative but functional way. All the small parts are hand made via free form machining and plain old elbow grease.
The tank mounts, brake and clutch pedal, shifter arm and motor mount, started as round stock. I used two or three different mill bits to get the blood grooves. I then used heat to bend them to where they needed to be. This process sometimes takes several attempts to get it right.
The original rocker clutch was chopped and lowered a couple inches. I machined a small tab for a heel rest where the original spring clipped to.
The handle bars took probably 10+ hours to make. I cut the ears off the top clamp. Machined two DOM pieces to accept the new 1-inch bars I bent. The sleeves that accept the bars are tapered to mimic the stock look. The cross bar was made in a similar manner. The top stem nut is also hand made.
The engraving was done by gun smith Mark Cooper. Mark was fantastic. I outlined exactly what I was looking for, traditional, subtle and balanced. He did an incredible job.
The pegs are original Andersons that were milled down, drilled, the engraved. Crodersons T. Markus came through with another pro paint job. Straight, super tight gloss back with a little class.
Sometime ago I did a tank for my brother and we explored this idea of etching the clear coat, kind of like etching glass. The results were really sharp, so when it came time for the Panhead I threw the idea by T about doing something a little more complex. He was nervous but the results are superb deceivingly simple, yet complex. Each design was custom made for each part of the bike. No clip art here.
The shifter knob is something special. My pal Brett brought me some scrap pieces of wood to play with. I took a piece of Walnut and turned it on the lathe. I performed some hand work leaving a nice ¼-inch groove at the top. I took an old photo of my Dad, post WWII and glazed it in. Now the old man is riding with me. I think the old man would have loved this bike.
The pipes are a set of Paughco up sweeps I modified to turn up inside the frame. I used a Biltwell pipe kit for the extra pieces. The taillight is a microphone from 1948. I didn't have to do much work to it. I layed in two LED grids and cut out an old lens to fit.The air cleaner cover is a 40/50's era cover for an Ice Crusher--Ice o Mat.
JD stepped in and helped me pull the seat together. It's buffalo hide covering 1-inch of memory foam, just enough to support my fat ass. Although maybe not obvious, I have thousands of hours in the build. The response to the bike has been overwhelming. The bike took 1st for Clubs choice at a recent HA event in SFV, and if that wasn't cool enough, at Born Free 3 it took 1st for the invited builders section of the show. The fact that 25 or so other builders I admire voted, this 1st is still amazing to me. I will be showing the bike through the summer including a recent invite to The Brooklyn Invitational. More importantly, I'll be riding it as much as I can before the new owner begins to enjoy it.
Cro Customs Inc.
Bikernet.com Extreme Siksika Cro Tech Chart
Bike Name: Siksika
City/State: Culver City, CA
Builder: Cro Customs Inc.
City/state: Culver City, CA
Company Info: www.crocustoms.com
Address: by apt. only
Web site: www.crocustoms.com
Fabrication: Cro Customs
Make: Harley Davidson
Displacement: 74 and a little
Builder or Rebuilder: Cro
Cases: 1956 HD
Case finish: Polished
Barrels: 1948 HD
Bore: 10 over
Pistons: Wiseco forged
Barrel finish: Black Powder Coat
Lower end: OEM HD
Rods: OEM HD
Heads: 1948 HD
Head finish: Polished
Valves and springs: STD
Cams: Andrews A/B
Carburetion: NOS S&S Super B with accelerator pump.
Air cleaner: 50s era Ice O Mat top, custom mounted and engraved
Exhaust: modified Paughco upsweeps
Mufflers: rolled up car window
Gear configuration: Andrews gears, jockey top.
Final drive: chain
Primary: 1 1/2 belt
Clutch: BDL pro
Kicker: Yes, usually one of two kicks cold, one kick warm.
Style or Model: Straight Leg
Stretch: only the ladies
Rake: only in fall
Modifications: "cleaned and molded"
Make: H-D / repop
Model: offset Big Twin
Year: '48,'49 maybe.
Length: shortened a tad.
Mods: narrowed 2 and some inches.
Tanks: Chopped, narrowed, frisco'd Wassell
Fenders: Bates rear
Oil tank: H-D horseshoe
Sheet metal: T.Markus
Molding: A little
Base coat: Gloss Black
Graphics: Customs ghost etching.
Frame: Black powder coat
Molding: here and there.
Base coat: dark
Make: speedway rim
Size: 1.6 x 23
Brake calipers: none
Brake rotor(s): none
Tire: Cheng Shin
Size: 1.85 x 18
Brake rotor: Mechanical Drum
Foot controls: Modified HD
Master cylinder: none
Kickstand: modified H-D
Ignition: Morris Magneto
Ignition switch: kill on Mag
Regulator: Cycle Electric on genny
Harness: 3 or 4 wires
Headlight: old Packard
Taillight: 1948 Webster microphone.
Switches: toggle for lights
Seat: Cro/JD Hand stitched Buffalo hide.
Mirror(s): lookn over shoulder
Gas caps: Old swap meet find
Grips: NOS 1" Triumph
Pegs: Modified Andersons.
Oil filter: none
Oil cooler: The wind
Oil lines: Cro
Fuel filter: I need one.
Fuel Lines: rubber
Throttle cables: Cro
Fasteners: Here and there,
Hard turned walnut shifter knob, glazed with old photo of my Dad.