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Thursday Edition


The Cro Customs Green Story

Finding Where The Odyssey Comes Together

By Caleb and the gang with photos by Peter Linney
6/11/2010 3:24:41 AM


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Lisa, the model, www.lisaangeline.com, called me before the shoot. “What’s up with the green bikes on Bikernet?” I didn’t have a good answer. I asked her, “Are your peaches sweet?”

Now days when you read an article about a bike build it reads like a service manual documenting how this was machined and that was bored out and this was raked and so it goes--dull. Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate that, but you hardly ever read about the personal and emotional experiences of the process and the joy of riding the completed scoot. Maybe it’s all that, “I am bad ass,” or maybe those typical pictures of bikers with their arms crossed and brow furrowed doesn’t seem to fit with emotional expression or male bonding. Or maybe that just doesn’t translate into the written form. Trying to explain what riding or a particular ride is all about is a hard thing to do.

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So, I will get to the geeky, grease monkey stuff, but first the stuff that really matters.

There are very few times in life when you have an experience that you can’t really describe with words. You know, those moments when you smile so big your face hurts, laugh so hard you feel like you just did a thousand sit-ups, or just well up with a big lump in your throat, but not because you are bummed, but because you are so freaking happy you, just can’t stand it.

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”But isn’t there a code about green bikes,” Lisa asked being persistent? I told her to ask the builder, Caleb.

I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of those kinds of experiences in my life, yeah, yeah, a lot of them involved the opposite sex, but a lot of those moments had something to do with a motorcycle. I live for those moments, when everything gets quiet and all is right with the world. That’s what motivates me to ride, the trek to overcome duality with the bike, the road, the sky, and life.

It’s 5am on a Sat morning. I crack open the garage door, fire up the Pan after a few squirts and make the short hop over to Rey’s diner in Santa Monica to hook up with Matt and Dean and a few other brave souls to make the ride up the Pacific Coast Hwy to Ventura. Not a big deal you say? Well, for me, it was a moment I waited for, for almost 12 weeks. The sun was coming up, very few cars on the road and the weather was just perfect. As we rolled up over the hill just on the north side of Malibu, Matt hammered on the throttle and so did I. I pulled up along side him, he looked over at me, gave me that thumbs up thing, and had a grin from ear to ear. That was IT, that was all the reward I ever needed. Nothing else mattered, all was right with the world.

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It would all be worth it, if that moment was final, but it just keeps getting better. Matt calls me every so often to tell me about these amazing rides he experienced, and he describes all the wonderful details of the road, locations, air, and the feel of the bike. It’s a beautiful thing. Bikes come and go, but those moments never die.

Ok, now on to the blood and guts section of our film.

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Matt moved from London to LA in 2006 and we soon became friends after he called me to use a ramp to unload a bike. As editor and publisher of DiCE magazine, Matt Davis has not only seen his share of motorcycles he’s owned quite a few, but according to him, he never owned a bike that really felt like HIS. At the time he owned a really clean Shovel and a killer Trump, but soon they were sold and his mind was rolling on to HIS bike.

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The author/builder, green bike criminal, Caleb. Lisa didn’t ask him about the green flake. I think she had a crush on him.

I had a mystery 1972 Shovelhead motor sitting in my shop that I was planning on using for a personal project. Along with the motor I had a Morris Magneto, I found at a swap meet, and a ‘78 ratchet top tranny. After some coffee one day goofing around the shop, Matt said, “ I want to use all those bits for a bike you are going to build.” I was a little surprised, but soon got really amped about it. “Yeah, lets build a bike with those bits mate.”

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So it began. Over many beers, coffee and more beers, we brainstormed the build. Matt had a really clear idea of what he wanted. He was looking for something Frisco and something inspired by the Brat trend in Japan. I scratched my head a few times, but I was all for it. I hate to use these over-used terms but here it goes, in true old school tradition, most everything on this bike we searched for at swap meets, bartered, traded, rebuilt, or hand made. Matt did a ton of legwork, pulling many parts together from friends, women, and hobos.

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Kurt at Ventura Motorworks came through with a clean juice drum, oil tank, and 3-finger clutch. While I was sorting out the motor, tranny, and lacing up the Akront wheels that Dean, co- editor of DiCE, provided, Matt scored what seemed to be a beautiful unmolested 1950 wishbone frame. Upon further inspection, the frame was bent bad, so Matt hauled it over to Dr. John who worked his magic massaging the old iron straight again.

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Seemed to run okay, for a green bike.

After some begging and bribing, Matt was able to talk Jeff Worms out of an axed Sporty tank and Sporty front-end that Jeff shaved and polished. Jeff reluctantly gave up the tank and I dropped in the tunnel and tabs and mounted it. Later, Scott Craig would add the rib and work his magic paint can to top it off, with a bitchin’ green metal flake make over.

The seat, handlebars, and fender were scored from Eddie at West Eagle. Matt took a little off the bars, and I took some off the fender and tucked it in real tight like. The bars sat on a smooth set of solid brass risers from Gabe of Afterhours Choppers.

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My good friends at Biltwell sent over one of their pipe kits and one late night me and Matt cut and burnt some medal to make sure this stroked out shovel had plenty of space to sing.

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She’s sorta tough looking. What the hell does she care about the color of a motorcycle?

I bent up some round bar for the motor mount and headlight mount. Sorting out the left side controls on the open belt came down to fabricating a ¼ plate and some old donor controls to insure Matt’s foot placement matched the right side set of old FXR controls.

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This build was much more than collaboration between friends, it was a quest between like-minded people to find those moments in life where all is right with the world. And, yeah, sometimes, you just can’t describe in words what those big grins are all about.

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”It’s the web site,” Lisa said. “Too many green bikes are bad luck.” She was making me nervous. We have another green bike in the wings.

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Click on the Cadillac for more info about the photo master, Peter Linney.

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GRAND CALEB TECH SHEET

Owner: Matt Davis
City: Santa Monica
State: Zip
C Phone: 310-717-6436
Website: www.dicemagazine.com www.crocustoms.com
Model: Lisa, www.lisaangeline.com

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Suppose she thought she could bribe me.

What kind of bike?

Make: Harley-Davidson
Year: 1972
Model: Shovelhead
Fabrication: Caleb Owens “cro customs inc.”
Time: 12 weeks
Assembly: Caleb Owens, Matt Davis
Clutch: 3 finger H-D

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ENGINE:

Type: H-D Shovelhead Stroker
Displacement: 88”
Year: 1972

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What’s green doing there?

Horsepower: some
Heads: S&S
Valves: S&S

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Pistons: S&S Forged
Cylinders: H-D
Camshaft: Andrews A/B
Lifters: Hydraulic S&S

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Carburetor/Injection: S&S E
Air Cleaner: Velocity Stack
Ignition: Morris Magneto
Exhaust: Cro Customs inc.
Mufflers: Ear muffs

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In 1970 I installed a juice brake on a rigid, hit the brakes, the backing plate shifted and bit off the brake line. My bike wasn’t green either.

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”So whatta ya gonna do about the green bikes on Bikernet,” Lisa persisted? “Want some of this?”

Frame:

Type: Wishbone
Year: 1950
Builder: H-D
Stretch: none
Rake: none
Swing Arm: none
Shocks: spring seat
Modifications: none

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Even dreaded green grips.

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At least there’s some classic brass.

Forks:

Type: Sportster
Year: late model
Builder: H-D
Finish: Polished
Triple Trees: H-D
Modifications: lower legs shaved and polished by Jeff Worms

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Wheels

Front:
Rim: Akront aluminium
Size: 21”
Hub: ¾” spool
Builder: Caleb Owens
Finish: polished with stainless spokes
Fender: none
Tire: Avon Speedmaster
Brake: none

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Rear:
Rim: Akront
Size: 18”
Brake: Juice Drum
Builder: Caleb Owens
Finish: polished aluminium
Fender: ribbed aluminium
Tire: 450 Firestone
Hub: H-D Star

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Other Stuff

Handlebars: Stainless Attack Bars from West Eagle
Risers: Sold Brass from Afterhours Choppers
Headlights: Old hand held lamp circa ‘50s, custom mount by Cro
Taillights: 1950s Turner Microphone
Turn Signals F/R: none
Speedometer: wind in your face
Tachometer:
Gauges: zero
Electrics: 3-wires, no battery
Seat: West Eagle

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Even green on the belt and plug wires?

Oil Tank: H-D
Fuel Tank(s): Narrowed sporty

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Extra Credits: tank by Jeff Worms, Rib added by Scott Craig, tunnel, tabs, and mounted by Cro

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Maybe metalflake makes a difference to the green status.

Finishes:

Colors: Green metal flake
The Painter: Scott Craig

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At least he didn’t paint the rear fender green. Hope that helps.

Chrome: Superior Chrome Inglewood CA
Powder Coating: T. Markus
Color: Black

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I don’t know if Lisa was trying to make me jealous or get Caleb’s attention.

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