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Bikernet Bonneville Effort 2006--Salt Shaker 1

Testing Out The New Chassis

By Bandit with photos by John Van Trump
6/10/2010 6:46:41 PM

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Scramble some eggs, make some coffee and sit back. This is the first segment in the 2006 Bikernet Bonneville effort and 10th Anniversary Bikernet Run to the Salt Flats, September 3-7, to the Bub’s International Motorcycle Speed Trials at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Currently we’re building two bikes (what a relief, at one point we thought about building four). This is the main tamale, the first ever Panhead Sportbike based on the Custom Chrome V-Bike kits designed by John Reed.

stepbrother the shovell
A recent shot of the Sturgis Shovel.

I’m sure a few readers are going to say, “What the fuck. This ain’t no chopper!” You’re right. One of the blessed things about this industry is the flexibility to build whatever you want, with whatever you want to use. Last year I built a traditional rigid, ’56 Shovelhead (?) and rode it to Sturgis. Most custom bikes built this year are reminiscent of that bike, the long chopper. I love those babies, but as the tires widened and the front ends lengthened, until they weren’t that fun to ride, I had a thought. A few years ago I modified a Buell and rode it to Sturgis, but I hit a deer and didn’t make it. I dug that bike, although I looked like a dork riding it. It handled like a dream, was fast and a blast to ride anywhere. But I needed something larger, a big twin Buell. John Reed knew the answer. Build a big twin sportbike and he did with the blessing of Custom Chrome.

10th logo

John and I aren’t the only crazed bastards to throw chopper tradition to the wind, to build something that hauls ass, has American class and handles like a rice rocket. Jesse James is building a Sportbike, Gard Hollinger and Roland Sands are already experimenting in those areas. Take a look at the Victory concept bike in the Road Test/New Model area.

There’s a thorn that resides in the sole or soul of every biker’s boot. It’s that unrelenting desire to ride. If you have the disease and you’re riding a cumbersome chopper something will click, and you’ll look for something more agile to ride. Okay, so that’s the bottom line. I wanted something wild to ride that will handle like a dream and I can ride it to Sturgis this year, then to Bonneville. So comes the second aspect to this build.

V-bike From Custom Chrome It’s simply known as the ‘V’. It is 50% sportbike, 50% V-Twin and 100% passion. The heart of this new bike is a purpose-designed rubber-mounted “featherbed” style frame. The ‘V’ is a feature-laden streetfighter with the muscle and simplicity of a V-Twin powertrain. It’s powered by a RevTech® 110" engine and RevTech 6-speed overdrive transmission. This amazing creation came from world-renowned motorcycle designer/ builder John Reed.

Santee custom featherbed, rubber-mounted frame
• Paioli adjustable inverted forks
• Custom carbon fiber front and rear fenders
• 4 gallon ‘Regency’ one-piece stretched gas tank
• Santee ‘Super Bar’ handlebars
• Chrome smooth-contour handlebar controls
• One-piece color coded wiring harness
• Gel-coat headlight fairing
• 17" Marchesini forged alloy wheels
Avon ‘Azaro’ Tires: 120/70Rx17" front and a 170/60Rx17" rear
• Brembo brake calipers – dual front and single rear
• Brembo 13" floating brake rotors
• Progressive Suspension adjustable shocks
600675 110" black wrinkle finished engine and black wrinkle 6-speed overdrive transmission $19,995

Industry Quotes

“A truly different kind of bike” (American Rider)

“It is also one of the most well-developed V-twins and has proven to be reliable” (American Rider) “…certainly the basis for a great sport bike” (American Rider)

“…the crossover bike the industry has always wished for” (Cycle News)

Custom Chrome ‘V’ takes top V-Twin speed at Texas Mile topping out at 158 mph


Each year I need a crazy adventure or a new woman. New women can be the best adventures, then there’s trips around the world, 2000 mile road races and of course Bonneville. My codes: No Time To Lose, Never A Dull Moment, and You Only Go Around Once. So let’s take a couple of bikes to Bonneville this year and have some fun with the Greats: Dennis Manning, Wink Eller, Bob George, Dave Campos, etc. I was fortunate to be on the Easyriders team that broke the worlds fastest motorcycle record in 1996 to 321 mph. It still stands.

BUBs logo

But this is about fun. It’s our 10th Anniversary and we’re riding to Bonneville and inviting anyone to come along for four days in the salt. This bike is appropriately named Salt Shaker, the first Panhead Sportbike and it’s the CCI kit bike except for a few parts. We’re going to run an Accurate Engineering 120-inch Panhead motor, a Baker Transmission and a BDL belt primary. The rest is all CCI and John Reed. I will list all the kit components here somewhere. We plan to give the bike our own style with a new headlight to add an old school touch, different bars, controls and we will make pipes to go along with the Panhead motif. Of course we’re looking for another fairing to enhance the run on the salt.

Our second effort will be a 45 cubic inch 1940 flathead which we’re calling the Bonne Belle. Lee Clemens at Departure Bike works is hopping up the engine and trans. US choppers currently has the frame for straightening, gusseting, seat mounting and mounting up a 39mm Sportster front end. Then we’re going to build the roller in preparation of the engine’s return from Richmond, Virginia.

front rotor

It’s almost 6 p.m. and Happy Hour at the Bikernet headquarters. I haven’t carved through my vast list of daily accomplishment, and I’m thinking about a Jack on the Rocks. So let’s ramble through the build so far. One of the terrific aspects of this project are the components. This is a dream build in so many respects. Everything so far is top of the line. The wheels are forged Marchesini Italian acing wheels, with Avon Venom tires that are light as a feather. The front end is state of the art front suspension and even the trees are carved perfectly for lightness and added strength. You should see the webbing under the bottom tree.

The absolute first thing we did was to take the Marchesini, Italian, wheels to be balanced with the Avon Tires. Or plan was to put the bike together, fabricate anything necessary then tear it apart for finish work.

brembo close

The Santee built CCI V-frame is extra strong. The swingarm is an inch longer and the webbing for high speeds is built into the design. It’s massive. The Brembo brake calipers and rotors are top notch.

rear rotor

First we cut all the boxes apart and sorted some of the items. We pulled the frame components, the shocks, brakes wheels, rotors, pegs, fasteners and laid them on the lift. We ditched as much cardboard, foam peanuts and plastic bags as possible and went to work. CCI did a helluva job of organizing the fasteners and labeling bags. We pulled the groups we planned to use immediately and kept the rest carefully locked away.

parts bags

Jims Banner

If you plan to build one of these hot rods or any kit bike, order some special tools from JIMS first. They’ll save you tremendous time, effort and they’ll handle precisions jobs correctly. I would suggest a neck bearing race tool, the tools for installing swingarm bushings and clutch and front pulley tools. You might order a JIMS catalog, first.

socket & hammer

str hd & cap

We started with the neck bearing races. I used a brass hammer from JIMS and a massive socket as a guide to get the race started. Make sure to tap around the race carefully until the race is completely seated. I needed the socket as a guide, because as the race passed the neck lip. Then I seriously recommend that you install the front end, ride it for a few miles and recheck the bearing play. If the races seat anymore the front end will loosen--dangerous.

str hd bearin

Then we slipped the bottom tree and Timken bearing into place with the smaller dust cover. Next, we added the Timken bearing to the top and the larger dust cover, then the two pinch nuts slipped onto the steering stem. Well made, quality parts have that feel to them, like running your finger along slick glass. They just fit cleaner, no lumps, bumbs, burrs or scratches.

under trip tree

Then we slipped the inverted tubes into place. What a nice clean fit. They came with metric Allens, plus Custom Chrome supplied us with another sent of bright plated fasteners. These might be the only metric fasteners on the bike, including the Brembo brake and Marchesini wheel fasteners.

str stops

We slipped a couple of fork stop bolts into place to prevent part damage, added the billet riser and the Custom Chrome handlebars. That gave us some control.

John & front end
There’s Black Market John, the Bikernet Product Manager, helping with the front end.

baker banner

Bonneville button


swing arm roller bears
This shows the proper JIMS guide on top of the swingarm bearing. The H-D manual shows two guides, one for the left and one for the right. Another mystery. Larry had one press guide.

Next, we decide to balance the act by installing the swingarm. We dug out all the parts including: Harley-Davidson swingarm bushings/bearings, the swingarm axle, fasteners, swingarm caps, bracket and rubber mounts, dust shields, etc. This gets tricky. You need a press to install the bushings in the swingarm. We also needed JIMS press guides. We had some, but weren’t sure they were correct. We attempted to press in one side and stopped.

sw arms
This show that the V swingarm is longer and tougher than stock.

When in doubt, take the shit to a shop, or even a dealership. I took the swingarm and all the parts to see Larry Settle at Settle’s Customs in Harbor City, California. Larry’s shop is small, but he’s been around forever and knows what he’s doing. He had the correct JIMS swingarm press guides and we did the job in no-time. Hell, he only charged me $75,000. Cheap.

Larry, his press and getting the job done.

Here’s where it doesn’t hurt to have a Harley touring manual around. Unfortunately, the kit doesn’t come with a manual, but they could use these articles when we’re done. I’ll try to explain how this swingarm contraption goes together, and we’ll take more shots during final assembly. From the outside you have the two swingarm brackets and four bolts that came in a labeled bag. Most of the fasteners were simple to understand, but these bolts didn’t make sense. Two of them were way too long, so we scrounged around.

sw arm mount
Here’s a swingarm bracket with a questionable bolt. We had to clean the frame threads. The bolts were too tight.

swing on the bike 1
This shows the two inner dust shields and washers. No transmission yet.

The diamond shaped brackets go on the outside with the inner pins up then those weird rubbermounts slip into them with the slots up to meet the pins. There’s two large plastic washer that go against the swingarm bushing, pressed into the swingarm, with the smaller section out. Then the bushing and rubber dust covers fit between the swingarm bearings and the transmission case, and finally a washer that slips into the dust cover on each side.

swing on the bike 2
Here's the swingarm in place with its massive webbing for strength due to its length and width.

When you install the shaft start on the right and push it through. There’s a spacer that runs on the left end just before the nut. In the manual it shows that spacer on the inside of the rubbermount. We’ll get to the bottom of that before final assembly.

The shocks come with a spanner wrench for adjustment.

bolts&mount for shock

Next we pulled out the sharp Progressive adjustable shocks and found the bag of fasteners. Progressive also supplies varied fasteners and spacers. Plus included is a precise description of the fasteners and what fits what. Of course we didn’t fit into any stock bike category.

progessive on the bike

Then we found all the fasteners, spacers and axles for the wheels and went to work installing them. Nothing is tight or torqued as this point.

mounting frnt disk
Beautiful Brembo floating rotor slipped right into place.

Avon Banner

front cal bag
Soon we’ll install the front Brembo brake calipers and here’s the mounting fastener sealed bag.

rear tire right side
Between the wheel spacers and supplied axle and axle spacers the wheel slipped right into place except for the axle adjusters. We’re still trying to figure them out.

rear tire right side 2

rear rotor on

Some pals showed up and we pulled her off the lift to test the Corbin seating position. One of the guys was a Drag Specialties rep, Gene Koch and Dr. Hamster.

front end on the floor

Everybody dug the frontend, brakes and frame. We’re undecided about the rear shock height, but that can be easily adjusted.


Christon on the bike

Dr. Hamster and Gene signed up to be Bonneville team members and plan to ride to the salt flats with us this year. Next we’ll install the tank and brake calipers, dash and start to work on the position of the foot controls.

rear tire on the floor

We plan to move the rear taillight, add some snazzy light and mount the license plate so it’s solid and cool.


The Corbin seat will be tested for the ride to Sturgis. I don’t think we’ll fuck with it. It’s made to fit the rear fender.

rollin chass. alone

So there you have it. Next we’ll bring you a report on the 45 flattie and more on our chassis assembly. I’ve contacted Berry Wardlaw of Accurate engineering about the 120-inch Panhead engine and asked his advice about the transmission. With the engine and trans in place we’ll order a tough, high performance BDL belt drive system to tie it all together. Now it’s time for a drink.


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