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The F3 ROCKETEER Bound for Shanghai

The Latest Limited Edition Darwin Motorcycle

By Dar Holdsworth with photos by the Brass Balls team

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Where does inspiration come from? It’s all around us. What encourages someone to push the boundries of what is the norm? I continually look for those opportunities.

A few years ago, a very special customer walked into my life who had a vision of a bike that did not fit the norm. I still remember him describing to me his vision for his bike.

He wanted something all aluminum with simple elegant lines, similar to the Porsche Speedster that James Dean drove. He also wanted a touch of Art Deco represented in the bike. I remember telling him, “to do this properly, we’ll need to machine the tanks and fenders”... and to my amazement he said, “well let’s do it then.”

Together we shot ideas back and forth. The creative brainstorming was invigorating with the possibilities of creating a truly unique and timeless bike.

The development of this bike has not been without its challenges. We encountered many, many hours of development and several disappointments before arriving at what we have today. And even what we have today is still a work in progress. We are always evolving. I don’t settle and consequently I’m always looking for ways to improve.

Stemming from our customer’s bike, we built our AMD competition bike, which subsequently won it’s class at the World Championships. We also built a Navy Tribute bike around the same design configuration. It was unveiled at the Rolling Thunder Washington D.C. event.

We’ve built several hundred bikes over the years and now have nine different models we offer. But I’d have to say the Rocketeer and our Brawler GT significantly differentiate us from any bike builder who uses off the shelf parts.

When designing and building a Brass Balls bike, my four guiding principals are safety, ride-ability, quality of construction, and timeless design.

I couldn’t have developed this bike (or any of our bikes frankly) without a customer who was willing to take a chance on me. I am forever grateful to my first F3 Rocketeer customer and all of our customers who have contributed to our business and our evolution.

On to the F3 Rocketeer and what makes it unique.

First thing most people notice are the tins... which are really not tins at all, or sheet metal, as customarily referred to. The tank and fender are machined from solid blocks of aircraft grade, 6061 billet aluminum. Essentially they start as an oversized block of aluminum and are sculpted to shape by a multiple axis CNC machine. The amount of programming is insane. The amount of hours the machine runs to finish a single part is also ridiculous. And once the parts are machined, then there is a substantial hand finishing process.

The fender is CNC machined in one piece. The tank is machined in four pieces. There are a left & right halves, the bottom tunnel, and the filler bung. The tank gets TIG welded together by our master welder. Once finished, we file the seams and pressure test each limited edition tank for leaks. We then reach out to our leather guy, Hix Design, who creates our leather tank and fender accent strip for the center ridge. We hand make the finishing elements holding the leather in place, fasten it all down and pressure check for leaks again.

At this point, we remove the leather straps and the parts are sent to our polisher, who removes any imperfections and polishes to a mirror finish. From there we can elect to keep it all polished, brush parts or do a combination of both. We again check for leaks.

The oil tank is also aluminum. It is a combination of tubing, machined end-caps and filler cap/bungs. They are all welded together, polished, and thoroughly tested.

Another important and unique feature of this limited edition model are the brakes. They are not just any brakes... in fact, they are not motorcycle brakes, at least not on the front of the bike. The front brakes are made at the aircraft division of Beringer Brakes in France. Their hub brake system is made for small aircraft.

We order the aircraft hub brake system and build a custom wheel around it. We adapt it to our motorcycle by machining custom parts as well as machining the lower legs of the front end to fit and work perfectly together. The finished product results in uncompromising braking combined with a very distinguishing visual appeal where the brakes are part of the wheel rather than a component competing visually with the wheel.

Rear braking is equally cool as we use a 3-Guyz sprotor which works very well and compliments the front wheel while bringing a visual balance to the bike.

The wheels are laced aluminum Apollo smooth lip rims wrapped in the customer’s choice of Avon or Continental tires.

The power train in this bike could not be ordinary. We preferred to use any one of the S&S vintage replica motors. My personal favorite is the Shovelhead. Even though I have the 103-inch Shovel in my AMD bike, I’ve come to prefer the 93-inch H Shovelhead. It’s a high compression motor, but is just a bit less violent then the 103-inch motor. The 93h is also a little easier on your battery.

The motor breathes through custom made exhaust built using Burns Stainless tubing and is finished with one of their reverse megaphone mufflers. Man this thing sounds mean.

Rounding out the drive train is a Baker 2.4-inch Synchronous primary drive and a Rivera Primo 6-speed transmission.

The F3 features adjustable hydraulic ISR controls from LA Choprods. We love the quality and feel of these controls as well as their simple & elegant switch housings, which offer varying options of versatility.

Lighting on the F3 comes in the form of our Brass Balls Cycles Performance headlight featuring a JW Speaker LED hi/lo beam light encased in our proprietary machined billet aluminum housing. The taillights are LED and machined into the tail section of the rear fender. Signal lights are a customer’s choice of specialty lights. We position them on both sides, just rear of the seat.

The seat pan is one of our Brass Balls perfect custom seat pans with the leather work handled by our talented friend, Kyle, at Hix Design. We attach the seat with a Biltwell seat pivot and Chopper Shox adjustable springs.

To ensure reliable, repetitive starting of the bike, we use an All Balls Racing starter, an Antigravity Lithium battery, and a Cycle Electric charging system.

The F3 Rocketeer is a not only a work of art, but it’s a real rider. We don’t make anything that is not a rider, and this is no exception. It runs, tracks, corners and delivers an exceptional riding experience.

The bike pictured in this article was contracted by our dealer in Shanghai, “Ace Of One.” When not being ridden by the owner, it graces the Darwin Motorcycles showroom floor.

I couldn’t be happier with the way this bike has evolved and what we’ve accomplished with it. To preserve the prestige of this unique bike, we are only building 15 numbered examples paying tribute to its win at the AMD World Championships. Select units have already been sold and delivered to special customers.

Some more models have been contracted and are currently in our production schedule. If you desire a truly unique, rolling work of art, the perfect integration of form & function, then you need to contact us to reserve yours today. Once all 15 are spoken for, there will be no more like this.


Regular Stuff

Owner: Ace Of One... Shanghai

Bike Name: F3 Rocketeer

Builder: Darwin Motorcycles (Brass Balls Cycles)

City/state: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Company Info:
Address: 401 S. Blackwelder Ave.
Phone: 405-270-0995

Web site: or

Fabrication: Darwin Motorcycles crew.

Manufacturing: Darwin Motorcycles crew

Welding: Darwin Motorcycles crew

Machining: Orange County Choppers


Year: 2015

Make: S&S

Model: Shovelhead Alt/Gen Billet

Displacement: 93-inch H (high compression)

Builder or Rebuilder: S&S

Cases: S&S

Case finish: silver/black

Barrels: S&S

Pistons: S&S

Barrel finish: silver/black

Lower end: S&S billet kidney bean

Rods: S&S

Heads: S&S Shovel


Head finish: Polished

Valves and springs: S&S

Pushrods: S&S

Cams: S&S

Lifters: S&S

Carburetion: S&S shorty E

Air cleaner: S&S with Razzle Dazzle

Exhaust: Custom made using Burns Stainless / ceramic coated

Mufflers: Burns Stainless reverse megaphone

Other: Inscription machined on lower cover, “1st Place, AMD World Championships, Rocketeer F3, Number 3 of 15.”


Year: 2015

Make: Rivera


Gear configuration: 6-speed

Primary: Baker 2.4 Synchronous belt drive polished

Clutch: Baker

Final drive: Chain


Year: 2015

Builder: Innovative Frameworks

Style or Model: Darwin Rocketeer gooseneck

Stretch: 0 up, 1 inch out

Rake: 36 degrees

Front End

Make: Darwin Motorcycles

Model: Mid Glide

Year: 2015

Length: Stock

Mods: Machined lower legs (secret squirrel stuff) to work with the custom hub-brake system.

Sheet metal

Tanks: 6061 Billet aluminum, Machined by OCC, welded by Darwin Motorcycles

Fenders: 6061 Billet aluminum, Machined by OCC

Panels: no

Oil tank: 6061 Billet aluminum, Darwin Motorcycles

Other: If I told you, I’d have to kill you.


Sheet metal: high polished aluminum

Molding: none... These are a perfect sculpture

Base coat: ha!

Graphics: No way!

Frame: Candy Red powder coat

Molding: none

Base coat: Chrome powder coat

Type: secret sauce I’m told



Make: Apallo smooth lip aluminum custom

Size: 19 x 3-inch

Brake calipers: Beringer 6-piston Aircraft calipers

Brake rotor(s): Beringer Aircraft hub with floating rotors

Tire: Avon Distanza


Make: Apallo smooth lip aluminum custom

Size: 17 x 4.5-inch

Brake calipers: 3 Guyz sprotor

Brake rotor: 3-Guyz sprotor

Pulley: no

Tire: Avon Distanza


Foot controls: Darwin Motorcycles

Finish: polished

Master cylinder: Darwin Motorcycles

Brake lines: Goodridge

Handlebar controls: ISR Adjustable

Click on the banner for more info.
Click on the banner for more info.

Finish: Black ano

Clutch Cable: ISR Adjustable

Brake Lines: Goodridge

Shifting: smooth

Kickstand: custom by Darwin Motorcycles


Ignition: S&S

Ignition switch: Darwin Motorcycles

Coils: Drag

Regulator: Cycle Electric

Charging: Cycle Electric

Starter: All Balls Racing

Wiring: Darwin Motorcycles

Harness: Wire Plus

Headlight: Brass Balls Performance / JW Speaker

Taillight: Darwin Motorcycle LED’s flush mounted in rear fender

Accessory lights: Rapide signal lights

Electrical accessories:

Switches: ISR

Battery: Antigravity Lithium Ion

What’s Left

Seat: Custom solo seat using our “Perfect Seat Pan” and upholstered by Hix Design

Mirror(s): Billet aluminum machined bar end mirrors

Gas caps: Billet aluminum machined Brass Balls Worldwide cap

Handlebars: Tracker Bars

Grips: Aluminum and rubber wrapped

Pegs: Darwin Motorcycles polished aluminum/rubber

Oil filter: Drag

Oil cooler: n/a

Oil lines: Good Year

Fuel filter: pingle

Fuel Lines: Goodyear

Throttle: Joker Machine

Throttle cables: Motion Pro

Fasteners: Gardner Wescot

Specialty items:
The tank & fender are a highlight of the bike. I have to give huge props and thanks to Jim Quinn at Orange County Choppers for seeing my vision and making it happen. Not only did he work with me to get it perfect, but the professionalism of the OCC team made it easy to do business with them.

For me, it’s about creating a vision and having a great team to execute the vision. There are many skilled craftsmen and great vendors who collectively contribute to our bikes. I am mindful that you are only as good as the people you put around you.

Thanks to my original customer who shared his vision with me and made it possible to develop what became the F3 Rocketeer. Thanks to my team for helping me go from vision to reality on this bike. It has been thrilling to bring this organic piece of rolling art to life.


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Reader Comments

Great design , beautiful bike, no words come to mind. Other than I want one.

Sonny Ourai
Lebanon, IN
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Editor Response I know someone who can make that dream come true.

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