As I announced on March 11, 2010 a company called Warbikes LLC out of Midland, TX is producing an online video series for historic warplane and custom motorcycle enthusiasts. The whole purpose of this project is to honor the flying machines that helped make America what it is today by producing custom motorcycles able to capture the original spirit of adventure and of self-reliance. For this project, custom builder Ralph Randolph from Knockout Motorcycles Co – a former pilot _ was chosen to handcraft all the warplane-themed motorcycles.
The bike featured here was built some time ago with the release of its fabrication video delayed quite a bit for legal reasons. Now, it’s online at Warbikes, reason why I now feature this bike. It is inspired by the Gunfighter, was built in 1 month using as a base a 2007 Harley Heritage donated by Chester Harley-davidson in Mesa, AZ, and just participated to the 50th Anniversary of CAF (Commemorative Air Force), a non-profit educational association dedicated to Honoring American Military Aviation through flight, exhibition, and remembrance.
To get started, Ralph Randolph & crew went to check out some of the CAF fleet, took pictures of the P51D Gunfighter fighter plane to remember its unique color scheme, lines, exhaust, colors, nose shape, etc. They also went looking for authentic parts to integrate in the build, like the cowling of a decommissioned B-17 Bomber that became later a front air intake scoop hiding the bike regulator.
Back at the shop the 2007 Harley was stripped down to the frame, the stock gas tank was extended, fitted with an aviation type gas cap and on each side of the reservoir short tubes were welded to imitate the plane exhaust . To mimic the plane cockpit a detachable fairing with master switch and bike gauges was hand fabricated. Bars are of the type clip-on by Vortex. To give the gunfighter bike a more aggressive stance, Ralph installed a 3-degree rake triple tree from Accutronix, but kept the stock front suspension using shorter tubes (minus 2″) to keep the bike closer to the ground. The rear was fitted with a 240 mm wide tire PM kit (new swingarm, struts and fat tire drivetrain components). A propeller blades design was a must and it was incorporated in a set on one-off wheels (21 x 3″ front, 18 x 8.5″) machined by Ego Tripp with each blade featuring an engraved CAF logo. Both wheel”s hubs were machined to accept minimalist 360 Brakes. Most other parts keep with the airplane theme and were fabricated at the shop (air cleaner, exhaust, stainless steel pegs holed and gun blued, mirrors machined in the shape of the CAF 50th anniversary logo, etc.). Ralph Randolph Knockout Motorcycles.