Very few Custom Builders, as talented as they can be, are comfortable at verbally expressing their motivations when starting a project and even less at explaining the many options they had and at justifying the choices they made all along the fabrication process. 35 years old Satya Kraus from Kraus Motor Co. could talk during hours about Snatch, his latest creation that just brought him a well deserved second place at the Custom Chrome North America Championship Of Bike Building. So, let’s listen to what he told me.
“I personally appreciate many kinds of motorcycles but especially vintage bikes. Maybe it’s the smell, the simplicity or the dedication to function, the raw stripped-down appearance with an engine and drivetrain tuned for speed. A motorcycle that’s lean, light, and handles the road surface through tuned suspension. For me, it’s something about the raw desire to go faster but still looking great while doing it. I don’t just mean down the block to showoff at your Sunday barbecue. I mean, take that thing out and see how good the tires perform. Take it out to the country side and rip it through some corners, bomb it down the side roads and race your buddy’s or take it up the highway for a day trip.
The point is, “Snatch” makes me feel like riding it. We built it with custom performance in mind, meaning a blend of both. You want a motorcycle that is all about you, your personality, attitude, and spirit. Riding the same bike as the next guy sucks. Of course when the light turns green you don’t want to get smoked and through the twisties you don’t want to be shamed. So why can’t you have it all?
With all that functionality in mind we went to work on a rear suspension system that would give 3 inches of travel but still retaining the nice lines of a rigid. After machining and fabricating the rear end we started bending tubing for the frame and mounted up some super light highly tunable air shocks. A skid plate under the motor and raised transmission mounts contribute to an aggressive look. The rake is 28˚, which lends itself to the agile handling of the bike. The front end is our take on a Springer. Traditionally springers are somewhat clunky and non-performing. It’s no fun to be screaming down the HWY and have your front wheel hopping a foot in the air. As well, there can be great aspects of a Springer, little brake dive and low un-sprung weight. We built our own and left out the unwanted aspects. We started by milling some flats in the tubing, then added a slight taper, and finished them off with nice bends to bring the tops in tight to the neck. The top triple clamp has a hidden clamp and is the mount for the air shock. We offset the rocker mounts off the rear of the legs to supply us with a perfect trail.
The handlebars have a motocross style and look super clean with our Kraus Twist Controls. The Twist Brake and Hydraulic Twist Clutch are fun and easy to use. The 91” motor has an Evo bottom end and a Shovel top end that produces great torque and horsepower. We did quite a bit of reshaping: the barrels, heads, and rocker boxes to get the thing to look good. The Transmission is Baker’s newest unit called the Powerbox. It has a great Function Formed look that is just our style, is bullet proof to 165 ft-lbs of torque, and would fit in your stock frame. The trannny helped set the vibe of the bike.
The wheels are Italian made Alpina tubeless spoke. The Brakes are Brembo 4 piston front and rear. We bent up some stainless tubing to frame in the aluminum teardrop seat pan. Beaver Leather Craft provided us with an exemplary saddle of Buffalo hide. We banged out a mudguard and built an aluminum gas tank that resembles an old 70’s Honda Elsinore tank to finish it off. We coated the frame with brass/bronze using a metal spray and patinas, then a light sand to bring the color out. The motor was stripped and polished and reassembled. All the little bits and pieces of aluminum and stainless were polished and the gas tank and mudguard brushed. In the end we didn’t use one drop of paint on Snatch. It just didn’t need it. We had a lot of friends show up and help out which ended up being a good time and making me wish I had filmed the whole thing. It would have made a great show. It was like a comical sweatshop for 16 hrs a day. It was a lot of work but for some reason it all feels worth it when I went riding Snatch for the first time.” Satya Kraus, Kraus Motor Co. (all photography copyright Jerry Southworth, courtesy to Cyril Huze)