In each bike show, a couple of custom motorcycles being unveiled make you scratch your head. What’s that? How does it work? Is it rideable? Three weeks ago, the judges of the 40th Daytona Rat’s Hole Bike Show were won over by this new creation called “Pipe Dreams” and gave it a Best Of Show for its originality and unusual engineering.
First, this very wicked steel creation is unconventional because it can still be called a motorcycle although it’s rolling on 4 wheels., 3 in the rear and front. Second, because both rear and front end setups must have been a big engineering headache. Surprisingly, Steve Galvin – the man behind this project – is not a “professional” builder, but work at home in his garage in his spare time, typically creating one extreme custom bike per year and doing all fabrication himself. His full time job? He is a recording musician specializing in music for the toy industry and told me that when you see one of those stuffed animals at the drugstore with sounds and music in it, it’s probably his recording…Nobody better than Steve himself to explain what sparked him to do such a creation and what was the process.
“I got a piece of 4″ rolled pipe from Dirty South Choppers. As I was mocking things up it was clear that the radius was too large, so I found a shop nearby that had a machine capable of rolling it a bit tighter. From there I designed the “loop frame” inspired cradle with a down tube that bowed out instead of the more traditional straight or curving inward design. This way, I felt that I gave a much more fluid line to the bike, more like a drop of water. Since a former built called “Area 51″ I have vowed to engineer a new front end design for each bike that I build, unless it is a commissioned piece. On “Pipe Dreams” I created a front suspension system that is made up of a splined shaft that connects the 2 fork arms to a steel sphere inside the frame that has a leaf spring that extends up into the frame tube. The leaf spring also has 3 coil springs of different rates to take care of the little bumps while the leaf does the heavy lifting.
The rear end of the bike was the most difficult part to engineer. Basically power is taken off the transmission to drive a jackshaft that powers 2 chains, one on each side of the center wheel. On each arm of the swingarm is another jackshaft that transfers power to the chains driving the outside wheels so all in all it takes 5 chains to make it all work. All rear wheels are powered all the time and all travel at the same RPM. The concept being that the 3 tires I am using creates the same radius as a single 330 would have , like if I took a 330 mm rear tire and cut it into 3 parts. As you lean the bike you transfer the weight from one wheel to 2 wheels.
I first saw the Ilmor engine at the Orlando PRI show and asked how I could get my hands on one. I was told that they were a proprietary design for Viper Motorcycles and I would have to talk to them about it. They came to Bike Week last year and saw a couple of my bikes there they agreed to sell me an engine. Baker Drivetrain also helped out with a deal on one of their mighty Torque Box transmissions and a Synchronous Belt Drive primary as well. I spent the better part of a full year fabricating all the parts necessary to make this bike work and still maintain the clean lines, avoiding to clutter the bike with too many fittings, wires and plumbing. The 2 chrome tubes on each side of the backbone are the oil tanks and they end up in dual headlights that I fabricated myself. The handlebars are made from steel “streamline” tubing and the whole end of the bar rotates an internal throttle and looks like the flap on an airplane wing when it turns.
I also wanted to evoke some of the detail and styling cues from older cars from back in the day when they had lots of chrome trim and hood ornaments. The speedo/tach from MotoGadget is “frenched” into the backbone to keep the lines clean and the seat is supported by another piece of leaf spring to offer a little more suspension in a simple looking setup. I approach motorcycle building more as sculpture that trying to create the fastest or best handling bike. At 10 foot 4 inch long this bike is very hard to handle. As you well know, when you have over 50 degrees in the front end you won’t be turning on a dime. This is an experimental bike, a way for me to try new ideas and to push myself to engineer new or different ways of doing things while still maintaining a visually pleasing aesthetic.” (all pictures courtesy and copyright @ Steve Giese, except bottom picture copyright @ H. Roesler)
Owner/Builder: Steve Galvin. Wikked Steel.
Frame: Custom built from 4″ steel pipe for backbone and dual 1 1/2″ pipe for single loops style cradle. Frame is also the gas tank and holds 3 gallons of gas.
Front End: Wikked Steel design incorporating a leaf spring suspension hidden inside of pipe.
Handlebars: Wikked Steel design made from “streamline” tubing with internal throttle.
Wheels: Pickard USA, 3.5x 21 for front, 3.75x 23 for center rear and two12 x 21 for the outer rear wheels
Engine: 152″ Ilmor Engineering Billet motor built for Viper Motorcycles
Carburetor: PSI Big Air
Transmission: Baker Torque Box
Primary: Baker Synchronous Belt Drive
Electronics: Grip Ace
Oil Tanks: The dual chrome tubes on either side of the backbone.
Headlights: Built in house and mounted on end of oil tanks.
Battery: Antigravity Batteries Lithium Ion
Seat: Nelson Cimo
Paint: Raleigh at RC Customz