During the Sturgis Rally, the latest one from T.D. Ward got a lot of attention and quite a few trophies in the bike shows to which it participated. A custom bike that I will put in the category of a crossover from the Hot Rod world. Ward’s car genes were acquired a long time ago and his Missouri shop Rods And Rides continues to alternate between building and restoring pickups, rods and creating from the ground up some very cool and rad 2 and even 3-wheelers.
For those who have followed his last years’ creations (you should because I published them…), this board tracker gets the best of the elements – and some more – found on his previous acclaimed rolling pieces of motorcycle art. Named “The Oz”, this bike attempts to renew and refresh the board tracker style. First by using a pair of 26” wheel without compromising the race stance, but instead exaggerating it by keeping the frame very low. Second, by opting for a brand new 74 cubic inch S&S Panhead engine with points for reliability coupled with a new Ultima carburetor.
On this type of bike, it would be logical to install a Jockey shift but T.D. Ward built it without a client and consequently knew very well that when completed it would have been a handicap to sell it, restricting buyers to the minority who knows to ride a Jockey shift… Instead, Ward chose a 6-speed hydraulic tranny from Ultima, a brand he favors because he never had any previous issues with it and because the company is a close-by neighbor in St Louis. Just in case… Ward decided to use a centrifugal clutch made by EFM in conjunction with an Ultima 2” primary. With this choice the bike can stand still in gear with no clutch and with a simple twist of the throttle, the bike can propel like a rocket.
To be noticed on “The Oz” are, first the hand-made awesome looking and baby skin smooth gas tank, then the very nice also hand-made leaf spring front end, the exhaust system built from stainless steel, the bad ass flappers that required 4 successive fabrication attempts to look and work right, the custom oil tank that has a clear glass window and a taillight that most people think is a breather. The crazy 26” wheels were designed and cut by a buddy named Mike Simms at Malibu Motorcycle Works who also fabricated a custom front hub because the bike is not running a front brake.
Another friend named “Arkansas” was commissioned to polish most of the parts, anodizing others and chrome plating the one-off gas tank. An “impossible task” requiring to cover the welding low spots with lead, then to copper plate, then to spend a couple of days polishing and smoothing out the copper base, then applying the final nickel and chrome coats of plating. Painter “Todd The Rod” got off easy on this deal with only having to paint the frame and rear fender. The frame has a lot of small fabricated details, drop-out rear axle blocks, leaf spring seat, built-in keyed ignition, holes in the single down tube and so much more. Seat pan was in-house shaped, then leather tooling and stitching was trusted to the very talented Rich Phillips, another St. Louis native. Stay tuned for more New Old School Styled creations coming from Rods And Rides in the very next months.