It has quickly become the premier show for anyone and everyone involved with vintage bikes that errs on the side of choppers and customs. And each year there is a special panel of Invited Builders. These builders compete against each other for awards including the coveted 'Best in Show' and 'Builder's Choice' awards.
In 2013 at Born Free 5 Scott Jones of NOISE Cycles (someone you TMM readers should be familiar with) came out for his first time as an invited builder and swept the show taking home 'Best in Show' and the 'Harley Davidson motor award'. The 'HDMA' granted him the Harley Davidson 120R drag racing motor and matching transmission and an agreement to build his Born Free 6 invited builders bike around the brand new racing motor.
It was a blessing, but maybe a little bit of a curse in disguise...
This build put forth a whole new set of challenges for Scott, most of them having to do with building around a new Dyna frame, having to move electronics around, and figuring out where the heck he was going to fit the fuel pump. These all seem like they could be simple things, but when you're building a modern bike with vintage styling, it becomes quite the headache.
Massaging the 2009 Dyna frame into what was shown at the show took a lot of thinking and even more ingenuity. The whole rear end of the frame was slimmed down. The battery was moved and replaced with a smaller one, electronics were hidden, and the upper shock mounts were cut off and brought in a little over an inch on each side. Along with all that a brand new swingarm was made from scratch, and it's construction was out of round tubing to emulate those from the early Harley swingarm frames.
Every small change posed a new challenge for Scott and his team. Fitting old Morris Mag wheels, and Lockheed/AP brakes, as well as NOS custom length Works Shocks, and a rocker-clutch and hand shift setup to a bike with a motor that is rated to do 135+ HP and 137 lb-ft of torque all just seem like ideas that are close to impossible to wrap all into one bike. But in typical NOISE Cycles fashion everyone triumphed on and the bike got closer and closer to completion.
The Final Hours:
I showed up to NOISE Cycles on Wednesday night, at around 8:00pm.
This was less than 24 hours from the deadline, Thursday at 3pm, which was when the bike needed to be completed by in order to be eligible as an invited builder bike for the show. I was a little scared for Scott, as I showed up to a bike that looked more than half disassembled, and half the parts were out getting polished, painted, upholstered, you name it.
The night crept as Steve, one of the NOISE team, slowly ate away at connecting all the wires. Scott dashed around the shop, with a Monster Energy drink in hand, a few moments on the lathe, back to the bike, then a quick reach for a measuring caliper, and back to the other side of the bike, a quick holler to Steve for some assistance, and in comes some new hardware, a twist of an allen here, a turn of a socket there.
The two men were working like a clock, almost in perfect synchronization as the night burned away.
12am, 1am, 1:47am, 2:13am. I woke up on the floor of the NOISE Cycles office, it was 3:45am on Thursday morning. I remembered going into the office to take a quick break from the madness and somehow time got away and sleep got the best.
I grabbed my camera and stepped back out into the shop, to my contentment I saw a bike that looked much more like it was ready to go! The Harpoon had showed up and was adding some phenomenal final pin striping and paint details. It was really amazing to see everyone even until the final moments and at all hours of the day just charging to finish this bike.
Now it's about 4:45am, the deadline is less than 12 hours away and Scott and Steve have been up about 24 hours.
Scott looks at me and says, 'We're going to run some errands, you drive.' We hop in his truck and off to LA, to pick up the front nacelle which was being polished to a perfect mirror finish! We go over to Kiyo's Garage quickly to pick up the BF5 bike. It was now 5:30am, and we had to dash back to the NOISE shop in Santa Ana...now in LA morning rush hour. Scott and Steve may have dozed off for a combined 30 minutes as I battled traffic and my eyelids back to the NOISE compound.
6:30am, sparks still flying, everything being thrown on the machine, wheels getting bolted on, the bike needs to be off the lift by noon so it can be taken to get the right length of brake line made...12pm crept up and boom, the bike gets rolled out of the shop. All was calm. Scott drives off to Costa Mesa Hose to fit the brake lines, and Steve stays behind slaving away at refinishing the nacelle with a brushed finish and tweaking away at countless details. 1:45pm the bike is back, brake lines done.
The final stretch was here, the last hour; 3 months of 3-4 hours a night sleep, and countless energy drinks a day were all boiling down to this. Scott and Steve got back on it, this time the synchronized magic was even faster! Something like the insides of an F1 V12 turning at 15,000rpm. Going, going, going...
2:42pm. The bike comes off the lift, for the first time as a complete motorcycle...Scott made the deadline.
That's how he builds a bike. Him and his team prevailed against all odds, against time, against metal.