FREEDOM OR DEATH MACHINE

Hey everybody, I’m Trent Reker, editor of bikerMetric!, and we just completed an XS650 chopper we lovingly call the FREEDOM OR DEATH MACHINE. It was built by Jeff, the brilliant mind behind Saint Motorbikes.

I wanted a crazy goose-neck frame with single down-tube that ends in what we call the “kitten catcher.” It had to have gas tanks with flat sides, a raw little headlamp cowl, 21-inch, 36-spoke wheels with Distanzias, a 2-into-1 exhaust, and it had to be painted black and gold. It was our goal to build something radical, that nobody had ever seen, and to do it on the cheap. It was then that I started emailing and calling parts manufacturers and re-sellers throughout the US to see who would donate parts for the machine.

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From the day Jeff started to tear down the doner, a 1979 XS650 Special, until the day he hauled it to Austin, a mere 40 days passed, and Jeff works 50 hours a week at his paint and body shop, Hot Rod Refinishers. He slept a total of six hours the final week before his son and he loaded it into a truck just west of Baltimore, Maryland, and hauled ass to Austin, Texas, where I’d set up a huge party in a bar on 6th street during the huge Republic of Texas motorcycle rally.  They started out six hours late and drove straight through in 26 hours.

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He barely made it, still six hours late, but our photographer and models were waiting there, taking shots with other bikes I’d lined up, including Limey’s Hornet, which has been profiled here.

We had a blast at the bash and came home after midnight, where we had set up beds for the weary guys. Poor Jeff slept 12 hours straight.

These pix were taken the next day at Matt’s (Working Man’s Customs), who created the phenomenal seat, and who is going to make some final mods that Jeff was too pressed for time to finish.  Then Chris at Limeybikes is going to mess with tuning the beast.  He’s already rebuilt the carburetors. I’d like to thank the following folks for donating parts and labor to make the FREEDOM OR DEATH MACHINE happen:

  • Saint Motorbikes: Builder and mind reader
  • Elswick Cycles: Hardtail weld-on, faux oil tank/real secondary gas tank
  • Rock’s Chops: Footpegs, plate bracket/brake light
  • 7 Metal West: Huge brass ribbed fender
  • Working Man’s Customs: Leather solo seat, bitch pad, color tooling, final mod and fab
  • Limeybikes: Mechanic extraordinaire
  • After Hours Choppers: Brass risers
  • Pinstripe Chris: Pinstriping & lettering
  • Hot Rod Refinishers: Paint
  • Draft Cycle Works: Wheel lacing, front drum brake, and last-minute fabrication
  • Fabricator Kevin: Seat hinge
  • Biltwell: Exhaust kit
  • Lick’s: Leather solo bag
  • Bikernet: Beer money for FREEDOM OR DEATH MACHINE supporters.
  • Independence Brewing: Beer for the FREEDOM or DEATH Motorbike Bash.
  • MizBhavin Photography: Photography and models for FREEDOM or DEATH Motorbike Bash.

We haven’t added everything up, but Jeff says that even had we paid for all these parts and labor, it was done for under 10k.  We’ll have more photos and information in the coming days and weeks.

The front drum and hub are off an old honda cb360 and we had to fabricate a custom axle. actually, the guys at draft cycle works cracked open their lathe and made one an hour before the bike was loaded in the truck and hauled from maryland to me in austin.

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Jeff  @ (SaintMotorbikes.com)- The front wheel is a cb360 wheel (350?). Limey had suggested it as a good donor wheel. The whole time I was building bike I had the xs wheel setup on it, which later would be replaced by the 360 hub & 21 rim, & 21 on rear with xs hub…. I kept eyeballing the one side only of cb axle, when the wheels got laced & tires on them, it was like 2 day til we had to leave & were putting the new wheel setup on it for first time & immediatly relized I was screwed., 2 peice axle, both sides diufferent, wanted nothing to do with the xs fork.”
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Trent- Matt from Draft Cycleworks was there, he randomly offered to help the last night, he saw the problem, left with new wheel, & old xs wheel & axle, & returned with a one of half axle, spacers etc that he & john milled & lathed, like in an hour.

It’s really getting finished here with matt and chris.  It works and runs (that exhaust is an angry monster) but we’re changing the bars so it’s less squirrely, screwing with the seat and sprung passenger/luggage rack you see in some of the photos, fabricating mounts for the aluminum pegs, and hooking up the little vacuum pump and site gauge on the “oil tank,” which is really the third fuel tank. the bike will have over four gallons of fuel capacity.  It’s all minor things we’re tightening up that jeff didn’t have time to do.

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Trent RE-interview a number of guys building bikes featured on this very site over on bikerMetric! You can check them out below. Good luck with your re-launched of bikerMetric Trent ..

 

Comments

  1. MIKE says:

    Radical bike… But the lower forks need to be black IMO… Or even better a leaf sprung front end

  2. JesC says:

    Very original! I love how the lower front of the frame has that plow look.

  3. Puker says:

    Sweet scoot Trent! Can’t wait to see what you come up with next! -A

  4. chevy53 says:

    right on man cool chop.

  5. shaydaddy says:

    sweet bike. love the exhaust. definitely original

  6. Alex says:

    Wild looking… I like the exhaust

  7. chuck says:

    ahhaa, kitten catcher? that made me laugh out loud. By far the BEST feature I have ever seen on a bike. Awesome. I almost want go out and buy a couple of cats, make them have kittens, bring the kittens down to where you live and wait at the end of your street so I can shoe the wee babies onto the road when I see you coming down the road.

    Man I love this sight,
    cheers,
    chuck

  8. REEB! says:

    Very interesting. Seen this over on xs650.com. I like the frame. Where’s the pics with the models!

  9. hooversama says:

    i like the tail end of that exhaust…..the bike seems too clean to be a rat…..too ratty to be clean. cool bike……i’d like to see it when its finished.

    some comments are just too stupid to argue about.

  10. Rusty Nutz says:

    I like how a bunch of people have come together to collaborate on the project. Goes to show how oftentimes one bike showcases a lot of different craftsmen.

    I would like to know where that throttle grip unit came from.

  11. Mark MacPherson says:

    This is nice long & lean, Wicket ! ! !

  12. Don says:

    I follow you on Bikernet and saw this up and coming. It is different in an awesome way! Probably a blast to ride!

  13. Bozi says:

    Thanks for the positive comments on the bike, it means a lot. This Bike has the heart & soul of many people that donated parts to it. & a couple people that donated time to it the last couple nites of the build.

    I love the kitten catcher, hopefully he’ll never come up on a huge speed bump to fast 🙂

    I to want to see a few details nailed out I didnt have time to do, mainly the 3erd gas tank plumbed & site guageg & the vacuum pump hooked to make it useable.

    To answer the throttle control question…….Im no sure of exact bike it came from, the guys at Draft Cycle works gave me a Huge dirt bike front end, maybe a 80’s large thumper that the throttle was on I used.

    Leafspring front end would have been cool, but low budget & 4 weeks to build bike at night….we wanted a very simply, afforable built bike as an example of what could be done with out breaking the bank.

    I really like this site, Im slowly dscovering all the cool Metric site & am really glad Trent asked me to do this & opened my eyes to the xs650’s. It wont be the last.

    Jeff Yarrington

  14. BLACKWIDOW says:

    I would like to hear that exhaust

  15. Dead Ed says:

    very sick build and the bike is too sick……love the details and all the creative bits….love the ala frankinstein monster stylez..now lets see some footage of it being rode!! I want to hear it!

  16. Ted says:

    I really dig the front end on this bike. It has a really really aggressive look with the Gooseneck. You’d be able to ride a entire day with out stopping with the fuel capacity on this thing.

  17. JesC says:

    That exhaust is badass, it looks really good. I love the kitten catcher on the frame! good work!

  18. trent reker says:

    thanks for the love, gentlemen. we’re playing with the bike in the garage at working man’s customs right now.

    chris at limeybikes is going to get her soon; while my arm heals to the point where i can ride again. we’ll have new pix and a riding video in august. hopefully we’ll faithfully capture the exhaust note.

  19. trent reker says:

    thanks for the love ted! the links to interviews and profiles i’ve done on bikerMetric from guys that have their bikes shown here are very cool of you to set up.

    we’ve done a lot to the bike in the past three months. matt at working man’s customs spent too many hours to count making tons of stuff straight and tight and chris at limeybikes has recently finished mechanical work including brakes, hiding wires, re-jetting the carbs to work with the crazy exhaust, setting up the reserve fuel tank that looks like an oil tank to operate, and more. both matt and chris have spent so much effort to make this machine rideable that i cannot express enough gratitude to them except to ride it and brag about them to all i meet.

    thanks to jeff at saint for starting the monster.

    soon i’ll hit you up with a youtube film of me riding it and new pix of the complete FREEDOM OR DEATH MACHINE.

    thanks for your support, man!

    T

  20. Jett says:

    too coo for school.

  21. norm younger says:

    Great bike.

  22. chef says:

    It looks very similar to a shinya kimura bike. There must have been some influences?

  23. Jesse Bowler says:

    Death’s about what you’d get if you tried riding it. 10k to build that? Obviously spent all the money on beer – and rose-tinted spectacles.

  24. Junkhouse says:

    This bike looks like an attempt at a re-creation of the famous shinya kimura bike. I commend the time put into replicating.

  25. Chuck Jones says:

    Great build, Question, why is the goose-neck frame with single down-tube is considered a kitten catcher, never heard that expression?

  26. Dennis says:

    Chuck, I think the ‘kitten catcher’ is that pointy part in front of the engine. like the old locomotives had ‘cow catchers’.

  27. Dennis says:

    From that Sept 6 report from Trent, maybe Death *would* have been preferable.