[nggallery id=10] Bad-ass. That's what we thought when we first set eyes on this Streetfighter. Just flat out in-your-face, no punches pulled, bad-ass. We just had to know the story behind the build - who was the mad scientist behind this machine?
Turns out, it's Dave Helrich from Helrich Custom Cycles in Tempe, Arizona. We caught up with him to ask him about Streetfighter.
Dave, where did the inspiration for Streetfighter come from?
The inspiration for this bike was a few other bikes that I have built in this style. The guy who commissioned it did the old, “I want one like that other one……. just different." The first bike in this style that I built, I picked up as a pretty trashed bar hopper. After tearing it down, I spent a long time staring at the frame thinking, “How do I make an oil-in-frame cool?” the result was the first of many Streetfighters. I have been really into race bikes for quite some time and decided it needed to be something low and aggressive. It turned out fairly nice, and since then it seems to have become our signature style.
Share with us the thoughts behind the bike choice.
That's easy, it’s what the client wanted. I'm sure I could have talked him into a non oil-in frame, however the oil-in frame makes it a bit unique and lends to the sparseness of the bike. That’s what he was looking for.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced?
Oddly, the biggest challenge was to add a battery. We don't usually add a battery because they are not needed and can be rather unsightly. But we needed to add one for the digital speedometer. When dealing with a bike that is this bare, a battery is a very big thing to try and hide. So it took a few days of holding the battery up here and there, mocking up different boxes and mounts and all of that - then smashing it to bits and starting over again. We finally settled on mounting it under the oil filter which had barely enough room.
What are some of the creative and engineering highlights that make this bike special?
One of the highlights is the digital speedometer. The guy we were building it for wanted one - something about losing his license if he got another speeding ticket. It's hard to find a speedo that will work on a vintage bike without being unsightly. On both counts, it took a bit of massaging, but the end result seems to work.
I also think the seat is a nice piece. The guy we were building it for wanted the one pictured, but also swappable with one that has more padding. So the seat we made needed to be approximately the same dimensions and mounting locations as the store bought seat while retaining the look and feel of one of our seats. With this style of bike it’s very easy to get too creative and things start looking a bit off.
Can you share the alterations in stock versus custom fabrication?
Basically, for this style of bike, we take a Triumph oil-in frame and cut off the ass end of it and fabricate our own hardtail. We make our own motor mounts, license plate mount, headlight mount, hide all of the electronics, then rebuild everything else, even if it is stock. We usually like smoothing out the triple trees, or shaving and lowering the front end about two inches or so. There really is not much stock about the bike when we are done with it. I am particularly fond of the belt drive, with its custom cutout, and its subtle spacer which kept us from having to completely squish the wires for the stator charging system.
And the total time on building and value/ pricepoint ?
Took about 3 months and comes in at $14,000 USD.
How much of it is a labor of love versus a profit potential?
It must be a labor of love because there isn’t a huge profit in it. If you count all of the time we put into building each bike we make about $.46 an hour. Seriously, it's a labor of love, there is something very satisfying about riding around on a bike you've built.
Who or what do look to for inspiration?
I look at a lot of different stuff. Lately I have been looking at steam locomotives and well designed furniture. I will always look at race bikes, both old and new.
What are you future goals and can we get a sneak peak at upcoming plans?
The goals are simple - to build more bikes. I am thinking about building some metric bikes, something more inexpensive to work out a few ideas on. We are building a non oil-in frame right now - something a bit more traditional looking.
Tell us a bit about yourself, what movies and music do you like and how do you spend your free time?
For movies, probably “The Lord of the Rings” I grew up with the books, and the original movie thing. And music, TOOL, a lot of TOOL, and Mozart and as far as free time, I don’t think there is a "not working" time - if there is, it’s hanging out with my friends, talking about bikes.
Where have you ridden and where would you like to ride?
I really enjoy most any riding - the north-west like Oregon is fantastic, lots of nice twisty bits. I also like it here in the south-west, miles of straight roads lets your mind get clear.
I would like to do a bike tour through Europe -I have been there a number of times - just not on a bike. Also Southeast Asia, I have ridden in Indonesia, and it's just crazy there.