After the rust treatment, Jason took the bike over to his powdercoater, Performance Coatings. “We put on a flat clear as an experiment, to stop the rust from further oxidizing,” says Jason. The build was completed in early ’04. “I think it worked , because the tank still holds gas,” he says with a laugh.
But why take a carefully crafted custom and rust it out? Well, you might as well ask why build customs at all. Some say it’s for the art; others say it’s to get noticed. Take your pick.
Jason needed to create a standout bike to promote his custom build business. He’s been building since ’96 and was always into “Harley, the USA and the customs,” he says. Heeeyaw! His head was into “ammurican,” but his wallet wasn’t. “I didn’t have the bucks to go the Harley custom route,” he says. He started instead on the custom path with an inexpensive Vulcan 800 that he banged on in his garage. After seeing his finished ride, a Shawnee dealership offered him a part-time job customizing bikes. “I went to work for them, but most of my time was spent servicing ATVs,” laments Jason. So he left the dealership to hold down a factory maintenance/ machinist’s job while studying computers and AutoCAD design at college and built custom on weekends. He says he’s five hours short of an AutoCAD degree because his custom business ramped up and stole his time.
Jason says he was doing stretched tanks, custom handlebars, and wiring in ’01. He says, “Metrics seemed to me the way to go. Affordability was the key. Metrics cost a lot less to get into, and the market was wide open in Oklahoma. Nobody was doing metric custom bikes. But it’s hard to get accepted in a H-D-dominated market.” In ’03, he built up a Kawasaki Vulcan that won second place overall in the American Customs judged class at an Easyriders show. “I got a lot of boos. It wasn’t well received,” he remembers.
Still, he felt the metric custom market was there. “It was a natural fit for me,” he says. “I enjoy different motors. You can build a full-custom Kawi, then go to a Honda and it’s different and keeps things interesting.”
In late ’03, he started building Rusty for his best friend, Joey Wnn, now a high school principal. “Joey always said one day I’d build a radical bike for him,” says Jason. This was the time, and he was gunning for an upcoming Texas bike show. “It was around when the 300 tire size came out,” he remembers. “I had ordered one to see how big it was. Joey said, ‘Okay, let’s build around it, and you’ve got free rein.’” Jason got to try things he never had before. Like the tire, a new scratch-built frame, and an exotic hand-formed tank. And rust.
“The double downtube frame was a big challenge because of the bends, and I didn’t have an expensive bender,” says Jason. So he made wooden patterns, bolted them to a worktable, and heated and hand-formed the tubing. “I spent two weeks going through 50’ of heavy-wall tubing just to get three bends right.” The backbone is about 1-3/4” in diameter, and the two rails under it are 1-1/4”. “Most of the strength had to be in the backbone. The rest of the frame welded to it,” explains Jason. To mount the stock radiator, the front frame rails are a bit wider. From the side view, the radiator is flushed between the downtubes. The “air scoop” Jason fabbed fills in the gap behind the front wheel and also channels air to the radiator.
Centering the massive 300-series rear tire with the motor and front end was a challenge. Jason explains, “I took two lawn mower sprockets, because they had the right tooth count, and machined all the spacers, welded the sprockets together, machined the centers out, and pressed in aircraft-quality bearings.” The sprockets run off a chrome moly shaft that’s welded to the frame. “The sprocket off the motor hooks a chain, which, in turn, drives the other sprocket, which has a chain driving the rear wheel,” he says. “It’s interesting to see two chains spinning down the road turning different speeds. I had to build a chain tensioner to keep the front chain tight.” The rear chain is tensioned by the rear axle adjusters.
The tank was all hand-hammered, fabricated on an English wheel, and TIG-welded. Since the sheet metal wasn’t going to be painted, Jason decided to keep the rustic look going, choosing not to grind down the tank welds.
The electronics and battery are housed under the hinged and sprung seat, inside a box molded in the frame. The wiring was done by Jason’s uncle, Jay Kirkland, “my right-hand man for trimming all the wiring down and making our wiring boxes smaller and neater than the factory’s,” says Jason. The area under the seat pan is welded to the frame and mates flush to the rear of the gas tank.
The front suspension is a combination of stock Honda lowers and custom uppers from Forking by Frank, with stock internals. Jason’s one-off handlebars sit on a Rizoma raked triple trees. “The bars are set to come out under the trees instead of the top,” explains Jason. “You sit so low on the bike that even if you had stock drag bars, it would be like apehangers, with your hands 4” above your head. So I came up with the idea to run them below the trees.” Jason found the headlight on eBay and named it “Johnny Five,” since it reminds him of the robot character in the Short Circuit movies. The bike rolls on chrome-spoke DNA wheels stopped by a polished stock front caliper and a clean, mean Exile rear sprotor.
The engine is stock except for the intake and exhaust. Jason tossed the stock plastic air cleaner covers and installed vintage CB750 air filters. He made his own jet kit to compensate for the carbs now pulling so much air. He also hammered out new filter covers.
Jason hand-fabbed the exhaust, adding a heat shield because “the first thing you do with a high-mounted exhaust is burn your leg,” he explains. He couldn’t decide on chrome or black pipes, but the powdercoater convinced him to try a new gold ceramic coating that’s not suppose to change color and cuits the heat by 30 percent. “He talked me into it, and it’s just the right look,” says Jason. The only chrome on the motorcycle is the factory chrome, and Jason polished the fork legs and a few brackets.
Then there’s the rust. “The rust was Joey’s idea. He wanted the whole bike to be rusted out. He said, ‘Look, every custom has thousands of bucks of flash and paint and chrome. Let’s make this bike look dirty and nasty, like it’s been ridden to hell and back.’ But I convinced him to let me paint the frame so it stands out,” says Jason, laughing. Hot Rod Tim painted the radical frame. “He’s one of those guys who handed me a card one day, and he came through like a champ,” he says. The frame is House of Kolor Chameleon, which goes from copper red to green.
Joey had to give Rusty up due to a back injury, which keeps him off hardtails. But, in ’05, Rusty caught the eye of two gearhead entrepreneurs, Link Barr and Jay Wade. “We’ve always wanted to get involved in the motorcycle business,” Link says. So, they invested in Jason’s company, enabling him to develop over 40 products, such as chassis, exhausts, and handlebars, which are now sold by dealers in several states.
Jason is now 30 years old. His company and his reputation are growing. Link bought Rusty from Joey. And, like they say, “the rust is history.”
Owner: Link Barr
Home: Oklahoma City
Builder: Jason Conley/ Coyote Customs, Oklahoma City
Year/ Model: 2002 Honda ACE 750
Time to Build: 14 weeks
Cost to Build: $18,000, including donor bike ($3,000)
Powdercoater: Performance Coatings, Oklahoma City
Painter: Hot Rod Tim, Oklahoma City
Carbs: Coyote Customs jet kit
Air Cleaner: Coyote Customs
Exhaust: Coyote Customs
Final Drive: Coyote Customs jackshaft
Frame: Coyote Customs
Rake: 40 degrees
Stretch: 40” neck height
Front Suspension: 10” over Forking by Frank, stock lowers
Rear Suspension: Springs under seat
Front Wheel: 21 x 2.15” 80-spoke chrome DNA
Rear Wheel: 18 x 10-1/2” 80-spoke chrome DNA
Front Tire: Avon 90 x 90 x 21”
Rear Tire: Avon 300
Front Brakes: stock caliper, polished
Rear Brakes: Exile sprotor
Fenders: Fat Katz rear, Coyote Customs front
Headlight: Johnny Five
Taillight: Coyote Customs sidemounts
Turn Signals: hands
Fuek Tank: Coyote Customs
Handlebars: Coyote Customs
Seat: Duane Ballard
Pegs: Coyote Customs, knurled
Foot Controls: stock, modified
Tag Bracket: Coyote Customs