There are certain rallys and events in the custom motorcycle industry that as an editor always in search of the next "hot bike," I know will always pay off. One such rally is the Republic of Texas Rally (ROT) held in Austin at the beginning of June. From a bike builder's perspective the ROT rally's Invitational Big Texas Chop Off (BTCO) is kind of like the American Idol of the custom motorcycle scene. The goal of the competition is to find and promote the next up and coming builders of the industry. And with editors from practically every motorcycle magazine in attendance, builders know this is one event that could lead to their big break.
S.R.B. Customs out of Garland, Texas is one such shop that was on the cusp of hitting it big and felt that with the right bike it just might be the push they needed. A family owned and operated gig between the father Steve Bates Sr. and his sons Stanley, and Shane, the Bates family opened the shop in the spring of 2004 with the intention of doing customs just as a hobby. Well, that hobby thing didn't last too long, because before they knew it they were taking it pretty seriously and competing in one of the biggest custom motorcycle competitions in Texas.
To match the green flake paint, a green tinted Glass Jaw velocity stack from Paul of Bare Knuckle choppers was used.
To match the green flake paint, a green tinted Glass Jaw velocity stack from Paul of Bare
The S.R.B team was picked to compete in the 2007 BTCO and thought they had First place on lock with their chop "Blessed Hellride." Unfortunately, they were knocked out of First place contention when they were deducted points after blowing the motor on the ride portion of the competition-if it's any consolation, they did get Third though. This past year S.R.B. was invited back to compete in the 2009 BTCO, and this time they were determined to come home with the title.
"We wanted to incorporate hot rod style into a bike that had old school feel with a touch of new school design. We worked hand-in-hand with Lloyd Stenerson of V-Twin Solutions to build a 113ci S&S motor that makes 130 to 140 horsepower," stated Stan Bates.
Working with family members can be a little more stressful than non-blood related co-workers as people tend to hold their tongue less and emotions run quite a bit hotter.
"Luckily, nothing gets built and designed unless it is agreed upon by everyone in the shop, which at times can lead to a few drag out fights before the agreement is actually made," said Stan. "It's usually a slam of the door, a few curse words, and then someone bringing back drinks that indicate that we just need to get back to work and finish this build."
With a timeline looming over their heads there was little time for menial arguments, as there was a lot of fabrication to get done. "The foundation of the bike is our ground-up completely custom frame that was built in-house. The frame is one of the most unique designs in the industry that we have yet to see. We wanted a sleek look, but still wanted to keep it short and compact. Especially with the size rims and tires that we were running," Stan commented. "Standing still this frame looks like it is going 110 mph on the highway. The short wheelbase also gives it that old school feel that we wanted. The rear end was stretched 4 inches longer than a stock frame, while the backbone has no stretch. We wanted to roll the backbone and keep a low profile look, so we decided to go with negative 2 inches in the single downtube. All of the tubing was hand bent in our shop. The most difficult part of the frame was the tubing that wraps around the rear wheel and tire. We also hand bent all of the tubing for the frontend, which is a new version of the banana girder. This look is usually seen on Schwinn bicycles. A Fox mountain bike shock was used for the front suspension and Cook Customs designed the bottom tree that holds the frontend together. Since we wanted a new look that no one had ever seen before we decided to design our own wheels for this bike. We were able to trade Jevon Lau of Pickard USA one of our rat rods for the cutting of the wheels, the front 360 brake, and the rear sprotor and caliper. The "Fat Boy" wheels are 23 inches in the front with a 20-inch rear wrapped in Avon tires."
"We custom built every part in-house, which includes the gas tank, and oil tank (which is hidden underneath the transmission). When deciding what we were going to do about the exhaust, we almost decided to go with a 4-inch exhaust stack from an 18 wheeler. Everything fell into place when we chose the design that we did and decided to use the 4-inch exhaust and make our coil cover out of it."
"Since we wanted that old school touch to the bike we called upon Brian Bass of Bass Kustoms to do the paint job for us. He gave the bike the fish scales and metal flake that accent the custom gas tank. We also called on James Crawford to come in to pinstripe the frame for us as well. We got the "Glass Jaw" velocity stack that sits along side the diamond cut motor from Paul at Bare Knuckle Choppers. Paul was also able to provide us with the chain tensioner that was modified to fit the bike's needs."
When it came to rolling in for the competition the S.R.B. crew was dead certain they would finally grasp that title that narrowly slipped through their hands several years prior. While they successfully completed the ride this year, it appeared luck wouldn't be on their side as once again they were narrowly edged out and took Second place. If it's any consolation, they did make the cover of the best American V-twin magazine on the market.