The Evolution Of Speed

Darwin’s Rahal-Inspired Born and Bred Racebike

Words: Dar Holdsworth Photos: John Jackson, Dar Holdsworth

How did the RLX evolve?

DH: We approached Bobby Rahal, principle of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, with the concept of building a great American muscle bike that would pay tribute to his storied racing career and his race team, and would be raffled to support the troops. Bobby Rahal has strong ties to the military and it was on. I traveled from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to Hilliard, Ohio, on our Brawler GT to meet up with Team Rahal at its headquarters to put this project in motion. Visiting the race team’s facility was quite impressive. Meeting with the engineers, constructors, and team managers, everyone is professional and all about the racing. It was a gearhead’s wonderland. I came away excited, and with the motivation that we had to design a bike that would be on par with their race cars — not an easy feat.

Did you start from scratch or did you have something in mind?

DH: In 2008, I designed a bike that I wanted to produce, a sport-inspired muscle bike with cafe influences. However, when the economy fell out, I shelved the bike and introduced our Model 1 to the world, an old-school American bobber at a value price. Once the Rahal project commenced, I knew just what I wanted to build. I dusted off my old sketch and brought it to life. We named the bike the RLX as a tribute and thank you to Bobby Rahal’s team and the X-wedge that powers the bike.

There are a lot of go-fast goodies on this bike. Tell us more.

DH: We reached out to top-of-the-line component manufacturers, starting with S&S. I really wanted to showcase American muscle, so we opted for a 132-inch X-wedge. We knew we had to harness the torque of the motor, so we used a Baker six-speed transmission and Form Function primary drive with King Kong Clutch. Handling was also key, so we ran Öhlins Road & Track forks and adjustable rear suspension. To keep the unsprung weight to a minimum, as well as rotational mass, we opted for BST carbon fiber wheels from Brock’s Performance. Great stopping and control was also a concern, so we used dual Beringer radial calipers and disks up front, and a Beringer caliper with a Galfer disc on rear. We also used Beringer hand controls for better performance and feel. The chassis started as an X-wedge muscle bike chassis we got from S&S, but we highly modified it to suit our purposes. The body was carved out of foam and constructed in-house from fiberglass and aluminum. The front fender came from Shark Skins and Kyle Hix of HixDesign made the seat. The exhaust, which is a 2-into-1-into-3, was designed and built in-house out of stainless with exhaust ends from D&D performance. The taillight is formed into the rear body section and only displays when the bike is running. The headlight is from Alloy Art. We used our Summit Machine Mil to construct the custom fork clamps. The logo-adorned top clamp houses the Stack race gauge we got from Autometer, as well as a PassPort Radar detector from Escort. We used Vortex for clip-on bars, fuel cap, and rear sprocket. Braille supported us with a carbon fiber battery. Manny killed it on the paint. Bobby Rahal’s top 20 achievements were lettered in red on either sided of the rim lips on the wheels.

What did Bobby say when he saw the bike?

DH: We introduced the bike at the 12 hours of Sebring to members of Team Rahal, as well as the fans. We also set up to sell raffle tickets to support Pros 4 Vets. We also took the bike to the Indy 500. Needless to say, it was met with rave reviews.

It’s obvious race fans loved it, what about bikers?

DH: We entered the RLX in the AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building in 2011, where it won the Production Class. We continued to sell raffle tickets to benefit Pros 4 Vets, a non-profit charity that helps soldiers and vets get free legal assistance. Pros 4 Vets helped more 1,000 vets get more than $2-million in free legal assistance last year alone. HB

for more on this bike visit hotbikeweb.com

Who’s Bobby Rahal?

According to Wikipedia, Robert “Bobby” Woodward Rahal (born January 10, 1953 in Medina, Ohio) is an American auto racing driver and team owner. As a driver, he won three championships and 24 races in the CART open-wheel series, including the 1986 Indianapolis 500. He also won the 2004 Indianapolis 500 as a team owner for the winning driver, Buddy Rice.

After retiring as a driver, Rahal held managerial positions with the Jaguar Formula 1 team and also was an interim president of the CART series. Rahal was also a sports car driver during the ’80s and made one NASCAR start for the Wood Brothers.

Specifications

General

Owner Curt Dye: Winner of Bike.

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Website darwinmotorcycles.com

Year/Make/Model 2011/Darwin Motorcycles/RLX

Fabrication A lot

Build Time Six months

Engine

Year/Type/Size S&S/X-wedge 132-inch

Builder S&S

Cases S&S

Cylinders S&S

Heads S&S

Rocker Boxes S&S

Cams S&S

Throttle Body S&S

Air Cleaner MoFlo

Exhaust Custom stainless with D&D end pipes

Transmission

Year/Type Baker six-speed

Clutch Baker King Kong

Primary Drive Baker Form Function Primary

Charging System Cycle Electric

Frame Custom

Year/Type 2010

Rake/Stretch 25 degrees/0

Suspension

Frontend Öhlins Road & Track

Triple Trees Custom using Summit Machine Mil

Swingarm Custom Darwin

Rear Shocks Öhlins Piggy Backs

Wheels, Tires, and Brakes

Front

Builder/Size Brocks, BST Carbon Fiber

Tire/Size 17-inch x 110mm

Calipers Beringer

Rotors Beringer

Rear

Builder/Size Brocks, BST Carbon Fiber

Tire/Size 17-inch x 180mm Dunlap Sportmax

Caliper Beringer

Rotor Galfer

Sprocket Vortex

Finish/Paint

Manufacturer Manny’s Ink & Air

Colors Pearl white, silver, red, black

Plating/Polishing Scotchbrite metal parts

Powdercoating Wrinkle black, custom powdercoat

Accessories

Front Fender Shark Skinz

Rear Fender Custom Darwin

Gas Tank Custom Darwin

Dash Incorporated into top clamp

Gauges Stack

Handlebars Vortex

Grips Motion Pro

Mirrors Joker Machine

Hand Controls Beringer

Foot Controls Custom fab using Vortex

Headlight Alloy Art

Taillight Custom Darwin

Cables & Switches Motion Pro

License Mount Custom Darwin

Seat Hix Design