The Innovation

It's No Gamble at All

Perse Performances Fat Hexed Long-Sleeved frontend is truly a thing of beauty. From the original design, to the tight tolerance machining, great fit, internal components, and show-quality chrome finish, this is one frontend anybody would be proud to have on their motorcycle.

After Dave removes the axle covers from the 41mm tubes and loosens the cam-locks that secure the axle in place, he is free to remove the hidden axle. The axle is designed with left-hand threads that, in the event that the cam-locks fail, the rotation of the wheel can't loosen the axle.

Prepping the frontend for mounting is a matter of loosening the lower tree so it may be slid downward enough to let the trees clear the soon-to-be-mounted bearing cups. Here, the single cam-lock used to secure the stem is loosened, before it can be removed.

A 3/8-inch Allen wrench is used to remove the stem. The lower tree is drilled and tapped at the factory for internal brake lines. Other features of the Perse frontend include: internal fork stops, Race Tech Gold Valves and springs, Race Tech synthetic fluid, and easy pre-load steering adjustment.

The internal fork stop has two different radiuses to choose from. Charlie decided to go with the shorter of the two, based on the rake and fork extension. A little blue Loctite on the mounting screws is all that's needed before installation.

The G-2000 rubber-mount Softail-style frame is placed on the lift prior to installation of the bearing cups. Gambler built the frame to our specifications by adding 3 inches to the backbone, and raking the neck to 38 degrees in order to maintain a long and low profile. Charlie takes the upper bearing cup and test-fits it to the frame before...

...he drives it home, using a punch specifically designed for this purpose. A little grease on the cup will help to prevent galling during installation.

It takes both of them, David and Charlie, to lift the front-end into place and still have enough hands for lining up the stem.

As the stem protrudes through the upper cup, Dave slips the greased, tapered roller bearing into its place as he did with the lower bearing cup.

With all the parts in place, it's just a matter of cinching down all the fasteners until the frontend is secure.

Dave test-fits the pivot cap to the frame (making sure the pin is on top). It fits into position just fine; however, when the bolts are installed, they will be a bit tight against the sides of the holes. In order to make assembly go that much smoother...

...Charlie breaks out his die grinder, complete with a rotary file, and massages the metal slightly until the bolts can be easily threaded by hand.

After the pivot cap bolts are in place, the rubber swing arm isolator is placed on the pin. This procedure is repeated on the other side of the frame. The only exception, the pin is mounted directly to the frame, not to a pivot cap.

Dave and Charlie mock-up the transmission and the swing arm to see if everything will line up. Well, there's trouble in River City -- a small cast tab on the side of the oil pan is interfering with the swing arm. This will prevent the swing arm from moving properly -- not to worry.

Out comes Charlie's trusty die grinder once more, this time with a cut-off wheel attached. In only a few seconds, the tab is removed and the proper clearance is created for the RevTech five-speed transmission.

A washer is used to space the swing arm away from swing arm isolator. It gets a little tricky to hold the washer in place while sliding the pivot shaft into position. This is where just a little dab of contact cement can make an assembly a whole lot easier.

A few hands, and a couple of blocks of wood later, the guys get all the parts to line up properly. All that remains to be done, at this point, is to slide the pivot shaft through all of the components...

...and the other end is finally secured with a nut.

Gambler's Innovation shocks are the secret to the great ride on this non-traditional Softail-style frame. The damping rates and internal valving are designed specifically for this application. In addition, both compression and rebound speed are tailored for the Innovation's shock angle. The instructions state that the adjusting collar should be set approximately 10 threads from the end, when properly set. To install the shocks, insert two 1/2-inch bolts to secure them to the mounting legs.Once the wheels are in place, a shock wrench supplied with the frame will be used to fine-tune the adjusting collars and bring the swing arm to the correct height.

Not bad-looking, for our first day in the shop. It's easy to see the lines starting to come together as the bike begins to take shape. As time permits, we will keep you up-to-date on Project Gambler. So, keep your eyes glued to HOT BIKE and you won't miss a thing.

It seems that we will never be able to get our heads above water, we, the collective staff of HOT BIKE think aloud. Among writing all the pages (you read here each month), photographing the tech articles and feature bikes, and running off to motorcycle events scattered around the country, it leaves us very little time to do much else. And we're the same group of guys who put out our sister publication Street Chopper every other month. All of a sudden, we get caught up and someone says something like "Ya know, it's been awhile since we built a bike, how 'bout we get one started?" That's all the prodding we need and reply, "Yeah we're busy, but this sounds like fun, let's do it." Next thing we know, Howard's on the phone and in no time parts begin arriving.

Our latest project is designed to be a bit of a departure from what we normally do here. Usually the first and foremost item on our list is speed, second is speed, and third is -- you guessed it -- speed.

On this bike, speed would take a back seat to style. It was decided that a RevTech 88-inch polished motor would be the perfect mill. The modest displacement would provide plenty of power to its sibling -- a complete RevTech five-speed transmission.

Next, we needed to find a good-looking Softail-style frame, but one with a twist. We wanted to build on a rubber-mount Softail-style frame. Our search landed us at Gambler Motorcycle Company of Hendersonville, Tennessee. One of the frames Gambler builds is (what the company calls) the Innovation -- or in more technical terms, the G-2000 series rubber-mount wide-drive Softail.

The Innovation is chock-full of standard features which helps point the project in the direction we want it to go. A low Softail-style seating position is maintained while the Innovation shocks give a ride quality one would expect from an external shock bike. Also way up on our list is the vibration isolation that comes from Gambler's G-6000 rubber-mount system.

With styling concerns a priority, we contacted Perse Performance to see how they could help us out with some front suspension. They came right back at us with one of these Fat Hexed Long-Sleeved chromed frontends. The Perse Unit looks great coupled to the Gambler frame, and it boasts engineering and manufacturing features that make it one of the best performing units available.

Read along as we get to hang out with Charlie Lentz and Dave Donato at Lifestyle Custom Cycles in Anaheim, California, and begin building Project Gambler.

Lifestyle Cycles
1534 N. State College
Anaheim, CA 92806
(714) 490-0155

Gambler Motorcycle Company
128 Volunteer Dr.
Hendersonville, TN 37075
(615) 826-7777

Perse Performance
(303) 761-1383

Contact your local Custom Chrome dealer