Rick’s Blastard

A Blast for the Bucks

Fred Cuba has been on my radar as a great custom-bike builder ever since Dirty Ernie first introduced him to me as “Fearless Fred” in Sturgis in the early 1980s. I could always count on his laid-back attitude and a big smile which might have come from the water in Hastings, Nebraska, where he’s operated “Fred’s Speed and Sport” for nearly 40 years. It carries over into his bike builds where he has always been creative and typically infuses some of his great wit and humor as well.

Fred’s friendship with Rick Ingram goes back to the late ’60s when they shared a passion for vintage racing. In the process, Fred has built Rick some pretty nice race-inspired street machines to show off at the races. A few years ago, Rick saw a Buell blast sitting around with no future after a cousin wrecked it, and this got him to thinking about creating something totally different from this mess of metal before him. Together with Fred, their gears got turning until eventually this little “Blastard” was born.

“This was a real fun project because coming from my background of mostly working with big twins, it was refreshing to work on a small bike and single cylinder engine,” Fred says.

Even for someone out looking for just one to work on, they aren’t hard to find for $1,000 or less, and parts aren’t expensive either.

As Fred points out, “If you’re willing to do a few things to it, like change the carburetion and ignition system and then get rid of the butt-ugly look they came out of the factory with, you’ll end up with a fun bike to ride for not much money.”

The goal for this bike was to give it the look of a flat-tracker from the late ’60s/early ’70s, so to achieve this, Fred modified the frame by cutting off and remaking the whole rear section, he modified an old H-D sprint gas tank to fit, switched over to stock 19-inch mag wheels, and converted the rear to a quick-change hub and lengthened the swingarm in the process to accommodate the larger wheel. The only thing needed on the stock-length front end was to clean up the tabs, and by fabbing the exhaust to visually cradle the engine, he completed the retro race “look.” Rick came around the shop for much of the build since he only lives a block away, and he was always ready to put his two cents in. Out of the factory, Blasts made about 30 hp, but the guys who are tweaking them now are getting close to 60 out of them. Fred and Rick took the “Blastard” to a number of races, including the Springfield Mile where people flocked around it with interest but hardly anyone knew what it was. Then a few people came up to say they had built up Blasts as well at which point they starting sharing horsepower tips, like one of the best on how to use a head off a Buell twin since they have bigger valves and they are already ported, which can turn the wimpy Blast into a hotrod with good horsepower.

The Blastard’s actual world premiere took place at Fred’s renowned annual party called the “Nipple Blossom Festival.” The highlight is definitely getting out and playing on the 1/10 mile TT/short track with anything from Briggs & Stratton minibikes to 150cc modern bikes, and then there’s the group of vintage 750cc flat-track racers, including some ex-nationally ranked players who always show up. Of course Fred got out there on the Blastard and had an absolute “blast!” It could easily be a free-for-all, but it’s all in good fun. Fred’s Buell is all about having fun. “The best part about riding this bike is the smile it puts on your face,” Fred says. “It must be where the name Blast comes from because it is just fun to ride. It doesn’t intimidate you. You get on it, flog it, and it works.”

In the end, Rick got something unique and something he wanted. Should you pick up a Blast yourself, put some creativity into how you look at it and do all the work yourself; you will end up with quite the deal. I’d say go for it and you can also have a Blast for the Bucks!