Maybe it's an echo of the recent little wobble on Wall Street, billet stock might be plummeting, bling may go out of style. That's if the new generation of "Street Fighters" has their say...and their way. The handwriting is already on the garage wall, maybe even the showroom wall. Check out the clamoring after the Harley XR1200 when it appeared in Europe, everybody barking that they weren't selling them here in the U.S., well now they are. And speaking of Europe, that's the environment where the V-Rod has taken off, with people customizing them all over the place.
Mean and lean mutated custom bikes aka Street Fighters, are punching their way to the head of the class. Who says you can't "go" as good as you show? Some say it's the tough times making for tougher bikes. Or it's the influence of the "ratrod" movement of rust over regal or MMA cage fighters where muscle counts, or lingering echoes of Mad Max. Whatever the case, many of the leading builders are getting their jollies conjuring up bikes with both blast and flash ... as in what you see before your eyes when they launch by you.
Looking for answers we checked in with Brian Klock at his digs in Mitchell, South Dakota; as good as any place to warm up to the Street Fighter movement. With nearly 20 years in the industry and known for "diverse" motorcycles running the full spectrum of innovation, Brian recently amped things up at the S&S; 50th Anniversary bike-building shindig with his X-Wedge powered custom. Popping the question, what is a Street Fighter, Brian responded, "Out here people don't have the money to have a show bike and a performance bike so we do the kinda cross-over thing between the two. We started with Sportsters and I think that's where you're going to find a lot of people going for powerplants. The Buell is a great starting point as well, with its killer brakes, suspension and engine. At this point a lot of those earlier Buells are good as donor bikes at bargain prices. And look at the V-Rod, that motor's aching to be put in a sport-oriented chassis by somebody. And of course, the S&S; X-Wedge engine opens new performance-customs vistas. Look out."
"Plus now we have carbon fiber wheels, composite rotors and titanium exhausts and all kinds of hi-tech stuff," Brian added. "So the parts are available for building something in the Street Fighter school, which for me, is something that is race-inspired but also has a "street-show" influence. There's a longing now for better handling to match the heart of matter, the Harley motor. You look at guys that enjoy the abilities of the crotch rockets as well as dirt bikes and it makes sense that would evolve to bringing that to custom Harleys. And another influence is European bikes where guys have taken off the bodywork and gotten to the bare bones. The key elements for a Street Fighter would be mid- or rearset controls, low bars like superbikes or dirttrackers, and short exhausts that hang high in the rear for ground clearance. Also inverted or adjustable forks and obviously if you're going to go that fast, you need superior brakes. But the key to any Street Fighter is its aggressive stance, its edgy look, painted or flat black whatever, but the bottom line is when the bike shows up at your local watering hole and everyone's wondering if it just came from a bike show or off the race track, that nails it."
Here's just a small taste of some American Street Fighters we've come across.
Brian sums the bike up as "short and stout." Built in just 16 days for the S&S; showdown, the SML bike's fuel-injected X-Wedge displaces 117 cubic inches nudged into a Klock Werks modified (42 degree rake /2-inch stretch) Rolling Thunder frame. The tech sheet includes custom Klock Werks exhaust, Klock Werks mid-controls shifting a Baker 6-speed and Baker King Kong clutch. Smoothing out the bumps is a Klock Werks/Mean Street combo front suspension with Traxxion AK20 cartridges plus Avon treaded Performance Machine Gatlin Wheels, sprocket and rotors. Call that paint, passion purple, a Street Fighter passion for blending fine art and fisticuffs. For more information, contact Klock Werks at (605)-996-3700 or visit www.kustomcycles.com.
This 2008 AMD Official World Championship of Custom Bikes entry, the S&S; V-Twin powered one-off "Lil' Evil" bike was built by Kurt Peterson of La Crosse, Wisconsin-previous sales manager at S&S; and now media and events manager at Custom Chrome. A 14-year veteran of the industry, Kurt's passion for performance-oriented motorcycles, honed by years of drag racing in AHDRA & FLASH, can be seen in the design and construction of Lil' Evil, which by the way, is his nickname. The bike is built around a 32-degree raked 2008 Rolling Thunder rigid frame stretched 6 inches. It features a 130 hp S&S; hi-compression 117 cubic inch V-twin matched to an S&S; 6-speed tranny all of which tracks down the road via a Buell XBI2R frontend as well as Buell wheels and brakes. The bike shifts gears through a thumb-actuated electric Pingel shifter. Paint is by Rick Dupstadt from Ft. Worth, Texas, much of it powdercoated gloss black as in sinister. Says Kurt, "To me a Street Fighter motorcycle is something licensed for the street, but the same bike with very little modifications can be taken to your local drag strip and competes favorably. I lean pretty hard to the performance side, but the bike has to have the look as well." Kurt added, "If I pull up to somebody at a stoplight and their response after one look is oh #*$&#&! then I've already won."
The Best of Show prize winner at the 2008 6th Annual Sturgis Metzeler Custom Bike Contest was Todd Silicato of Todd's Cycle located in Huntington Beach, California. The Street Fighter influence was no doubt influenced by Todd's years of experience as a race engine builder and chief mechanic for Performance Machine's GP race team as well as head of PM's R&D; before opening his own shop. He's built several SF type customs including his 120ci Sportster powered "Pickpocket" bike (HOT BIKE Vol.40 No.1) and then took it a quantum step further with his "Bull" bike (as in no bull#*$&!). It covers all the Street Fighter bases. As Todd said, "It's raw, bare bones; a bike that handles." Power is provided by a 1200cc Buell engine stuffed with hi-comp J&E; pistons and a hot cam. The powertrain is integrated into a custom suspended-design swingarm frame featuring a maze of hi-tech linkage, and then mated to a Suzuki GSXR inverted frontend. A pair of Metzelers including a rear 280 roll around 18-inch PM wheels anchored up front by a PM radial disc, and an Exile sprotor on the rear. A non-paint approach adds to the minimalist all thrills, no frills persona, with the sheetmetal anodized. For more information, contact Todd's Cycle at (714)-901-4516 or visit,
In homage to the original U.S. states, the Paterson, New Jersey based company, Delaware American Motorcycles, aka DAM, is producing an initial production run of 13 of their hi-tech Twins, the handmade machines featuring their APEX chassis fitted with a 127 ci inch displacement R&R; 2 cam billet engine pumping out 140hp. Advanced suspension and braking match the Street Fighter bar they've raised. Other components include a handmade NASCAR inspired exhaust and a modernized Girder frontend utilizing a shock developed by Penske Racing. It so happens that company honcho, Mark Klein, was the original guy to develop the first branded Ducati store as well as the distributor for racing parts by Yoshimura, thus the blending of European exoticness/handling to Harley muscle.
Commenting on Street Fighters, Mark said, "Back in the day the UK guys would take their crashed bike, leave the bodies off and strap on some lights and blinkers, a beer can exhaust, some lower bars and call themselves Street Fighters. Later we saw the new Triumph Triple echoing that concept. Now we've taken our experience to the chassis geometry with a single-sided swingarm and carbon fiber wheels, leading edge suspension and brakes, and the strength of a refined, aggressively designed American torquey muscle motor, plus we've added ergonomics that make the bike a pleasure to ride." For more information contact Delaware American Motorcycle at (973)-279-3261, or visit www.dammotorcycles.com.
This was my own personal challenge, to merge the two worlds of show and performance," said Roger Goldammer. "Finding that balance of form and function is the classic battle...something that's fast, powerful, reliable, everything serviceable. People say if you want to go fast you don't do it with half a Harley engine, but that's exactly what this is." Who said one cylinder can't be twice the fun? Twice the fun is exactly what this bike was all about for Roger, as he used his "half-a-Harley" custom to not only set 164 mph record on the Boneville salt flats, but he also used it to win the 2008 AMD World Championships this past August. A very specific example of custom and performance doing the mind meld thing.
Housed in a custom chromoly frame with an internally integrated shock-equipped Girder frontend, Goldmember's one jug displaces 956 cc's bumped up by a Rotrex supercharger plus fuel injection plus nitrous to boot. Shifting the Baker six-speed is facilitated by a Pingel electric shifter. And for something way different, the front wheel is 19 inches while the rear wheel is 23, both carrying Goldammer internal disc brakes. By the way, this bike is street legal with horn, lights, etc. We did say show and go.
Roger's been pushing the custom vs. performance envelope for the past several years and pushing it fast. His style may not fit snugly into the typical street-fighter definition, but his bikes tend to feature the two key elements of the style, speed and performance. Many of his bikes, may slightly hint towards a street fighter edge but the designs also echo the early boardtrack racers where one jug was capped off to meet sanctioning requirements or the vaunted Vincent single-cylinder Comets of the '50s, the latter Brit influence seen in another of his solo cylinder show and go-sters, the bike called "Notorious."
For more information, contact Goldammer Cycle Works at (250)-764-8002 or visit,
For those who enjoy the pleasures of bare-knuckle biking matched to hi-tech sophistication in handling plus a bit of in-your-face attitude, time to take some lessons in Street Fighting...either from the pros or in your own garage. Let's see what ya got.