Disciples of today’s ’70s-inspired chopper craze know the defining characteristics of their favored genre like the patchy spots on their period-correct beards: long fork, tall sissy bar, razor-thin king-and-queen seat, skinny Frisco tank, and more metalflake than the parking lot at Dodger Stadium on Che Guevara Day. The middle-aged owner/builder of this tidy S&S-powered boneshaker watched Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In as a kid, so he knows the muse all too well. Harold “McGoo” McGruther could have channeled Grand Funk Railroad for inspiration on his fifth ground-up custom, but late ’70s BMX and electro pop are his jam. If the official soundtrack of today’s Born-Free generation is MC5, McGoo’s is The Human League.
Same decade, very different vibe. Scan the SpartanKiller’s lean silhouette and new-wave paint job and this fact becomes crystal clear.
McGoo’s contrarian nature and tweaker’s disdain for idle hands were the twin forces that compelled my friend to chronicle his bike’s glacial evolution in a build thread on chopcult.com four years ago. George Counes at Spartan Frameworks built the stock geometry DOM steel chassis that Duane Ballard’s wife Lisa won in a raffle at the Atomic Throwdown in 2009. MoCo nihilist that he is, Duane sold Spartan’s door prize to Harold for a song. A phone call to Kutty Noteboom at Hippy Killer in early 2010 got the gears turning on a 96-inch S&S Evo mill, and a project was born. From its inception McGoo’s plan for the SpartanKiller was to build a bike that melded power and purpose with ease of operation and style.
Exactly what “style” was something ChopCult readers would wait almost 30 dog years to see, but several twists and turns along the way are worth repeating.
Old King Cole
As is the case with most things complex and custom, McGoo’s SpartanKiller sometimes bobbed in a sea of apathy and disillusion, depending on the intensity of outside forces. Other friends’ projects, for instance, took advantage of McGoo’s obsessive/compulsive nature on a regular basis. A sissy bar here and a seat pan there don’t require a lot of time individually, but build enough of them for other people and you’ll add years to your own project’s incubation. Such was the case with the SpartanKiller, which is why McGoo was ecstatic when master builder and fellow BMX nerd Cole Foster offered to save his bacon.
The original copper and brass gas tank Sacred Steel’s Jason Wilson crafted for the SpartanKiller was more steampunk than McGoo’s sterile sensibility could embrace and would have been spoiled by the ’70s-era racecar paint the one-time Mongoose bicycle designer had always envisioned for his machine. So it was kismet when McGoo visited Cole in Central California in the spring of 2013. There in the Hot Rod Hall of Famer’s overstuffed garage sat Tom McEwen’s 1978 NHRA championship-winning Corvette funny car in metallic silver and glorious CMYK. “The Mongoose” had recently been delivered to Salinas Boyz HQ for a full paint restoration, King Cole presiding.
You could have smashed the serendipity with a planishing hammer: A master builder and a chopper neophyte sharing talent and tall tales in the shadow of the funny car that kicked the BMX industry into high gear in 1974. After bullshitting about Moose Gooses and laidback seatposts, Cole gave McGoo a clinic on metal shaping that left the chubby spoke sniffer scraping hot, wet pieces of his blown mind off Cole’s ’71 2800CS BMW. When teacher and student were done picking each other’s brains, Cole knew the skinny on MotoMags and McGoo had the coolest aluminum gas tank ever to grace the backbone of a garage-built chopper.
With photos of the Mongoose funny car in his iPhone, McGoo returned to SoCal to find a painter who could tap into his late ’70s muse. Enter Pete from Hot Dog Kustoms in Oceanside, California. Hot Dog painted Duane Ballard’s Kosmosaki for Born-Free in early 2013 and sprayed dozens of megabuck choppers for Sandy Bullock’s ex-husband for nearly a decade. After picking up what the BMX nerd was throwing down, Pete got to work on the SpartanKiller’s aluminum tins. The bodywork and paint around the cast-alloy Biltwell Mako taillight welded to the SpartanKiller’s narrow ribbed fender is especially clean, and cribs the magenta, cyan, and yellow stripes from McEwen’s ’Vette perfectly. In finished guise the SpartanKiller harkens back to the BMX bikes of its builder’s youth to create a look that screams Starsky and Hutch, not Sonny and Cher.
|OWNER/BUILDER||Harold “McGoo” McGruther|
|SHOP||Biltwell Inc., Temecula, CA|
|AIR CLEANER||Boyle Custom Moto, Pinner|
|EXHAUST||Custom Biltwell Builder’s Kit|
|MANUFACTURER/TYPE||Ultima 5-speed, electric start|
|PRIMARY||Tech Cycle 530 open chain|
|SUSPENSION||41mm H-D FXST legs, springs cut 1.5 in.|
|TREES||Sportster 39mm trees bored for 41mm stanchions|
|WHEELS, TIRES & BRAKES|
|FRONT WHEEL||19-in. H-D Sportster 9-spoke mag, polished|
|REAR WHEEL||19-in. H-D Sportster 9-spoke mag, polished|
|FRONT TIRE||19 x 3.25-in. Firestone Deluxe Champion|
|REAR TIRE||19 x 4.00-in Firestone Deluxe Champion|
|FRONT CALIPER||2004 Yamaha YZ250|
|REAR CALIPER||2009 Flyrite Choppers Sprotor|
|ROTORS F/R||11.5-in. Flyrite stainless steel/Flyrite 50-tooth sprotor|
|COLOR||Custom metallic silver base with CMYK stripes|
|PAINTER||Hot Dog Kustoms, Oceanside, CA|
|REAR FENDER||Seven Metal West 5-in. ribbed alloy|
|FENDER STRUTS||Custom crafted with Lowbrow strut kit|
|GAS TANK||Salinas Boyz Custom by Cole Foster|
|OIL TANK||Raw stainless steel by Renato Cardone|
|HANDLEBARS||Biltwell Zero Drags|
|RISERS||Biltwell Gordo, 4-in. rise|
|HAND CONTROLS||Kustom Tech|
|FOOT CONTROLS||Stainless steel, custom crafted by owner/builder|
|HEADLIGHT||Mexican garage sale find, $5|
|TAILLIGHT||Biltwell Mako cast alloy|
|SEAT||Duane Ballard Custom Leather|