APRIL 2021 BIKE OF THE MONTH

MIKE RIGGS’S CUSTOM CREATION

Hi, here is a backstory on my submission.

I am Mike Riggs, Oconomowoc, WI 53066.  I live just west of Milwaukee in lake country and have been building bikes and cars for some time now.  I recently pivoted off a series of car restorations to finish an idea I have been kicking around for several years.  With a bunch of parts in the garage and a drivetrain I decided to finish it off. 

It all started with an Indian chief fender I was looking at in the garage and my mind just went wandering on the possibilities.  I bought a set of rims and tires, 300 rears with a 23 inch front and it was a close match to the fender with slight modifications. 

After tank and fender mods I got the arched curvy posture I was looking for in a drop seat bike.  I wanted this to be an Indian theme but not with the stigma of a branded bike.  I was looking for something that a native would be proud to own and wanted it to feel like sitting on a horse that was a little wild.

That gave me the idea of building a seat that resembled a horse saddle but with a hair on hide to have it resemble a bareback horse ride. I spent a few months fitting a seat pan to the frame, fabricating a saddle horn in the front, and getting busy with the leather work. With it being done and sitting on the bike I could see the potential and went hog wild from there. In my mind the seat was the hardest part and now it was done.

I wanted minimal or no wires /cables showing to distract from the lines of the bike, so I fabricated handlebars to accept Climax Custom Controls (RIP Butch) to hide the hydraulics and wires and installed their air shocks so I could drop the bike down when parked and adjust the ride height when on the road.

I took an old Big Dog fender and chopped it to add the back sloping drop fender and a recessed license plate. That did it, the look was moving in the direction I wanted, except for one issue.  I didn’t like the oil tank under the seat, too hot and not enough cooling so I moved it to the front to fill in the large gap for the long raked front end and fabricated a tee pee over it.  I had a Gilroy headlight and chopped up and modified a fiberglass nacelle to fit.  Now it was really looking like a horse on a dead run. All stretched out and build to speed.

With the headlight nacelle complete I needed something for the old school running likes and indicators. I ended up milling out Chevy piston rods to clamp on the down tubes for the front end.

With that done I then torched the rods to twist the ends to make lights level with the ground and added Indian nickels to the ends and fabricated mounts for lights.

I went to work on building the custom fit pipes. It was a challenge never making pipe for chrome plating before, any defect would be amplified by the chrome, so it took some doing to get it right.

I wanted to end the pipes with traditional fishtails but needed something more to set it apart.  So, with a little imagination and handy work I went out to fab inserts to look like a snake ready to strike.

The right-side drive needed a belt guard for protection to prevent anything from getting pulled into the gear cog.  So, I fabricated the guard to accommodate the up down swing of the air shock.  Again, it needed more, I get tired of taking the 15 second walk around a bike and then it’s all over, nothing else to look at.   So, I torched up some metal rod bending it while red hot to look like a snake sliding over it. I airbrushed it in a red and black diamond pattern and put some mounting studs on it with rubber grommets to cushion it from vibration and paint damage.

Paint wow, this is something that has been bouncing around in my head for years. First off, I wanted it to look like a traditional type Indian, but I didn’t like the flat pastel color types.  I wanted something that had depth and sparkle in the blue and the white to me more of an ivory/cream with a pearl look to it.  

I settled on HOK House of Kolor Silvermax base with the Harley sunglo blue candy over that to get me more to the teal/light blue metallic look.  The ivory was a custom mix by me of HOK white pearl, with tints of yellow/black to tone down the white. The artwork was a combination of airbrush and hand brushwork.  I wanted real looking Indian icons for art so every aspect of the artwork revolves from a native imagery and meaning. To be honest this was the first mural painting I have done on a bike yet.  The head bust on the tank and Indian on horseback for fender were pictures from the internet that I adapted. I do not know the artists otherwise I would credit them. I have had others do work but I figured I would never learn if I didn’t do it myself.  I mean what’s the worst that could happen, paint it over again?  Pinstriping, well that’s still a work in progress, much harder than I thought it would be,

Put it all together and this is what I ended up with. 


LIKE WHAT YOU’VE FOUND HERE? GET YOUR FREE SUBSCRIPTION NOW!