Chris Flechtner is a builder, has been for quite some time, starting out with RC model cars, then hand built bicycle frames and then a custom from a Honda CB350. He kept building while earning his MFA in design and metal arts from Cranbrook Academy of Art. Then he apprenticed under one of Japan’s most accomplished sword polishers and restorers, Tatsuhiko Konno, where he is still involved in the restoration of priceless samurai swords and armor. It’s not the usual path to custom motorcycle building but it lays a great foundation.
Chris just completed Speed Shop Special #6 and he entered the recent FastDates LA Calendar Show, his first big show, where it won 1st place in the Pro Builder category. When he showed me the photos, lots of things caught my eye, like the front suspension, a completely hand fabricated unit from laser cut sheet steel and chunks of stainless steel, but the more you look, the more you see.
The seat is hammered out of a single sheet of 16 gauge stainless steel on a shot bag then worked over dollies with plannishing hammers. The drilled arms pivot on the top tube which allows the old Girvin shock to work. The shock is down low and out of sight and has been extended by a stainless rod basically turning it into a strut which attaches and pivots under the rider. Kinda neat.
The engine is from a 1978 Sportster, the air cleaner from a 1936 Ford horn scoop, the rear fender a modified 1936 Ford spare tire cover, the tank is a heavily modified Yamaha RD200 unit. Build time was 3 years! Chris doesn’t like to rush.
The whole bike was built without any complex jigs, just drawings and ideas, precise miters, very careful alignment checks, meticulous welding and it slowly evolved into the finished machine you see here.
It’s nice to know you can still build a high quality custom without having to use every type of high end machine shop equipment in the process, just lots of careful thought and meticulous work. No, this isn’t a racer or corner carving machine, but it’s a great example of high skill and a good eye applied to metal. Nice work, Chris!