The Honda CB350 Vintage Fighter “Spitfire” is complete, we took it around town with a photographer to get some nice shots of the work.
This bike is an example of the kind of custom work Roc-City really strives for, a very minimal look with a highly developed form. I spent most of the design time considering how to combine the necessary parts of the motorcycle to simplify the overall appearance, and still achieve a unique and eye catching result. Not much on this bike is left over from the original donor bike, it’s actually easier to name the parts that are stock, such as the engine, frame and wheels. The all aluminum bodywork is handmade for this individual bike, no templates or forms were ever made in producing the parts, and there were actually no drawings made before beginning the work. When I began stripping the bike down, I really had no plan for the outcome, but let a mental picture begin to form in my mind as I created each part. As the bike grew nearer to a finished piece, the design decisions became more critical, as new parts not only had to function themselves, but also had to work well with the look of the rest of the bike. Equally challenging was keeping the bike comfortable and safe to ride, features like the rear brake cable conversion and increased swingarm angle do a lot to improve the old bike’s handling and stability. I’ve seen many custom bikes which pay little if any heed to the actual purpose of the motorcycle, there are probably hundreds of these barely rideable motorcycles filling gallery space and living rooms in the trendiest of circles. I however, feel that a bike is only a complete piece when it is ridden. The proof is in the pudding, I was riding behind the new owner of this bike as we approached 100mph, the bike handled and sounded great, I couldn’t have been more pleased.
I see this bike as a step in a direction of design that I have begun pursuing, a departure from the aesthetic of the cafe racer, which, as a form necessitates functionality and speed, all else being secondary. The development of the chopper also appears to have dead ended, having been careened into a heap of gaudy detail pieces and utter lack of composition and flow. From somewhere in this mix, I hope to see a form of custom bike come forward that combines rideability with excellence in design, form and function being complimentary rather than in contest. I imagine this form will draw heavily on vintage style, as I am myself attracted to designs from the past. I have already begun work on the next project, and look forward to finding out where this path will lead.