Custom Honda Valkyrie Motorcycles: 6-cylinder Showdown

Four custom Honda Valkyrie motorcycles. By Andy Cherney.

When we hold a real-world power cruiser shootout, rest assured the six-cylinder Valkyrie will run at the front of the pack.

Honda's seminal musclebike has always been one of our favorite rides, with its rare combination of power and gentlemanly manners. Until that contest materializes however, you'll have to sate your hunger with the delectable buffet of custom Valks we've cooked up here. Dinner is served.

One could never accuse the Valkyrie of being a delicate flower, but Bob Payne's rippling Trick 6 custom makes Honda's stock version look positively anorexic. And when Payne's 1997 powerhouse rumbled away with top honors in last year's Daytona custom Valkyrie show (Wild Class), we knew we'd found the lead bike for the special custom section you're holding in your hands. This hopped-up Honda had all the makings of a muscle machine then, but Payne hasn't rested on his velocity stacks--he added more modifications for 2002. These before-and-after photos tell the sinewy tale.

We weren't really surprised to discover that Bob Payne isn't your typical weekend power junky--the Indiana native's a machinist with a full tool & die shop at his disposal. All that heavy equipment played a part in the genesis of Trick 6, with Payne building a lift especially for the Valkyrie. He then cut and rewelded the bike's stock frame to a menacing 49-degree rake for the start of a radical attitude adjustment.

To back up its newly belligerent pose, Payne knew he'd have to commission exhaustive engine modifications for Trick 6. Instrumental in beefing up the Valkyrie's powerplant was Jon Cornell of UFO Cycles, builder of mechanically massaged two-wheelers. Trick 6's shiny engine bay features UFO's boisterous VGAS system, taken up a few notches by Payne. Trick 6's version incorporates custom intake manifolds with tunable 33mm flatslide carburetors and an accelerator pump on each side of the engine. Payne also had the cylinder heads ported and polished, with 2mm-over intake valves fed by his own billet ram-air system installed behind the velocity stacks. All six pistons were ceramic coated, and Payne added a complete nitrous system to boot. A Dyna 2000 ignition was plugged in to get all that power flowing. On the dyno, Payne claims Trick 6 spit out a reading of 126 horses. Whew.

The bike is suspended over hand-milled and chromed wheels by a set of Progressive 440 shocks. Payne located a Harley drag bar and topped it with Kueryakyn grips to tighten up the front end; Kueryakyn footrests added a shiny toehold for the pilot. A homemade taillight brought up the rear, and Payne chopped the front and rear fenders to display more rubber. Finally, he decided on a black powdercoated finish on the frame and cases for a subdued effect, and PPG custom Chrome Illusion red paint with matching flames to illuminate the bodywork.

Our short blast through Daytona's crowded asphalt never really provided the opportunity to unleash Trick 6's full throttle, but that's just as well-- we're wondering if we could've even hung on to this brute with its go-power. When we asked Payne what his inspiration for all this potential energy was, he simply told us, "I don't believe in stock bikes." It's nice to see someone who sticks to his principles.

Black Beetle

The unsettling combination of Ford Roadster passing lamps, Corbin Beetle Bags and massive truck mufflers bestow Warren Piper's blacked-out Honda with a swagger usually reserved for choppers and streetrods. And that's before you even start it up.

Piper spotted his first Valkyrie in 1996 and sensed even then the unique machine would serve as a perfect starting point for a custom project. He joined an Internet Valkyrie club to pick up customizing ideas, and was instantly seduced by Beetle Bags with matching sidecovers spotted on Corbin's website. After mounting those, Piper slammed his Valkyrie 1.5 inches out back with shorter Progressive shocks and one inch up front by shortening the front shocks, and a custom was born.

Piper wasn't happy with the stock Honda exhaust, so he punched out the stock baffles. The resulting din was intolerable. So he bought two cherrybomb-style glasspack mufflers at an auto shop and had them weld a collector on the inlet ends. Two 36-inch Airflow truck stacks slid over the exhaust cans, and the glasspacks nestled right inside the truck stacks. The sound was music to Piper's ears, but there was a visual component too--fire in the hole.

That's right, a flamethrower effect was achieved with spark plugs fired by separate automotive-type coils. A unit shuts down the ignition so unused fuel is redirected to the tailpipe, where it's ignited by the plugs. Piper even mounted a firing mechanism so he could activate three-foot flames out the black ceramic-coated pipes with the push of a button. The rear of the bike also held a chubby BF Goodrich 16-inch car tire, stuffed under the back fender. The fat look was visually striking, but Piper says it made the bike handle like a drunken rhino--now the big hoop only comes out for special occasions.

Piper felt the stock Valkyrie already had plenty of poop, so he limited mechanical modifications to a freer-breathing K&N; filter and a trigger wheel on the crankshaft to advance ignition timing. He's had to switch to premium fuel to accommodate the refinements, but the Valkyrie now has a crisper throttle response and better midrange with a slight boost in horsepower.

Other Valkyrie owners dubbed Piper's motorcycle the "Bonnie & Clyde bike," and the gangster theme stuck. He remounted the handlebar on Harley risers, and had the valve covers, forks, lights, risers and handlebar powdercoated to confirm the bike's outlaw tone. A tombstone-style taillight and a tank panel from Heritage Leather continued the theme, and a Corbin seat combined with Kueryakyn footrests propped Piper into a comfortable position. A Wayne's World radiator grill and KueryAkyn mirrors and transmission covers provided shimmering contrast. While Piper may not look the part of a sinister criminal, his bad boy bike more than picks up the slack.

SEEING GREEN

Former Magna owner Robert Growcock says his first ride on a Valkyrie changed his life--"the 30-minute trip was a Zen experience." Soon thereafter he took delivery of a '97 Valkyrie, planning to "customize it a little." And now, 30,000 miles later, Growcock's stock six-banger has evolved into this glistening custom. But big and green isn't all the tricked out cruiser has going for it.

He knew the bike would be ridden often, so the first thing Growcock did was to suspend the chassis over Progressive front springs to improve its manners. Kueryakyn highway pegs further refined riding comfort, and Kueryakyn Ergo grips with a Throttle Boss facilitated throttle inputs. Arlen Ness Stealth mirrors with built-in turn signals added a measure of safety, and a Memphis Shades quick disconnect windscreen gave Growcock protection and flexibility. He rigged a custom cigarette lighter for cell phone and tire pump hookups too, and mounted the license plate frame with brake light and taillight directly onto the rear fender for a more integrated look.

To put a tiger in his tank, Growcock installed a Factory Pro jet kit with a K&N; filter and removed the air box baffle to open up the breathing circuit. Cobra 6-into-6 drag pipes provided a unique horizontal focal point, and Rivco exhaust covers hid potential pipe bluing. Corbin's Beetle Bags and side covers added a classy touch to the Valkyrie's lines, and Growcock modified his with bullet lenses from Pep Boys, wired to the stock turn signals and running lights for better visibility. A Corbin Solo seat with matching passenger pad and backrest was chosen in case the ride preference changed to two-up.

Growcock selected his color theme because he felt there was a dearth of green customs out there--he'd heard something about green bikes being unlucky, but that old superstition only egged him on. Wayne Mattson at Wayne's World in Jacksonville, Florida combined a black, silver-textured paint with plastic wrap and bright metallic silver to achieve the marbled flame design. A topcoat of Candy Apple Green from House of Kolors fleshed out the balance of the body color. Generous clearcoat ensured a smooth finish, and even though a personalized license plate proclaimed, "6 FIEND," the bike came to be better known by the nickname, Greenzilla.

In the end, Growcock feels his Valkyrie is living art--he's always changing it and loves customizing as much as riding. In the process, he says he's learned that "if you only enjoy life as a series of destinations, you've missed most of the reasons for living." And any bike that can teach that is priceless.

BULLY

Jim Forler's not fond of Harleys. He thinks they're overrated and underpowered. Luckily, he's channeled his sentiments into a bike that can walk the walk. But Forler's 1998 Bully Valkyrie isn't just a canvas for his Motor Company malice--it's a righteous custom on its own.

Forler has built customs before and he prefers his bikes streamlined. His intent was to make that apparent on the Bully Valkyrie. Its front forks are one inch lower, and the rear three inches lower thanks to shorter Progressive Suspension shocks. A stretched Headwinds headlight grabs the eye instantly, until you refocus on the long, flowing ProDyno tailpipes curving outward from the back. It's clean.

And the chrome, you'll notice, is everywhere--Forler chromed the forks and swingarm and mounted up Cruise Concepts' Pegasus wheels, which were also chromed. The Bully's shaft housing, exhaust brackets and swing arm pivot cases received a chromium bath, too. Behind the ignition switch and chrome tranny cover lurks a chrome bracket. Control cables were switched to braided steel, and switch covers were chromed. Chrome velocity stacks from Aeromach were installed in the engine bay. The Bully Valkyrie is hard to miss at high noon.

But there's more. Forler found a unique custom grab bar with LED lighting at the All Cycles shop in Tempe, Arizona, and Lazer brake lights and rear turn signals for an interesting rear lighting combination. He then combined a Corbin seat, Cobra floorboards and brake pedal for a superior riding position. Dakota Digital gauges were planted in the instrument panel. Bourget's Bike Works in Phoenix smoothed and filled in the rear fender and mounted a custom license holder off the left side with integrated LED brake lights. They also provided the Bully Valkyrie with a custom Monster drag bar and applied the southwestern-themed paint.

Though he did much of the custom work himself, Forler says finding all the parts for the Valkyrie would have been impossible without the resources of the Internet. He tells us the best shop for accessories is still the Valkyrie Rider online store. Probably because there are no Harleys allowed.

Resources

Aeromach
(802) 990-9392
www.aeromach.net

Arlen Ness
(510) 276-3395
www.arlenness.com

Cobra USA
(714) 692-8180
www.cobrausa.com