A Custom Honda Valkyrie with a Six-Shooter

The Stallion from the Cruiser Archives

custom Honda Valkyrie
This custom Honda Valkyrie draws its pinstriping inspiration from a Black Stallion movie poster.Dean Groover

Angelo Damante’s idea was a simple one. He remembered seeing Sylvester Stallone ride a Harley with a horse painted on it in Rocky II, so he commissioned John Vaughan-Chaldy from MotoPro to create a custom Valkyrie deserving of the name “The Stallion.” Vaughan-Chaldy, whose Royal Stars “Green Dream” and “Yellow Fever” were featured in the February ’97 Motorcycle Cruiser, is no stranger to customizing and follows his instincts when taking on a new project. This time, his instincts told him to find a way to dress up the Valkyrie’s unfinished transmission. Little did these two know that they were embarking on a five-month journey.

Vaughan-Chaldy enlisted Hot Dog Design to create the paint’s stylized horse design. Based on the illustration from the Black Stallion movie poster, the horse graphic is an abstraction of a horse’s head. The black silhouette remains, but the black and red pinstripes make the horse appear to gallop. Black scallops accentuate the motion, giving the illusion that the horse is running with others, their tails flashing in the wind. The paint’s background color is a quite-different yellow from the Honda Valkyrie yellow. This more-pure shade of yellow contains less orange and was chosen to help the red pinstriping set off the black graphics.

cover
The custom-fabricated chrome transmission cover and the vacuum-plated side covers completely change the character of the Valkyrie’s profile. Now the bike gleams from end to end with a more finished look.Dean Groover

While the bodywork was out having the paint meticulously applied, Vaughan-Chaldy began what could be called his trademark. Described in his own words, “If you could see it, we chromed it.” When the dust settled, 225 Valkyrie bits had hit the nickel and chromium baths. Calipers, master cylinders, shaft drive and housing, fork tubes, triple clamp, even nuts and bolts now glimmer from the attention. Vaughan-Chaldy also had the plastic side panels vacuum- plated. The only metal parts left unfinished were ones, like the disk carriers, that could not be chromed. Vaughan-Chaldy polished these.

Originally envisioned as a way to cover the transmission and all the hoses and cables lurking under the Valkyrie’s gas tank, the Vaughan-Chaldy-designed transmission covers fill the empty space and link the bike’s chromed front and rear. Vaughan-Chaldy also planned to utilize the 3 x 8-inch space behind the left cover to incorporate a locking glove box. Unfortunately, the covers became a design nightmare, requiring a couple revisions. The first set of covers were not long enough and left a large, unfinished-looking gap between the covers and side panels. The second set extended the covers rearward to make the parts overlap. After countless hours of labor and about $2000 of expenses, the decision was made to keep the covers simple. Vaughan-Chaldy hasn’t given up the idea and was, at the time of this writing, looking for ways to produce the covers less expensively.

Dash
Replacing hoses and cables with braided stainless-steel parts and using stainless-steel covers on the wiring improves the appearance. The windshield brackets were polished and chromed, making the back look as good as the front.Dean Groover

After the Corbin seat with yellow piping was installed, the Honda saddlebags looked plain by comparison. Undaunted, Vaughan-Chaldy ordered the Corbin seat piping and had the bags completely disassembled and reassembled using the piping. In addition, the cut-out panels on the bags’ lower rear corners were replaced with yellow Naugahyde. The result is a completely unique-looking set of otherwise basic Honda Valkyrie bags.

If the paint and transmission covers transformed the Valkyrie’s looks, the Two Brothers Racing’s slick six-into-six had an equal effect on the performance. The pipe turns a nice-sounding but mild-mannered OEM exhaust note into a fire-breathing monster reminiscent of a ’70s muscle car, which is certain to attract the attention of both motor heads and cranky law enforcers. The upgraded power delivery feels stronger overall with no detectable flat spots. Although Vaughan-Chaldy is mum on the topic, clearly, some well thought–out jetting changes were implemented. To handle the effects of the additional momentum, a Race Tech Valkyrie Gold Valve Kit was installed in the cartridge fork’s compression and rebound circuits. In fact, the whole bike was sent to Race Tech to make sure the front suspension was dialed in. The attention paid off, too. The fork devoured every road surface we encountered.

Wheel
If it’s metal, chrome it; if it can’t be chromed, polish it. The front wheel’s chrome treatment also received the subtle touch of black paint. Honda’s bumper adds to the fender’s unique look. Note the braided steel radiator hose cover.Dean Groover

Once again, Vaughan-Chaldy’s attention to detail has created in the Stallion an eye-catching custom, one that certainly won’t be put out to pasture. Damante said he couldn’t be happier with the work Vaughan-Chaldy has done to the bike, and the way it receives complements wherever he goes. Damante should understand what drives people to express their feelings about the bike: When he stopped by MotoPro to see how the Valkyrie project was progressing, he saw Vaughan-Chaldy’s Green Dream and wouldn’t leave until he owned it.

This article was originally published in the June 1997 issue of Motorcycle Cruiser.