Kuryakyn Custom Motorcycle - Renovation

Kryakyn And Cruiser Customizing Show What A Difference A Day Makes

While catalogs are a great way for a manufacturer to display its products, consumers rarely just stumble upon them in the course of their daily affairs, and instead must actively seek them out. Naturally, aftermarket accessory manufacturers have to find other means to stir up enthusiast interest in their parts. Advertisements help, but due to size constraints are limited to focussing on either brand identity or individual items. Another popular attention-getting technique is hiring a big-name customizer to create a one-off project showcasing the company's components. While these bikes are always exciting to ogle at rallies and in magazines, the reality is that most cruiser owners don't have the time, tools, experience or money to create one of these exotics in their backyard. But that doesn't mean owners don't want to get creative when personalizing their ride. On the contrary, cruiser guys have an almost compulsive need to make their bikes their own.

Marc Wolfram, director of marketing at Kryakyn, approached Motorcycle Cruiser with the concept of building a custom bike that almost any cruiser owner could replicate in a home garage. The idea was to combine a variety of off-the-rack accessories from Kryakyn (since Wolfram works for the company) and a variety of other name-brand manufacturers. The main gist of the project was to show how much fun can be had undertaking a Road Star makeover. To illustrate his belief in the ease and fun factor of the plan, Wolfram invited us to watch the bike being built in a single day. Needless to say, we were intrigued.

To perform the actual wrench spinning, Wolfram selected Cruiser Customizing in Livermore, California. In its five years of existence, the online motorcycle-accessory company has earned the reputation of being client-oriented. Run by hard-core motorcycle enthusiasts, Cruiser Customizing believes in giving back to the riding community through sponsored rides and assisting customers with their specific riding needs. The fact that Cruiser Customizing is a big Kryakyn retailer probably played a role in its eventual selection, too.

The most time-consuming portion of any project-the gathering of parts-is perhaps also the least pleasurable. Yes, looking at the pretty pictures in the catalogs, ordering parts and even whipping out the old credit card take a back seat to the mind-numbing tedium of waiting for UPS or FedEx to ring the doorbell. Then comes the box inspection and shipping manifest verification to make sure everything arrives as ordered-and in the appropriate number of pieces. For those of you who don't cross-check the shipping manifest against the parts actually in the box, we have this prediction: Someday (if you haven't already), you will walk into your garage with thoughts of glorious wrenching ahead, only to discover that you're missing a crucial part. It'll stop you dead in your tracks. How do we know? One guess.

You may be wondering why this is being mentioned in an article about a custom bike spearheaded by an aftermarket manufacturer and a retailer. Surely the parts would arrive with the company rep or be pulled from stock at the retailer. And you would be right, if you were considering the Kryakyn parts. However, not all the pieces going on this bike would be just from Kryakyn. After all, the goal was to end up with a machine that was more than just a Road Star with bolt-ons. Other essential parts were sourced elsewhere. As with any customizing project, logistics problems were manifold, but without that, customizing wouldn't be as challenging, right?

The plan that Wolfram and the folks at Cruiser Customizing concocted was to turn a completely stock Road Star into a "bar hopper" in a single day. Now, before you start penning angry letters, we're pretty sure they meant coffee bars. In any case, all the added parts were designed to give the Road Star street cred and some attitude for those evenings on the boulevard.

The team assembled on a Thursday morning in the cavernous sales area of Cruiser Customizing, strapped the unsuspecting Road Star to a bike lift and began a front-to-back transformation. With Kyle Bradshaw, Cruiser Customizing's director of customer service, leading the gang of mostly three (but sometimes four) cruiser cosmeticians, the process began.

A boulevard bike needs an elemental look, so the wide handlebar was replaced with a 35-degree drag bar set atop 4-inch billet risers. This pairing set the Road Star apart from all the bikes with T-shaped straight drag bars running around town these days. The OE switch gear was dressed in chromed covers. ISO Flame Grips and wide-style levers replaced the stock parts, as did a chrome master cylinder cover. Topping out the handlebar was a pair of Maltese cross mirrors. The headlight was swapped with a slightly smaller but more shapely unit, and a tool bag was tucked away underneath. The finishing touch was a pair of LED silver bullet lights. In case you were curious, all these embellishments came from the Kryakyn catalog. The front fender remained unchanged, but beneath it an 18x3-inch Performance Machine Judge wheel with matching PM rotors was added. Two six-piston calipers replaced the stock units. A Metzeler Marathon tire provided the pavement interface.

The engine bay received a pair of performance modifications and a few well-placed baubles. The go-fast parts consisted of a Kryakyn Pro-R Hypercharger paired with Vance & Hines Shortshots Staggered dual exhausts. The hypercharger required the gas tank be removed and was perhaps the second most mechanically challenging modification performed on the Road Star. Still, it was probably nothing the average home mechanic couldn't manage in a few hours. The pipes bolt on easily and look amazing. Other shiny bits to take up residence on the engine were finned spark plug covers and pushrod top covers. The pushrod tubes also received some stick-on chrome flames.

Running gear wasn't ignored either-the floorboards acquired chrome covers as did the brake pedal, master cylinder and shift peg. The passenger area gained a set of Kaiser pegs, but lost a pillion, as the Mustang Vintage Solo seat and fender bib were slid into its place. A brand-new backrest with an integrated Maltese cross brake light was brought to the build by Wolfram for its debut. The whole pattern in the backrest ties in nicely with those in the handlebar risers, giving the bike a balanced appearance. Chrome swingarm covers and a sexy, curved license plate frame round out the dress-up goodies.

Now, what customizing effort would be complete without a challenge? In this case, it came in the form of the rear wheel and caliper assembly. The saga began with the initial shipping inspection-see, what'd we tell you?-when the wrong rear caliper and mount were found in the box. A phone call revealed that the part we ordered was out of stock, and since the shippers knew we were on a deadline, they included a universal mount and caliper. (Beware of the word "universal," which means you can make it fit, really.) With the first attempt to mount the wheel, a second discovery was made: The wheel had arrived with the wrong spacers. Consequently, when the axle was torqued-or simply tightened, for that matter-the wheel would not turn. So in the blink of an eye, a planned day of wrenching turned into a day and a half. After a quick trip to the hardware store, however, the right combination of washers was arrived at, and the wheel was bolted into place. Then, of course, the universal caliper mount had to be adapted to the Road Star. More trips to the hardware store ensued, but, ultimately, all was forgiven when the pieces finally settled into place.

Since the plan was to show how easy and fun it is to modify a cruiser with Kryakyn parts and a little creativity, we'd call the project a success. The bike has attitude that just about any novice mechanic could also grace upon his or her ride. Although the rear-wheel issue had experienced wrenches scratching their heads for a solution, in the real world (that means no deadline!), we'd have simply contacted Performance Machine and asked them to send the correct parts. Had we not run into these problems, the project would have been completed in one day, with enough time left over for a late dinner. Instead, the effort took about a day and a half. Still, not bad for a whole new look, eh?