Custom: RK Concepts Spring Frame

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Browsing the winners of the AMD World Championship of custom bike building at Sturgis, we saw a bunch of the usual raked-out Harleys and non-functional art bikes. Then we came across this…thing. Not only does it use a 450cc Yamaha single-cylinder in place of the usual Harley v-twin, but it actually attempts to do something genuinely new with function, the frame and suspension are one and the same. So, we reached out to Rafik Kaissi, the Texan barber who built it, to find out more.

“Yes Wes, the bike runs and rides,” Rafik told us in an email. “All bikes that enter the AMD Championship have to. I took it out on the dirt for a test ride and it’s freaky fast.”

“Considering I don’t have an engineering background and the fact that I’ve been cutting hair for a living for the last 18 years, I was skeptical about the the frame handling the horsepower of the 450 Yamaha motor. I’ve only been building bikes for five years.”

“I went with the 450 instead of a v-twin to keep the dirt bike theme and because I think it looks tough. I wanted it to look like it could be in Mad Max or something like that.”

“The beehive gas tank came from a swap meet. As soon as I saw it, I knew right then that it would be a good fit.”

“When i came up with the idea of using spring steel for the front and rear suspension and even the seat, I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy task. I’m not an engineer, so it was a trial and error kind of thing. I had to be just right for it to work, I mean we’re talking about having the frame flex just right to work as the suspension.”

“I mocked up the whole frame in aluminum to get the shape, then heated and bent 3/8-inch spring steel from Atlas Spring here in Austin. They helped me heat and bend it to the right shape.”

“After finishing and assembling the bike, it turned out the spring was too soft, so we had to do the whole process again with thicker steel.”

“A damper takes the bouncing out.”

“Ok, the seat’s not very comfortable, but it looks cool. Foldaway seats have a slick look. Shit, if I could take the seat with me when I’m done riding, then why not?”

“My ultimate goal is to design and build concept for the movie industry or for video games.”

RK Concepts

  • Thom

    Customs I love

    This one … not so much

    But if its Hollywood special effects vehicles and video games he’s aiming at he is on the right track .

  • nick2ny

    I think it’s one of the coolest motorcycles I’ve ever seen. Then again, most normal “customs” do nothing for me.

  • Anthony

    Any video of this thing running?

    • Sean Smith

      That’s pretty funny.

      • Ryan

        Because he’s a Texan? ;)

  • je

    I think its pretty neat and different enough to get a virtual high five. With how different everything on the bike is I would say the radiator is the part that stands out as “WTF, this doesnt really flow or look crazy enough for this build”. For only building bikes for five years in your spare time I would say you are doing it right.

    Going to have to throw out a major fail point on his wardrobe though.. Baseball cap on backwards is a no go for us aging gents unless we are working on something (yard, motorcycle, etc etc) and even then its a little wishie washy. Jean shorts with brown work boots? Seriously stop looking to OCC Paul Jr for style tips.. Im sure your a great guy but it needed to be said.

    • Mr.Paynter

      +1

  • Gene

    He needs to pull his pants down so his underwear shows, to match his hat and the bike.

    • jason McCrash

      +1

    • HolyHandGrenade!

      Yeah he would be much cooler if he wore a white v-neck t-shirt and tight jeans.

  • dux

    What is this? Queer Eye for the Straight Guy? Give it a rest.
    This thing is a really creative machine. Would appreciate a video of it in action!

    • http://www.pedalgents.com holdingfast

      +1

  • jason McCrash

    He is probably one of those barbers that uses clippers only, cause it’s the “cool way to cut hair”, but in reality he isn’t sure how to use scissors correctly. Leaf springs = old Vettes and Indians.

  • Paul B

    These comments make me think there has been an influx of wired readers.

    Cool bike. I can definitely see the Mad Max thing.

    • dux

      Wired readers! So the Aprilia article worked!

    • je

      Replace bike with BBQ grill, overlay OCC Paul JR face (leave mustache though) on Rafik and tell me im not right. Now I understand you might be just upset because your name is Paul as well or you like blue jean shorts with Ugg boots but its just not something we can stand by and not try and help out.

      Compare this pic to the pic of Wes in the wired story. Granted Wes looks like he should be part of some european GQ scooter club but at least he brings flair.. Hmm maybe flair isnt going to help the cause :D

      • HolyHandGrenade!

        They both look like retards.

  • Joe

    They say “if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all”, so I’m just gonna move on to the next story.

  • DoctorNine

    Well, he went knobbies, so I hafta see it jump in the dirt.
    Looks like he better wear a cup though…

  • Johndo

    Talk about thinking outside the box. Very creative. If I could have 10 bikes in my garage, I’m sure I’d enjoy that one very much for the fun sunday rides. I’d be very curious to see how it handles. Kind of a hybrid between a truck and a bike, very cool.

  • Justin

    i’d love to see it in action.

    • Scott-jay

      Kinda what was thinking: I wanna ride it.

  • Edward

    I think the idea is really neat. I’d love to see it get ridden, or reviewed by someone (hint hint) to hear how the concept works. Mostly I’m curious if it has any torsional rigidity, or if you could feel the front and back flexing sideways independently when going around a bumpy corner.

  • http://www.postpixel.com.au mugget

    Hmmm… so all those bikes run and ride, eh?

    I saw this one and just dismissed it as some kind of wishful thinking – but if the guy has actually ridden it, then good on him!

    I am still having a hard time trying to see how it would actually handle bumps… you mean the actual frame flexes enough to absorb the bumps? As in he basically disassembled a car/trucks leaf spring suspension and made it into a frame??!

  • Your_Mom

    Does anyone think it’s necessary for him to tell us he lacks an engineering background? This isn’t a motorcycle. It’s a cartoon.

    • Ryan

      Using leaf springs is just too weird of a suspension setup for the guy to not have a engineering background. It’s one of those technologies that has advantages, weight and packaging, but only people who geek out on that stuff really care.

      I seriously wouldn’t have guessed the guy was a barber without an engineering background. The bike is so polished that it looks like it was a mechanical engineer with CAD and a lot of time on his hands.

  • Sean Smith

    Knobby tires but no air box or filter of any kind? I just caught that.

    • http://krtong.com KR Tong

      Or ground clearance. The thing has style tho. If he wants this bike to be compared to batman’s and the Tron lightcycle, it’s nifty. I’ll look forward to Jason Bourne racing this thing to kill saddham hussein.

      • Sean Smith

        Nothing wrong with it at all so long as there are quotes around “motorcycle” when it’s referenced.

  • doublet

    I enjoy his attitude. Seems like a down to earth guy who just wanted to try something.

    • HolyHandGrenade!

      That kind of attitude is not appreciated around here.

  • http://twitter.com/metabomber Jesse

    I’ll give the barber props. It’s a neat art piece, he designed and produced a motorcycle that his intended show audience obviously reacted well to. Huge stones for building and riding it in the dirt, even if once. I’d love to see a video of it in action.

  • coredump

    “…and non-functional art bikes. Then we came across this…thing.”

    non-functional art bike. this…thing.

    Those two statements are rich in irony.

    • Mike

      The way I read it, “this … thing” is a compliment.

      And rightly so, IMHO.

  • http://twitter.com/BuddyJesus Peter

    The pedostache really throws me off.

    • Gene

      I thought he just rubbed his lip after messing with the chain…

  • Sebastian

    His bike is interesting enough.
    I dig it – sure the radiator stands out, but I think he’s shown this build is emphasizing the frame design rather than the strapped on variables.
    He can build a decent bike and seems to have a pleasant personality – so why’s anyone judging him on his appearance?

  • http://www.pedalgents.com holdingfast

    i want to see this in action so badly! Wes, as soon as your hand is all good you know what you have to do! You know you miss your cast!

  • NoVeloNoVin

    Astonishing creativity. It looks like nothing so much as a post-apocalyptic Ner-a-Car.