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

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