Blunt Weapon: Classified Moto’s Speed Triple ‘Frank’

Meet Frank, a custom Triumph Speed Triple built for Rebel Yell by Classified Moto
It’s tough being a custom bike builder. Aside from having to make a living, you’re at the mercy of public opinion—which can be a whole stadium’s worth of armchair quarterbacks. In short, you need a tough skin.

They don’t come much tougher than John Ryland of Classified Moto. He’s developed not only a signature style, but also a solid business. And there’s more demand for his work than ever before.

Meet Frank, a custom Triumph Speed Triple built for Rebel Yell by Classified Moto
It’s a gutsy approach that has made Ryland’s Richmond, Virginia shop world famous. But this latest commission was from just 500 miles up the road: the headquarters of Rebel Yell Bourbon in Louisville, Kentucky.

The brief was pretty open—but that’s a double-edged sword. “Parameters can be bad or good,” says John. “Too many, and you can’t let your creative juices flow enough. Too few, and you can’t blame your ideas on anyone but yourself.”

Meet Frank, a custom Triumph Speed Triple built for Rebel Yell by Classified Moto
In the case of this 2007 Triumph Speed Triple 1050, the ideas obviously flowed freely. ‘Frank’ is obviously mad, bad, and dangerous to know, a product of the twisted imaginations of John and his lead tech Danik Herashchanka.

“Part of the enjoyment came from using what we had around the shop. And the Speed Triple is what we had,” says John. “We also didn’t have anything specific the bike needed to do, except look cool (to us), be reasonably comfortable for a 1,200-mile trip to Sturgis, and be capable of some antics along the way.”

Meet Frank, a custom Triumph Speed Triple built for Rebel Yell by Classified Moto
Despite the radical looks, much of the bike remains stock: the hardest part was building a swing arm to accommodate the massive rear tire. “Danik has gotten so good at welding and fabrication, we felt like we could tackle the swing arm in-house,” says John. “Even a couple of years ago, we wouldn’t have been able to do that.”

The original idea was to build the swing arm out of chromoly, even though it ended up being a huge hassle. “Just finding the material in the sizes we needed was super complicated. People don’t want to sell you that stuff unless you’re buying enough to build a bridge or something.”

Meet Frank, a custom Triumph Speed Triple built for Rebel Yell by Classified Moto
“We knew we wanted to use a big ATV tire in the rear, and we wanted to retain the single-sided look—so we had to make the swing arm from scratch. There was no way to mod a Street Triple swing arm and get everything centered.”

The Classified crew ended up using parts from a Honda VFR800 item: “For several reasons, the key one being that it uses a 4×4 bolt pattern, common on ATV wheels. This gave us access to wheels with a range of offsets and the 14-inch diameter we wanted.”

Meet Frank, a custom Triumph Speed Triple built for Rebel Yell by Classified Moto
The swing arm is now hooked up to a Progressive Suspension 465 Series shock and the wheel is a tough aluminum alloy ITP Hurricane. It’s shod with an STI Black Diamond tire—a six-ply ATV radial designed to work on both hardpack and sand or mud. Up front is Kenda Big Block rubber, an ADV tire with a 60% street/40% off-road mix. Perfect for a Californian beach, if not the Laguna Seca corkscrew…

The tank has a finish we’ve never seen before, and a delicacy that contrasts with the brutish stance of the Triumph. “We had never stripped a Speed Triple tank, and to my dismay, this one was plastic. So we doctored it up with layers of fine ladies’ dress fabric and West System epoxy. Looks much better now!”

Meet Frank, a custom Triumph Speed Triple built for Rebel Yell by Classified Moto
The marine grade epoxy is covered with tiny script on the knee cutouts. “We ended up writing out the whole parts list (and the owner’s manual) on the tank for whoever wins the bike,” says John. “It’ll save me a lot of phone calls and emails!”

The seat unit and tail section is new, exposing the elegant (and only slightly modified) standard subframe. It’s now topped off with an equally elegant, gently curved seat—upholstered by Ryland’s regular leather guy, fellow Richmonder Roy Baird.

Meet Frank, a custom Triumph Speed Triple built for Rebel Yell by Classified Moto
The engine internals are stock—and with just over 130 horses at the crank, that’s probably a good thing. But there’s new exhaust pipework, hugging the back of the engine and exiting right under the seat unit.

In a scene where the whole point of most builds is to catch the eye, this is one of the most eye-catching we’ve ever seen. And it needed to be: “This bike is a promotional centerpiece and a prize in a contest,” John points out. “Its real job is to cause a stir for Rebel Yell.”

Meet Frank, a custom Triumph Speed Triple built for Rebel Yell by Classified Moto
“It has to look cool up close at events, and from a distance when it’s on stage. It has to do flashy stuff for the camera, and work well for whoever wins it. It’s a pretty tall order for a bike, actually.”

You’ll be able to meet Frank at this year’s Sturgis rally, which opens on August 3, along with four other killer customs—including the Revival Cycles ‘Odioso.’ And we get the impression that John and Danik will be sorry to say goodbye.

Meet Frank, a custom Triumph Speed Triple built for Rebel Yell by Classified Moto
“We’ve had a great spring and summer with him. He’s become like a pet—a big dog or bobcat. We took him to the beach, and to a play date with other customs at The Handbuilt Show.”

If you’ve got space for Frank in your life, head over to the Rebels Uncaged competition site. It’s time for this mongrel to find its forever home.

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