Speed Shop Special #6

Harley Sportster motorcycle
Seattle-based Chris Flechtner marries off-center design with meticulous craftsmanship. And his approach got a big tick from the judges at last month’s Calendar Bike Building Championship in Long Beach: “#6” walked off with the Pro Builder trophy.

The bike was three years in the making at Speed Shop Design, and uses many hand-crafted parts. Sitting in the custom frame is a 1978 Sportster motor—a 38mm Mikuni VM carb supplies the gas, and air arrives through a modified horn scoop from a 1936 Ford. The front suspension, an 18” internal springer, is a Flechtner one-off. Flechtner’s career has been chequered so far: After working in a machine shop building motorcycles and hot rods, he took an apprenticeship under one of Japan’s most accomplished sword restorers.

If he keeps building custom motorcycles like this, we’ll be hearing a lot more about Speed Shop Design. [Image by Jim Gianatsis. And yes, it looks good: it was taken on a $20,000 camera with a 39 million pixel sensor.]

  • Glen

    Working with Chris and seeing him build this bike piece by piece has been a really educational experience. There is no part of this bike that hasn’t been considered and the craftsmanship gives me a benchmark to aspire to!

  • misteradiant

    an apprenticeship under one of japan’s most accomplished sword restorers, huh? that’s really interesting. i definitely see the samurai style that many japanese builders emulate in this bike. the low gas tank and gooseneck frame are staples of those designs.

    after checking more photos on flickr, the bike is filled with custom one-off parts. the front end is something i’ve never seen before. it’s beautiful.

    not sure about the giant water bottle-looking oil tank on the right side. it’s out of place and HUGE. i’ve never seen one that big for such a small motor. unless it’s been radically bored, a 1978 Sporty engine is only 61 cubic inches. i’ve seen oil tanks on 120 c.i. motors that were one-fourth this size. maybe if it was smaller and mounted to the front downtube of the frame, it wouldn’t seem like an afterthought.

    even so, it’s a great bike. congratulations on your trophy, mister flechtner.

  • robweeve

    that’s what makes these bikes so sharp. the oil bag on first appearance seems oversized but after a time becomes just right. attention to detail, patience and a drop of humor.

  • slowride

    dude. seriously?
    You looked at that oil tank and thought it was an afterthought?
    that design– that piece of pure art– is clearly beyond your level of appreciation and understanding….
    out of place, you say? Its friggin PERFECT.
    He clearly was not designing a bagger with flames, or a raked out prostreet with a fat 300 tire for the masses…who cares if a 120 ci uses a smaller tank? Its not about the function, simpleton. This bike was clearly built of form and style.
    And its beautiful . If you cant see the art in another mans work, you’re not qualified to comment.