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    Blog — Feature

    1946 Harley-Davidson WL Flathead

    1946 Harley-Davidson WL Flathead
    With the rise in popularity of events like The Race of Gentlemen, the 45" flathead WL and WR Harley Davidsons have become once again a quite sought after motorcycle due to the amount of abuse those fantastic old motors can withstand. Originally being produced mainly for military use during the second World War these mighty mini motors were on the frontlines for several years. However after the war ended the civilian market was flooded with several of these great bikes that have since survived all these years later to still be ridden today. After being bitten by the 45" Flathead bug after coming home from an exciting weekend on the shores of Wildwood, NJ for the races last year we sought out a good friend back in the midwest Billy "Mumbles" Miller who has been holding onto a rather interesting 1946 WL Flathead.

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    1961 HD Survivor Panhead Chopper

    1961 HD Survivor Panhead Chopper
    So imagine if you will, you put everything into building your own Panhead chopper and after riding it in events all over the country you discover that an iconic piece of your home town chopper history, an original 70s era bike built right down the street from you has surfaced after decades of being pushed into the corner of a garage. A true survivor that has been lost since the early 80's and instead of watching it get passed off to another several decades of unappreciative owners you search it out and bring it back to the town where it was originally built. Just imagine though in order to do so you have to sacrifice trading your own custom built Panhead. 

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    XS650 Adventure Bike

    XS650 Adventure Bike
    We were lucky enough to spend some time with Kacey Elkins of Krossover Customs on our "Motorcycle Sherpa" trip he had won via one of our promotional trip giveaways. The trip covered an extreme 2 weeks of riding in the most versatile and amazing landscapes stretching across the Himalayan mountain regions of Nepal. During this trip we got to know Kacey and his skills as a rider and builder much better and he then went on after the trip to use those skills to make the ultimate adventure bike out of one of our favorite vintage Japanese build platforms, the Yamaha XS650. Only he set out to achieve making this like no other XS650 anyone had ever seen and we couldn't have been more excited to see it finally presented at our Old Bike Barn Crossroads bike show at the AMA vintage motorcycle days event. We had some time then to get a few shots of the build and talk with him a little more about why he chose this as his adventure build of choice.

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    Electric Soul Cycles: XS650

    Electric Soul Cycles: XS650

    The XS model has been a pretty iconic vintage bike to build a custom with. We saw a boom in the mid 2000's with XS650 bobbers and choppers. Now it seem's like the XS is making a comeback with trackers, scramblers and cafe racers. Columbus native Derek Horton of Electric Soul Cycles recently finished up this awesome build for a customer and we had to hear more about it!

    Let's start with the basics, what's your name and where are you located?
    My name is Derek Horton and I own Electric Soul Motorcycles in Columbus Ohio.

    How long have you been riding and building motorcycles?
    Electric Soul has been official for about a year now. I built my first motorcycle with my sister over the summer while in college, but we both started chopping up bicycles when we were 14. It's crazy to think that I've been cutting and welding two wheeled things for 16 years now. 
    Tell us a little about the bike (Year, Make, Model)
    This bike is an XS650. I think it's a 75 or 76? I can't remember exactly.
    I understand this was a build for a customer, did they give you a vision for the build? or did you have freedom to do what you wanted with budget in mind?
    Evan brought a general vision and some parts he had stockpiled, like the seat, headlight, and bars. There was a lot of room for creativity within his vision, and I appreciate that. All the little accents like the side covers, headlight nacelle, and bash guard were developed as the build progressed.

    What was the starting point of the build? How did it come into your shop?(Running, Non-running, in boxes etc.)
    This bike had been sitting for some time when it came into the shop. It kicked over but didn't run and was missing a few parts. It was full on pulled-out-of-a-basement project level.
    Was there any inspiration behind the build?
    Inspiration comes from so many places it can be hard to pin down sometimes. Evan wanted something with tracker/scrambler vibes and a lot of the design seemed to happen organically. I like that this bike could look at home in a variety of environments. It's grittiness lends itself to city streets and alleys, open desert, or a weekend at the track. It's the kind of bike that looks good dirtied up a bit.
    We're fans of the clean simplified look, the little things stand out like the aluminum side covers, skid, plate and front number plate. Is there anything specific that stands out for you on this build?
    I think it's just the versatility mentioned above. Stylish versatility.


    This thing looks like a blast to ride, We're you able to get out on it and blast around when it was finished?

    It is a lot of fun. I love how nasty these 650s sound, and they beg to be thrown around. Elbows up, counter balancing around town on it will put a smile on your face for sure.
    With every bike we build or tinker with, we find you always learn something new. Is there anything you walked away with after finishing this one up?
    I'm still learning from this one. I hadn't worked on many XS650s before this one, and have gained experience on a few more since. The Mikuni CV carbs on these can be finicky to tune and vary quite a bit internally throughout the years. I had some issues dialing these in that still need to be addressed. 
    What's next on the list of builds? Any exciting projects you want to mention?
    I have a Buell Blast in the works. I'm excited because it's my own pet project and I'm using the freedom allotted by that to learn and apply some of my engineering background to it's design and execution. Lately I've been really inspired by bikes rooted in purpose and function. I'm not so much into definitions of style that can pigeon-hole projects before they start. I want this Buell to be a riot. I don't want it's looks to be rooted in anything other than provoking excitement based on what people imagine doing on it. 
    Last thing, anyone you would like to thank? and where can the people find ya?
    I'd like to thank my sister, Evie. Last summer was hectic and without her help I wouldn't have been able to do it. I'd also like to thank the Columbus motorcycling community. It's big and diverse and not what I expected moving here from the east coast. People can find me on Instagram @electricsoulcycles and my website is www.electric-soul.com. Books are open for fabrication and custom builds.

    Old Bike Barn's Kawasaki KZ400 Born Free Bike

    Old Bike Barn's Kawasaki KZ400 Born Free Bike
    What did you think when you were selected as a born free builder?
    I'll never forget the day I got the email from Mike & Grant. I woke up Tuesday October 1st, grabbed my phone to check emails, the subject line on one email read "Welcome Born-Free 11 Invited Builders". Confused by this I clicked into it and there was a graphic with my name on it along with 29 other builders... I audibly yelled out "What the fuck". My girlfriend looked at me and asked what was wrong and I proceeded to tell her I was selected as a builder for the 2019 Born Free Motorcycle Show. I was completely shocked by it, never in a million years would I have thought that I would be building a motorcycle for Born Free. 

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