Hey everybody, I’m Trent Reker, editor of bikerMetric!, and we just completed an XS650 chopper we lovingly call the FREEDOM OR DEATH MACHINE. It was built by Jeff, the brilliant mind behind Saint Motorbikes.

I wanted a crazy goose-neck frame with single down-tube that ends in what we call the “kitten catcher.” It had to have gas tanks with flat sides, a raw little headlamp cowl, 21-inch, 36-spoke wheels with Distanzias, a 2-into-1 exhaust, and it had to be painted black and gold. It was our goal to build something radical, that nobody had ever seen, and to do it on the cheap. It was then that I started emailing and calling parts manufacturers and re-sellers throughout the US to see who would donate parts for the machine.


From the day Jeff started to tear down the doner, a 1979 XS650 Special, until the day he hauled it to Austin, a mere 40 days passed, and Jeff works 50 hours a week at his paint and body shop, Hot Rod Refinishers. He slept a total of six hours the final week before his son and he loaded it into a truck just west of Baltimore, Maryland, and hauled ass to Austin, Texas, where I’d set up a huge party in a bar on 6th street during the huge Republic of Texas motorcycle rally.  They started out six hours late and drove straight through in 26 hours.


He barely made it, still six hours late, but our photographer and models were waiting there, taking shots with other bikes I’d lined up, including Limey’s Hornet, which has been profiled here.

We had a blast at the bash and came home after midnight, where we had set up beds for the weary guys. Poor Jeff slept 12 hours straight.

These pix were taken the next day at Matt’s (Working Man’s Customs), who created the phenomenal seat, and who is going to make some final mods that Jeff was too pressed for time to finish.  Then Chris at Limeybikes is going to mess with tuning the beast.  He’s already rebuilt the carburetors. I’d like to thank the following folks for donating parts and labor to make the FREEDOM OR DEATH MACHINE happen:

  • Saint Motorbikes: Builder and mind reader
  • Elswick Cycles: Hardtail weld-on, faux oil tank/real secondary gas tank
  • Rock’s Chops: Footpegs, plate bracket/brake light
  • 7 Metal West: Huge brass ribbed fender
  • Working Man’s Customs: Leather solo seat, bitch pad, color tooling, final mod and fab
  • Limeybikes: Mechanic extraordinaire
  • After Hours Choppers: Brass risers
  • Pinstripe Chris: Pinstriping & lettering
  • Hot Rod Refinishers: Paint
  • Draft Cycle Works: Wheel lacing, front drum brake, and last-minute fabrication
  • Fabricator Kevin: Seat hinge
  • Biltwell: Exhaust kit
  • Lick’s: Leather solo bag
  • Bikernet: Beer money for FREEDOM OR DEATH MACHINE supporters.
  • Independence Brewing: Beer for the FREEDOM or DEATH Motorbike Bash.
  • MizBhavin Photography: Photography and models for FREEDOM or DEATH Motorbike Bash.

We haven’t added everything up, but Jeff says that even had we paid for all these parts and labor, it was done for under 10k.  We’ll have more photos and information in the coming days and weeks.

The front drum and hub are off an old honda cb360 and we had to fabricate a custom axle. actually, the guys at draft cycle works cracked open their lathe and made one an hour before the bike was loaded in the truck and hauled from maryland to me in austin.


Jeff  @ ( The front wheel is a cb360 wheel (350?). Limey had suggested it as a good donor wheel. The whole time I was building bike I had the xs wheel setup on it, which later would be replaced by the 360 hub & 21 rim, & 21 on rear with xs hub…. I kept eyeballing the one side only of cb axle, when the wheels got laced & tires on them, it was like 2 day til we had to leave & were putting the new wheel setup on it for first time & immediatly relized I was screwed., 2 peice axle, both sides diufferent, wanted nothing to do with the xs fork.”
Trent- Matt from Draft Cycleworks was there, he randomly offered to help the last night, he saw the problem, left with new wheel, & old xs wheel & axle, & returned with a one of half axle, spacers etc that he & john milled & lathed, like in an hour.

It’s really getting finished here with matt and chris.  It works and runs (that exhaust is an angry monster) but we’re changing the bars so it’s less squirrely, screwing with the seat and sprung passenger/luggage rack you see in some of the photos, fabricating mounts for the aluminum pegs, and hooking up the little vacuum pump and site gauge on the “oil tank,” which is really the third fuel tank. the bike will have over four gallons of fuel capacity.  It’s all minor things we’re tightening up that jeff didn’t have time to do.


Trent RE-interview a number of guys building bikes featured on this very site over on bikerMetric! You can check them out below. Good luck with your re-launched of bikerMetric Trent ..