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Kurt – She was a mess of a machine; 350 lbs of heroin chic executed in cro-moly tube and hand-formed aluminum sheet. Her tremendously overbuilt Yamaha® 650 parallel twin, now sporting 750cc of displacement and grossly optimistic cams, stood proud within her handcrafted perimeter frame. Dual Mikuni’s vaporized the dwindling petrol supplies as fed to them by a trio of daisy-chained Pingle petcocks. Agreed, it wasn’t a pretty arrangement, but these weren’t pretty times.

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This bleached earth, with its sun-cracked asphalt veins and disintegrating infrastructure, had taken a brutal toll on most forms of motorized transport. Those that remained were an odd balance of necessity versus availability. Shifty was one of these. Sporting few creature comforts – oblique ergonomics, kidney-rupturing suspension, limited lighting and almost no fuel range – she existed on the fringes of a broken society. Low, Down, & Shifty was nothing this new world needed but everything it deserved.

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Q – How does it ride? 

A – The ride is pretty much what it looks like it would be – brutal. The ergonomics require some serious stretching prior to riding and the you have to be very careful when upshifting as your toes are hovering scant inches above the tarmac. Those may not be ideal qualities for most bikes, but they fit Low, Down, & Shifty’s personality perfectly. Riding her is like humping a garage built cruise missile – a very loud cruise missile.
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Q – How long did it take to build?
A – I drew the initial concepts for Shifty while on a business trip in Shanghai in 2006. I’ve always been a fan of the initial Zero Chopper gooseneck style bikes. The goal was to blend that geometry with a perimeter frame, modern sport bike componentry, and a compact unit motor. The donor XS was secured out of a Wisconsin barn and shipped out to the ICON garage in Portland. From there it was lots of cutting, bending, welding, trial, and (many) errors. It was my first attempt at a complete build including the frame. Many painful and expensive lessons were learned along the way, but I absolutely loved the process.
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Q – Interesting facts or details?
A – The exhaust tips where salvaged from the original MotoCzysz GP bike and are as obnoxious as they are cool. The gas tank/seat is all hand fabricated aluminum housing two separate fuel compartments. Virgin Mary paint job is actually an oil painting but Tanner Goldbeck, applied directly to the tank and then clear coated. Battery and electronics are located behind the chin spoiler/gut shovel. The front end is from a Suzuki Hayabusa and the wheels are forged aluminum units from Galespeed Japan.
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Q – Is the engine rebuilt?
A – The motor got a complete overhaul by a local XS motor guru. It’s bored out to a 750, cams, porting & polishing, etc. Honestly, it’s more motor than this bike can use. Eventually, I’d like to swap it into a flat track frame where it could truly shine.

Kurt Walter

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