Gary Inman's radical Black Arrow is one of those bikes that will leave a big footprint in the custom scene. He first showed me these pictures back in July 2013 but at the time I could not post them here on Bubble Visor. Now a few months later the Black Arrow is almost finished, read all about it in the UK mag Performance Bikes. I wanted to know about his ideas for this bike so I send him some questions.
Could you maybe tell me something about your ideas for the bike?
first job as a journalist was on Streetfighters magazine, where I
started back in 1995/96. Since then I've written about a lot of great
modified bikes, but the ones that spurred me to build a ground-up custom
were the bikes built by Racefit and Steve Elliott in the UK from around
2006 onwards. They are 1980s Suzuki and Kawasaki four-cylinder muscle
bikes, but with updated parts and chassis. I've loved big Suzukis since I
saw the first street fighters back in the late-80s and early-90s, but I
didn't want a Streetfighter GSX-R (I had one back in the 90s). The
Racefit bikes are like AC Sanctuary bikes, but tougher.
What was your plan before you started this bike.
bought a one-off Reynolds 531 duplex chassis with an aluminium rear
subframe and a Martek swing arm from Steve Elliott. He'd had it made,
but then rejected the steel frame and had a brand new alloy one made
instead. He was never going to use the old chassis and offered it to me
for such a cheap price I couldn't turn it down, but I didn't really know
what I was going to do next. I bought Braking wheels and discs,
GSX-R1000 K3 Showa forks, RobyMoto yokes and Tokico calipers from Jon at
Racefit and an GSX-R1100 motor in a million pieces from Mark at RCD.
Next I bought GS1000 tank that my friend Marcus MotoDesign found in
Sweden. It started coming together, but very slowly.
Did it change in the process of building it?
took so long to build the bike, four years from buying the frame to
hearing it start for the first time, that other people had been
influenced by the bikes Racefit built too. Looking at them made me know
what I wanted and didn't want to do. It's evolved through seeing all
kind of bikes. There are some parts that I knew I wanted, but I wanted
to keep it quite minimal, but also look thuggish. Dumb and brutal.
had to change the motor. It would have cost too much to rebuild the one
I had in parts with new oils seals and bearings - the price of all that
was crazy, so I bought another motor. Guy Martin tuned the head for me.
It has 1260 CP pistons and Kent reprofiled cams. I always wanted Keihin
flatslides too. Lots of people told me it would be a nightmare to start
with these, but it started really easily the very first time we tried.
You've made some radical decisions like putting the oil cooler up front.
I have never seen a bike with oil lines going trough the gas tank before. How did you get the idea to do that?
always liked oil coolers up the front, endurance style. A bike that
made a massive impression on me is the Japanese endurance Kawasaki, the Asahina Monster.
I wanted to do something different, so I had asked a really talented
fabricator, Matt at AH Fabrications, if it was possible to have the oil
cooler vertical rather than horizontal. He said it was no problem.
idea for the hoses through the tank is something I've never seen
either, I think I am the first to do it. A race team would never do it,
they'd find a different solution, but this is a custom road bike, so I
could do it. Geoff at Co-Built made the tunnel in the tank. The oil
lines run through it. There are dry breaks in the oil lines so I can
split them to remove the tank without having to disconnect them.
hoses through the tank idea was inspired by a 1980 Shovelhead Zero
Choppers built in 1999. They have a fuel tank split to hold the motor
oil and the take-offs for the oil feeds were on the top of the tank.
It's not the same idea at all, but it got my gears spinning.
have already said, You shouldn't have the oil cooler out the front, you
need to mass-centralise, but I don't give a damn. This is a proper
bike, that really works and I always wanted it to have one or two
What are your plans with the bike when it's finished?
Ride it. I want to take it to the Cafe Racer Festival at Montlhery in June and ride it around the banking. I saw Sylvain's Tzar howling round there last year and was quite jealous. Mat Dakin photos were taken in the summer when I took the bike to Racefit for opinions on a couple of things. It hadn't run at this point, but the bike now runs and I have to sort out a bunch of niggles, then get it through the UK MoT test so it's road legal. There's a leak from the tank, that I patched up to get it running, but it needs fixing properly.
I'm going to leave
the chassis bare and the paint like it is for the first year, at least,
then I might get a paint job, coat the frame and anodise some parts, but
it's taken so long to put together that I can't bring myself to strip
it again. And anyway, I love it looking like this, bare metal and rough
edges. I won't be afraid to ride it.
What is Racefit's connection with the bike? Did they make the exhaust or do they play a bigger role in the making of this bike?
were the inspiration. They've had a hand in some of my favourite bikes
from the last 7 or 8 years. They made the titanium Legend system for it.
I bought parts from Jon at Racefit (in the 88 shirt). He introduced me
to Mark at RCD who made the twin filler and the rearsets and some other
small parts. Phil at Racefit also changed all the engine mounting points
on the frame, because they were all wrong. That's why I got the chassis
so cheap. It was never right and Steve Elliott (wearing the black
jacket and sunglasses in the photos) just lost patience with it. Racefit
also welded on the tower for the twin filler in the tank and made me
some titanium stand bobbins.
But the bike wouldn't have been built without Carl at CFM
about 35 minutes from my home. I'm not a great mechanic. I love being
hands on, but I don't have the skill, tools or patience to build the
bike to the standard I wanted it to be on my own, so I drive to his
works and spend a day with him and we work on the bike together. That's
one reason it's taken so long to build. The other reason is because I
started with a bare frame. I didn't have a donor bike to rip parts off.
Next to nothing on this bike has ever fitted to the part next to it.
build of the bike has been serialised in the UK mag Performance Bikes.
There are usually monthly updates, unless I've been too busy with work
and have had to miss a month.
photos credits: Mat Dakin/ Racefit
Stoked to have a Gary Inman feature on Bubble Visor, thank you very much Gary!
Wouter Bollen is an aggression expert in social care. Passionate by custom motorcycles, and spends most of his spare time
wrenching. So he started ROOK custom cycles.
The ROOK is a
social and mythical bird. Family of the crow with the capability of
using tools to obtain their goal. A wrenchin' bird. Riding motorcycles
is absolute freedom. Like a bird you feel all natural elements. It's
only you, nature and the road. And most of the time in Belgium: horrific
traffic. ROOK means also smoke in Dutch. Like in exquisite Havana's,
screaming exhausts and burning rubber.
Rooks second project is the Suzuki Bandit Bobtrack that started out as a Suzuki GSF 1200 N Bandit. It's one of the cleanest Bandit customs I've seen so far. The new subframe is a big improvement. The bike has a slightly tweaked engine with Dynojet, K&N and that super sexy exhoust. Influenced by classic bobbers and dirt track racers. Wouter promised me more info about the bike when it's finished so stay tuned.
Follow the build of the Rook Bandit Bobtrack on facebook