Joe Schembri was able to travel to Sturgis for the World Championship of Custom Bike Building as a result of winning Australia’s Gold Coast Bike Week in 2008, where the prize package included a contribution towards transporting his bike, Hide & Seek, to the US.
EVERY year at the World Championship of Custom Bike Buidling new ideas are introduced on the bikes that are entered. Many of the new engineering solutions found on bike at the Championship are on those machines that have traveled the furthest to attend the show. It could be suggested that those foreign builders are introducing new ideas and techniques into builds because they do not have the same history of building and parts availability of domestic US builders.
One builder who generated a lot of interest with his bike, and was also one of the furthest traveled to attend the Championship, was Australian builder Joe Schembri of Joe Blow Racing. The bike he brought over to Sturgis was named Hide & Seek and featured not only a radically styled front end but also a host of trick details that helped it to place in the top 25 at the World Championship; an impressive result given that this is the first bike Joe has built.
Joe’s background is in car building and over the years he has successfully campaigned a car in the Pro Mod class reaching the six-second bracket over the quarter-mile, so he had all the equipment necessary to put together a custom bike. The starting point for the build was watching the many Chopper programs that are now shown on TV and Joe thinking to himself: “I could do that in my workshop.”
To begin the build he ordered up a Piranha rigid frame from Pro-One with an 8in stretch. He then bought a rear fender and started cutting it around to suit his build before welding it directly to the frame. It was then extended forward below the seat to create a hidden oil tank. Similarly, the hand beaten gas tank was also welded to the frame and molded in before paint. The flowing lines are helped by the positioning of the petcock under the seat with the fuel lines running through the oil tank before running under the transmission and up to the carb.
It is at the front of the bike, though, that the most striking feature can be found. A set of Pro-One sliders and stanchions have been mated to a fork crown that alleviates the need for conventional triple trees. In order to make the set-up work Joe turned up a steerer tube and then welded a horseshoe arrangement to the bottom of it, the fork stanchions then thread into that to provide the front suspension. At the other end a single custom made riser holds the one-off sweptback bars in place.
As with the frame the wheels and brakes were all sourced from Pro-One. The Zeppelin design wheels measure 2.15 x 21in at the front and 10.5 x 18in at the rear and are shod with Avon tires.
The wheel’s design has been replicated, too, on the top of the single bar riser. It is a motif which has been carried through to the 3in BDL primary drive too. The cover features a 3D image of the bike with matching wheels covering the drive pulleys. Behind the primary an Ultima 100ci engine has been fitted straight from the box, with the only additions being as set of aftermarket pipes, a Mikuni carb and a custom air cleaner that Joe fabricated himself. He also went on to machine up custom covers for the spark plugs too. Then the ignition coils were hidden inside the primary drive to further clean the lines of the bike.
In order to have the bars as clutter free as possible, to match the clean lines of the rest of the bike, both brakes are operated by the right forward control and the clutch is operated by the left forward, while shifts are done with the push of a button on the left of the rear cylinder head that activates a Pingel air shifter.
Joe Schembri may be a first time builder who started out with an off-the-shelf frame but the imagination and work he has put into creating the finished bike shows how much engineering skill he has acquired building race cars and how well he has been able to translate them to a custom bike. Now having been to the World Championship of Custom Bike Building and seeing the machines being produced by experienced builders his next bike should be even more striking.
JOE BLOW RACING
Glenmore Park, New South Wales, AUSTRALIA
Tel: +61 (0)41 6271970
About the AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building:
The Official World Championship of Custom Bike Building program encompasses some 18 events in total, in 16 different countries: Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, The Netherlands, Ireland, Japan, Australia, Russia, Canada, Mexico and the United States.
Total public attendances at events involved in the program regularly top 1 million motorcycle enthusiasts a year, in markets worth some 20 million motorcyclists and nearly 1 billion consumers in general.
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