Such is the level of competition at the World Championship of Custom Bike Building that the bike which placed seventh – Christian Dotson’s Aileron – had previously been named America’s Most Beautiful Motorcycle at the Grand National Roadster Show
CHRISTIAN Dotson is no stranger to accolades; his first bike Swingshot was not only named America’s Most Beautiful Motorcycle in 2007 it also placed 10th in the World Championship of Custom Bike Building the same year. Given that it was his first bike build that’s quite an achievement. He has now followed it up with Aileron, this year placing seventh at the World Championship and once again being named America’s Most Beautiful Motorcycle at the Grand National Roadster Show.
Aileron, like Swingshot, defies conventional custom bike designs, a result no doubt of Christian’s background in automotive design and hot rod construction. Indeed parts of the frame and front end of Aileron have been constructed using radius arms from the front suspension of ‘30s cars.
In his own words, Christian says of the bike: “I wanted to blend modern sport bike design with vintage board track construction.” It is interesting to note that according to Christian the relationship of the bars, seat and foot pegs is identical to that of the Suzuki GSX-R he rode as a teenager.
Bringing the vintage board track flavor to the build is the use of an 84ci Indian flat head motor. The particular one used in the bike is one of the reproduction ones built in California by Kiwi Indian, which has been polished and powder coated. It breathes through a Mikuni carb and a one-off set of brushed stainless steel pipes, while the sparks are fired by a Morris magneto that alleviates the need for a battery on the bike. The chain drive generator that supplies the power for the lights is not a generator, but is actually a cover for an alternator and associated electrics.
Backing the engine is a four-speed Indian transmission and clutch assembly, once again from Mike Thomas at Kiwi Indian.
The frame that houses the engine is a one-off that Christian put together himself. While it may seem unusual for the top of the frame not to run as close to the engine as possible, it has been designed to put the seat in a certain position; one that means in relation to the pegs and bars it is the same as on a Suzuki GSX-R and that means the riding position is relatively comfortable unlike some bikes on the show scene. Rather more unusual than the seating position is the bike’s rear suspension. The tubular swingarm is suspended on a single quarter epileptic leaf spring mounted on the left of the frame. This style of suspension is more normally found on the ‘suicide’ style front ends of hot rods and shows the cross-over of ideas from Christian’s work in hot rod design.
Mixing of car and bike technology also takes place at the front of the bike, where Christian designed and built his own Girder fork. However, rather than following conventional thinking and running a coil over or air shock between the upper and lower linkages, Christian has again made use of a leaf spring. The spring is secured at the top of the headstock and then pivot between the extended upper linkages, where the headlamp also mounts.
Wheel size choices on Aileron is another area where Christian has mixed vintage board track with sport bike. The 23in front wheel shod with a 120-section Monster tire from Vee Rubber is typically board tracker and conventional wisdom would suggest that a similar set-up be used at the back too. What there is at the back though is a 20in rim wearing a 200-section tire, which gives a foot print more akin to that of a modern sports bike. The single brake on the bike is also a modern addition. The rear wheel being stopped by an ISR six-piston caliper and sprotor. However both have been cleverly disguised by a cover over the sprotor that makes it look like a drum brake and the caliper by what looks at first like an air scoop to supply cool air to the fake drum.
Despite the fact the gas tank has two caps, one for gas and one for oil, it is not a split tank. The oil filler cap allows the oil to flow into the frame tubes with the tank being just for the gas. Also in the frame tubes is stainless steel conduit tube to allow the wiring to be hidden away, too.
Having twice won the title of America’s Most Beautiful Motorcycle with his first two custom build Christian Dotson is doubtlessly an extremely talented builder but such is the standard of engineering and design of the machinery competing in the World Championship that he has yet to break into the top three in that event. However, it took six years before there was an American Champion when Dave Cook became the first domestic winner, so Christian has is surely only has to carry on building with such unique ideas for him to one day add World Champion to his list of achievements.
Corsicana, Texas, USA
Tel: 707 318 5891
5R7P6616 / A cover over the sprotor and caliper makes the rear disc brake look like a drum brake. The 84ci motor used in Aileron is a reproduction unit supplied by Kiwi Indian.The Girder front end shuns the conventional use of a coil over shock in favor of a leaf spring. A unique design feature of Aileron is the single-sided leaf spring rear suspension.
2009 World Championship – Freestyle
|Year / Model||2009|
|Engine Make / Size||Kiwi Indian 84″|
|Transmission Type||Kiwi Indian 4 speed|
|Frame Make / Type||Dotson Design|
|Front End||Dotson Design leaf spring girder|
|Swingarm||Dotson Design leaf spring|
|Wheels – Front||HDW 23″|
|Wheels – Rear||HDW 20″|
|Tires – Front||Vee Rubber 120|
|Tires – Rear||Vee Rubber 200|
|Brakes – Front||none|
|Brakes – Rear||ISR sprocket brake|
|Painter||Dotson Design/ StarSide Design|
|Chroming / Plating||Sherm’s Custom Plating|
|Additional Info||Almost every component hand fabricated by Dotson Design. Special thanks to Greening Auto Company, Duane Ballard Leather and Walden Speed Shop.|