James Compton calls his outrageous GSX-R custom "The Crusher" not because, from a distance of 50 feet away, it looks like a stripped-down sportbike destined to be crushed at the salvage yard. It's also not because the owner/builder looks big enough to crush us with his little finger for even mentioning his bike and the words "salvage yard" in the same sentence. No, Compton calls his bike The Crusher because, with a gross vehicle weight of just over 300 pounds and 200 hp at the crank, this wild ride can and will crush pretty much anything that moves in a quarter-mile acceleration contest. Come closer and you'll quickly realize that The Crusher isn't a junkyard dog at all, but one of the most meticulously machined and assembled custom sportbikes that we've ever featured in this magazine, resembling a refugee from the NHRA Pro Stock staging lanes and capable of blazing that fat rear tire through all six gears.
Based in the small town of Boerne, Texas, located 30 miles northwest of San Antonio, James Compton owns a small fabrication workshop known as Compton Custom Design where he hand-crafted the chromoly frame and almost all of the exquisite billet-aluminum parts that make up the rest of the bike. And when he's not fabricating parts for roadrace and drag bikes in his shop, or building engines and tuning suspension systems for the same, James works as the crew chief on rider Jake Holden's #59 Suzuki as part of basketball superstar Michael Jordan's three-rider AMA Superbike race team.
Approach Compton's ride and you'll see that what looks like a bare frame awaiting bodywork is actually a finished and fully functioning motorcycle, complete with a headlight and a taillight and, if not exactly creature comforts, all the necessary accommodations to get the bike and rider down the road. Thanks to an aluminum fuel cell under the saddle, the bike runs without any bodywork at all--looking at it from above, all you see are the four massive throttle bodies jutting up into the rider's face. It's perhaps the purest expression of a high-performance motorcycle that you've ever seen: just a big motor, two wheels and the bare minimum of mechanical bits necessary to get it down the road as fast as possible.
Preparing Jake Holden's engines for both his Superbike and 1000 Superstock bikes, Compton used the same expertise and experience to balance and blueprint The Crusher's GSX-R1000 engine to a similar Superstock spec as the Jordan race bikes--albeit with a little extra oomph in the shape of an exhaust cam of his own design and a very special BPD fuel injection system and modified Motec ignition. For anyone unfamiliar with the Superbike scene, the "B" in BPD stands for Bazzaz, namely one Ammar Bazzaz, the electronics and suspension whiz (formerly the crew chief for Yoshimura Suzuki's six-time AMA Superbike champ Mat Mladin), who is the Superbike crew chief and attends to the technical data acquisition and electronic management systems and the suspension maintenance for all three riders on the Jordan race team. For Compton's GSX-R1000 engine, Bazzaz created an ECU with a fully programmable system using the stock Suzuki double-barreled, dual-stage throttle bodies with some trick remapping that makes the motor perform smoothly, despite the deletion of the stock, 10.2-liter airbox. It's good to have friends, isn't it?
At the other end of the combustion chain, a Compton Custom Design exhaust system exits spent gasses, and RC51 Honda radiator cores in specially designed and fabricated aluminum tanks (likewise by Compton Custom Design) keep everything cool, along with a race-spec aluminum oil-cooler with Goodridge braided stainless steel lines located just behind the rider's right foot. All buttoned up, it's good for 175 hp at the rear tire on the dyno and can generate enough intake suction to pull the T-shirt right off your belly and into the throttle bodies if you're not careful.
The rest of the bike is very much an all Compton Custom Design affair, with James' aptitude for fabrication making itself obvious in the creation of the hand-crafted, rigid, drag-style frame made from chromoly tubing, the aluminum fuel tank located under the seat and the myriad of handmade billet-aluminum parts such as the transmission outrigger (to clear the massive, 300mm Avon rear tire), the footrest and lever assemblies and the engine mounts, all of which were designed by Compton and machined by Ice Prototyping. At the time of the photo shoot, both fenders were fashioned from steel; however, James has since fitted super-light carbon-fiber replacements made by Gemini Technology, one of the sponsors and technical supporters of the Jordan race team.
In order to reign in all that horsepower, James fitted the best brakes he could find, over $7000 worth of Superbike-spec Brembo monobloc calipers, master cylinders and discs. Designed by Compton and machined by Ice Prototypes, the exquisite triple clamps grip a pair of '04 GSX-R1000 fork legs that have been modified internally and shortened by four inches in the Compton workshop to hunker down the front end of the bike down to match the low, fat profile of the rear end. Both wheels are custom five-spoke billet pieces mounted on hubs that were spun up by Compton and sporting Avon tires front and rear, a massive 300mm width in the back.
We chatted with Compton (or Big Buddy, as he's called by the Jordan crew) a few months back at the AMA roadracing season opener in Daytona while he wrenched on Jake Holden's Superstock bike in the pits, and the Compton's end of the conversation went something like this: "I started building bikes in 1992, the same time I started racing and haven't been able to stop." A former power lifter (national squat record holder in '84 and '85) and fullback at the University of Washington, Compton also had a successful career as a rider on the Annandale Honda racing team in Formula Extreme before the pressures of a family led to his new occupation as a fabricator/tuner and Jordan crew chief. When he's not at the track, Compton tells us, he's back at his shop in Boerne building bikes and helping his wife, Kim, take care of their four boys: newborn Kendric, two year-old Christian, five-year-old Devon and eight year-old Teigen.
"Over the years I've had the opportunity to work with some very talented riders including Ben Spies, Steve Rapp, Jason Pridmore and Jimmy Moore," Compton continued. "I build race engines, suspension, complete road and track bikes and offer custom metal fabrication and machining services. The Crusher is the first full-custom bike I've ever built. I wanted something different. The inspiration for the bike came from the wild pro street cars that you sometimes see on the highways. I wanted to build a bike that looked outrageous with the performance to match, basically a two-wheeled version of a pro street car. I feel like I was able to achieve my goal with this bike. It's definitely outrageous; it doesn't look like something you should be allowed to ride on the street, and it's already done a high nine-second quarter mile pass. I think with a little more tuning and the right rider (one that's not over six feet tall and 260 pounds! --Ed.) it could be in the eights. I'm looking forward to building the next one."