When it comes to custom sportbikes, there are big tires and then there are really big tires. And when it comes to big-tire sportbikes, Orlando, Florida's Custom Sportbike Concepts has been there from the beginning. A Suzuki Hayabusa Custom Sportbike Concepts built in 2003 with a 240-series rear tire is generally credited as the first-ever fat-tire sportbike.
Even though sportbikes with 300, 330 and even 360mm rear tires (you read that right, we recently spied a 360-shod sportbike) are not unusual nowadays, these mods were practically unheard of two years ago when Custom Sportbike Concepts dropped that first 240mm bike. And at the time 240mm seemed as far as builders could take this fat-tire trend (my, how nave we were), which brings us, in a roundabout way, to the beautiful black 'Busa shown here. While a 240mm tire is nothing to scoff at, it was this 'Busa's 280mm tread on a 10.5-inch rear wheel that really got the fat tire trend rolling and encouraged builders across the nation to push the boundaries to where we are today.
This madness all started at the chopper-oriented 2003 V-Twin Expo with a conversation between Arnie from Tricky Air & Billet (the Air Ride suspension people) and Taylor Weld from Weld Racing Wheels. The two were talking about Custom Sportbike Concepts' 240 Hayabusa with its 8.5-inch rear wheel when Weld claimed there was no way an even wider, 10.5-inch wheel would ever fit on a sportbike. Arnie said "Way," and immediately called Nick Anglada at Custom Sportbike Concepts for the final word. Anglada, never one to shy away from a customizing challenge, replied, "Of course, anything is possible." Conveniently, Anglada had just picked up a brand-new Hayabusa project bike and was waiting for inspiration to strike. Weld took the bait and agreed to sponsor the project (explaining the Weld logos on the tank), and promptly sent Anglada a set of Weld wheels to get things rolling. Game on.
Just because Anglada said it was possible didn't mean it was going to be easy. Complicating matters was the Weld wheels' 18-inch diameter. No one at the time was making extra-wide rears in the 17-inch diameter standard on cruisers, so Anglada was left with a set of wheels designed to fit a Harley-Davidson Dyna Wide Glide. Further complicating matters, Weld wanted the bike done in just three weeks to display in its demo booth at Daytona Beach Bike Week. Crunch time. Priority number one was making a swingarm to hold the rear wheel, which Anglada's friends at Trac Dynamics were able to knock out in no time--complete with a 6-inch extension for the proper dragbike look. While Trac was tooling up the arm, Anglada and his crew started making the wheels sportbike-compatible. This involved plenty of custom machining to fit different bearings to work with the sportbike spacers and axles, and also reworking the hub to allow a Kawasaki ZX-7R rear brake rotor to be fitted to the left hub flange.
Once the wheels were straightened out and mounted on the Trac arm, the bike was shipped to Tricky Air in Miami to be fitted with an Air Ride suspension system--another sportbike mod pioneered by the gang at Custom Sportbike Concepts. Using input from Anglada and his crew, the folks at Tricky modified one of their chopper rear suspensions to work with the sportbike-specific swingarm geometry, giving Anglada the ability to drop this 'Busa's tail almost 5 inches at the push of a button. Custom Sportbike Concepts now sells dozens of Air Ride systems over its website, www.18889chrome.com--all based on the technology pioneered with this motorcycle.
An Air Ride suspension wasn't the only trick Anglada cadged from the chopper world--and this is where we turn back to that rear brake setup. Check the pics of the bike's right side and notice the extra-clear view of the rear wheel, with no brake rotor in sight. Inspired by a chopper built by Redneck Engineering, Anglada relocated the rear brake to the left side of the wheel, hiding it between the hub and the drive sprocket. A first-rate example of elegant engineering, Anglada fabricated a combination axle adjuster/license plate holder that wraps around the drive sprocket and provides a mounting point for the rear brake caliper. Anglada has since crafted similar systems for other customers, but says that in order to make it work you have to use the larger-diameter 18-inch chopper wheel.
Once all the hardcore fabrication was out of the way, Anglada and the rest of the Custom Sportbike Concepts crew went to work making the bike look right with a handful of carefully chosen appearance mods. The frame and swingarm were both sent off for a serving of "Super Mirror" black powdercoating to blend in with the jet black basecoat and candy red tribal flames done by Extreme Custom Paintworks in Orlando. Look closely at the headlight and taillight lenses and you'll see both have been lightly coated with candy red paint to blend in. Not exactly DOT-approved, but Anglada says the police usually don't give him any trouble, at least not during daylight hours. To better cut through the candy coating up front, the Custom Sportbike Concepts crew wired up a super-bright HID headlight borrowed from a Porsche Boxter inside the stock Hayabusa's headlight bucket.
Anglada is a real stickler for reliable, ridable motorcycles, so the powerplant remains mostly stock. The only mod of note beneath the bodywork is the exhaust--the stock header and midpipe were retained (but thermal-coated by the folks at HPC) and fitted with a shorty exhaust tip sourced from the automotive aftermarket. "Standard motorcycle exhaust systems usually don't clear wide swingarms," Anglada explains, "and they just don't look right, anyway."
The bike is finished off with a handful of trick bolt-ons, including Vortex rearsets, a Trac Dynamics upper triple clamp that drops the front end an inch, grips from RIS Designs, ST Machine levers and CSC's own Revolver bar ends, topped with the end caps from real bullet casings. "Spent bullet casings," Anglada points out. "Looks a little more gangster that way, right?"
Even two years later, this Hayabusa remains a stunning bike, especially considering it was a total rush job. Custom Sportbike Concepts finished the bike with only days to spare, making it to Daytona just in time for the last three days of Bike Week 2003. The complete build time for this project was 26 days from start to finish. Of course, the bike blew the custom sportbike crowd away on its debut and sent hundreds of Hayabusa owners home scheming about adding even fatter rear meats to their own rides. And the rest, as they say, is history. Modern history, that is.