The GSX-R shown here is something of a mythical creature--a ghost, if you will--in the Northeast sportbike community. It was one of those bikes everybody had heard about but no one--including me--had ever seen. That didn't stop me from shooting my mouth of about the Ghost Gixxer to the editor of this magazine: "There's this awesome Gixxer up in Maine with $35K dumped into it, custom everything...well, no...I haven't actually seen it..." And that didn't stop said editor from assigning me to track down this elusive beast and photograph it for a feature in the magazine [sadistic bastard he is... --Ed.]. Time to call the Ghostbusters, eh?
Instead, my first phone call was to my good buddies from Vertical Outlaws, the Maine-based street freestyle team who claimed to know the Ghost Gixxer's owner and had even allegedly seen the bike in person. I told them I would be ready to drive across two states to Maine at a moment's notice to shoot the elusive GSX-R, but try as they might, they couldn't arrange a viewing. A few weeks later the Outlaws said they could bring the Gixxer to me. It sounded too good to be true, and, of course, it was. Apparently, the owner had an incident just as the Outlaws were preparing to leave, and the Ghost Gixxer hit the floor. Owner? I was beginning to think there was no owner and no bike--it was just a fabrication of some sportbike freak's overstimulated imagination. Maybe there were no Vertical Outlaws. Perhaps Super Streetbike would prefer a piece on the Loch Ness Monster. How about a few exclusive shots of Nessie cutting circle wheelies in drag? Whatever you want, as long as we can forget about the Ghost Gixxer.
In fact, I forgot about it entirely until a few months later when I was visiting Maine and Joe Dryden from Vertical Outlaws casually asked if I wanted to check out the Gixxer. THE GHOST GIXXER? Of course! We made plans immediately, and the next day I rolled up to Kickstand & Wheelies, the custom bike shop in Wells, Maine (www.kickstandwheelies.com), where Dryden worked at the time. It turns out Kickstand & Wheelies, in addition to turning out insane custom sportbikes such as this GSX-R, is also a stunter's haven. Dryden isn't the only pro stunter on staff at Kickstand & Wheelies: Shannon Baker from Core 6 co-owns the shop (along with Chris Desjardins), and fellow Core 6'er Chauncey Vieira has been known to turn a wrench in the service area.
Walking into the store, I wasn't surprised to see racks and racks of chromed-out sportbike goodies--wheels, swingarms, controls, even gas tanks and other body parts--ready for customers who want to trade in their stock parts, but I was upset to find there was no Gixxer in sight. Then a smiling Dryden directed me to a darkened workshop where I finally laid eyes on this elusive beauty perched high up on a mechanic's bench with ghost skulls peeking out from the incredible paint job. This is one bike that was definitely worth the wait.
Kickstand & Wheelies customizes dozens of sportbikes for riders across the country each year, ranging from mild to wild depending on how much paper customers are willing to put down. The Ghost Gixxer, originally built for a client named Wayne Wescott but recently bought back by Baker for his personal use, is clearly at the wilder end of the scale. Since the bike initially rolled into the shop as a box-stock 2003 Suzuki GSX-R1000 with just 200 miles on the clock, Wescott wasn't too concerned about boosting performance--we're talking about a GSX-R1000, after all--but he did give the Kickstand & Wheelies crew free rein to go crazy with the bike's appearance in order to create the sickest-looking Gixxer on the East Coast.The shop went to work first on the chassis, ordering a few grand worth of flash to set it off. The swingarm is a 4-inch-over piece from Trac Dynamics, extra wide to make room for the Performance Machine Roulette wheels and 240-width Metzeler rear tire that give this Gixxer an undeniably exclusive stance. Both the swingarm and wheels are dipped in chrome, and nearly every other metal part on the bike--including the frame, all visible engine cases, the controls and levers, the accessory brackets and even the kickstand--was glammed out heavy-metal-style.
After the stretched swinger and sweet wheels, the most notable feature on this Gixxer is the one-off underseat exhaust system custom-fabricated by Desjardins' cousin, Gregg Desjardins, who operates Gregg's Customs in Campbell, California. Capping off all this custom work is an absolutely bonkers paint scheme applied by the crew at Custom Coatings & Accessories in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Done up with House of Kolor-brand candy paint products, the bike looked black in the shop's dim lighting but exploded with color and dimension when rolled out into the sunlight. The base color is actually a deep metallic purple set off with silver, 3D-like "blade" graphics and ghostly gold skulls that peer out as if through a heavy fog. The standard Suzuki logos are in their usual positions on the gas tank, showing through the graphic cutout design. Like what you see? Scrape up about $6500 in spare change and Custom Coatings can do something similar on your ride's fairings.As you might expect for a custom bike of this quality, no detail was overlooked. The turn signals were fabricated by Gregg's Customs, and the mirrors were handcrafted in-house by the Kickstand & Wheelies crew. Our favorite item is the stock headlight lens that has been airbrushed with a skull graphic so the headlight projects the pattern onto the road when Baker rides after dark. And Baker does ride this bike--just one season old and the odometer now reads 3000 miles. As if to further prove it isn't just a static showpiece, Baker was cool enough to flip his keys to Vieira, who proceeded to stick the $35,000 treasure straight up on its back wheel while we stood watching, mouths agape!
Or so we would like you to believe. Maybe none of this really happened. Perhaps we made up this whole story and the photos are nothing more than a product of our art director's mad Adobe Photoshop skills. After all, this was one of the most beautiful bikes we've ever tracked down, being ridden vertically by a professional stunt rider wearing a chromed-out leather jacket along the deserted seashore in Maine, and nobody even looked twice.
It's almost as if the Ghost Gixxer weren't there.