Custom Honda VTX 1800 Motorcycle – Tech Review – Motorcycle Cruiser

10 Jun 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Custom Honda VTX 1800 Motorcycle – Tech Review – Motorcycle Cruiser
Honda VTX 1800

Project X: Overnight Custom Honda VTX Motorcycle

Only a few lucky people get to build their careers around pursuing their passion. John Vaughan-Chaldy (aka Baron) is one of the lucky ones. What started as a sideline to his business quickly blossomed into a full-time job, prompting him to sell the Yamaha dealership where he began creating his custom cruisers.

He left with a catalog of seven key parts he felt were strong enough to support an independent accessory company (he now has more than 350 accessories) while he developed custom products and built six to 10 custom bikes a year for clients. After three years, his parts business began to require so much time that Baron only built customs for himself. Only occasionally would someone walk in with an idea so unique he couldn’t refuse the opportunity to build the bike.

Now he stands on the cusp of launching Baron Custom Cycles to begin building custom bikes for other people again. (Watch www.baroncustomcycles.com for more information.) His goal is to build eye-popping customs that are fun to ride#151not trailer queens.

So what does a custom bike builder who’s created a solid reputation on tricking out a single line of motorcycles#151Yamaha’s Star line, to be exact#151do to give himself a new challenge? Expand to other motorcycle brands, of course.

The custom VTX Baron created for JP Cycles owner John Parham follows in the steps of Baron’s customs featured in Motorcycle Cruiser (at least nine times). Although the bike’s look and style place it plainly in the lineage of Baron’s bikes, it also highlights two directions in which he has begun to take his customs. First, the bike is, well, a Honda VTX.

No Yamaha badge anywhere in sight. That’s right, Baron doesn’t just lay his hands on Stars anymore. Second, he has begun to approach customizing motorcycles not just as a means of showcasing his own creativity and talent.

Instead, he’s building customs to inspire cruiser riders to consider what they could do to their bikes. Consequently, he’s trying to keep the budget on his projects in the realm of what real people can spend, not the cubic dollars some builders drop on their bikes.

The real story behind Project X is the timeframe into which its development was squeezed. When Parham contacted Baron during the third week of November to see if he could turn around the VTX in time for the Indianapolis industry show in February, Baron already had six bikes in various stages of customization#151all destined for Indy. When the VTX (which had been modified the previous year for the JP Cycles catalog) arrived at Baron Custom Accessories, the bike was completely torn down three hours after being uncrated.

Parham and Baron decided Project X would have a long, elegant, but still aggressive look. The cornerstone of the project would be Baron’s Phat Daddy-style fenders. While the Phat Daddy fenders were available for multiple bikes, none existed for the VTX. Three days of focused labor later a one-off set of fenders was ready to be shipped off to create molds. Why molds?

This bike was being built by an accessory company for a parts distributor. Do you really think they’d pass up an opportunity to create cool new products from their collaboration? Also, remember Baron’s philosophy about building customs that real people#151not only pros#151could emulate?

In the end, Baron had a set of fenders ready for the painter within two weeks.

Still, fenders do not a custom motorcycle make. Since this bike was destined to grace the JP Cycles catalog cover, Parham wanted a selection of parts he sells to be included in the project. So Baron had to blend a series of new Kuryakyn parts with existing items from the Baron’s line and new ideas that were just waiting to be born.

You can’t just bolt stuff on willy-nilly if you want a complete package, and many hours were spent comparing groups of Kuryakyn parts for their overall look. In the end, more than 50 Baron and JP Cycles parts took up residence on the VTX.

A prime example of the blending of Baron’s, JP’s and Kuryakyn’s components takes place on the handlebar. Baron’s Xtreme Bar is a 1.5-inch diameter, slightly radiused drag bar. He hid the stock switch gear with chromed covers that snuggle up to a set of Kuryakyn grips. To complement the grips, he fashioned a set of bullet-shaped grip ends to complete the stretched look. This combination enhances the VTX’s beefy front end.

The bullet bar end also ties into the shape of the mini tach mounted to the speedometer bucket. The stock speedo slips into a cool Baron’s mount that allows the instruments to be raised and lowered to any desired height below the bar. Resting below the instruments are a set of triple tree covers to keep the chrome going.

The triple clamps grip a pair of chromed forks, winding up with a chromed wheel. A set of golf club mirrors grace the controls, and a Tradewinds headlight helps illuminate the rider’s view from the saddle.

The engine compartment received a combination of dress-up and performance items. A set of Kuryakyn motor mount accents grace an otherwise bland, black part of the frame. A matching set of Kuryakyn spark-plug covers links the cylinder heads to the mounts.

Behind the plug covers, blue LEDs give the top end a subtle glow. A set of Spider Lights tucked away in various nooks and crannies spreads the glow to other key points on the motorcycle. Filling the V on the right side is a Baron’s Big Air Kit.

Honda VTX 1800

The spent combustibles travel out through a prototype side-by-side shotgun exhaust capped with a set of Family Jewels Double Trouble muffler tips (exclusively available at JP Cycles later this year).

While dressing up Project X’s brake system, Baron briefly considered installing braided stainless lines, but since the Honda’s linked brakes use a bazillion lines, he elected to cover the stockers with carbon-fiber-style hose covers, a cost-effective move that adds a darker tone to the front end while helping the rear lines disappear.

Calling attention to the right sections of the bike was a challenge for Baron. As he put it, This bike was designed to help sell JP’s parts. So, while making the bike look bodacious, he didn’t want to mask the hardware his client wanted to showcase. His choice of colors and paint scheme was a primary means of keeping the focus on the hardware.

When looking at a bike with an intricate paint job, everyone spends most of their initial viewing time inspecting the paint before noting how it relates to the rest of the custom. Baron feels these paint heavy bikes obscure the parts. His goal was the opposite.

Inspired by the colors featured in JP’s catalogs and Web site, Baron wanted to include blue in the color scheme (remember the Spider Lights?), but he wanted the view from the side to be lighter in hue. So he used silver to complement the parts. To show the fender’s curves, Baron used pearl blue with a heavy small-flake content.

This links the blue to the silver and helps the light wrap around the bodywork’s features.

When looking over the top of the fender, the bike goes flat and everything reflects silver. However, as the edge of the fenders dives in toward the tires, the paint helps accentuate the tires’ size, making them look bigger than they are. Baron had the inside edges of the wheels’ cut-outs painted the same blue, so when they are viewed in the context of all the wheels’ chromed sections the painted portions seem to reflect the bodywork’s blue paint.

The way the blue paint wraps around the bottom of the tank allows it to be reflected in the chromed bits on the engine’s top end. At night, the blue Spider Lights compound this effect.

Baron’s goal was a smooth visual flow in which nothing makes the viewer stop and think, Now why the heck did he do that? Instead, as the eyes track over the motorcycle, the individual pieces make themselves apparent only as they relate to the whole effect of Project X.

Since most VTX owners simply refer to it as an X, Baron turned to his hobby, collecting cartoon animation cells. He’d just acquired a Speed Racer cell featuring Speed Racer standing next to his Mach 5. Although the logo on the car is an M, it looks a good bit like a stylized X, so Baron took this germ of inspiration to his painter. Now the fender wears an X logo only Speed Racer fans might think was anything other than an X.

Honda VTX 1800
Honda VTX 1800
Honda VTX 1800
Honda VTX 1800


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