Steed: Built to Ride

Exotic Steed Customs

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This is the Second Custom bike I've built for Jim White. Jim just happens to be the first guy to drive an NHRA Funny Car 299 MPH in 1991. He just barely missed the record books with the elusive round number of 300. In the same "I'm on fire!" year, Jim became the Number 1 NHRA World Champion Funny Car Driver, piloting the Hawaiian Punch car, when he taught John Force how it was done.

When I met Jim in 2001 he was in the middle of attempting to build his first bike from parts he bought at the Titan Bankruptcy sale, and I was busy engineering our new 300 series Monotail chassis. He was balls deep into his Titan resurrection and couldn't turn back, so I helped him get it together. I showed Jim a thing or two about Big Twins, and Jim showed me a thing or two about funny cars, drag racing, and how to be a champion.

Fast forward another 5 years, Jim White is working for my company, and was instrumental in putting a deal together to form an alliance with Patriot Motor Company which should take Steeds to the next level. To show my gratitude to Jim, I wanted to build him a very special bike. Jim really wanted about 6 different bikes, but after many evenings and several Margaritas, I finally narrowed him down to what he wanted in his ONE ultimate Steed.

Jim didn't want one of our 300 series bikes, since that number had been a ball buster in his NHRA career. He had been hearing rumors of the AVON release of their 330 tire, and since Steeds was the first US builder with a 300 tire back in '02 Jim figured that I might be able to get a line on a 330 for his bike. I wasn't really crazy about the 330 since it was only available on a 17" rim and the 17"x12" billet blanks were still in development. In this "Chicken and the Egg" scenario, the tire came way before the wheel. For a guy that was in a real rush to be the first guy to go 300, he showed an incredible amount of patience and determination to be the first guy with a 330 Steed.

Jim's bike is based off one of our Thoroughbred 300 model bikes, and we ended up squeezing the 330 into our standard 300 frame by incorporating a chain final drive giving us just enough room to pack that extra girth under a first article custom 330 ten gauge fender from Randy at B'Cool products.

I wanted to build Jim a very classy chopper with lines that were very unique. Instead of leaving a giant gap between the engine and fuel cell, I opted to design a very deep tunnel tank with big flowing lines to compliment the 330 tire.

The entire tank was hand formed here at Steeds by our master fabricator Tony Watson. I wish the Discovery Channel cameras would have been rolling when I came back from a road show and saw my reaction to the first version of the tank for Jim's bike. Tony didn't understand the detail I was looking for before I left, and I didn't quite understand the level of difficulty to fabricate all the complex curves in the design I had drawn for him to make. After the dust settled from my roust with Tony we shook hands, made up, and went to work on building a tank like no one had ever seen before.

Since I was going to be off the road for a while Tony and I worked closely for about a week to fabricate the wooden buck that would be used as a full scale guide. Tony worked on Jim's tank non-stop for 3 weeks. He spent many extra weekends and late into many nights to finally craft the flat sheets of 18 gauge steel into the final sculpted fuel cell.

The balance of the metalwork was a cakewalk compared to the tank, and when it was all said and done Jim and I concluded that we didn't want to clutter up all this work with an overdone paint job. Jim had a tough time deciding what color he wanted. I felt this bike would look great in a tangerine pearl like the bike I built for baseball superstar Ken Caminiti. Jim didn't want the same color I did on Ken's bike. He saw a new Mitsubishi Eclipse with a cinnamon pearl metallic and ran directly to our PPG paint supplier to get the color codes. He showed up with a sample pint for us to do a test panel to see if he could live with it.

Picking the color of your custom built bike is such a personal decision. Jim spent more time picking a color for this bike than most people spend deciding on a tattoo. When we added a hint more of red tint into the standard Mitsubishi color he was sold.

Steeds in house master painter, WTF Chuck, went to town molding the frame and prepping all the varied parts to the bike before applying the Custom PPG urethane base coat finish.

I designed a custom wiring harness for this bike, and went the extra mile to conceal all the wiring throughout the frame. The mirrors include heads-up digital instruments featuring a speedometer, tachometer, odometer, trip reset, and all the standard indicators for oil pressure, high and low beam, along with neutral light in color coded LED's. These digital mirrors are standard issue on all Steed machines. These high tech instruments are built specifically for us in the USA, available directly from us, and are an awesome addition to any bike.

The final assembly of Jim's ride was directed by Johnny Dreckmann, who's been my right hand man for almost 7 years. He did an incredible job of building the engine and making sure all the mechanical detail were in order so Jim would end up with a reliable custom to ride on a daily basis.

There was an incredible amount of responsibility bestowed upon our whole crew to build Jim the bike I felt he wanted and deserved. Over the years our relationship has reached beyond our business dealings, into a real brotherhood friendship. I hope every time he's out on this machine he can feel every ounce of pride we put into building his bike out of respect and gratitude.

This may look like a show pony, but Jim rides this bike whenever he finds a free moment, and that's usually on the way to work here at Steeds building our new dealer network. He's that cinnamon blur with the giant back tire you see zipping past you on the highways of Arizona. He's traded his heavy 299 MPH lead foot for a strong right hand to twist the wick of his 330 Steed. Right now he's looking to add to his championship NHRA speed record with a speeding ticket or two from the Arizona Highway Patrol.

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