Team Tinkerin is (from left to right) Stephen Schuck, Justin James, JD Pelto and Jeff Coons. Model: Crystal Leniz. Photo Credit: Trent Dowell/TD Photography

Team Tinkerin and the 2019 Blue Collar Build Off

By Justin James

If you want to make a name for yourself in the custom motorcycle industry you must be willing to venture outside of your comfort zone and push your limits. Over the years I have built many bikes and entered plenty of shows but I have yet to compete in any sort of build off. Recently I have been given the opportunity to fill in that blank. As I write this, I am gearing up to lead a team (Team Tinkerin) into the 2019 Blue Collar Build Off (BCBO). The BCBO will be a tough competition against ourselves as well as 25 other formidable teams from across the USA.

The Competition

  • Teams are comprised of four builders or less
  • Start with a beat-up old donor bike, basket case or, in our case, pile of parts
  • Build time of only thirty days (February 24, 2019 – March 25, 2019)
  • Each team is permitted to spend a maximum $1,500
  • Teams may accept donated parts or labor valued at no more than $250
  • Build the best bike you can and take it to Las Vegas on March 29, 2019
  • The bike has to make the 120-mile ride from Vegas to the Saddle Sore Ranch

The Tinkerers

  • Justin James (Team Captain) – Design/Fabrication/Powertrain
    Metalworking artisan and glorified grease monkey
  • Jeff Coons – Paint/Electrical
    Master automotive technician, painter and electrical wizard
  • Stephen Schuck – Leatherwork/Tires/Brakes
    Experienced motorcycle technician and talented leather craftsman
  • JD Pelto – Fabrication/Suspension
    Skilled fabricator with a background in building rock crawlers

The Scrap Pile

  • Frame/Swingarm: 1976 Honda CB750F
  • Engine: 1973 Honda CB750K
  • Suspension: H-D narrow 35mm fork, 13.5” Sportster rear shocks
  • Wheels/Brakes: H-D 19” spoke/disc brake front, Yamaha 16” spoke/drum rear
  • Tins: Unknown gas tank, one-off oil tank, the rest will be fabricated

All this scrapyard junk will become a one-off custom bike to be named Yee-Hawnda. Photo by Justin James.

Obviously, a bunch of old take off parts from many different bikes will not bolt right together. Turning this scrapyard junk into a functional bike is going to require extensive re-engineering and fabrication. A Honda steering stem must be pressed and welded into the H-D lower fork tree. The Honda swingarm must be modified to accept the Sportster shocks and Yamaha rear wheel. We will have to grind off the factory tank mounts and weld on new ones to accommodate the tank we have. That is only to get the bike rolling.

To take the bike to a show or build-off-winning level will force us to dig even deeper. A drop seat modification known as “Konging” will be added to the frame. This will allow us to achieve a low-slung seat while retaining full functionality of the rear suspension. From there we add in one-off, custom fabricated features such as exhaust, bars, fenders and side panels. The bike will be finished off with details that allude to the Nevada theme we are going for with it (hence the name “Yee-Hawnda”). This will be accomplished with a desert tan/sage green paint job, a hand tooled leather seat and some engraving. All of this should result in a bike that commands attention.

Pulling all of this off will be no easy task. It doesn’t matter if you are a garage builder or one with a TV show, a constrictive thirty-day timeline and measly $1,500 budget is a challenge. These challenges are amplified by the fact that we will be building this bike almost entirely manually. We don’t have any fancy computers or machinery to speed up the process or make things easier. Welders, drills and grinders is where the use of a power source will end. Past that it will be all old-world metalworking techniques, antiquated tooling and true hand crafting. Follow along if you want to see the bike as it comes together. You can follow on Instagram (@justinjamesmoto or #teamtinkerin), or on Facebook (facebook.com/TeamTinkerin). If you like our bike you can vote for it during the BCBO people’s choice voting on March 29, 2019.

Who needs a caption when you have a pretty lady taking a grinder to a motorcycle? Model: Crystal Leniz. Photo credit: Trent Dowell/TD Photography

Team Tinkerin would like to thank our sponsors, supporters and followers. You all are just as much a part of this team as the four knucklehead tinkerers building the bike.

Sponsors and Supporters:
Law Tigers Nevada, Road Rider of Reno, Deathwish Nation, TD Photography, Trulers and Quick Throttle Magazine.

Tinker, Shred, Destroy, Repeat
-Justin James

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