In the heart of California’s historic Mother Lode, 45 miles east of Sacramento and Stockton, the custom bike ASUMATI rumbles to life built to honor an ancient people, the Miwok Indian Tribe. Once the customized sled comes off the bike show circuit, it will be on display in the Sierra Nevada Foothills in Amador County at the Jackson Rancheria Casino.
The lead designer on the build is Jim Giuffra, owner of AFT Customs. AFT Customs is 3 business in one… a motorcycle shop, a modeling agency and a custom metric bike shoppe. Jim designs the bike, oversees the build and works with the models to fabricate it.
The AFT Models do about 70% of the work. These are ladies that weld, lace wheels, fabricate and race. And, look good doing it. All of the agency’s models are experienced in motorcycle tuning, repair, and custom bike fabrication. Cyndi & Kristin are TIG certified in welding & Nalani (18 years old ) is good with sheet metal. She made the side covers on Asumati.
So what’s it like working with the best looking crew in the industry? Do they spend more time on color or performance? Are the crew’s shop clothes always color coordinated? We asked Jim to share the difference between working with guys and working with models:
“One reason I like working with them is that they take direction,” said Giuffra. “They don’t come with preconceived ideas, they don’t have egos, I don’t have to retrain them and they are good listeners. They do come from a different point of view so as issues come up, the build can be advanced in ways that I never foresaw. As this unique point of view covers everything from design to tool naming. For example, they renamed the ball hone cylinder tool as the pine cone.”
“As they have matured as builders their knowledge has deepened. At first they may be looking at paint, now they are deep into fabrication and what it takes to make the modifications that they see. To a woman, they are interesting in working on the engine and want to know how things work. “
ASUMATI, translated from Miwuk means grizzly bear, the monarch of the forest. The bike began life as a Honda VT750ST. It evolved into a 750cc Honda Street Tracker-style custom bike with race inspired suspension, supermoto handle bars and HIPO engine upgrades. A Street Tracker is a considered a bobber on steroids.
Giuffra’s tribe of friends helped pull the build together with custom-made tail lights by TPJ Customs, hand-fabricated raisers by Kraus Motor Co and digital switches by Grip Ace. Duane Ballard built the custom under-the-seat radiator unit.
The front forks belong to an R1 and the rear shocks were custom built by Race Tech. Asumati rolls on custom wheels with Avon Cobra front 120/70R19 and rear 180/55R18 tires. The license plate can be rotated vertical or horizontal.
An old-school touch is the stunning engraving on the cylinder heads and engine cover. It adds nostalgic touch to this long and low street tracker. If you look closely, you will see Indian themed art that includes a dream catcher, bear claw, arrow head and feathers.
A hammer and chisel were used to create these designs. And the investment for this craftsmanship is $50 a square inch, or about $5k.
Asumati was unveiled at the Los Angeles Calendar Show in June, then competed in the American Motorcycle Dealer World Championship of Custom Bike Building in Sturgis, South Dakota and the Rat’s Hole Custom Bike Show. It can be seen at the Ultimate Builder Custom Bike show in San Mateo on November 18-20,2011 (www.ultimatebuilderbikeshow.com)
About The Ideal Intro Custom Bike Platform
The 750 A.C.E. is an ideal platform for a custom build. The bikes were built from 1998 up until 2003. The VT750 chassis is compact and lightweight, with geometry that creates easy, natural handling. It is based around a strong double-cradle steel frame with a square pipe backbone and forged steel pivot plates.
Giuffra will pick up clean ones on craigslist.org for $3,000 and sell off the unused parts on eBay and recoup from $500 – $1,000 depending on the build.
AFT Customs has developed an engine kit that includes pistons, cams and gaskets that pump the power from 37HP to as much as 48HP. In addition, the custom bike shop designed an under-the-seat radiator relocation kit to clean up the lines. So with a modest budget, intro custom bike builders can have something special for around the $10K mark.
About AFT Customs
AFT Customs is operated by Jim Giuffra. Jim has been involved with motorcycles for most of his life but officially started working on other peoples motorcycles in 1977 when he worked at Spinetti’s Bike Shop in Jackson, CA. They were one of the largest multi-line dealers in the nation. Jim has been factory trained by Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha. In 1987 Jim started Amador Fine Tune where they repair all makes of motorcycles and do custom work. AFT Customs is a division of Amador Fine Tune.
About AFT Models
The AFT Models specialize in show promotion and print modeling. They are available to promote and advertise products, services, or businesses. They are available for commercial print, editorial, fashion, casual, swimwear, artistic, lingerie, glamour, lifestyle, and beauty.
Jackson Rancheria Casino, Miller Welding, Avon Tyre, Grip Ace, Leo Vince, Motion Pro, Works Connection, Race Tech, Bell/Easton, Beringer Brakes, Web Cams.
|Builder||Jim Giuffra / AFT Customs Girls|
|Owner||Jackson Rancheria Casino|
|Engine Make/Size||Honda VT750ST|
|Front End||Yamaha R1|
|Wheels Front||Custom 19″|
|Wheels Rear||Custom 18″|
|Tires Front||Avon Cobra 120/70 x 19|
|Tires Rear||Avon Cobra 180/55 x 18|
|Brakes Front||Beringer/Moto Master/Honda|