Earlier this month, the internationally significant The One Motorcycle Show took place in Portland, Oregon. Among the more than 200 individually converted motorcycles, one in particular made an impression: The Custom FTR 1200 S by Jeff Wright, one of the most influential custom bike builders and owner of Church of Choppers.
Ola Stenegärd, a customizer friend and Director of Industrial Design at Indian Motorcycle, appreciates Jeff very much and knows how influential he is in the scene:
"If you look at the trends in customs and choppers, you usually find borrowings from a church that was built five to ten years earlier. He is simply far ahead of his time. But he is also a trained artist, not just a motorcycle builder. Most people don't even know that he does the artwork for his T-shirts himself. He is an amazingly talented illustrator! For me, this also explains a large part of his thinking in custom bike construction: he can visualize things before he builds them. This allows him to throw the ball further than most. He sets trends, never follows them. That's pretty cool, and he inspires me a lot," Stenegärd said.
For anyone who has followed the construction of the bike on The Church of Choppers' social media channels, it was already clear that Jeff would go his own way again with the FTR 1200 S with a unique twist.
"I picked up an FTR 1200 S from Indian Motorcycle's plant in Spirit Lake, Iowa. Because of the uncertain times, I wanted to make a statement with my hands rather than my wallet. I got to work and immediately took the bike apart. Knowing that the bike was just for me (not a passenger), I added a new subframe and shock absorber mounts to the frame. I spent long nights building the new swingarm in a way that resembles the series swingarm, but only upside down. I cleaned up the wiring, hand-formed the fiberglass body parts, welded a new fuel tank, and lowered the handlebars. The paintwork, seat and finishing touches were ready in time for the One Motorcycle Show in Portland. People loved it, and now it's time to drive it," Wright said.
After he had produced the new swingarm in many hours of work, the traxx Performance Powdercoating frame and swingarm were powder-coated in contrasting red and black. Part of the swingarm structure was also the conversion of the FTR from Mono- to Duoshock. Fully adjustable Öhlins struts were used, which are supplemented by the matching front fork from the same house. The Brembo calipers have been retained, but now red brake lines pick up on the colour scheme of the swingarm.
Also on the list of special parts: Gilles footrest system, clip-on handlebar and Racefit "Longhorn" growler exhaust made of titanium.
For the finishing touches, there was a black leather seat with red stitching by Rich Phillips, Jeff polished the radiator covers and mounted two large Indian Motorcycle headlights and Jeff and Dana Harrison provided the extraordinary paintwork.
The result is a unique FTR with a very independent race bike aesthetic.
Stenegärd summarizes: "Jeff is like a musician or artist... the guy who is driven by his vision and passion and not by the endgame (because fame and fortune don't drive him), but he's THE guy we all relate to, look up to. Ask Roland Sands, ask any top builder in Europe or Japan. They will call his name."
Jeff Wright and The Church of Choppers are of course also represented on social media: facebook.com/chvrch and instagram.com/chvrch/.
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