Kraus Motor Company: Johnson Special

Paul Johnson asked us to build him a frame similar to 30:60.  After talking about front-ends I realized that what he really wanted was a full ground up custom with some resemblance to 30:60. Interesting, how every time we talked about styles or parts to use we always came back to 30:60.  I realize there’s always room for improvement but how many times have you heard that classic song redone or covered and it just isn’t as good as the original? I was not going to let this happen so I improved things I knew I could.

When you build a bike for someone else there are many things to consider beyond styling.  Type of user is one consideration that stands out.  This one question can steer a build in so many directions.  What components, what is the owners knowledge of maintenance.  Where do they live? What type of roads do they use?  How hard do they ride?  What size is the owner?  Paul is a tall guy so his body type needed to be addressed.

Ergonomics on a motorcycle is more important than horsepower, to me. If you aren’t comfortable you will not be able to use the machine properly – and I’m not talking about backrests and heated grips.  I mean pure performance riding.  When you feel as if the bike is an extension of yourself, you become faster and safer.  You can have more fun and others will have fun riding with you.

We set the neck to 40 degrees and used one of our own triple tree-less BMX-rated front ends. This front end is so light and agile that it really translates to a nice ride.  Also the unsprung weight is so minimal that any bumps in the road are smoothed out; up front at least. I fabricated a gas tank that I felt would compliment the length of the bike.  The seat uses a nice dampened coil over shock and was covered in tooled leather by my brother in law Obie Beaver.   Paul had this beautifully polished Evo motor, using Delkron cases and S&S top end parts so he and his uncle Gilbert brought it up to the shop.

He also scraped up a Transmission and a 3” BDL belt drive to go with the motor.  He personally did a great job on the polishing to the drivetrain.  We decided to use PM brakes with a 4 piston floating caliper up front and a 4 piston sprocket brake on the rear.  The wheels are Black Bike, 21” up front and 18 rear.  We fabricated a hugger fender that gives some nice coverage to keep the grime off the back.  The paint was done by Kirk Taylor, he laid down a simply classic two tone paint job.   Overall its just a beautifully simple custom with a little Kraus low rider styling.– Satya Kraus

images: steveb/

Leave a Reply