The new online TV series ‘WarBikes – Kickstarting History’ chronicles the ground-up builds of custom motorcycles built with styling cues inspired by vintage war planes like the P-51.
Custom builder Ralph Randolph of Knockout Motorcycles is one lucky guy. He’s getting the opportunity to combine two of his passions in his latest endeavor, an online TV series called ‘WarBikes – Kickstarting History.’ Randolph has been commissioned to build a series of custom motorcycles inspired by historic military war planes. As a captain with US Airways and as a former jet fighter pilot for the United States Marine Corps., it’s no surprise that when the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) went seeking someone to build a 50th anniversary CAF custom motorcycle, Randolph was the natural choice.
‘WarBikes – Kickstarting History’ provides a behind-the-scenes look of the Knockout Motorcycles team and friends as “they explore the unique history and craftsmanship of historic American military aircraft and produce custom motorcycles inspired by the war planes.”
“The WarBikes project showcases the history of these great American airplanes in a very unique way, by repackaging their stories in a medium that impacts a new audience. Through these fantastic motorcycles, a new generation can learn of the sacrifices of the men and women who fought for our freedom, and of the aircraft that protected our country. The CAF is proud to offer our vintage war-planes as models for the project, and we look forward to seeing where WarBikes will take our country’s story of freedom,” said CAF President and CEO, Stephan Brown.
Randolph’s first challenge was to build a motorcycle
When the CAF went looking for someone to build a custom motorcycle in honor of its 50th anniversary, Ralph Randolph was a natural choice. Besides his skills as a custom bike builder, Randolph flew jet fighter planes during his tenure in the Marines and is currently a captain for US Airways.
based on the P-51 Mustang, a legendary fighter plane from the World War II era, in one month. He started by enlisting the services of industrial design expert Adam Canni to draft the initial sketches of what the ‘Gunfighter’ should look like. With Ralph’s input, the duo wanted to pay homage to the original by including some of the P-51’s unmistakable traits like its coolant scoop and exhaust pipes.
Randolph next visited the CAF Arizona Wing boneyard to search through old fighter plane parts that he could use on the ‘Gunfighter’ bike to give it even more authenticity. He then enlisted the services of Lubbock, Texas-based Ego Tripp Wheels to make some custom wheels with propeller blades extending from the hub instead of spokes. To add to the jet fighter-theme, Ego Tripp stamped the wheels with the CAF Ghost Squadron emblem. The project continues, but instead of us telling you about it, check out the hi-def video at the WarBikes.com website.
WarBikes intends to post new ‘Gunfighter’ episodes weekly. It’s currently up to Episode 7 where the Knockout Motorcycles team is grinding the tank to get it ready to send off to AJ’s Customs for paint. The site aims to be as interactive as possible and gives fans an opportunity to give their input and to discuss the projects in progress via their WarBikes Facebook Fan page
and by posting comments at the bottom of each video page.
The team is already brainstorming for the next project entitled ‘Sentimental Journey’ that will feature a custom motorcycle built in honor of the World War II bomber, the B-17 Flying Fortress.
The CAF is headquartered in Texas and is recognized as “The Official Air Force of Texas.” Its
mission is to “acquire, restore and preserve in flying condition a complete collection of combat aircraft which were flown by all military services of the United States, and selected aircraft of other nations, for the education and enjoyment of present and future generations of Americans.”