Wayne Ransom may be old school when it comes to his approach to building motorcycles, but the results are always edgy, modern and made to be ridden.
While some self-proclaimed custom builders simply buy a frame and an S&S engine, pick out some slick controls and trick wheels, then bolt it all together and call it a one-off motorcycle, on that rare occasion you run into a craftsman who still takes the time to do things the old-fashioned way, pounding sheet metal meticulously by hand, bending tubing by blowtorch and elbow grease. Wayne Ransom is a young custom builder in this vein.
first caught our attention a couple of years back by sourcing sportbike engines for its customs instead of the traditional V-Twin. The prior builds were heavier on bodywork,
showcasing Ransom’s sheet metal skills, so when we got our first peek at the aggressive, streamlined-design of his latest build, The Serpent,
we liked this new direction. When we learned that it was the second bike in a set of his and her customs, we knew we had to see the other. Enter Eve
It all started with a phone call from New York. A couple contracted Ransom to build a bike for the girlfriend. Being a concept designer, Ransom creates a bike based on a client’s personality instead of basing it solely on ergonomics. He factors in riding style, demographics and their intentions for the motorcycle before turning a wrench. His task with Eve
would be to match the motorcycle to the adventurous spirit of the five-foot, three-inch-tall, 115-lb woman who would be riding it.
First came Eve,
an aggressively-styled custom with a GSX-R750 engine
Ransom set about creating a compact tubular trellis frame that would leave her with a short reach to the bars and ground. He built the frame to cradle a four-stroke, liquid-cooled engine ripped from a 2007 GSX-R750. The engine serves as a stressed member of the frame and is mated to a stock Suzuki GSX-R 750 six-speed transmission. Ransom completed the powertrain by building a set of stainless steel exhausts that he ran under the suspended engine before it exits out of an upturned muffler just behind the rider’s seat on the right-hand side.
may have been built for a woman, but its seductive lines convinced the owner's boyfriend that he needed a Ransom original of his own.
The rear end is anchored by a tubular trellis swingarm Ransom built that sports the same hot red paint as the frame. Twin Works Performance Shocks are tucked out of sight between the frame and swingarm to stabilize the ride quality. He cut the rear fender so that it sits midway on the 240mm rear Metzeler that has been spooned on to a sharp-looking, multi-spoked RMD billet wheel. The combination of a short, wide fender, tubular swingarm and 68-inch wheelbase give the rear wheel a lot of exposure. If you’re going to run a wide backside, you might as well put it out there for everyone to see!
A 56mm inverted Mean Street fork set at a 35-degree rake angle handles suspension duties up front. The lead tire is tall and thick, measuring 21-inches in height and 120mm wide. A single 13-inch disc with chrome Performance Machine 6-piston calipers are in charge of braking duties. The front fender mimics the rear, not only in its matching paint but in cut and style. Unlike other customs that try to astound you with blinding amounts of chrome, Eve
has a darker side as the fork, pipes, and wheels are the only shiny chrome bits on the motorcycle.
Besides the frame, swingarm, and fenders, the tank, radiator shrouds and handlebars are all Ransom originals. Instead of a backbone that runs parallel to the ground, the tubing is set at almost a 45-degree angle. The tank likewise follows that same slope, and along with the rearset footpegs allows the petit rider to snug in tight to the bike. Ransom fabbed up a short tube to mount a small seat pan on, a seat that sits below
the height of the rear tire. And despite ergos that are set for a rider that only stands five-three, the girl’s much taller boyfriend couldn’t resist riding it. That was his undoing.
“When I finished hers and he rode it, he decided that he had to have his own,” Ransom said.
Ransom took the lines he developed in Eve
and honed them to a razor-sharp edge in The Serpent.
Thus was born Ransom's latest creation.
And while Eve
is a radical-looking custom in its own right, Ransom takes its lines and hones them to a razor-sharp edge in the exotic motorcycle called The Serpent.
The bike is full of points and angles, from the spear-like end caps on the 56mm Mean Street fork to the blades of the black RMD Billet Predator Wheels. The tank’s lines roll down the back before coming to a point at the small, sheet metal tail. The aluminum radiator shrouds on both sides of the bike look like they’d cut your finger if you ran it down their edge. Even the shields at the end of the stainless steel exhausts are aggressively angled. The Serpent
looks more like a Euro-style streetfighter than the creation of a small custom house out of Jersey.
Look for welds connecting the tank, seat, and tail and you won’t find them. The artistry of the bike’s topside might be Ransom’s crowning achievement in fabrication. The fuel tank, seat, tail, taillight, battery box and instrument panel are contained in one aluminum piece. They integrate so seamlessly that, as Ransom put it, “looks like it’s poured from a
It's hard to believe that the tail is part of the single top piece that also includes the seat, instrument panel, battery box and taillight.
The sides of the tank rise up to form two scalloped ridges. In between the ridges, a digital speedo and an analog tach from a GSX-R are integrated into the top of the tank. The tank’s fluid design flows cleanly into the small triangular patch of a seat by Kustom Seat Kreations, and with no rear fender, Ransom incorporated the taillights under the seat. The amazing part is, when it comes time to service the engine, just loosen five bolts and the whole top comes off.
All of this sits perfectly on the backbone of a silver tubular trellis frame. To give the bike the same aggressive attitude inside as out, Ransom sourced the formidable powerplant from a 2008 GSX-R1000. Just as in Eve, the frame sits below the tubular frame and serves as a stressed member. Ransom generally decides on what engine to run before building so when it comes time to mount the mill it’s a bolt-on job for the most part. He also used the stock Gixxer Thou transmission, but the 4-into-1 exhausts running below the bike are his design.
The combination of no fender on the backside along with a single-sided swingarm put the full focus on the black mass of the 300mm Avon Venom tire (The Serpent
, Venom, Predators – I sense a theme here). The thick swingarm he made is attached to dual Works Performance Shocks, a feature the owner appreciated as he went out on his 150-mile weekend ride a few weeks back.
A single-sided swingarm mounted on the left side leaves an unobstructed view of the rear's monster 300mm Avon Venom.
The bike is long and low, with a 69-inch wheelbase and a fork set out at a 39-degree angle. The 21-inch tall front tire helps maintain the bike’s aesthetic balance between its beefy backside. The rider’s triangle is sport-oriented with the black Ransom-made handlebars set low, the Vortex foot controls rearset and a moderate seat height .
Small features like silicone brake lines and a compact, powerful Eurocomponents headlight complement the tidy build. Ransom sought the services of Xtreme Kreations’ Jim Caruso
to apply the wicked paint and pinstriping that breathe life into the bike. Ransom’s signature Cross logo, a testament to the One who inspires his work, is painted in the middle of the side-mounted license plate holder and on top of the headlight. No weight is listed, but Wayne has a habit of keeping his builds on the lower end of the
It's the sum of the little details, like silicone brake lines, that set a build apart.
scale by using aircraft-grade aluminum and Titanium. With a low curb weight (for a custom), a screaming literbike engine, and a chassis capable of keeping that power planted, Ransom wants his customs to be ridden hard, stating “I don’t like to compromise performance for looks.”
It’s a treat in this business to witness a custom builder’s skills evolve. With many talented builders out there, it’s not very often that we feature somebody more than once. But Ransom has come a long way since we first met. His fabrication skills warrant attention, and something tells me we’ll be seeing him again somewhere along this long and dusty road.