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Custom Builder Thunder Struck's Mark Daley

Wednesday, December 23, 2009
It’s hard not to attract attention when your motorcycle is slammed to the ground, stretches over 10 feet long, sports Ferrari-style red, black and gold colors, and has an intriguing quad carb setup jutting out its right side. Add to the equation a unique two-piece, bolt-on frame that houses a Crazy Horse Power Plus engine, throw in an innovative rear braking system and you’ve got Sniper, winner of the ‘Builder’s Choice’ award at the 2009 Las Vegas BikeFest Artistry in Iron competition.

Nice pipes!
With features like quadruple carbs, an open triple-belt primary, and a disc-brake mounted in the center of the rear wheel, the Sniper easily earned the 'Builders Choice' award at Las Vegas BikeFest 2009. 
is the creation of custom motorcycle builder Mark Daley of Thunder Struck Custom Bikes. Magazine covers featuring past poster bikes plaster the wall of his Medford, Oregon garage, testaments to the achievements he has accomplished over the course of the last 14 years. But the competition where we met him is a different beast altogether. Las Vegas’ Artistry in Iron contest is tough. It pitted Daley against 19 other accomplished bike builders, including the motorcycle that won second in this year’s AMD Freestyle class. So when Sniper was chosen by his custom-building peers as best-in-show, Daley couldn’t believe that he had won.

“It was like being on the cover of Rolling Stone for me. I was honored just to be there. When they announced that I had won, you could have knocked me over with a feather,” he said.
Like all great ideas, the creation of Sniper had to have a starting point, and on this build it just happened to be at wheel level.

“About two-and-a-half years ago I was working on an idea with Psycle Ward Wheels. We thought it’d be cool to make a new rear brake. It’s a disc brake that sits in the center of a multi-piece billet wheel with no fasteners,” said Thunder Struck’s Daley.

So they teamed up to create a rear wheel with a 10-inch disc in the center of it. A special mount was made to hold the rear 6-piston Nissin caliper which is squeezed between
Snipers rear wheel has a disc brake mounted into the center of the multi-piece billet wheel.
In the middle of the Psycle Ward rear wheel sits a 10-inch disc mated to a six-piston Nissin caliper.
the two hubs that the wheel’s wide spokes are bolted onto. To pull this off, the wiring to the sportbike-style caliper had to be run through the axle, in and out of the swingarm and through the frame to the hand control on the right side of the handlebar.

With the design of the wheels behind him, Daley’s next challenge was to ‘make the bike so different that nobody can take their eyes off it.’ For this mission, Daley took a Legend Low Life frame he had sitting around the garage, chopped it in half, and created a one-off top half from billet aircraft aluminum. The single-piece of billet literally bolts to the lower section, which came in handy when it was time to drop in the engine, according to Daley. The top half of the frame also houses a two-piece CNC billet aluminum tank that ‘floats’ between the black bars of the backbone. The tank itself is a finely crafted piece, wide in front and narrow in back, each side decorated with three Carbon Fiber-covered vents that have an aeronautical feel to them. The top half of the frame he devised also serves as a mounting bracket for the small custom seat pan.

Further alterations to the Legend Low Life frame include adding molding with integrated air dams and screens to the lower frame rails around the Legend Air Suspension system that raises and lowers the bike. The combination used in Sniper’s frame makes you stop and look to try and figure
The lower half of Sniper is a Legend Low Frame that has been chopped in half while the upper piece was designed by Daley and is made from billet aircraft aluminum.

The lower half of Sniper is a Legend Low Frame that has been chopped in half while the upper piece was designed by Daley and is made from billet aircraft aluminum.

This is not the standard V-Twin carb arrangement. Instead  Mark uses the carbs from a Honda CBR600.
This is not your standard V-Twin carb arrangement. Instead, Mark utilizes the carbs from a Honda CBR600.
out how he pulled it off, this homogeny of standard tube rails and machined bar aluminum mixed in with a small section of custom molding all tempered with the strength of a hundred metal studs. Well, maybe not exactly 100, but there is $1000 worth of 12-pt stainless fastener bolts in the industrial-edged design of the frame. Overall it achieves the stop-you-in-your-tracks effect Daley was striving for.
A 100 cubic-inch Crazy Horse Power Plus engine cradled tightly within the unique frame is the source of Sniper’s power. But look closely and you’ll notice that the intake manifold is where the pipes should be. He flipped the
"...you’ve got a motorcycle that is industrial yet elemental, that shines through based on the sum of its parts instead of through the polish of its chrome."

valves in the head around, so the pipes, conversely, run out of where the intake should be. Daley also went with an unconventional injection set-up, equipping Sniper with the carbs off a Honda CBR600. On that arrangement, he split the manifold so it’s really two small CBR600 carbs feeding each cylinder of the V-Twin. He also made the rocker boxes on the engine and a cam cover for the Crazy Horse engine, an idea he hopes to go to production with.

Other finer details include hiding the oil tank inside the right half of the fuel tank. There’s another small oil reservoir right above the tranny, and the lines that connect the two alternate between hard lines and soft steel braided ones. The gold trim that complements the red paint and black components is a combination of ceramic and gun coatings like ones used on AR-15 rifles. Northwest Industrial Coatings applied the gold powdercoating to the spokes of the wheels, foot and hand controls, the fork spring, headlight housing, cylinders, rocker boxes, primary covers and various parts of the transmission.

While the view of the right side of the bike is dominated by the carb arrangement and 12-point bolts of the frame, the view of the left side is just as hardcore thanks to stout pipes and a wicked open primary. The Thunder Struck pipes are short and stout, constructed of several small sections that bolt together while snaking forward through the frame before exiting in front of the primary drive. The triple-belt open primary is a Thunder Struck original, its heavy-duty black belts
With features like quadruple carbs  an open triple-belt primary  and a disc-brake mounted in the center of the rear wheel  the Sniper easily earned the Builders Choice award at Las Vegas BikeFest.
Thunder Struck's triple-belt open primary suits Sniper's industrial design to a tee.
offset by touches of gold powdercoating. Attach that to a bullet-proof Baker Torque Box 6-speed and you’ve got a motorcycle that is industrial yet elemental, that shines through based on the sum of its parts instead of through the polish of its chrome.

Which is as it should be, because there aren’t a whole lot of shiny extras on this bike. Chrome has been supplanted by gold, black and red. The lack of fenders lets one admire the 21-inch front tire mounted in a RMD billet fork with legs that Daley designed. There’s no front brake, so there aren’t any unsightly brake lines running down the black legs of the sprung RMD fork. The lack of fenders also showcases the black 280mm swath of Metzeler rubber rolling out back. Besides raising the bike up and down, the Legend Air Suspension also serves up Softail duties on the bike’s backside when it’s in motion. The bars are tidy and free of gauges, and even the custom-made headlight housing is a no-nonsense, compact design.

After almost nine months of work, hours spent dialing in the machining with John Griffin of Varney Machine, overcoming the challenges of mating the two frame halves, making the brake on the rear wheel work and flipping valves in the engine, Sniper was ready to head to Star Auto Body for paint. But Daley isn’t a big fan of red, so the motorcycle
Mark Daley of Thunder Struck Custom Cycles  winner of the 2009 Artistry in Iron Contest  Las Vegas BikeFest.
Mark Daley of Thunder Struck Custom Bikes has been building award-winning motorcycles for 14 years and counting. Sniper is the latest decorated bike in his stable.
almost ended up green. Ferrari Red was a last minute decision, but based on the striking end result, we think he made the right choice.

Daley has plans on heading back to Vegas this year. He’s got an Artistry in Iron title to defend. He’s already working on resurrecting an unfinished project called ‘Overkill,’ a radical custom with a bunch of 3-D, swoopy metal. In the meantime, he plans on showing Sniper at the 2010 Sacramento Easyriders Bike Show on January 15-16 and at the AMD World Championships in Sturgis during the summer. He’s also busy in the Medford community as he has hosted the Thunder Struck Xtreme Bike Show & Street Party on the third weekend in August for the past 14 years. Not bad for a kid who used to get in trouble from his mom for taking the toaster apart to see how it worked. His mechanical skills now earn him the respect that comes along with being an Artistry in Iron champion.
Thunder Struck's Sniper Photo Gallery
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Thunder Struck Customs' Sniper Specs
The Sniper was voted Best in Show by a panel of custom builders at the 2009 Las Vegas BikeFest Artistry in Iron show.
Engine: 100 cubic-inch Crazy Horse Power Plus w/ reversed valves
Frame: Lower half - Legend Low Life
              Upper half - Thunder Struck-designed 
              billet aircraft aluminum
Transmission: Baker Torque Box 6-speed
Fuel System: CBR600 carbs
Clutch: Primo Rivera
Primary Drive: Thunder Struck Triple-Belt Open Primary
Final Drive: Chain
Exhaust: Thunder Struck
Front Suspension: RMD billet with Thunder Struck-designed legs
Rear Suspension: Legend Air Suspension
Wheels: Psycle Ward Sniper Wheels
Tires: Front - Metzeler 120/70/21
            Rear - 18 in./ 280mm
Brakes: Front - none
                Rear - Psycle Ward/ Thunder Struck
                10 in. disc w/ 6-piston Nissin calipers
Powdercoating - Northwest Industrial Coatings
Paint - Star Auto Body
Machining - Thunder Struck Custom Bikes and 
                       John Griffin of Varney Machine

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Oprahrider -Nice looking bike - Not everyone gets form over function..... "Milwaukee Mike"  November 17, 2010 04:50 PM
I found Mike's comment about the carbs to be somewhat ironic.

Harley uses Jap Carbs (Mikuni) on their bikes that still use carbs...
Hmmmmmm Why dont they use the S&S American made carbs?

Oh that right they want the bikes to actually run....LoL

Keep up the great work and innovation
Bill H.
Tina Green(morrison) -Greg helped you with that bike , You are living the dream,,Keep winning and reach Mark -Tina  October 28, 2010 08:27 AM
We live in courdelane now. Tina God Bless
milwaukee mike -Honda carbs?  March 11, 2010 01:19 PM
On a Harley. That guy is not normal. Only morons would put crotch rocket carbs on an HD when there are S&S carbs are readily available.
Kountryboy1458 -closed minded people  January 12, 2010 01:11 AM
True there is a lot of "excess" in some areas of the motorcycle,but there is also alot of well thought out modifications and fabrications that a very talented person has performed. I don't understand why people have to say things that show how closed minded they are.If you dont have anything nice to say dont say it. I ride a Gold Wing and and i thought the ideas and quality of the work on the "Harley" bunch's pant wetting useless crap dressed like a pirate lot of noise piss off the public bike, was very interesting. I guess you were forced to look at the pictures and read the article. Grow up. Oh yeah I also have another Honda but I really prefer to ride my twin cam Night Train.
hd74cid -observer, maybe more "astute" than you give him credit for  January 5, 2010 09:40 AM
I want to like it. Really. If you take close in snapshots of parts of the bike it's extremly interesting. Poetry really, but when you move further out... I mean, come on. 4 carbs? 2 into 4 exhaust tips? There is a reason there isn't a license plate bracket. You don't want to take it out of the driveway.

It's art but as far as functionality, I see no difference in it and an OCC abortion.
PAT THE HAMMER -Sniper  December 31, 2009 11:28 AM
Wow, I just have to say it is crazy to see the comments you guys leave. I just want to say I have met Mark Daley and could not have met a better guy. I just want to say congrats on a very nice bike. I know the time and effort put into this bike. I got to see it half done and then when finished. I am a fan of all of the biking world, and just don't understand the why someone would waste there time writing such crap. Oh well that is our freedom at work. Again congrats on a great bike. Nice to see recognition of your hard work.
Racer1 -Motoguy - good points  December 30, 2009 12:35 PM
I do understand your point about kids seeing these cartoon bikes and becoming enthused by motorcycling - we need all the passionate devotees we can get after all. As to the technical innovation... sometimes choppers have some very interesting engineering answers to design problems, but these tend to be mainly for aesthetics and I can't think of any functional spin off from a chopper that has changed the bike industry (unless you count airbrushed skulls). Most of the innovations (too many to count) come from racing (traction control, slipper clutches, inverted forks, radial brakes, advanced tire compounds, etc. etc.) - where the answers are functional and get immediately adopted into production bikes, benefiting all riders. The vast majority of custom bikes have raked out front ends, V twin motors, huge rear tires - 280, 300 and up - awful brakes, handling, range, comfort, amenities, fun factor, speed, you name it - nothing I would want to see transferring over to real motorcycles. As to "Art" - I agree that it's hard to define and ultimately probably a personal decision - one mans art is another mans junk. Frank Lloyd Wright built functional houses - very stark, almost devoid of trim, details, etc. but graphically strong design statements. He was an architect, not an artist though - all architects put their vision into their work, his was just a little stronger and more focused. His houses are houses - not works of art, but livable, functional houses.. These motorcycles are motorcycles, not works of art - and extremely bad motorcycles at that, functionally useless, uncomfortable and borderline unrideable. Their creators may be artistic, but that doesn't make the products works of art. An interior designer is artistic, but she/he does not produce artwork. I see craft, expertise, skill, aesthetic abilities, time commitments, etc. but to me it is all totally wasted producing these silly baubles - cartoon bikes that are functionally useless, overpriced and essentially pointless - mechanical masturbation. I am merely stating a personal opinion here - others have different opinions and I respect that - I just wonder how many of them would ever lay down serious cash for one of these things though!
Enough already -observed a malcontent  December 29, 2009 12:25 PM
Observer, your comments are useless. There are many other fine articles in this E-Mag you might enjoy. Go read and enjoy them instead of looking for the one article you want to crap all over with your dumb ass rhetoric. You sound like a broken record. "Harley guys this," "Dress up like pirate that." Is it the dew rag your talking about when you say pirate? Because other than that I don't see a biker of any kind wearing anything that even resembles a pirate. Please elaborate would you? It is obvious that you came strait to the article you thought you could sound like a tough guy with your hater BS without backing up your mouth with an ass for us to kick. Do I go to the scooter section and crap all over you and your girlfriends? Go start a pirate hater blog somewhere and stay outa the V Twin section of mags already, you potato headed malcontent.
MotoGuy -Functionality vs. Art?  December 29, 2009 08:53 AM
Racer1, I can see your point and I personally feel that all too often things are arbitrarily labeled as art. But I am having troubles understanding where you draw the line. Would you consider the architect Frank Lloyd Wright an artist? Certainly his creations are functional but it seems to me that much of what he is known for are his contributions to architecture which served little functional purpose and were ultimately aesthetical in nature. And what about the inspiring element of art? If I worked for a motorcycle manufacturer I would frequent these shows looking for the next big idea, if I was still a kid it would be bikes like these and the concept bikes from manufacturers that would motivate me to pursue a career in the motorcycle industry. Agreed I wouldn't buy this bike for more than I could sell it for scrap but look at where any of our fashion trends come from, more often than not the latest styles come from the rock stars and celebrities who dress like some sort of clown/pirate hybrid. While I personally always value functionality over anything else it seems that creations like this offer diamonds in the rough as far as ideas go.
Racer1 -Sigh... Gold Wing...  December 28, 2009 05:09 PM
Apparently it's too much to expect people to be civil or to actually read preceding posts before shooting off their mouths... This is what I actually said - " I do see an extremely high level of craftmanship, technical knowledge and mechanical ability / problem solving in custom bikes. " Clear enough for you? You "didn't think so" because you didn't bother to read or try to understand where someone with a different point of view was coming from. This has nothing to do with cruisers - which I don't bash - it has to do with so much talent, time and energy being expended to produce such functionally awful bikes. If it's not art, and it's not functional, it's just a pretty folly... What's next? A really beautiful badass toaster with a cool paint job that always burns the bread? It's equally pointless. Just because someone doesn't agree with you doesn't mean they have closed minds or can't think out of the box - it just means they think differently, which is OK - really - no need to be so defensive...
Gold Wing -are you blind  December 28, 2009 01:09 PM
You guys need to open your minds and think out of the box oh thats right very hard for some people to do. Do you have any idea what kind of engineering talent and foresight goes into something like this.
I didnt think so!
Observer 2.0 -Why the whining?  December 28, 2009 08:53 AM
Honestly, these bikes aren't really my cup of tea either, but I read the cruiser stuff now and then and lurking in the comments it seems like the same guys bagging on cruisers. Why bother? You clearly do not like them. Do you guys go to newstands, pick up American Iron and other cruiser rags, then buy them, read them and type up letters to the editor? I ride "street bikes" and "sportbikes". When I visit MO-USA I read those tabs first and pick through the rest, but sheesh, how much time do some of you guys spend combing through the cruiser crap you clearly dont like to find something to bitch about... Which I guess I'm doing now, but, anyways, enough already!
Racer1 -Tim B - good point...  December 28, 2009 07:47 AM
Yea, and I also actually SAW the "Art of the Motorcycle" exhibition... However, just because it's in an art museum or gallery, doesn't make it "art". If you'd seen Carl Andre's bricks or Hirsts sharks you'd agree! A motorcycle is a motorcycle - it may be pretty, some people may think it's beautiful, well designed, aesthetically pleasing - whatever - it isn't however "Art". A motorcycle that is just made to be pretty, and because of the compromises involved is simply an awful, non functioning and essentially useless motorcycle is, by definition, pointless. At the "Art of the Motorcycle" show, the most visually stunning bikes were bikes where the form followed function - they weren't art, but they were beautiful because they looked great and were wonderful, effective motorcycles primarily... the Ducati 996 is a perfect example. Beauty is not art - these custom bikes are not art - neither are they real motorcycles and that's where my problems with them start. I am happy to agree to disagree, and your mileage and opinion may well vary - that's what the makes the world go around! Vive la difference!
Tim B -Racer1  December 27, 2009 10:18 PM
You're argument is along the lines of being pointless because art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Just because you don't think motorcycles are art doesn't mean other people don't. Afterall, there have been motorcycle exhibits in art museums!
Racer1 -Art? Craft? Function?  December 27, 2009 10:27 AM
Before you accuse me of "not getting it" - the inevitable, intellectually lazy, default position - I do see an extremely high level of craftmanship, technical knowledge and mechanical ability / problem solving in custom bikes. As to them being "art" - ahh, no, not close. There is no statement being made, nothing artistically original, no emotions being stirred or questions being asked (beyond greed and a desire to own) - aesthetic ability is not art (unless interior designers are now "artists") - it's craftmanship that looks pretty. I prefer form to follow function and that's my problem with these non functioning machines - they actually ARE useless as motorcycles (which is what they purport to be) - they aren't "art that hangs on the wall", they aren't art at all - they are just very bad, but pretty, motorcycles. I appreciate the workmanship, skill and level of craft... it just seems to have been focused on producing something pointless.
Tim B -Interesting Bike  December 24, 2009 09:50 PM
This bike is very nice looking. I like everything about it - the color scheme, wheels, exhaust, etc., but 4 carburetors for 2 cylinders is probably the dumbest thing I've ever seen. I don't get that. Sweet bike, though!
kenny ahrens -observer-useless  December 24, 2009 06:50 PM
here,s somebody to stupid to appreciate anything but his own ignorance. oh well, stay on your honda ( probably a trail model). having to explain?; you wouldent understand.
Jack Pine -Observer... not very astute.  December 24, 2009 12:54 PM
Observer, perhaps you need to change your name. I'd suggest Blathering Moron. Be realistic, do you really think this thing gets ridden around? These are show bikes. Art. Do you have any pictures hanging on your walls at home? Maybe a framed plaque? What functional purpose do they serve aside from putting holes in your walls and collecting dust. You might as well throw that shit away.
Superlight -Chopper  December 24, 2009 11:15 AM
The rear wheel brake location is interesting and there is plenty of width available to package the brake, but why such wide rear wheels - they are functionally irrational. And four carbs for two cylinders? Oh, I forgot, there is nothing at all rational about chopper bikes - its all in the look.
Kris -article  December 24, 2009 11:10 AM
Great article. Nice to see and read about local bike building talent. Keep up the great articles about "all" makes of bikes. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Observer -Useless  December 24, 2009 10:46 AM
Just what I always wanted, another useless motorcycle to ride around on and show off and make a lot of noise. Why not keep your reporting to real motorcycles and not this useless crap. Maybe the Harley bunch will get wet pants over this thing but I doubt the majority of bike riders are interested in something you have to dress up like a pirate to ride and piss off the public with a lot of noise.