as published in HOT BIKE - VOLUME 40, NO. 10 2008
words: Taryn Funcheon
photos: PIMP DADDY, Ernie Lopez; BLOOD ON BLOOD, Mike Chase

A driving force behind Kirk Taylor of Custom Design Studios (CDS) is the belief that builders should not limit themselves to a specific style of bike when it comes to expressing their vision of two-wheel art. Although he leans towards retro-style choppers and bobbers, Kirk is just as comfortable building a wide-tire pro-street or anything that rolls his way. Take his two motorcycles before you and how they differ in style, from the clean and simple long-fendered low-rider dubbed "Pimp Daddy" to the tricked-out retro custom chop named "Blood on Blood".

Using bikes as a canvas to artisically express himself, Kirk found that paintwork was a good starting point when he opened his Novato, CA-based shop in 1988. Besides seeing the need for custom paint jobs in the area at that time, it was to blend his art background with his mechanical roots growing up in his father's machine shop and always being around bikes. Over the years, CDS has grown into a full paint and service shop, with Kirk's specialty being one-off customs, which was the emphasis he placed on these two rides.

Pimp Daddy came about when Kirk remarked, "The mood struck and the gears started turning," between he and friend and car designer, Rick Dore. "I knew Rick's style, so it was going to be simple, clean, and elegant," Kirk said. "What I wanted to do was pay respects to the San Jose lowrider scene." After getting some parts from CCI, Kirk started mocking up the rigid frame and installing an 88-inch Pandemonium ,otor between the rails and bolting on a Springer frontend with some tall ape hangers. "Then we moved on to a more modern tank design," Kirk said, "something with a little rhythm and flow." Once the tank was stretched and mounted, two Ness Taildragger fenders were fused together to make a full-length skirted beauty, while out front another Ness fender would fill the bill. "Just add spokes and whitewalls, and you can hear "War" playing in the background," Kirk said. Netx, CDS made a set of fishtail pipes so that it would clear the floorboards and the kicker arm. After the oil tank was narrowed to fit the framerails, the shop bent some custom struts to add support to the rear fender.

After a call to PPG for paint, Kirk got started laying the vibrant Oh So Sexy red on his skirted beauty while waiting on the last few parts to finish the bike. A custom seat pan was made, and Don Clancy was called on to apply the Italian Pearl White tuck and roll. Then a call to Irish Rich Ryan was made to secure a Goodson air cleaner. "When you combine all the talents, a truly timeless and classic bike can emerge," Kirk said. As soon as the bike was done, it was put on display at the SEMA Show in Vegas, where its pimpin' style and sexy lines caught the attention of many attendees.

Speaking of grabbing attention, Kirk's was taken away from his daily shop operations the day Gordon Erickson (who Kirk had hoped would become a customer), owner of the Blood on Blood bike, walked through his doors to pick up some parts for his trip to Sturgis. After Kirk mentioned he was also going to Sturgis, the two swapped numbers, which came in handy when Kirk gat a call from Gordon to help get his bike running at the rally. From there the friendship grew. A few months later Kirk got an invite to participate in the Artistry in Iron competition at the Las Vegas BikeFest. "There was a small problem," Kirk said. "I didn't have a specific bike or project cooking for this prestigious event." It turned out that Gordon happened to be ready to add another bike to his stable.

The only criteria Gordon had for his new bike was an air-ride seats, electric start, and the controls to be in normal places. "Other than that, I could do whatever I wanted," Kirk said. "I remember Gordon repeatedly mentioning how much he liked Lisa's [Kirk's wife] bike. I wanted his bike to be a really refined version of what I did for her bike." The first item on the list was to get one of Duane Jordon's ( single-spring Springers and some Soncy Road handlebars. Then Kirk went with his Cowboy Chopper frame, stretched 4 up and 2 out with 34 degrees of rake in the neck. From there it was on to modifying the Frisco'ed deep-dish gas tank, which had to be proportional to the Springer frontend.

"Next thing on the agenda was trying to keep this thing looking as minimal as possible," Kirk said. That meant raising the Baker 6-into-4 transmission to hide the electric starter, seat air compressor, and coil. "I admired the job that Paul Cox had done on one of his bikes, where he moved the starter off the top and tucked it underneath," Kirk said. "It was the best of both worlds in place, kick, and electric start." Afterwards, Kirk stretched the rear of the frame out 4 inches and added a Paul Cox Rigidaire air-ride system.

As the theme of the bike was starting to take shape, Kirk kicked some ideas around for a cool exhaust system. "Most of the time guys are turning the pipes down, but I wanted to be different," Kirk said. "So a cowboy chopper has to have cowboy zoomies capped off with Rudy Chappell's Lake pipe caps. With a quick shot of high-temp piston coating on the pipes, the bike was looking worthy of a special touch." That touch was Tay Herrera's meticulous engraving, as seen on the fuel and oil tanks. After Kirk put in a call to DuPont Hot Hues, he laid liberal amounts of Hot Raspberry Red candy and flake on the bike and added some copperleaf. "It's something not seen too often," Kirk said. "But I wanted to keep it clean and tasteful. It's gotta have rhythm."

This brings us to how the bike's name-Blood on Blood-came about. According to his friend, "It's a line in a Johnny Cash song relating to blood be thicker than water. I related to the strength of friendship, the cowboy theme, Johnny Cash-it was coming together!"

After a seven-month build time, Kirk entered the bike in the Artistry in Iron competition. Although it didn't take First place, it was well-received by attendees and most of all, Gordon. Going back to blood being thicker than water, the relationships and experiences from this build and beyond stood greater than a trophy. Kirk added, "Two friends, family, and the ties that bind you together, Blood on Blood."