Kraus Bolide Custom Motorcycles Info & Photo Gallery/Pics/Images
“The way I see it,” Satya Kraus opined to us, “a bespoke motorcycle is one of the coolest ways to define your individuality. It’s loud, visually exciting, and, if engineered properly, will do exactly what you tell it.”
Bolide, from Kraus Motor Co., embodies that dedication to the dynamic consolidation of form and function, as well as desire and fulfillment.
When a motorcycle is conceived and built with the sole purpose of commerce, it will reflect fewer personality facets than a gem that is created from the mind of a longing future owner and a dedicated custom constructor. Bolide was built for a demanding patron of the motor arts by an accomplished artisan.
“The first time I was contacted by the future owner of Bolide, I immediately got a picture of this bike in my head,” Kraus remembers. “We talked about different style bikes and riding. We got into his lifestyle a bit, and talked about his other passions. He helped me paint a picture of himself. This helped define a direction for the design of the bike. He explained to me his interests and what his intentions were for the bike.”
The future owner was demanding more than a show bike.
“He is a racecar driver and appreciates high speed performance, quality, and craftsmanship,” Kraus revealed of the anonymous and idiosyncratic customer. “This bike would live in his front room of his home next to his Ford GT40, so it must be beautiful. He would ride the bike as often as possible on the street and at the racetrack.”
However, there was a twist to the demand for performance. This bike would not be ridden on the fine highways of a modern country. Instead, this motorcycle, built in the tiny Northern California mountain village of Cazadero (population: 345), was destined for Central America.
“Costa Rica is an unsuspecting place for such a bike, but customs are penetrating a lot of unsuspecting territory these days,” Kraus says, “so it also must be a rider, able to take the rough roads and harsh environment. We started formulating a plan, and I was in a position to do some rough sketches. Several conversations later we had a strong design direction and were ready to get busy.”
“Busy” for Kraus is a complicated, yet deliberate process. He allowed us these insights into his visionary method of creation: “When I sit down to build a bike like this the task can seem daunting. Looking at the different components that will make up the whole is important, but you must be careful to not get overwhelmed and stressed about all the little parts and pieces that need designing, machining, fabrication, and finish worked.
“I’ve found it very important to make a plan that will outline the overall direction. Creating an image helps you stay focused. You then can refer back to the image like a map at anytime. Setting the big picture aside and focusing on one component at a time gets you to the next step. This can help translate the massive sea of tiny parts into a complete project.
“I like to think of my designing process as very organic. I’ve found that being married to a design element or plan can be detrimental at times. Sometimes an idea sounds good, but when it is put into a system, it breaks down and does not work so well. I often have a basic idea and then massage it into place as I go. This means you must also be willing to scrap things and try again. The pieces that stay are the ones that help complete the system. If it feels right it usually is.”
Speaking specifically to the Bolide, Kraus turns his attention to purely functional matters. “Many factors must be taken into account to build a chassis like this. Everything starts with the chassis,” he says flatly, “from forward and rear weight distribution to suspension and braking behavior. The rideability of the motorcycle depends on the combination of the rigid members and the moving parts.
“The chassis takes the work of the drivetrain, suspension, and brakes and translates it to controllable forward movement. If this system is not adequately engineered then it will not perform the way it should or, worse, will break down.
“In contrast, when engineered properly, the chassis will supply the proper framework for a machine that can perform and be trusted by its pilot.”
Suspension on a sporting bike is critical, and Kraus worked some magic.
“The rear suspension on Bolide uses an uncommon design for an American V-twin-drivetrain based bike,” Kraus points out. “The Mono Shock swingarm is a very proven system, but is not often used because of the configuration of the transmission, oil bag, and swingarm pivot position. In Bolide’s case, we were able to utilize a shock built by Foes Racing. This gave us a good ratio, and was compact enough that we were able to keep the wheelbase shorter.”
By properly addressing the suspension’s interaction with the chassis and motor, handling was positively influenced. “A shorter wheelbase offers a more agile feel to the bike with better cornering characteristics,” Kraus reminds us. “This is where we get into wheel and tire sizes. We decided to go with 17-inch wheels on Bolide. This size lends itself well to such a performance bike. There’s a large selection of great rubber for this size. I called up Alpina Raggi and had them send us a set of their tubeless spoke wheels. Besides being super light, one other great feature on this rear wheel is the cush drive. It makes things so smooth.”
The combination of individual parts on Bolide is extraordinary. The Yamaha YZF-R6 supersport bike was tapped for the front suspension, and power comes from a carb-fed S&S Cycle 93″ Shovelhead, which breathes through a Krause Motor Co. air cleaner and stainless steel pipes. Metzeler Sportec tires put the power to the ground – after it runs through a Baker PowerBox transmission – with Beringer brakes from France slowing down the proceedings, as necessary, with twin six-piston calipers grasping 320mm floating rotors up front.
Regardless of its performance capabilities, a bike that will attend the AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building in Sturgis must exhibit full attention to appearance and detail.
“When we got into sheet metal on Bolide, aluminum was the only option,” Kraus says definitively. “I have been really enjoying working with aluminum lately, and love the fact that it can be left raw and unpainted. There turned out to be a lot of aluminum work in this bike. I don’t usually like too much fender action but again on Bolide they just seem to work. All three of them! And yes, they are aluminum, too. I went through around three times the amount of argon welding gas than if it were done in steel, but the weight savings alone is all worth it.”
Every custom motorcycle has its own challenges, and the ticking clock made its presence known. “The thing that stands out most on this bike was how long it took,” Kraus says in retrospect about the nine-month build. “It seemed to just keep going on and on. Looking back, it makes me realize how much work is in it. We finally decided to finish it when we made ourselves a deadline and decided to take the bike to the AMD World Championship in Sturgis. Deadlines are good. They get your ass in gear.”
At Sturgis, the owner finally saw the finished project, after seeing some teaser photos during the build process. Kraus recounts the unification of bike and owner: “He scheduled a trip to come see the finished bike for the first time in Sturgis at the AMD show. When he walked into the show he couldn’t believe his eyes. Finally, the bike he had been dreaming of was sitting in front of him. Overwhelmed with joy, he looked over the bike. His glazed eyes and fingers ran across the tank and onto the bars. He seemed to be very happy!”
The mechanical elegance of Bolide from Kraus Motor Co. only tells the grounded part of the story. Satya Kraus addresses the spiritual side of a personalized custom motorcycle as can only an accomplished builder who understands his art:
“Riding a machine that has been designed, engineered and built completely for you is exhilarating – a machine that fits your individual personality so well you can’t imagine anything else. The bike becomes an extension of you – your mind can rest and your instincts can take over. You can trust the bike to do everything right. This is the idea behind Bolide. Built with the intention of a solo rider and his machine. Performance, comfort, longevity, and style are the values we worked to instill into Bolide.”
Kraus Motor Co. Bolide Custom Motorcycle Specs:
- Engine: Kraus-modified S&S Cycle Shovelhead 93″
- Air Cleaner: Kraus Motor Co.
- Carburetion: S&S Cycle Super E
- Exhaust: Kraus Motor Co. Stainless 2-into-1 with a reverse cone
- Transmission: Baker Drivetrain PowerBox Overdrive 6-speed
- Primary Drive: BDL open belt 2″
- Clutch: BDL
- Frame: Kraus Motor Co. Mono Shock swingarm
- Rake: 28 degrees
- Forks: Yamaha YZF-R6
- Tires: Metzeler Sportec M3
- Brakes: Beringer
- Fuel tank, oil tank + fenders: Kraus Motor Co. aluminum handlebars, Kraus Motor Co. 3-way adjustable raised clip-ons
- Headlight and Taillight: Kraus Motor Co.
- Pegs: ProTaper 2.3 Platform
- Seat: Obie Beaver, Beaver Leather Craft
- Paint: Zane Cullen, Cotati Speed Shop
- Polishing: Kraus Motor Co.
Photography by Steve Kelly