Earlier this year Jason Marker had the opportunity to interview both Jack Beck and Aaron Guardado about the new Street Rod-based snow bikes that were created through a Harley-Davidson and Suicide Machine collaboration. Scott Beck, a Harley-Davidson director of marketing, spoke to Jason just before the 2018 X Games out in Aspen, Colorado. Scott was able to shed some light on the new bikes that had been created to haul athletes around between the events at 2018 X Games.
Aaron Guardado was able to shed even more light on these newly created and customized Street Rod-based snow bikes, including more about the build and how the bikes were built.
Just before the 2018 X Games in Aspen, Colorado, our Jason Marker sat down with Scott Beck, a Harley-Davidson marketing director. Not only had Harley announced a new Snow Hill Climb event for the games and customized Sportsters who were to take part in the hill climb, Scott talked with Jason about how the company had hired Aaron and Shaun Guardado from Suicide Machine Company to build Street Rod Snow Bikes that could be used to haul athletes around between the events of the 2018 X Games.
So why make the announcement at the 2018 X Games? Scott was able to shed some light on the announcement, stating that the hill climb event and the Street Rod Snow Bikes came to fruition as a means to attract more people to motorcycling and to Harley-Davidson.
Scott Beck told Jason, “For 115 years H-D riders from all walks of life have expressed their freedom from the seat of America’s favorite motorcycle, so it’s natural for us to continue to blaze trailers—this time off the road and in the snow. We’ve raced the ice and climbed virtually every kind of hill, and the Harley-Davidson Snow Hill Climb is another way for us to grow the sport of motorcycling. We know our riders, and X Games fans and athletes alike share a passion for adrenaline and speed.”
If you are curious and interested in the new Street Rod Snow Bikes, then you are in luck. Fortunately for all of us, Jason Marker was able to score an interview with Aaron Guardado of Suicide Machine in order to discover more about how the bikes had been built and what really made them tick.
These custom bikes originally started as bone stock XG750 Street Rods, gifted to the brothers of Suicide Machine by Harley Davidson just before Christmas. Between the brand of the Street Rods and that Christmas day was only a few days away, the Suicide Machine brothers had a difficult time finding track conversion kits for the bikes. Fortunately, after a flurry of phone calls, the brothers had managed to track down two Camso DTS-129 kits in Salt Lake City, Utah, hundreds of miles from the Suicide Machine’s Long Beach shop. The crazy part? The conversion kits were delivered at Suicide Machine’s shop on Christmas Eve, delivered by the Salt Lake City dealer himself whom was driving his wife’s jeep.
It had to be Casmo DTS-129 kits. Track conversion kits such as these are built specifically for dirt bikes rather than street bikes. The kit would be used to modify both bikes and the track units themselves in order to make the Harley-Davidson and Suicide Machine collaboration project work.
Aaron told Jason that the Suicide Machine team started their modifications by removing the Street Rod’s swingarm, rear tire and shocks. Next, they needed to fabricate a pair of struts with quick-release hardware to connect the track unit to the bikes. However, this was a complicated task as the track unit was just a hair narrower than the bike, which threw off the chain alignment. So, they called in the help of a machinist friend and the brothers built a handful of spacers and other adapters that could get the drive chain align with the bike’s primary drive. The track had its own integral suspension, however, so the brothers thankfully did not need to figure out a way to spring it as well as mount it.
Once all of that had been completed, Aaron stated that they needed to remove the front wheel and fender in order to mount the conversion kit’s ski. They used the stock Street Rod axle, forks, triple trees and some custom machined spacers in order to mount the ski with far less problems than the track.
Yet the bikes were not yet finished, Aaron told Jason. The brothers faced a cosmetic issue that simply would not do. The skis only came in white, which just would not cut it. So the brothers had the skis ceracoated black in order to improve the aesthetics of the bike as well as add an additional layer of protection that would keep the skis safe from obstacles and debris that could potentially be found within the snow.
To maximize the performance of the bikes, the Guardado brothers gave the bikes a light tune and new clutches. Each bike for a Screamin’ Eagle pro street tuner, Screamin’ Eagle intake and Screamin’ Eagle exhaust to boot. To improve the power delivery of the bikes and make these custom bikes easier to manage, Aaron and his brother decided to switch out the stock clutches for Radius X auto clutches from Rekluse. This improvement would allow a rider to start, stop and shift without ever having to touch the clutch lever. Not only that, but the Rekluse clutches made the Street Rods respond to the throttle input more, making the bikes easier to control in the snow.
The customization work had concluded, but the Guardado brothers still needed to test their new creations. Unfortunately, the brothers were based out of California, making it impossible to test them in snow. Instead, the brothers fired up the bikes on the breach and tested the mechanics in shop. The bikes looked okay, so Aaron and his brother shipped them out to Aspen for their shakedowns.
Aaron learned that the bikes really showed off their potential in the snow. The Street Rods proved well suited for the snow bike conversion and, with the engine tune and Rekluse clutch, the custom bikes powered through drifts as though the bikes had been built for it.
Aaron told Jason that, despite the stress that comes with building bikes over the holidays, especially with such a tight deadline, he and his brother were very proud of the way that the bikes turned out. Aaron believes that this project had pushed the boundaries, not only of the skills of the two brothers as builders and fabricators, but also the capabilities of the Street Rod.