If you know anything about the history of the hot rod scene and the customized vehicles that resulted because of it, then you know Southern California-based shops are responsible for producing some of the most talented fabricators to be found anywhere. Located in the southernmost portion of the state is the city of San Diego, and deep within its streets is a young fabricator named Gar Frye, the owner and operator of Alley Kat Cycles (AKC).
Gar is a product of San Diego and the hot rod subculture that's deeply rooted in the city. When he was a young teenager, Gar's family owned a local tire shop where he used to work. Having all kinds of tools at his disposal, Gar began learning his fabrication and mechanic skills by working on anything he could get his hands on. Over the years, he not only gained a wealth of knowledge in customization, but he was also able to rub elbows with some of the city's most talented builders.
Years passed, and Gar's interest in motorcycles continued to grow as his fabrication talents were refined. Inspired by some of the bike scene's most celebrated builders such as Billy Lane, Chica, and the late Indian Larry, Gar decided to break out into the scene and take a stab at his own business venture. With a ton of motivation, a head full of ideas, and the desire to stay true to the roots of bike building, Gar opened Alley Kat Cycles.
As the sole owner/mechanic/fabricator of Alley Kat Cycles, Gar has been able to work one on one with his customers, creating motorcycles that are "one hell of a ride"-combining old-school lines with today's technology. He builds bikes that look cool and function even better. Gar started the bike shown here after he was approached by a fellow San Diego resident. Once Gar and his friend agreed on a direction for the bike, the mock-up process began by picking up an '05 Santee D&D 180 rigid frame with 34 degrees of rake and a 3-inch backbone stretch. Staying with the old-school theme, a traditional 4-inch-over Springer frontend was slid into place. Targeting the heart of the bike next, a 93ci S&S stroker shovelhead motor was chosen, adding a Vulcan distributor to the mix.
Gar needed a trans that could handle the power of that S&S motor, so an '05 MC Advantages six-speed with a kick/electric-start combination was positioned behind the engine. Then he decided to use the clean lines of a 3-inch BDL open beltdrive system, choosing to leave the pulleys and clutch pack uncovered and exposed for a more raw, mechanical appearance. Rounding out the initial stages of the mock-up process, a 21-inch front tire with a Venom X whitewall was used up front, and a 16-inch 150-series tire was set in the rear. Adding a little coverage to the rear wheel was a WCC Diablo rear fender that was cut down to fit the tire nice and tight.
With the basic outlines of the bike together, Gar was able to start putting some of his custom touches on it. After knocking out one of his handbuilt seat pans, he decided to shy away from the usual spring-mounted ride and go with a Paul Cox Rigidaire setup. Once he'd made sure that all the proper clearances were in order, Gar thought the system worked extremely well and added comfort to the ride. Wrapping up the tail end of the bike, a custom-built license-plate mount and sissy bar were added.
Keeping with the old-school lines, a Sportster tank was mounted Frisco-style, and a set of narrowed 14-inch apes was mounted to 3-inch risers. Ensuring that the bike would not only motor on down the road but stop as well, a set of Performance Machine calipers was matched up with CCI rotors and Jaybrake controls. Finishing the mockup, Gar knocked out a set of staggered dual exhaust pipes mounted to shoot straight out the rear.
With the bike in line with his initial vision, it was torn down and sent off to San Diego's one and only master painter and pinstriper, Manuel Cisneros. Cisneros Pinstriping prepped the sheetmetal and molded the frame before spraying some root beer and copper paint on the bike. To dress up the paint, some clean striping was laid down to accent the colors, and the Alley Kat Cycles logo was added to the belt.
At the conclusion of the 12-week build, Gar was able to put the bike to the test, getting in some real seat time. The bike not only turned out the way he and his customer had originally envisioned, but it also handled great and was a reliable-running bike that never failed to catch people's eyes. Gar told us there is nothing more satisfying than having a total stranger walk up to you and start admiring a bike you built that was just an image in your head a couple of months earlier.