Twenty-four-year-old Frankie Klepadlo has a great attitude and a bright future ahead of him. In this day of the internet, he still practices the lost art of conversation. He’s made several connections in Southern California for putting great bikes together with the help of friends old and new. Already having built his first bike when he was just outta high school, Frankie knew his way around a bike project but was seeking something a little more on the second round.
Frankie: I got this bike from an old guy in the back of his shed. It was a completely stock Triumph. It had ok stuff on it but a lot of rust. It started with a David Bird hardtail. Then I got some controls from Baron’s Speed Shop in England. It took months to get here because it got stuck in customs. Guess I ordered that stuff just to say I got something cool besides all the swap meet stuff that’s on the bike.
The oil bag came from Meatball at Hell On Wheels. The gas tank was from the Long Beach swap meet for $20. My dad and I welded up all the mounts; took some raw metal and bent it up and made some bungs.
We completely went through the motor with the help of Walt Riddle, who’s been building Triumphs for 30 years out of his garage. He taught me the right way to put a motor together. I learned a lot of lessons from him over at his house. We went through the crank, put in new rods, pistons, valves, guides, redid the heads, and spent hours cleaning up the cases. I spent a week sitting there cleaning all the bolts, etc.
The seat from Comanche Cycles is one of the most special things on the bike. The owner of the place totally helped me out with it, etching “Iron Punx,” my crew’s name, on it. Dude, I was stoked!
In the beginning with this bike, it was just to build and sell at the swap meet. One thing led to another and now there’s no way I can sell this, it means too much to me now. There were times when I thought it was a piece of shit that I just wanted to get rid of. I know it’s not some bike Jesse James built or something, but now when I look at it, I see a bike that got built in a garage with my buddies. It means something to me, not just another catalog bike that someone threw together.
I got to grow up around bikes. My dad is friends with Denver Dan and knows several of the guys in the Sinners, so I was around that and knew one day I’d have a cool bike. My friend Lance here, we both got bikes around the same time and it was so cool to hang out, ride together. We talked about getting bikes for years before. It was amazing just riding around without a plan, stopping at some fruit stands, coming across a lake, going for a dip. It’s just a good time on bikes and those good times mean so much.
Everything’s pretty new to us right now, we’re learning a lot of things and talking to old-timers and stuff, it’s real neat. Just talking to these old guys and finding out how and why they did things and it’s cool to learn things the old-school way.
I’d like to thank my mom and dad, my fiancé Kate, definitely big thanks to Dustin Hiniker and Denver Dan, Vince at Comanche Cycles, DTM Auto Body for the paint, and my buddy Lance.