The Magnificent 5-Ball Factory Racer Featured

Editor’s Note: Our 5-Ball factory racer was feature in Heavy Duty Magazine in Australia recently. It’s the largest selling custom bike mag Down Under. The story and the photos were handled by the amazing Smilin’ Doc Robinson, the longtime tech editor. I’ve left the story alone for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy.–Bandit

Many interesting and colourful characters populate the biker world and Keith “Bandit” Ball walks tall among them. And not only because he tops out at six-foot five inches. Lifetime biker, author, longtime Easyriders’ editor, custom bike builder, salt racer, founder of the premier web site, Bandit is all this and more.

Get him settled in the comfortable lounge seat in his Los Angeles abode, pour him a stiff whisky, and sit back as he shares tales of the road, some that would make your hair curl, others that are genuinely side-splitting and always among them, lessons to be learned about life.

I figured that the best way to introduce this build to HEAVY DUTY readers is to give it to you in Bandit’s own words: “For decades guys have built vintage- looking scooters with late model drive-trains. Hell, I built another one at Strokers Dallas in the ’90s. Before I dreamed of it, Arlen Ness built a ’20s vintage scooter and sidecar around a Sportster engine.

Randy Simpson built vintage kit bikes. Don Hotop built some of the finest vintage-styled customs and recently I saw a ’20s styled bike at the SEMA show in Las Vegas built by the Shadley Brothers for House of Kolors. Beautiful piece. So I ain’t the first by a long shot. But there is something in the air recently about respecting the old iron and bringing it back to life. Some of it has to do with restrictions, and building older bikes is unrestricted. Some of it has to do with nostalgia and some is just a wild departure from the last project. I’m excited every year about this learning process.”

I asked Keith to sum up the vision that drove this build: “Well I built it in the teens vintage style, but with my height and long limbs I had to scale it up a bit. It’s built for long miles, with floorboards, a sprung seat, rubber grips, tall gearing and a spare gas tank. Every custom motorcycle build is an adventure. It takes me from one crazed time in my wild life to another. Fortunately, I’m not spilling my guts about another woman I lost during a knuckle-busting build. But this build did represent turning points. I’m rapidly closing in on my mid-sixties and about ready to sign up for Social Security. It also represented our stinky economy.”

Bandit is such an industry icon and it is not surprising that many of the leading lights of the motorcycle aftermarket were involved in this build, blokes like Ron Paugh of Paughco, leading manufacturer of custom parts and accessories for the past forty-three years, Rick Krost of US Choppers, Chica, who needs no introduction, Gard Hollinger of LA Choprods and HEAVY DUTY photographer Glenn Priddle who made the sweet seat.

Here’s Bandit again: “The key to the success of this project is the drive train. I sought a Crazy Horse V-Plus, 100-inch engine for several reasons. It has a classic design, renewed performance, cool looks and a left-side carb. I coupled it to a JIMS 5-speed transmission with a Baker kicker unit and Baker N1 shifting drum, so I can run the tank shifter and find neutral without a problem. The rocker clutch system I put together from old H-D parts while I fabricated the tank shifter.”

When he hasn’t got a fast motorcycle between his legs, or a whiskey in one hand and a beautiful redhead in the other, Bandit is happiest welding, soldering, wrenching, milling and turning metal in his secret and damn well-equipped lair beneath Bikernet HQ. His other love is writing, usually upstairs in his 1923 shop, behind his glass-topped Panhead-motor desk, rattling his computer keyboard, churning out another fiction book, a book for motorbooks, magazine articles (sometimes for HEAVY DUTY), or news, or one of dozens of tech articles for

And for those of you who are truly interested in the real guts of bike building, let me recommend reading the whole story of this build on the web site. It runs over some eleven parts and is well illustrated with photographs showing each and every step of this build.

If you only read one part of the full story, make it Part 6 where you’ll see the immense amount of work that went into the rear fender fully detailed as master metal shaper Chica gets to work. But once again, I strongly recommend you read the whole thing as a salutary lesson on just what goes into a ground up build. Without the space limitations of a magazine Bandit is able to show and tell stuff that you won’t find elsewhere. To find it, go to and click the Free Departments button and select Techs and Bike Builds and scroll backward through the various articles until you find Part One and take it from there.

I really dig this bike in every aspect; the concept of honouring old iron in this way, the marriage of old school looks with a nod here and there to practicality and safety, given that brakes back in the first two decades of the twentieth century were mighty primitive to say the least. I love that shifter in all its brassy mechanical glory, the vintage touches like the chain oilers and the leather strap holding down the battery and the cool fuel tank mounted up top to extend the bike’s range.

Having examined it closely, both during construction and in its completed state, I can attest that the fit and finish all over is excellent and detail touches like the pin striping are icing on the cake. Keith thanks Sin Wu for her part in this build and reckons this woman is a keeper, and I can understand that. This bike is a beauty and will look just as cool in fifty years from now. Way to go Bandit, I’ve seen several of your other builds but with this one you’ve climbed a pinnacle. HEAVY DUTY is proud to feature it in our pages.


Type: Crazy Horse Power Plus 100
Capacity: 100ci
Cases: Stock
Crank Stock
Bore: 3.874″
Stroke: 4.25c
Heads: Stock
Ignition: Thunderheart
Carburetion: S&S Super E
Manifold: Stock
Air cleaner: powder coated by Worco
Exhaust: Bandit built
Muffler: Stainless Scorpion from John Reed
Estimated power: 80hp

Year: 2006
Type: JIMS
Number of gears: 5
Gearchange: Bandit built
Baker N1 Shift Drum
Clutch: BDL
Primary drive: BDL Classic powder coated by Worco
Rear Drive: Exile chain

Front: Paughco narrow tapered leg springer
Triple Trees: steel from Paughco
Mods: 2″ under length
Rear: Rigid U.S. Chopper design

Front: Black Bike dimpled 23″
Tyre: Avon
Brake calipers: GMA by BDL
Brake rotor: H-D
Brake lines: John Reed
Rear: Black Bike dimpled 23″
Tyre: Avon
Brake caliper: Exile
Brake rotor: Exile Sprotor

Type: US Choppers vintage rigid
Make: Factory Racer by Paugho
Year: 2009
Rake: 30 degrees
Seat: Glenn Priddle

Handlebars: Narrowed Flanders
Grips/levers: H-D, BDL/GMA
Risers: DPPB bronze dogbones
Master cylinder: GMA front
Mirror: Lowbrow
Headlight: pinstriped by George the Wild Brush
Footpegs/forward controls: Paughco vintage footboards
Rear brake master cylinder: H-D
Speedo/tacho/oil pressure: Biker’s Choice Vintage Sportster
Taillight: powder coated by Worco

Other modifications: rocker clutch system made with old H-D parts, Phil’s Speed Shop wiring harness and ignition system, alternator charging system by Spyke

Front guard: missing
Rear guard: Chica
Fuel tank: Paughco
Trim: gone
Oil tank: Paughco
Other modifications: Vintage H-D tool box and brake linkage by Paughco, Reserve gas tank by Mike Pullin

COMMENTS: This bike was built in the teens vintage style, but built for long miles with footboards, sprung seat, rubber grips, tall gearing, and spare gas tank. The plan was to ride to Sturgis, but I never got out of Dodge. Now the plan is to ride it to Arizona for the too broke for Sturgis run to Salome, a little sun burnt town in the middle of nowhere. But it has a very cool or western saloon on the edge of town.

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