Honda XR400R “Rat Bike” from R.L. Allman’s Peter Pan

Honda XR400 Rat Bike

In this darkly re-imagined new series, Peter Pan flies on two wheels…

Ronnie Allman is a young filmmaker whose fascination with motorcycles can be traced back to his boyhood days.  He grew up in Texas, where his old man rode a Harley and built him a minibike at the age of 9. In high school, Ronnie would watch chopper shows after school and build custom models in 3D graphics programs. Fast forward to 2011, when he moved to San Francisco and found himself in a literal Neverland — a city of Lost Boys, drag queens named Tinker Bell, and even a real Treasure Island, built in the middle of the Bay.  Soon, the young filmmaker was writing a darkly re-imagined tale of Peter Pan and the Lost Boys, who rip around the streets on two wheels:

“While I was writing this new dark twist on the classic J.M. Barrie novel, I knew one thing was certain… Peter Pan had to fly, and he would do it on his motorcycle properly named ‘Shadow.'”

Honda XR400 Rat Bike

The production team needed a bike that was light, rugged, easy to fix, and could perform the stunts in the show. Ronnie came across a ’99 XR400R a mile away from his house and rode it to the shop the next day. For the build, he turned to friend and veteran actor/motorcycle builder, Laif Gilberston:

“I told him I needed to build a bike that would look comfortable next to the rats on the streets.”

Honda XR400 Rat Bike

Together, they created a stripped-down, post-apocalyptic vision for the machine — a “Rat Bike” that stands in marked contrast to the flashy, modern motocross and supermoto machines of the rest of the Lost Boys.

“We wanted to make it look like Peter was flying so the seat was totally redesigned and welded together to make it look like he would be floating.”

Honda XR400 Rat Bike

The tank is from a 60’s Gilera, the bike is running oversized Baja lights, and the existing exhaust was cut in half and re-welded in place to create a stubby, stunted can:

“It’s the most gorgeous rat’s tail I’ve ever seen. Sounds like shit too. We love it.”

Honda XR400 Rat Bike

To ride “The Rat Bike,” they enlisted veteran stunt rider Justin Rastegar, who took to the XR immediately, ripping wheelies up and down the block within minutes of showing up for his first night on set:

“My producer nearly had a heart attack and I had to run over to her to reassure her that he was our stunt driver and he knew what he was doing. I mean, I found him on Facebook, what could go wrong?”

The first episode of R.L. Allman’s Peter Pan is now available here on Vimeo — we absolutely loved it.  Here’s a trailer to whet your appetite:

Below, we get the full story on the bike, as well as the making of this awesome new series.

Peter Pan’s XR400 “Rat Bike” — Director Interview

Honda XR400 Rat Bike

• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your new series, R.L. Allman’s Peter Pan.

My name is Ronnie Allman and I’m a filmmaker out of San Francisco. I grew up in Texas where my father rode a Harley and he built me a minibike when I was 9, so I’d say I had a fascination for two wheels for a while. In fact, in high school, circa 2004, I used to come home and watch “CHOPPERS” and then create original 3D models in 3dsMAX. Fast forward 15 years and I designed a new motorcycle for a reimagined, dark and twisted Peter Pan series I’m directing.

I created this new vision of Peter Pan when I moved to San Francisco in 2011. I found myself in a literal Neverland. The Lost Boys live on the streets of Haight Ashbury, Tinker Bell is a Drag Queen in the Castro, and there is even a place called Treasure Island. While I was writing this new dark twist on the classic J.M. Barrie novel, I knew one thing was certain… Peter Pan had to fly, and he would do it on his motorcycle properly named “Shadow”.

Honda XR400 Rat Bike

• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike in the series?

The bike is a 1999 Honda XR400 stripped down and pieced back together.

• Why did you choose an XR400 for the role?

From the start we knew we needed a bike that could do stunts in the film. It needed to be light, easy to work on, and if we dropped it, it would get right back up and look even more badass with its battle scars. We came across the bike on Craigslist a mile away from my house and rode it off to the shop the next day.

Honda XR400 Rat Bike

• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?

The design came from a place of humor. In the script, Peter Pan had trouble starting his bike since it was an old kickstart, and the Lost Boys would make fun of him for how ugly it looked. I knew this bike couldn’t look like any other bike on the street. So, I approached my trusted friend, actor, and motorcycle builder, Laif Gilberston. I told him I needed to build a bike that would look comfortable next to the rats on the streets. He gave me an awkward look, and then pulled up a few concept designs for post-apocalyptic bikes, which looked like they were pieced together over time. That was our North Star.

Honda XR400 Rat Bike

• What custom work was done to the bike?

The frame, motor, swing arm and front forks of the bike are from the original XR400. We gutted everything else. We ripped out the tank and put on an old 60’s Sears Gilera racing tank with its number still painted on. We wanted to make it look like Peter was flying so the seat was totally redesigned and welded together to make it look like he would be floating.

Honda XR400 Rat Bike

The XR400 usually has the big exhaust coming out the back under the seat, but that had to go. Instead of getting a smaller one, we tore apart the existing one, cut it in half and welded it back on. It’s the most gorgeous rat’s tail I’ve ever seen. Sounds like shit too. We love it.

Honda XR400 Rat Bike

We liked the thick back tire so we got another one and hand spiked it to make a front tire. Then, we lowered the front forks 4 inches, and brought the handlebars out to give us a wider grip. To top it all off, and to really fuck with people, we throw on 2 oversized Baja lights on the front. The lights were a problem because the stock battery wasn’t powerful enough and only gave us 1 or 2 minutes of filming before dying, but damn they look good.

Honda XR400 Rat Bike

• Does the bike have a nickname?

In the movie we call it “Shadow” but I called it “The Rat Bike”.

Honda XR400 Rat Bike

• Who did the stunt riding for the show? Can we expect to see any other cool bikes in the series?

Our main stunt rider is Justin Rastegar, who has been racing and performing motorcycle stunts forever. This guy is a fucking maniac, the first night he showed up on set, before I even got to shake his hand, he asked someone “Is that the bike?” He jumps on it, fires it up and guns it down the streets popping a wheelie and spins it back around to do another pass by me. My producer nearly had a heart attack and I had to run over to her to reassure her that he was our stunt driver and he knew what he was doing. I mean, I found him on Facebook, what could go wrong?

• Where can readers watch the series?

We have just launched the first Episode and the can watch it on Vimeo here: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/thenewpeterpan

Here is the trailer as well:

Follow the Builder / Series / Filmmaker

You can find updates on the series @peterpanseries. You can follow the director at @ronnieallman. The amazing build was by @laif_gilbertson.

 

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