“When you find yourself at a time of uncertainty there is only one way to go: forward.”
Missouri’s Brent Becker was in Amsterdam for work when he crossed paths with none other than Eric Kalter, one of the founders of Ironwood Custom Motorcycles — one of the world’s best-known custom motorcycle shops. A long-time rider, Brent had never delved into building, but the newly-sparked friendship would be the start of a whole new chapter in his life:
“Suddenly, another world was opened to me. It was not too long after that that I purchased a 1973 Honda CB750 and started my journey in motion…So with many new journeys, things usually start off with a whole lot of uncertainty and this was exactly what I was looking for.”
Back in the States, Brent sought out Missouri’s own Flying Tiger Motorcycles, where he soon found himself an intern at the tender age of 47 years old:
“The original plan was to take a break in between jobs for a couple of weeks. I was looking forward to no emails, no phone calls, no decisions and following versus leading. I quickly found a passion for the shop, the people, and working on motorcycles.”
However, that initial six weeks quickly evolved into six months, as Brent, his wife, and the Flying Tiger family concocted a plan to transform his ’73 CB750 into a full-blown custom:
“I was off to build a bike: not just cosmetic adaptations, but a frame down, engine split high-performance resto-mod. I had a balance between support from my family and the shop, and also something to prove personally. Plus, my wife and kids thought I was cool and at this particular time that was all I needed.”
Along the way, Brent learned about the upcoming Handbuilt Show, which gave him a goal and a hard deadline.
“Deadlines always make the focus clearer and decisions more decisive. In the zone.”
The result is an 836cc beast that takes inspiration from Bauhaus style, incorporates the Three Daughter Moto family logo, and pays homage to Brent’s growing philosophy of 進撃 (shingeki), meaning “attack life” — also a tribute to the bike’s Japanese heritage. The bike was finished just 30 mins before departure time for the all-night drive to Austin, Texas, for the 2019 Handbuilt Show, where meeting more motorcycle brothers and sisters was a reward in and of itself:
“The experience at the Handbuilt show and some other shows last year has been life changing as I continue my mid-life evolution. I have met incredible people in and around the bike building world and they could not have more kind, encouraging and inspiring — non-judgmental, open to others perspective, fans of craftmanship on two wheels, understanding of the journey.”
Below, we get the full story on this inspiring build straight from the man himself, as well as more stunning photography from Brian Cummings.
Three Daughter CB: In the Builder’s Words
The feeling of being out of your comfort zone can be unsettling, but I have found I’ve gravitated towards those situations over the years. When you find yourself at a time of uncertainty there is only one way to go: forward. This is the underlying theme of my journey that began with coming off a much-needed professional change and ended with building motorcycles.
It all started in a small office outside of Amsterdam. We just made an acquisition and I was visiting our new teammates to welcome them to the company. The leader was a guy named Eric Kalter and as we got talking, I learned that he builds motorcycles in his spare time. It turned out that he was one of the founders of Ironwood Custom Motorcycles, and suddenly, another world was opened to me. It was not too long after that that I purchased a 1973 Honda CB750 and started my journey in motion.
So with many new journeys, things usually start off with a whole lot of uncertainty and this was exactly what I was looking for. After some weird conversations with the owners of the Flying Tiger Motorcycle shop, Eric and Teresa, I was a self-proclaimed intern at 47 years old. The original plan was to take a break in between jobs for a couple of weeks. I was looking forward to no emails, no phone calls, no decisions and following versus leading. I quickly found a passion for the shop, the people, and working on motorcycles.
It all worked: anonymous, no expectations of me or by me, just my willingness to learn. The six weeks helping in the shop flew by and I was not ready to move on. It did not take much to continue forward and Eric and I (and my wife Dana) created a plan; six weeks was going to stretch to six months.
I was off to build a bike: not just cosmetic adaptations, but a frame down, engine split high-performance resto-mod. I had a balance between support from my family and the shop, and also something to prove personally. Plus, my wife and kids thought I was cool and at this particular time that was all I needed.
• I wanted gold forks, not due to the upgrade in handling, because it looked cool. It was a bonus that they provided both to the project. Yes – that’s where I started.
• Disassembly was easy and lulled me into a false sense of capability.
• I began as an aggressive grinder when preparing the frame. I was ignorant of the additional work I was creating for myself later.
• Welding is hard, if you are a beginning welder, you better be a great grinder.
• When you make a mistake, they make special tools to fix the mistake. Confidence restored.
• The time you spend when something does not fit correctly, is equal to six times more that it would have taken if you would have spent more time mocking up the build.
• 46-year-old engine covers and header can get really shiny. I tangled with the four polishing wheels of death often and for extended periods.
• What do you think about making it an 836? Yup – how does that work.
• Check in with Eric in Amsterdam – decide to adapt the bike to a wetsump. Optimum triangle openness achieved.
• The third time was the charm for the hoop and the integrated taillight holes.
• Grind, weld, jb weld fill, sand, sand, repeat… powdercoat.
• It was always great to get deliveries: Keinhin CR31s, Big Bore kit, Web Racing cam. Kind of like presents, but I paid for them.
It was all rolling right along, put in the hours with some guidance and you keep moving forward.
• Learned of the Handbuilt show and the Flying Tiger team thought the bike could be accepted. I now had a goal.
• Deadlines always make the focus clearer and decisions more decisive. In the zone.
• Had a pivotal moment – I decided to design something I was passionate about and not play it safe with a Honda paint job.
• Got inspiration from Bauhaus prints, merged it with a three-daughter family concept and came up with the logo.
• Paid homage to the Japanese heritage of the bike – and my growing philosophy – with the inclusion of two Japanese characters 進撃 (shingeki) meaning ‘attack life’.
• Paint was a brainstorm with Eric and James Fawcett of @slipstreamcreations. The scheme and logo accentuate the motor cylinder angle and flow. I had my broad concept, but make sure the talented people have room.
• Seat was done by Rich Phillip of @richphillipsleather and the incorporation of the three-circle logo was all him. I saw it for the first time when he posted it on Instagram. He did ask me if I was just going to let him do his thing… pause… okay?
• Three circle details were planned throughout to create balance.
• We argued over the faded red (pink) fork caps. I thought they gave it character.
• Six months had passed, and it was time to go back to work where I had talent already – money, insurance – semi-important stuff.
• Did not think Handbuilt was going to happen and then it did. – WTF. Probably helped by the reputation of Eric and the shop. 98% of the components were done so ten days to assemble the bike from the ground up. I had to take time off work….awkward.
• Eric, Dan and I put in some long hours. What a team. The plan was to leaving on Wednesday at 8pm to drive through to Austin for bike registration.
• A couple of audibles – Had a conventional headlight ready to go, it did not look right, so a number plate was the plan. T-minus 4 days to leave for Austin. Grab some aluminum, call James to see if he has time to do the paint, source LED lights – closed on Sundays…ugh.
• Final day, get the painted number plate – perfection, assemble, finalize small details with the cables and electrical – 7:30pm and off the lift. The bike was born.
The experience at the Handbuilt show and some other shows last year has been life changing as I continue my mid-life evolution. I have met incredible people in and around the bike building world and they could not have more kind, encouraging and inspiring — non-judgmental, open to others perspective, fan of craftmanship on two wheels, understanding of the journey. I appreciate my new motorcycle brothers and sisters and the relationships I have developed along the way as I continue building. – Attack Life. 進撃
Full Builder Interview: Brent Becker
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
Rider not a builder through the years. Started riding in college, took a break and got back into it at 30. I work out of the Flying Tiger Motorcycles shop in Maplewood, MO and have the guidance and support of the owner Eric Bess and head mechanic, Dan Murphy.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
Honda CB750K 1973.
• Why was this bike built?
Personal project. A fortunate journey that the universe aligned for.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
Cafe racer concept, old school meets performance, clean-clean-clean, developed a personalized paint scheme and logo. Three Daughter Moto.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Complete resto/ mod. Frame modification with customer hoop. GSX-R1000 from forks, Cognito Moto triples and front hub, Motor casing was split, big bore kit with Web Racing cam, valves honed, Keihin CR31 carbs, CB400 tank, custom seat, motogadget electronics, custom paint, crossover 4-into-2 exhaust.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
The nickname started as “Chuck Norris” for a variety of reason, but really no explanation needed! It has become the “Three Daughter CB” following the creation of the bike logo family focus.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
Light, fast and kick ass. The updated suspension and braking was critical to be able to enjoy the added performance.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
Everything. I joked that each day I set a personal record for restoring a custom motorcycle. I finished it.