Here at BikeBound, we have a soft spot for father and son builds, and this is one of the most incredible we’ve seen. It’s the work of Michel and Jimmy Messina of France’s RD Kustom & Design. The father and son both ride Harleys and drive hot rods, and they wanted to create a machine that blended American and French motoring cultures. Says Michel:
“Initially I just wanted to do a father and son project by putting an H-D engine inside a Voxan (1995-2009 French motorcycle manufacturer) frame.”
They got their hands on a Buell S1 engine and Voxan frame, but soon decided to take the project to another level, designing and building the chassis from scratch. As Jimmy is a mechanical engineer and race mechanic with a passion for designing and building performance parts, they had the expertise necessary to pull off something truly special.
Then some tough news hit the family, and the project took on even greater significance:
“In 2019, Jimmy was diagnosed with lung cancer and because of chemo constraints had to leave his job. What was a weekend project became a life project for him.”
The heart of the project was a 1999 Buell S1 engine, a 1200cc V-twin rated at 101 horsepower. They conducted a photogrammetric scan of the engine in the garage, then set out to build the chassis around it, employing 7075-T6 aluminum and 4130 steel alloy.
The frame is a work of art. The front aluminum block contains air cleaner and intake, while the rear aluminum block serves as not only the oil tank, but also the engine, swingarm, and shock mount!
4130 steel alloy frame tubes link these front and rear aluminum blocks. The single-sided swingarm is built from 4130 steel, while the subframe is 6061 aluminum.
The inverted forks and twin-disc Brembo brakes were sourced from a Ducati 1198 superbike, and the bike is rolling on Marchesini wheels. The rear shock is mounted horizontally beneath the engine in Buell fashion.
The fuel injection has been ditched in favor of 39mm Keihin FCR carbs, while exhaust gases exit via a custom 2-into-1 exhaust with SC-Project carbon fiber silencer.
The bodywork, saddle, rear sets, triple trees, headlight setup, and carbon fiber front fender are all one-offs, and the bikes tips the scales at 432 pounds dry. Recently, the MMC (Messina Motorcycle Company) SR1 took home Best in Show at the illustrious European AMD finale — congrats, guys!
Below, Michel gives us the full story on the build, and some clues as to what’s coming next from the RD Kustom workshop.
MMC SR1: In the Builder’s Words…
Initially I just wanted to do a father and son project by putting an H-D engine inside a Voxan (1995-2009 French motorcycle manufacturer) frame. I bought a Voxan and a Buell S1 engine, but considering the challenge, my son Jimmy proposed to design and build the frame from scratch. He is a Mechanical Engineer and Race Mechanic, so I was confident and gave him the green light.
In 2019, Jimmy was diagnosed with lung cancer and because of chemo constraints had to leave his job. What was a weekend project became a life project for him.
The main goal was for me to develop a prototype in view of manufacturing the bike in small series in the USA, and in a way live the American Dream. For context, we ride vintage Harleys and drive hot rods. My goal became also the life project of my son whose real passion is to design, engineer, and build performance parts.
Bike Owner: Michel & Jimmy Messina
Shop Name/Phone/Website: RD Kustom /+33(0)622978552/ RD-kustom.com
Bike Year/Make/Model: 2022/ MMC ( our own brand) / SR1
Fabrication by Jimmy Messina
Build Time: 2 years
Engine Year/Type/Size: 1999 / Buell S1 / 1200cc
Transmission Year/Type/Size: 2020 / Primary Belt Drive / 2 inches
Frame: RDK built
Suspension Front: Marzocchi 50 mm, Rear: Custom built by EMC
Finish/Paint: Polished Aluminuim and Ceramic coat
Colors: Aluminium, Black, and Gold
Accessories: 3D modeled by Jimmy and CNC cut
We started the project with the engine only and made a photogrammetric scan in the garage with a cellphone. Everything around had been designed and engineered by Jimmy up to some bolts and nuts. Just to mention the main parts:
– AL 7075 T6 frame front block that contains the air cleaner and of course the column with the air inlet in the front around it
– AL 7075 T6 rear block that serves as oil tank but also engine, swingarm and shock mount
– AL 7075 T6 column and rear wheel axle
– AL 7075 T6 triple trees
– 4130 frame tubes bolted to the front and rear blocks
– 4130 single sided swingarm
– 6061 sub frame, headlight, foot control brackets, etc.
– Under Engine compression rear shock absorber
– Handmade Aluminum air box, gas tank and rear seat
– Electronic ignition
– Primary belt drive
– Motogadget box
– CCC hidden controls
We are Harley enthusiasts but also French with Italian roots. I wanted to mix all these cultures in a bike. The heart is an American Icon V2, the frame is inspired by the Voxan’s, and the overall look by Italian bikes. The end result comes from Jimmy’s brain.
We wanted to put all these cultures and styles into a very pure-looking naked roadster. We are just back from Italy where the bike won the Best of Show of the European AMD finale and Jimmy is already on two other projects: One is almost finished and is a Flat Track Sportster he is building for my wife, but the second one is a lot more challenging. This time we start from the crankcase only. The bike will be a neo-retro Shovester XR-type bike. Jimmy is completing the engineering of the cylinders, heads, valve covers and frame.
The main specs are:
– Solidworks 3D modelled
– Single beam frame with oil inside
– Suspended engine
– Shovester XR style 70ci Engine with Cylinders, cylinder heads and valve covers CNC cut in AL 7075 T6
– Twin spark plugs per cylinder
– 2 Keihin 39 carbs
– Single sided swingarm with single rear shock
– Carbon gas tank and seat
– Stainless steel exhaust
Follow the Builders
Instagram: @RD_kustom_design| @messina_motorcycles_co
Wow. Incredible build. This thing looks like something Tom Cruise would be riding in some futuristic sci-fi flick. The fit and finish are awesome. Really like the clean controls sans wiring, and cables. One question. Is Accel a sponsor? Not trying to nit pick, because this is an awesome build, but put a cover over that Accel coil, or at least paint it to match the other parts on the bike. That coil sticks out like a sore thumb, er.. banana
I agree with everything Steevo says. Yeah, at least take the sticker off that Accel coil. So, this thing needs better pics. I could probably set a chair in front of this thing and look at it for very long periods of time. There are lots of subtleties that the pics here can’t fully show. This is a very unusual bike with a lot more going on than most customs. At first, I wasn’t super smitten, because the profile isn’t radically different than most bikes, but the headlight drew me in: it’s super refined, old-world sci-fi jewelry quality; beautiful, purposeful lines; simple and elegant; nothing tacky. Then I saw the front fender stay and the similarly styled front engine mounts. This is real art, real high-level craftsmanship with a coherent style that evidences the love put into this thing. Wish I could see this thing in person.