chris flechtner is the mastermind behind speed shop design. the path he has taken to become one of the premiere custom motorbike builders – creating the most amazing cafe racer i’ve ever seen – is an interesting one. how i chose to share who the man is starting with how he was raised didn’t work as i planned, but feces occurs, as they say in france.
instead i give you something else, and it’s still good. think of this interview as “a bad hair day.” it’ll smooth out tomorrow….
chris was born in fitchburg, massachusetts in 1970 to a family where dad was a mechanical engineer and mom was old school at home taking care of everything else. chris’s grandfather was the local fire chief and soon chris’s dad followed and became deputy chief. chris’s patriarchal role models brought him to the station often where he learned to blow the horns of the ladder truck his dad drove the *** end of. not an easy gig as every turn is the reverse of the front of the truck. the fire station had lots of leftover tools from the old days when they had resident blacksmiths that made the specialized tools and equipment.
this fire house still used those tools to modify their trucks and it’s where chris learned the basics of metalworking.
flechtner senior also used these tools to do cool things for chris such as building freestyle bike ramps and wedges. chris rode a schwinn mag scrambler, a kuwahara that was chrome with white skyway mags and pink gt tires, and other modified bicycles his dad helped assemble with his welding knowledge and bending tools. one of the best things his dad helped him do was build a one-into-two cable splicer to the brake calipers that would have shown the punks running gyro rotors what’s what. one of his favorite places to ride was in a local cemetery.
“punk kids! stay off my grave!” a ghost was heard to moan one night.
according to chris, he had an old columbia 20″ coaster brake bike that his dad totally customized for him. “he completely rebuilt it and painted the frame flat black and the tank gloss orange like his water buffalo,” chris said. “i remember it had this really cool banana seat that was covered in a sort of brown flocking. when i got older he would help me make custom parts for my bmx bike.”
bM: your dad had a water-cooled inline-three 750cc motorcycle? that was a rare thing to have in the 70’s. more rare today because nobody copied the design. would you ever build a custom with a water-cooled engine?
CF: i think it all depends on the architecture and beauty of the motor. if i see a beautiful motor i will use it. i actually almost picked up a water cooled ducati motor recently for my next project but ended up with a 900ss carburetor motor because my particular design warrants the simplicity of an air cooled motor without injection and all the ****.
CF: my dad quit racing dirt bikes when he got in a bad accident during a race and my mother was on the side lines pregnant with me. he decided he wanted to see his kid more than race. he always enjoyed racing of all sorts and he would take my brother and me to the track to watch midget car racing, up to the frozen lake in new hampshire to watch ice racing, or the the motocross track.
bM: midget cars? ever seen **** midgets?
bM: they sometimes get featured performer status at titty bars. those are the nights i stay home because it’s kinda gross but hey, glad you liked seeing them race. are you sure you weren’t at the special olympics?
CF: actually, now that i think of it, when i was at sturgis this year i witnessed a midget tending bar on the bar top while wearing nothing but a diaper.
bM: hm. looks like a recipe for a poopy buttwad. some pe”O