Speedshow star: The ride of Frankenstein

This 3.5m-long beast is plated in 24-carat gold and is worth at least $377,000. Photo / Supplied
This 3.5m-long beast is plated in 24-carat gold and is worth at least $377,000. Photo / Supplied

Think "hot rod" and the mental picture is of a beast on four wheels, with a ZZ Top stance and supercharged hardware spewing out of the bonnet.

But one of the visitors to next year's Speedshow will be seeking to change that - courtesy of the event's new owners, Ross and Brenda Prevette, and their plethora of Stateside contacts.

One of these is Sam Nehme, owner of a huge Florida custom bike shop, and he'll be bringing one of the most impressive choppers ever built - Nehme-isis.

This 3.5m-long beast is plated in 24-carat gold and is worth at least US$300,000 ($377,000).

Prevette met Nehme via Bat out of Hell Customz n' Classics, a Whakatane shop that he established, and convinced him to bring the award-winning machine to New Zealand for its first show outside America.

"I haven't seen Nehme-sis myself, but it's totally mind-blowing from what I've seen in the media," says Prevette.

"Its name is a play on the name of its owner and builder Sam Nehme, who heads a Florida mega motorcycle dealership and custom motorcycle shop, called Broward Motorsports and BMS Choppers respectively.

"In the world of custom choppers, which is dominated by Harley-Davidson powered machines, Nehme-sis is unique in that it started with a stock-standard Yamaha Road Star, which in US terms makes it a 'metric' chopper.

"Built in 2006, Nehme-sis made history by being the first metric chopper to win the Biketoberfest Rats Hole show in the show's 38 year history. If you follow custom bikes at all, you'll know how significant this is. Since then it's won virtually every other custom bike award in the US.

"It's one of the most expensive custom bikes ever built, it's fully rideable with its amazing 360mm wide rear tyre - wow!"

Nehme is quoted as saying: "With Nehme-sis, I saw myself as making the Frankenstein monster of motorcycles. I wanted to be different and do all that it was possible to do in one bike; to push myself further than ever - as if this was my last build."

All that remains of the original Yamaha Road Star is the 1700cc engine, the part of the frame that has the engine mounts, and the neck of the frame since that part includes the VIN number and Nehme wanted to keep this bike titled as a Yamaha Road Star.

One of the toughest parts of the build was the design and extensive testing of the single-sided front fork - the main spar of which is nearly a metre long. It incorporates an air-ride system that works in tandem with the single-sided swing-arm rear. It doesn't need a stand, as with the 30cm of scope to raise and lower Nehme-sis, it can be parked on its frame rails, making the insane 360mm rear tyre look even bigger.

The fuel tank is split in two, with one half containing gas, the other electronics. An automatic clutch and a clever electronic grip shifter help clean up the overall lines. The rider selects gears by rotating the left handgrip, which can also switch modes to control the air-ride suspension on the fly.

Nehme-sis will be on show at Speedshow in July next year, with Prevette happily admitting to using custom contacts like Sam Nehme to further stretch the scope of the already-packed show format.

"CRC Speedshow has always had a strong motorsport emphasis - we're not going to lose that, but as the show has grown substantially, it's now at the point where it's a multi-faceted show that incorporates ... pretty much anything new and exciting that will fuel the passion of motoring enthusiasts."

- NZ Herald

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