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Waterjet Cutting

Rally on wheels

By Gretchen Salois

Lorenzo Lamas mobilizes support for American troops

July 2011 - Americans owe a lot of gratitude to the servicemen and women who protect citizens’ freedoms. While no amount of compensation can repay the sacrifices soldiers make in the name of freedom, some people attempt to help soldiers in any manner they can.  Reality TV personality Lorenzo Lamas’ Lorenzo Cycles, Santa Monica, Calif., is leading a motorcycle ride across the United States to raise cash for U.S. active military and veterans on custom bikes made specifically for the event.

The “Rumble for the Heartland” tour takes place during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in August. The ride begins at Ft. Devils Tower, Wyo., and follows an 80-mile route to the Buffalo Chip in Sturgis, S.D.

Since Lorenzo Cycles’ inception in 2007, founding partners Lorenzo Lamas and Chad Greulach, a television producer, set out to create a respected brand of custom motorcycles and give back to the community by helping America’s servicemen, women and veterans. “We’re going into our third year,” Greulach says. “Lorenzo Lamas had to establish credibility as a rider, and the bikes had to be rock solid. That’s when we turned to Eddie Trotta, founder of Thunder Cycle Design, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and Ralph Randolph, founder of Knockout Motorcycle Co., Mesa, Ariz.”

The company currently offers four types of bikes: the Icon, the Badlander, the Patriot and the Reno Rocket. The bikes are custom-made and incorporate products by sponsors. The Reno Rocket features a commissioned detailing of Patron Tequila. Randolph had to “incorporate the brand into the bike and still have a decent look for it,” Randolph says. “Not just sticking pieces all over the bike—we tried to incorporate the brand into the bike."

Randolph used a waterjet to cut the sides out of aluminum and welded it together to create the oil reservoir. “So when it’s running, you can see the oil moving inside,” he adds. Randolph used a great deal of aluminum, stainless steel and mild steel. “The exhaust is stainless and the frame is mild steel,” Randolph says. “I like to work with aluminum because of the way it welds. It moves when you’re shaping it and it’s lighter. Plus, you can polish it and it doesn’t necessarily need paint.”

Old-school inspiration, modern twist
For the rally, Randolph is working on “old-school bikes,” inspired by a throwback to the bike designs of the 1950s while adding the modern conveniences and amenities available for today’s models. “The bike itself is more comfortable than in the 1950s, with the design modeled after the old school ‘Betty Page’ era,” Randolph says. “What we do is do a take on the retro style and put modern components on it.”

To achieve a style evocative of the 1950s, “we use the old-school method when shaping the tanks,” Randolph says. He hammers a lead-filled leather bag to shape the steel. He then uses an English wheel to smooth out the ripples the hammer leaves behind. “The metal urging—it’s all handmade, oil bags, gas tanks—we do a lot of stuff with the controls and some casting with aluminum, all formed by hand,” he adds. Randolph says his team also incorporated modern billet parts onto the bike but still used the old-style method of sand casting.

“When you do things by hand, it’s rich, has soil to it,” Randolph says. “You take flat pieces of metal and it holds fuel and has a cool shape to it and actually has some soul to it. It hasn’t been stamped out by the hundreds.”

Randolph’s attention to detail is no surprise, given that he has a particular connection to the rally’s cause. He served as a U.S. Marine, and giving back to the military is a personal priority. When he’s not at his day job flying commercial planes for US Airways, Randolph is at his shop, working on custom creations.

Randolph’s involvement with Lorenzo Cycles stems from the company’s beginning. Randolph helped get the company going and continues to build intricate bikes. “I was a Marine and giving back to the military guys and having that whole piece makes it real,” Randolph says. “Once you’ve been there, you have a certain connection with guys that are still doing it.” Randolph also worked on a Jim Beam bike for Lorenzo Cycles, raising $100,000 for the military. “For me, it’s a connection at a different level. It’s the soul part of bending metal and making a flat piece of steel into something functional—it’s an important connection,” he says. FFJ

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