JACKSON CENTER, Ohio – After nearly 80 years, millions of rivets and countless miles travelled, the Airstream brand has left an indelible mark on adventurers, rebels, design buffs and explorers around the world. Now the company known for its sleek lines and all-American style has a new model going into its showroom. It features the same brilliant silver skin and unparalleled craftsmanship, but this Airstream has three wheels and a thundering v-twin powerplant. The Airstream Bike, a custom sidecar-equipped chopper built by master metalworker Jesse James and his crew at West Coast Choppers (WCC) in Long Beach, California, made its debut earlier this year at The Legend of the Motorcycle in Half Moon Bay, California. After some minor tuning, the bike was officially delivered to Airstream headquarters in Jackson Center this week.
James’ fascination with the brand’s iconic lines and elegant design inspired him to build the bike. He approached Bob Wheeler, president and CEO of Airstream, who suggested a joint project to commemorate Airstream’s 75th Anniversary, in which James would design a bike based on Airstream DNA and design cues. Rather than using a new model as his muse, James looked to the very first all-aluminum Airstream, the 1936 Clipper.
The polished aluminum bike was completely handmade in true Airstream-fashion, using the construction techniques of the trailer company, starting with flat sheets of aluminum that were hand formed around the sidecar’s frame and bonded with hundreds of blind rivets. The bike is based on a WCC200 Dominator frame with a 32-degree rake, a hand-built 113-cubic inch S&S V-Twin engine, a Baker 6-speed transmission, Primo belt drive, Brembo brakes, an 880 Metzeler tire on the front with a 200-series Metzeler tire on the rear and WCC “Super Duper” handlebars. It also features West Coast Choppers grips, six-gun 2-inch risers and took about a year to build. The sidecar body and bike trim are constructed of 3003 grade aluminum that was hand formed and finished with blind rivets, utilizing the same monocoque construction method that Airstream has been using for nearly eight decades. The most unique feature is the sidecar chassis, which houses the 5 gallon gas tank and battery behind the seat.
“I’ve been a fan of Airstreams for a long time,” says Jesse James, founder of West Coast Choppers. “I understand the Airstream mystique and wanted to use one as inspiration for a bike, and lines and vintage feel of the chopper were actually inspired by a 1936 Airstream Clipper.”
The one-of-a-kind bike also has a toolbox above the engine where the gas tank usually resides. The hand-tooled and stitched leather, fully polished engine and transmission, powder coated chassis components and the vintage style waterjet-cut Airstream badge on the nose are all meant to invoke the classic feel of American workmanship prevalent in every Airstream trailer.
“Design and craftsmanship are core Airstream values, and whenever we have the opportunity to work with world-class design talent like Jesse James and WCC we take it,” says Bob Wheeler, president and CEO of Airstream. “Our trailers are very much like every bike Jesse builds: hand-crafted products and American-made pieces of rolling sculpture that are packed with modern technology and fun to use. Both inspire the spirit of adventure, and in the end that’s what this bike is all about.”
. Airstream, Inc., of Jackson Center, Ohio is the oldest recreational vehicle manufacturer in the world. Today’s Airstreams are the perfect blend of retro exterior style, modern interior luxury and convenience, and rugged all-American construction. A complete line of Airstream models makes any excursion, from day trips to the beach to cross-continental treks, a comfortable and exciting journey. Adventure, inspired by Airstream. For more information please visit www.Airstream.com, call 877-596-6111 or contact Airstream, Inc., 419 West Pike Street, P.O. Box 629, Jackson Center, Ohio 45334.