In the latest episode of Jay Leno’s Garage, Leno gives us a look at a truly unique custom—The ABC 500 Custom. ABC—which stands for “Another Bike Company”—is the brainchild of UK-born automotive designer Niki Smart. The bike itself is a throwback, retro-cool, board track-inspired custom ten years in the making ,and it shows.
Board track racers were known for big engines, skinny frames, and lack of brakes. Racing on wooden tracks, the oval events pulled in in crowds of over 100,000 people. It was a visceral kind of racing, and the perfect distillation of the free-wheeling early days of motorcycling. Board track racing didn’t survive the 1920s, but its style and excitement live on.
The 1981 Honda XL-derived 500cc lump is intriguing in that is has two exhaust pipes – despite being a single-cylinder engine. It also runs on a six-volt system, which made the electrical work a challenge. In the end, ultimately visual simplicity took an enormous amount of complex design and fabrication work. The speedo is unlabeled, save for the numbers 20, 40, and 60 through to 140.
The fuel tank was split around the single-spar frame, and pocketed out to hide the electronics, and even the front shock absorber from view. The Hossack girder-style suspension is a rare sight these days, and it helps give the ABC an intriguing stance. Hidden under the carbon-fiber seat is a small air shock, one which Jay Leno says he “definitely felt working” on his ride.
The wheels are 26-inch, with a 3-inch tire eight, giving a 29-inch overall diameter. Despite obvious disdain from Leno and Smart for the Choppers which these tires were originally designed for, they clearly enjoy the aesthetic delivered by the tall, skinny wheels.
The whole bike weighs just over 300 pounds makes about 33 hp, and is fully street legal with some of the most subtle lights you’ll see on any bike. That attention to minimalism helped the ABC win the Design and Style award at The Quail—one of the world’s most prestigious car and motorcycle shows.
You’ll want to watch the video multiple times to catch all the nuances of this genuinely incredible bike.