Jimmy Messina received a lung cancer diagnosis in 2019. Soon after, the mechanical engineer and experienced race mechanic quit his day job in order to undergo chemotherapy. However, Messina wasn’t going to let unfortunate circumstances stop him from realizing his dreams of building a one-of-a-kind custom motorcycle.
“After his diagnosis, Jimmy had to leave his job because of the constraints of his chemo treatment. So this project became part of his fight against cancer,” explained Messina’s father Michel. “Our main goal became the development of a prototype with the aim of manufacturing a small series of bikes in the USA, and in a way, live the American Dream.”
The father-son duo turned to Buell and Voxan for inspiration, but Messina had his own frame design in mind for RD Kustom’s first build—the SR1. After sourcing a Buell S1 Lightning V-twin for the project, Messina digitally modeled parts with Solidworks 3D and produced prototypes with a 3D printer.
Gallery: RD Kustom SR1: Buell S1 Lightning
Constructed from aircraft-grade aluminum, the frame consists of a 7075 tubular twin backbone mated to front and rear “blocks”. The lightweight frame increases both weight savings and rigidity by adapting the 1,203cc V-twin as a stressed member. A Ducati 1198 fork and braking system shores up the front end, while French suspension specialists EMC helped Messina realize his own undercarriage-mounted reverse monoshock design.
Items like the 17-inch Marchesini wheels, CNC-machined triple trees, and alloy single-sided swingarm sheds additional pounds, but the SR1 doesn’t just trim the fat, it also gains muscle. In stock form, the Buell engine pumped out 101 horsepower and 94.8 lb-ft of torque. Messina outfits the aging mill with twin 39mm Keihin FCR carburetors, hi-flow filters, and a custom 2-into-1 SC-Project exhaust for some extra oomph.
With such a radical take on an American darkhorse, RD Kustoms makes the SR1 stand out even more with an angular, KTM-esque aesthetic. From the diamond-shaped headlight cluster to the two-toned airbox/fuel tank combo to the sharp tail unit, the custom roadster’s form not only follows its function but also elicits emotion. That harmony of style and substance instantly captured the attention of the public.
“The motorcycle was unveiled in Italy for the finale of the AMD European motorcycle championships,” added Michel Messina. “Jimmy’s bike won the ‘Best of Show’ amongst 70 other motorcycles built by professional workshops. The win also earned him an invitation to the World finale in 2023.”