When it comes to building custom motorcycles, every builder has their own style. However, many custom bikes can still end up looking somewhat similar, unless there are some truly unique custom touches, or the style of the bike is one-of-a-kind.
When you see a Christian Newman hand-built motorcycle in person, you’re staring a piece of mechanical artwork in the face. There’s no question who built the motorcycle and how unique it is. Christian owns and operates CT Newman Engineering in Buffalo, NY, and he’s become well-known for his unique build style – incredibly custom, hand-built bikes that feature a clean, tidy and skinny appearance. Our own Jacqui Van Ham calls herself a Christian Newman mega fan, and likens his builds to a beautiful watch.
We caught up with Newman during the 2021 Fuel Cleveland show where he was displaying his Born Free-winning custom chopper – a scratch-built, turbocharged bike Christian calls the purple bike.
“I built almost every part of it,” Newman told us. “The engine from the cases up was built from scratch. The heads I made as well. They are 8-valve top ends with a ULH bottom end, so I’ve been calling it the 8-valve ULH, but really I call it the purple bike.”
The heads were left exposed so people could tell that it was an 8-valve, but also so people could see Christian’s craftsmanship on display.
“It’s a little bit more in your face,” Newman says. “I tried to design it with some classic Harley cues. It kind of looks like a shovelhead or a K model head. I wanted it to look like a Harley from 15 feet away, but when you got closer, you’d be able to tell it was something different.”
From 15 feet away, it’s a rad, purple bike. When you’re up close, you see all Christian’s little ah ha moments and intricate details. As mentioned, the bike reminds you of a watch and how all those little pieces come together to make one beautiful package.
The frame of the bike is all stainless steel. The fork is also stainless steel, which was hand polished and made from scratch. The bike’s motor features twin turbos and a transmission that was heavily modified. It’s also got what Christian refers to as a kind of strange kick start situation where the brake pedal actually flips up and doubles as the kick starter.
“I made the front and rear hubs,” he says. “I made the rear brake, the headlight, the taillight, and pretty much everything.”
Christian also says he took way too long on parts such as the kickstand, but having seen it, the result had to be worth it. Christian used a damped gas spring for the extend/retract duties with a “soft close” feature. Of course, like many parts on this bike, it’s also stainless steel, hand polished and very unique.
Another unique aspect of the bike is that it runs on AC current instead of DC, so there’s no rectifier. Just like your house, it uses AC current, but it’s only 14 volts.
“The thinking was you can get an AC voltage regulator that is only a quarter of the size as a pack of cigarettes, and it’s easier to hide,” Newman says. “It’s also just less kit. I’ve got a small tractor alternator sandwiched between my front mount magneto and my engine case, and that allows me to have a small, tidy package.”
Christian’s signature is incredible, hand-made bikes, but also incredibly tidy builds with skinny, skinny profiles. It’s that style which forces him to push creative boundaries of what’s possible on his bike builds, and “the purple bike” is no exception featuring plenty of creative, custom elements.
We’re glad we got to see this bike in person, and can’t wait to see what Christian Newman and CT Newman Engineering come up with next!
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