The Wrench Scout Bobber Build-Off
INDIAN Announced the Top Three Finalists
Submissions were collected from those who build for the passion. The panel of judges including Jordan Mastagni, Roland Sands, Satya Kraus and Jason Paul Michaels, reviewed each one and counted your votes. Congratulations to our top three finalists: PJ Grakauskas, Alfredo “Fred” Juarez and Christian Newman.
Each of the top three builders will receive a new 2018 stock Indian Scout Bobber and a build budget of $10,000. The three custom Scout Bobbers will be unveiled in July, followed by a fan vote. The winner will be announced at the Legendary Buffalo Chip during the 2018 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
Finalist: PJ Grakauskas
From Avon, OH
On a quiet suburban street outside of Cleveland, Ohio, while his wife and two boys are sound asleep inside the house, PJ sits under a single light in his 10×12 shed toiling away on his motorcycles. Looking in, it can be difficult to imagine how he has built the immaculate café racers that bear his name in such a small space, but they had to get done, and this was his space to make them. When you build bikes because it’s your passion, you don’t make excuses.
Through his younger days, he raced dirt bikes in several local Ohio circuits until a couple pretty serious crashes lead to his departure from the sport. The thrill of speed and passion for motorcycles, however, would never leave. Now Grakauskas works as a safety inspector for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), inspecting job sites to ensure they meet the highest safety standard. Like many amateur builders, PJ’s past builds have been vintage heaps that he saved from the junker or crashed bikes that he could salvage and redesign. Building a custom on a new platform won’t be the only first for PJ, though—he’s never built an American V-twin. And believe it or not, this is also the first time someone has given him $10,000 and a free motorcycle. For this competition, PJ is building a full-fairing café racer out of his Scout Bobber. He will be making the entire fairing by hand in his shed, as well as upgrading performance components like suspension, brakes, intake and exhaust. As beautiful as this bike will look when it’s all finished, PJ assures us it will ride even better.
Finalist – Alfredo Juarez
Meet NASA engineer and The Wrench: Scout Bobber Build-Off finalist Alfredo Juarez
From the moment we saw Alfredo’s drawing, we could tell he was a very unique contestant. Drawn to scale with measurements he took from a Scout at a local dealership and a picture of the engine, the concept has style and flow but also the engineering and mechanical aspects that only a real builder would include. In Fred’s words “I am definitely not a paper engineer. I can turn a wrench. I’ve got the gear, the skills, the experience, knowledge, drive and the work ethic to get this done.” When he was in high school, Fred got a two-stroke dirt bike—something that would just be a fun toy for most people, but it changed Fred’s life. He started taking auto shop classes to help understand the inner workings of his engine, and it motivated him through school to be on time and get good marks. He wanted to be a motorcycle mechanic, but his shop teacher saw the same rare skill we saw in his design and told him, “You should be designing them, not fixing them.” And so his journey to become and engineer began.
When he started college, he bought a MIG welder and got to fabricating, starting with the making tools he would need to shape sheet metal and bend tube. After school, he would work on building roll cages and fixing banged up muscle cars until he finished his degree and was offered a job as a high performance machinist. Once again acting on the recommendation of a teacher who saw his potential, he turned down the job and went on to pursue his master’s degree. He bought a TIG welder, which led to the purchase of a mill, then a lathe. His fabrication got better, tighter and more precise. It was in these years he had the creative freedom to really explore the art of design, while pursuing his education. When he finally got his degree, he was offered a job running flammability tests for NASA, which he took and has been at to this day. While his build seems incredibly ambitious in the short timeline, his work at NASA meeting harsh deadlines and his lifelong passion for motorcycles, engineering and fabrication, have made him ready for the task.
Finalist: Christian Newman
Building a motorcycle from scratch is a behemoth of a task on its own. Now imagine taking every little detailed metal component that you made for that bike, and polishing it to a mirror finish. Then welding it to whatever piece it attaches to, and grinding and polishing your welds out to match. Professional builders will scratch their heads looking at Christian’s 1940 V-twin chopper that was almost entirely manually machined out of stainless steel and absolutely covered in gorgeous minute details, wondering “How does this guy have the time?” and not knowing that he is a full-time mechanical engineer, only able to work on bikes after 6pm and on the weekends.
When heading into a motorcycle build, Christian approaches it differently than most customizers. Rather than knocking it out, using cheap, easy methods, or whatever will get the job done quickly, Newman will attack the project with manual machinery. This undoubtedly takes longer and many would say it requires more skill, but it has resulted in an unparalleled attention to detail that Christian is becoming well known for. Newman’s love for motorcycles started young, picking up the passion from his dad. In fact, when he found the first bike his dad ever bought at a garage sale, he knew it was destined to be his first as well, and took it home that day. That 70’s CB would become the first of many builds for Christian, though he never got any real fabrication training. Being a tinkerer his whole life, he just figured it out. Perhaps it was the need to figure these things out on his own that has led to his willingness to teach and share his knowledge, as he will often post how-to’s or the details of his work for like-minded individuals to benefit from.
Given the short timeline of this build, Christian knows better than to try to build a frame out of stainless steel and polish it all up again. For The Wrench Build Off, he is utilizing the stock chassis of the Scout Bobber with a Crazy Frank fender, custom wheels and a scratch-built swingarm to completely change the look of the bike. He describes it as sort of an 80’s swingarm chopper look, and we can’t wait to see how it all comes together.