I wrote this story for Ride Oklahoma Magazine in January 2009.
Tommy Bolton, championship drag racer, race winning engine tuner, and hot-rod Hayabusa builder, recently ran across a 2006 Yamaha Stratoliner that was in need of some tender loving care. On a recent trip to Houston, Tommy spotted the shell of the Yamaha’s big v-twin cruiser that had suffered the ravages of Hurricane Katrina.
After close inspection of the engine to ensure it was free from water damage, Tommy offered the owner the miserly sum of $400, expecting to be turned down without comment. Surprisingly the owner accepted Tommy’s offer. Shortly thereafter the battered Yamaha was loaded in the back of Tommy’s pickup, heading north to Oklahoma City and a complete “Tombo Touch” rebuild.
What is the “Tombo Touch”? While normally used to turn the latest high performance 4-cylinder sport bikes into tire shredding, arm stretching, fire breathing machines of polished chrome and glistening paint, this time it was used to breath fire and sparkle into Yamaha’s big 1854cc (113 cubic inch) V-Twin bruiser.
The first step was to completely disassemble the bike and have the frame, front forks and wheels powder coated black by the wizards at Coat Pro. This provides a longer lasting and more durable finish than a painted frame. While the bike was apart, Tommy sent the frame to Steve Moyer, who straightened the frame and lowered the front and rear end 1.5” to give the bike it’s mean, low, aggressive stance.
While the bike was apart, Tommy sent the seat to Eli at Easy Trim for a custom alligator covering. “I caught the alligator by hand, wrestled him to the ground, and pealed the skin right off him so we could use for this seat” jokes Tommy. “Stay tuned for pictures!” Tommy also wrestled his friends at R&B cycles for a set of Harley Davidson beach bars low profile tires, which enhanced the low profile look he was after.
Of course, any Tombo Touch bike would not be complete with Tommy working his magic on the engine. Tommy used his experience of building six second/250 mph drag bikes to tweak extra performance out of the big Yamaha motor. A set of Patrick Racing cams improved engine airflow, adding power to the top end and increasing torque. A set of straight Cobra exhaust pipes give the bike a deep, throaty rumble.
To add the finishing touch to Tommy’s metric screamer, he called Tim Rains at 2Brothers Painting to apply the custom paint job. “Tommy first suggested a two tone job, but I felt this bike would be look better with flames” said Tim. Tommy agreed and told Tim “Do your thing!” Tim chose PPG paint with a base coat of black. He then applied the flames and added a PPG clear coat. “The clear coat is crucial, since it protects the base coat and makes the paint more durable” explains Tim.
After 3 months the end result is a low slung, pavement wrinkling Yamaha Stratoliner returned to life from the ravages of Hurricane Katrina by a master bike builder. Punching the starter button on the big Yamaha immediately brings to life a deep, powerful rumble. Unlike some V-twin’s that are all noise and no power, you know this lump of steel has plenty of ponies under the hood. Flicking the bike into first gear and dropping the clutch will easily light up the rear tire as the ample torque makes it easy to burn off some expensive rubber. As with any Tombo Touch bike, you know it is not only going to look great, but have some serious power under the tank. Yet unlike a full on drag race bike, Tommy’s street legal creations are easy to live with and maintain. You get high performance along with “ street-ability”. “I like to make great looking bikes that go fast, but I want to keep the bike reliable so the owner can enjoy riding the bike and not working on it” explains Tommy.
In our opinion he was successful on both counts. This bike not only looks great, but it goes very, very fast! Tommy Bolton, with the help of the local Oklahoma motorcycling community, resurrected this broken beauty from the scrap piles of Hurricane Katrina to cruise the mean streets of Oklahoma in style.