Eye Candy: A Bike Company Plays Pea-Shooter with the ABC 500
I’m not typically one to yoink two thumbs up for minimalist motorcycles – but even I have to admit that the ABC 500 is a pretty machine.
The bike’s stark design, ‘everything is carbon fiber vibe and homage to the rich heritage of American racing history, has created a heady cocktail keeping viewers coming back for more.
A Bike Company (yes, that’s actually their name) first showed the ABC 500 to the populace at The Quail in 2019, where it won an award for best Design and Style. Based on the Honda single-cylinder, the custom bike is the brainchild of car and motorcycle designer Niki Smart, who has worked for several major manufacturers – and this bike is the first that he has ever put in a show.
“My day-to-day job is designing cars, but I’ve always had a passion for motorbikes,” explains Smart to Jay Leno in the above Youtube interview.
“When I came to America, I discovered this board-track racing era that was really synonymous with American racing. Nothing like that really happened in Europe. We had Brooklyn’s, but the bikes that were developed, the proportion of the bikes..something about that just really captivated me.”
Upon Jay Leno’s mention of the engine’s volume within the bike, “the kind of American sandwich, too-much-meat-in-there” look, Niki agrees he prefers a simpler aesthetic.
“There was an area [in American racing history] where they were trying to reduce the crashes and lower the speed, and they chopped one of the cylinders off, and they called the bike pea-shooters – and that’s what really captivated me.”
From the solid bottle of a gas tank to the duck-billed, cantilevered seat, the bike screams skeletal – yet belies a subtle elegance that contributes to the beauty of the build.
The eyes are drawn initially to the ultra-low head of the ABC 500, then to the headlights – positioned on either side of the 26-inch front wheel – and finally to the 1980 Honda XL500s 500cc Engine, capable of puttering out a smooth 33 hp.