It was little more than a year ago when the world of MMA was rocked by the tragic news that one of its most prominent figures had fallen.
Charles Lewis Jr., or "Mask" as many knew him, was taken from this world in a tragic auto accident.
Needless to say when such an important figure is lost it brings an entire community to its knees.
Mask and the rest of the Tapout Crew, Punkass and Skyscrape, helped pioneer the branding of MMA across an entire generation of fans. Their contributions to MMA have been priceless.
At times in life, tragedy gives way to triumph. Many times a Phoenix has risen from the ashes of heartache, loss, and pain. Now is one of those times.
Even though the legend of Mask has come to a close, his ability to influence, inspire, and give back still burns brightly.
It is in his memory that AKA Custom Cycles brought together the resources and expertise to customize and transform a pristine 2009 Suzuki Hayabusa.
What was originally already a filthy bike, has been broken down and built back up sparing no detail, and now has become something truly not of this world.
Built in memory of the late Charles Lewis, the bike is themed with him, his partners, and their American Arrogance in mind. What is probably the most compelling detail of the bike is that triumph through tragedy mentioned earlier.
For every minuscule detail that was refined to make this bike better, it is the intentions of AKA's owners Jason and Meredith Peterson that shine most brightly.
Now that the bike is complete and touring the country with DUB Magazine, there is only one purpose. Not to sell it, but to raffle it with the proceeds to benefit various children's organizations both locally in Arizona and nationwide as well.
Jason and Meredith were generous enough to allow the bike to be used for a photo shoot at a local Tucson Gym, the world class Apex MMA owned by pro fighter Joey Rivera.
So in the name of charity, a local writer, local bike builder, and local MMA gym teamed up with the memory of a legend and UFC Hall of Famer to hopefully eventually brighten the day of a child in need. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Why not check it out and see what we came up with.
At the end of the slide show you will find details of how a modest $10 can win you this bike.
Jason was kind enough to break down some of the finer points of the bike for us, so we could get better acquainted with it.
"It's a 2009 Suzuki Hayabusa. It has 1,340 CCs. It has been heavily modified. The bike itself probably has about 400 to 450 hours of work into it. About 350 of that being in the paint."
When you consider how much time and effort went into building up this machine, it's not hard to believe the value estimate AKA puts on this bike. But the true value is in the smiling faces that will certainly shine when this bike truly serves its purpose.
"Right now were estimating the bike at $55k, but were raffling it off for $10 donations. The donations are being made to various children's organizations."
"Make a Wish is going to get quite a bit in the end. We're donating to three chapters of Make a wish. It will be Southern Arizona chapters, the Orange County Inland Empire Chapter because that's where Tapout is located. Also make a wish of America."
"Proceeds will also benefit the Tucson Police Officer's Association children's charity foundation so that a lot of local kids are going to benefit from this. That organization helps with kids who don't get a chance to have Christmas, or they don't have money for school clothes or school supplies anything like that."
"We really wanted to bring some of the money back to Tucson and show that local support even though this raffle is worldwide."
Such a grand machine deserved a fitting introduction, and AKA could not have picked a better place to pull back the curtains on this mesmerizing creation.
"We unveiled it at SEMA in November. Since then its been on tour with DUB. We kind of picked them up as a sponsor. They like having the bike there so they offered to transport it to numerous shows."
"We went from Las Vegas to the L.A. Auto Show, Detroit Auto Show, Philadelphia, Atlanta, came back through Dallas. It just got back from that road tour."
Jason and his crew took every step to ensure this bike was a one of a kind fingerprint, not trendy, but perhaps trendsetting.
"It has one off wheels. These wheels were custom made specifically for this bike. Usually you see spoke wheels on cruisers, Harley's, and choppers. We decided to put them on this bike just to give it a unique look. "
Jason went on to explain, "Along with that we went with a single sided swing arm from Greg's Custom. It gives it the look of the rear wheel floating from what they call the money side, or the right side of the bike."
Again, no detail was spared, all stones were overturned when they tore into this bike.
"We've got custom grips from SMT, we've got custom levers, gauge bezels, handle bars, triple trees, over-sized brakes, adjustable rear sets, adjustable lowering links, a custom made seat. Everything that you could basically touch on this bike, we've touched and modified in one way or the other."
Jason talked about the desire to seek out only the best artist to bring their bike to life.
"Killer Kreations is owned by Freddy Sicoli. He is the artist that basically took all of our concepts and put them on the bike. We worked real close with him."
"He designed pretty much everything that you see as far as artwork. A paint job like this, he's got about 300-350 hours into it. You're looking about a $13k paint job."
Some things go without saying, and when you lay your eyes on this paint job, you instantly understand this isn't your every day custom bike.
"We've got pictures of Punkass and Scrape sitting right next to their portraits and it looks exactly like them. We've compared photographs of Mask and you just cant beat Killer Kreations."
"They're top notch and that's why we chose them. We did a lot of research before choosing who was going to do our paint and now we deal with them exclusively."
Jason talked about the loud nature of the design.
"We are officially licensed by Tapout. As far as Tapout goes, they don't do anything real low key, everything is over the top. So we had to do that with the bike and give it a unique feel."
Of course this bike is just the tip of the iceberg with AKA. It is one of a small army of head-turning masterpieces they have created.
"We're based here in Tucson, we've been in business for about five years. We will do anything from custom sport bikes to street fighters, choppers, baggers, were not real picky."
"If you've got a motorcycle you want customized, we will do it. We will do anything from the smallest parts to a full custom build." He went on to explain "We just like making things look cool."
Joey Rivera and Nicole Forzano of Apex were elated to have the bike in their gym. They were honored and so willing to share their facilities for the shoot.
The setting really fit the tone of what this bike is all about, which is MMA and the good people that make it up as a sport.
And while this may be a machine built for the open road, its roots were inspired in a gym, so it was fitting to shoot it in the best gym in town.
It is also worth noting that Sky Andren of Fight Legion Fighter Management actually coordinated this entire deal. Without him actually linking us all together, this piece may not have come together.
When Jason was asked what the fellas over at Tapout thought of the bike, he had this to say.
"They love it, we were out there back in December. We're going back out next week. We're going to be in the Tapout booth at the UFC Fan Expo, that's coming up in May. I encourage everybody to go out there."
Jason definitely wanted to share how fans or enthusiasts could do their part to not only support a noble cause, but take a crack at winning the baddest bike you might ever see.
"Go to akacustomcycles.com, the link is on there and you can purchase tickets. They're $10 a piece and there's no limit to how many you can buy."
"Someones going to get real lucky and pick up an extremely nice bike for $10. If you don't win you can feel good about the money going to kids that need it, kids that have life-threatening illnesses, or kids a lot less fortunate than the rest of us."
Well said Jason, it is truly a win win for a small donation that many of us would drop on lunch any day of the week. Why not redirect some funds and give it a shot?
What you see here is not the most clear photo taken that day, but the most powerful one in my opinion. It displays a man and his masterpiece in a fitting setting for the message behind this effort.
The man against the ring is Jason, and it just seemed like a great picture to share to close the slide show out with.
Jason is very serious about getting the message on this bike out to the fans of this sport. So serious in fact that he offered up his own cell phone number for those who may have questions about the bike, or how to attain tickets.
So if you would like further information on the bike, or just want a few tickets, give him a ring at 520-248-0856, or visit akacustomcycles.com for more information.
Jason and Meredith, thank you for what it is that you are doing, and thank you for your time. On behalf of all of MMA we tip our caps to your most noble of efforts, you make us proud. It was an honor helping you spread the word on your efforts to help these kids.