Las Vegas, the Desert City that never sleeps, where you win big or lose big. The destination of a thousand tales of excess and debauchery. As a day tripper it’s difficult to fathom that people actually come from there, a pop up mirage in a desert of open space. But they do. Aaron Jay Miller does, born and raised, and judging by the skills and passion this guy has, it can be a melting pot of creativity and purpose as well as decadence and demise.
Aaron is an artist and fabricator that builds props and sets for Theatre and Television, he currently works in the Vegas prop and fabrication shop of the legendary Cirque Du Soleil. If you have ever had the pleasure of seeing one of this troupe’s death defying, wondrous shows, you will know that precision, beauty and execution are essential in every aspect of their world. Luckily for us, Aaron has now begun to turn his craftsman hands to creating motorcycles. With the skill-set he has picked-up through his profession, it was inevitable that when he decided to create a motorcycle with the tools he had in his garage, something very special would emerge.
The starting point was a 72′ Honda cb350 found on craigslist in Utah. Aaron teamed up with buddy Phil, and they took on the trip to collect the bike and it’s re-assembly together, dividing the workload to conquer the build. Aaron approached bike building from the same perspective he uses to create custom art pieces, viewing the bike as art on wheels. With the end goal of a brat style scrambler they set to work. Buy the ticket, take the ride.
Phil began stripping down the bike, removing superfluous parts and cleaning out the carb, whilst Aaron set to work on the tank. After repairing a dent, stripping the paint and polishing it up Aaron decided the bare metal finish on the tank was just too cool to hide with paintwork. This decision infused the rest of the build, “the idea came up to build a bunch of custom parts out of steel for the bike and just do a brushed steel look for the whole bike.” The first of these steel fabrications were new fork shroud headlight brackets to replace the old tired chrome versions. These, of course, do not simply grip the original fibreglass headlight, Aaron made a new stepped, steel headlight shell and fitted a contrasting black peak to the lamp dropping a hint of steampunk into the brat look. Next up were the trick handlebars that were fabricated to incorporate a hidden mounting system that utilise the riser bolt holes. The cockpit is completed with a crescent steel moon dashboard incorporating simple clocks and warning lights. Chunky foot pegs were then turned and wrapped with skateboard deck tape to keep boots/Vans from the desert floor.
The stance of the bike was altered by dropping the forks 1.5 inches through the trees to generate a more parallel profile, emphasised by the matching sizes of the front and rear Kenda trials tires that frequently draw curious questions. Aaron further carved and cleaned the looks by lopping-off the rear framework and rebuilding it with 1 inch tubing to his desired proportions. Then life began to get in the way, (I guess Vegas can be a distracting town) “I got tied up with other projects and the bike sat for a bit, then I saw a flyer for the deus bike build off in LA and decided to finish it up and bring it to the event.” Work kicked on again in earnest.
Aaron built all new battery and electrical mounts then covered them with an aluminum seat pan. Next Aaron mined his group of talented friends and hired Cirque du Soleil colleague, Antonio, from the prop and puppet department to construct the leatherwork for the seat to his own specifications. Predictably Antonio’s work and craftsmanship yielded stunning results as well. (The seat has just enough room for a showgirl on the back, but with no pegs she would have to wrap those legs around you for the blast up the strip… Sorry, I deviate….) With only a day left before the Deus build off, Aaron fabricated a steel tail light and a natty license plate holder before hitting the road to L.A. at midnight. Awesome.
In Aaron’s words, “the bike did not win but it was well liked by everyone there which made me want to go home and build another right away. Which is exactly what I did, now my garage is filled with 6 bikes and I’m thinking about quitting my job to build bikes!” On this occasion we are very happy to say that what happens in Vegas, has not stayed in Vegas. Keep building em’ Aaron, and we will keep showing em’ on the ‘Shed.
Thanks go to Cierra Miller for the stunning, apt photography of this desert sled. Check out aaronjaymiller.com for more information.
Written & Posted by [email protected]