Thursday, February 16, 2012


The 'Bathing Suit' Vincent of Rollie Free
Sculptor Jeff Decker has collaborated with Double RL to sell a limited-edition line of belt buckles from his Hippodrome Studios.  Jeff also collects, and sometimes modifies, some very rare motorcycles, a few of which he brought to the Melrose Ave RRL store in LA for a post-Inspiration party.
Jeff Decker with Ian Barry of Falcon Motorcycles.
I wrote a brief article about Jeff for Motorcycle News (MCN) in England last year, for their 'Retro' (Sep. 2011) special issue.  To give a little background about the man, here's the article:
Decker's customized Crocker; unafraid to make controversial choices, and built to suit his tastes
"Jeff Decker is as famous for being a strong character as much as for his art, which is a shame, as he’s a truly gifted sculptor. Watching Decker shape clay is a quick dictionary lesson in ‘talent’; little blobs of nothing magically cohere under his fingers, and suddenly a shirt is rippling in the wind, cheeks pressed against a skull, a Cyclone cam drive -right down to the nuts- is released from its prison of moistened dirt. From humble clay and wax, later cast in bronze, come a the heady tang of exhaust, sweaty determination, the roar of engines and crowds, an evocation of lost eras of men wrapped over primitive machines, racing for their lives, sometimes losing them. As Frederick Remington did for the cowboys, so Jeff Decker does for motorcyclists.
'West Was Won'
His prodigious gift for sculpting men and motorcycles earned him an exclusive deal with Harley-Davidson to ‘represent’ HD in bronze, and a monumental flailing hillclimber greets visitors to the HD Museum in Milwaukee. His sculptures of Rollie Free’s 150mph Vincent stretchout and battling board track racers romanticize a lost era of dangerous masculine competition, a man-credo Jeff embodies with his gruff, opinionated persona and patch-wearing membership in the Sinners cycle club.
A 1916 Harley 8-Valve Board Track racer in miniature, at the moment of victory
Decker’s moto-streak runs deep, and his passionate knowledge of the subject extends to a profound collection of biker club 'cuts', paintings, and actual motorcycles, which he’s been collecting since they were cheap. He grew up surrounded by mechanical torch-bearers like his father, a collector of flathead hotrods and parts, a man with a good eye in the early SoCal hotrod scene, and whose buddies nowadays bring awe to young wannabes. Decker is the real deal, and isn’t afraid of anyone’s opinion, customizing revered brands like Crocker and Vincent to express his own lines. As expected for a talented artist, the results are harmonious while respecting the past, and lend the old warhorses a renewed super-cool."
Directing traffic in the retail-cum-gallery space
The Crocker in the hay
The Crocker engine was its genius, plus the styling of the original.  What made Al Crocker famous - even though a mere 100 of his powerful v-twins were made from 1936-42 - was his powerful engine, pumping out 55hp when an HD or Indian made do with 40hp.  Decker has built a custom frame, using an AMC 4-speed gearbox.

The Hippodrome belt buckles for Double RL
This sculpture of a hillclimbing Harley ('By the Horns') was commissioned by Willie G. Davidson  for use outside the new Harley Davidson Museum...but life-size.
Jeff's personal 1930 Harley Davidson 'DAH' 750cc OHV hillclimber
'Ruby', 'The King and his Ride', 'The Wrecking Crewe (Jim Davis AMA trophy bust)', '1916 Big Valve Excelsior'

The DAH Hillclimber sits outside with an H-D 'CAC' speedway racer.

Plenty of partygoers check out the scene
Kelly Decker
A poetic motion in a violent moment


GuitarSlinger said...

As always Paul , great article and photos

Any chance of doing a feature here on Jeff's Crocker and Vincent customs ?

Grandpa Jimbo said...

The last shot, of the Harley racing the mustang, is me.

Miniver Cheevey

Anton Dee said...

Awesome! Love and admire the detailing; even better than most scale-models!
And than that Crockerrrrr...

Anonymous said...

Is that really a Ceriani GP fork in that Crocker?
Nice taste to combine some of the best :-)


Radical Twin said...

good job !
more bikes, pin-up and girls ?
Radical Flat Twin (, Bikes, Babes, Tatttoos and Rock'n'Roll ... Enjoy !

Anonymous said...

I noticed that fork myself and asked a neighbor who is aquainted with Decker about it. He said it's a standard Harley fork that Decker machined to look like a RR Ceriani. Pretty convincing!

Đá Nguyễn said...

wow, love motorcycle in this post, very nice
The Scooterist