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‘Sub Zero’ S&S Shovelhead – Gasolina

Posted on November 5, 2014 by Scott in Bobber. 24 comments


Written by Martin Hodgson.

There are many ways to start the build of a custom motorcycle; owning a bike that’s just begging to be modified, scoring a wreck and restoring it to your own style or sitting down with pen and paper to design like you’re Tamburini. But Carl Cerra threw convention out the window and started his build with just one item, a rear tire and from there he built a custom masterpiece.

Carl is the lead designer at Gasolina in Melbourne Australia and as he describes it “I bought the Hoosier tire first and said I wanted to build a bike around it just because I like the Hoosier font!” With a rear tire picked out Carl needed a frame to mate it too and with a love of the work of Shinya Kimura, “He is the master of proportion and can make something odd look awesome”, Carl entered into negotiations with Zero Engineering to secure one of their incredible frames. With the Zero frame on the stand, the Japanese theme just made perfect sense and the name Sub Zero was born.


Matching perfectly to the design brief of the motorcycle is the industrial S&S Shovelhead engine filling out the frame. While the classic Baker 6 speed with kickstart gives the build timeless classic appeal. Carl has a philosophy “Why hide it if you can showcase it?” and nothing puts things on show like an open primary ready to shred your jeans if your boot comes off the peg.


Speaking of pegs this is a bike that features many one off pieces including piano pedal footrests, hand turned wooden hand grips and a matching wooden box that houses the relays. Timber on a motorcycle is a huge risk, the look rarely works, but Carl’s outside the box thinking comes off again and the timber pieces fit the build perfectly. The levers are inverted and a Kawasaki master cylinder mounted on the front tube controls the leading brake.


The metal work is no less impressive with the tank having been narrowed and tunnelled while the paint process follows Carl’s very deliberate steps. “The rising sun was masked up then sand blasted. A few coats of candy red fading to orange then a clear coat. This exposes the grinding disk finish on the metal.” While completing the metal work is a custom fabricated exhaust in mild steel with exposed welds.


And then there is that big Hoosier drag tire mounted on a 15” rim laced to a Harley hub that gives the bike such an imposing look, while the equally impressive 21” rim takes care of the front end. The metal spun rear fender and strut setup are all Gasolina, finished with the YOROSHIKU graphics. Which Carl tells us is “an old school expression with a double meaning that Japanese bikers wrote on their jackets. You might want to look it up ;)”. Six months in the making Sub Zero is a bike like no other, it all seems to come easily to Carl who has made a statement that is very much more than just that Hoosier tire.


  • Seth Schwols

    Oh, I’m digging this bike! The thought of a bike built off a Hoosier dragger was executed so well. Exposed primary looks intimidating as , and the wooden accents add a bit of sophistication (something I had considered for a build of my own and previously discarded as crazy). I’ll def. Be putting a pic up in the shed for inspiration

    • Spyker May

      Gooseneck frames have the x-factor. When done well it is a guaranteed show-piece.

      The Zero Eng gooseneck “chopper” (as in ‘proper’ – ie a frame ‘chopped’ down and not up and out as pop-culture would have it) is the result of Japanese custom fraternity’s fastidious obsession with the perfect stance – not cake-decorations as is often the case elsewhere.

      I speak under correction, but I think I read somewhere the frame is 1″ down and 2″ out – but please correct me (it was some years back that I briefly read it).

      Zero ‘choppers’ are meant to be ridden, so I am not big on the Hoosier, but it does certainly look the part when standing around. It would be an absolute crime to see serious damage to limbs and/or machine, if she disappears from under you, as you wring the throttle out of a tight corner.

      The first time I have seen a Zero Type 5/6 with a larger narrow front wheel (only seen the fat 16″ ones) – it looks rather neat though. Again – with that straight-line Hoosier at the back – eeeek, this lady could become a handful on a slippery dance-floor…

      I just do not like wood on a custom motorcycle – it smacks of ‘fake’ and ‘pretentious’ (ie it weighs too much and offers little structurally – it is not a yacht!), but here it used sparingly and actually looks cool (hope it lasts).

      The rest is perfect. And as a show bike (likely the primary intent), it will pull the plenty selfies, wherever it is on show. The Ausies may not be able to play cricket no more – but they seem to develop a knack for custom iron…

      • arnold

        Wood, if properly ‘cured’ by immersion in PEG (polyethylene glycol) will stand the weather for a very long time. It is a legitimate beef that you make about wood.
        Mine is with leather accessories and accents that are used in the weather. Careful maintenance will prolong life of wood, leather or ‘rubber’, but in the end the chances of it lasting a lifetime are zero.ald

        • arnold

          The drag bike style is well done here except for the forward foot controls. Thanks Mr May for pointing out the goose neck, which many of us would have missed without you saying something.

  • bjparker

    Well done bobber. There are lots of beautiful details here to like. I personally like the exhaust better without the wrap, though I actually don’t mind wrap that much. I think the beautiful steel should be exposed (as in the first pic), but my guess is that somebody got tired of a hot right leg. That back fender is really creative and the paint job on the gas tank is gorgeous.

    • TJ Martin

      Thats ‘ Drag Bike ‘ style son … not a ‘ Bobber ‘ ! The back tire and stance alone making the Drag Bike designation obvious . And being a Drag Bike makes the exhaust wrap entirely relevant to the overall build . Fact is this is one of the few customs of late where exhaust wraps are appropriate rather than blatant pretense . On all else though .. we’re in agreement .

      • bjparker

        Martin, great write up. Gasolina, this is one of the most beautiful builds I’ve seen in a while. Digression from a spectacular build: T. J. – 1) no need to be condescending with “son.” I don’t think you’ve earned that rapport. 2) there sure is a lot of overlap between bobber and drag bike in this build. I look at the bikes from Zero Engineering and see tricked out bobbers. I will grant you that the hoosier tire injects some mean drag attitude, though. Additionally, a bobber is low, long, stripped down, right? 3) the first pic has no pipe wrap and the pipes are stunning. 4) pipe wrap is good for keeping the legs from sizzling on any bike. 5) per our conversation about our own builds, you can see a pic of the T100 I’ve been working on for while here:

        • TJ Martin

          Apologies for the ‘ son ‘ comment if any offense was taken . Its more to do with my age [ 50+ ] than any condescension or insult … implied or otherwise intended towards yourself . As far as rapport is concerned … thats irrelevant in my opinion as far as my use of ‘ son ‘ in my response is concerned

          And sure … there are some aspects of ‘ Bobber ‘ to this [ then again Bobbers took their influences direct from Drag/Salt/Hillclimb bikes ] .. but no .. Bobbers are not in general ‘ stretched ‘ or lowered to this extent . The term ‘ Bobber ‘ by both M/C definition and history implying ‘ Shortened ‘ Therefore I’ll hold to the opinion that this is Drag Bike style .. not a Bobber . So perhaps … and again no offense at all intended or implied … you may want to rethink your definition of the terms .. Bobber & Drag Bike .

          As to #4 – Do you seriously think for a minute I don’t already know that ? #4 having more than a bit of a condescending tone to it

          #5 ? Some things are better off left on the table until an element of rapport as you stated is established . Capice ? 😉

  • Amazing job!

  • TJ Martin

    So this is a bike I probably shouldn’t like ….. Except … I do …

    And a tire choice is kind of a silly reason to base a custom on … Except it works

    And perhaps I could say there’s a little too much Shinya influence on this bike … Except .. well … there really isn’t … and like I said … it works .. in spades I might add

    So two thumbs up … call this a guilty pleasure if you must .. cause I’m liking this one … and have since I first came across it earlier this Fall . The only reasonable question remaining to be answered is .. is it ridable ?

    • Carl

      Love Your comments TJ. Yes it is ridable. I’ve had much enjoyment on it.

      • TJ Martin

        Thanks for the reply/answer ! You just knocked my overall opinion of the bike up another ten notches ! Not that it needed it mind you ! But you did !

    • MF

      Good onya TJ. You’re a loose unit, but I appreciate the flavour of your comments. Agree with your sentiment here, all except the million……….

    • Davidabl2

      There’s gonna be a helluva lot of Shinya in it ..he started Zero Engineering after all & it has a Zero Eng. frame.

  • Great stance from all angles. Perfect choice then in choosing that Hoosier tire as the cornerstone to build your vision on. Love how the solid base of rigid Americana under a veneer of Imperial Japan invites you to push your way to the front of any crowd and still be greeted with handshakes and high-fives.

  • Carl

    Hey Guys. Thanks for the awesome feed back. I should mention the talents of the Photographers that made this bike look so good. The first pic was taken by Luke Ray of Fuel Magazine and the rest from a young gun names Benjamin Galli.

    • Cliff Overton

      Great to see this bike featured Carl, I know how long you have been working on it. It is a beautiful beast.

      • Carl

        Thanks Cliff. Pop in some time.

    • bjparker

      Carl, I know I already commented above, but I’d like to reiterate that I think this is a gorgeous bike and that the quality of detail and finish is superb. Having just started working on bikes in the last 2 years for fun makes me really appreciate how much goes into something like this.

    • Cory Dean

      I’ve got the issue of Fuel with this beaut, show all my pals here in the state of Utah, they drool. Awesome build.

  • Junior Burrell

    Kick ass!!!!!!

  • jinu Jeong
  • jinu Jeong


    • Carl

      Chill Out Bro!