August 18, 2011 admin

From the Desert to the Streets

John Bell rides his Roaring Toyz Kawasaki ZX-14 between deployments.

We could tell you what John Bell does for a living, but then we’d have to kill you. Okay, maybe it’s not quite that extreme, but John does have an extraordinary job. And now, thanks to Roaring Toyz, he has an extraordinary Kawasaki ZX-14 to come home to between deployments.

John lives in Atlanta, Georgia, but he spends a lot of his time hanging out in the deserts of the Middle East. He’s a contractor for the Army, and he handles logistics for Army property. That means he keeps track of where computers, machinery and vehicles go. (Those Hummers don’t just appear out of nowhere!)

Iraq and Kuwait have often been John’s destination, but right now he’s working in Afghanistan. Over the past five years, he’s completed five deployments. Each one lasts six or seven months, so that doesn’t leave a lot of time at home during the year.

When he is home, John loves to ride. He bought a 2010 ZX-14 last year, just before heading out to Iraq. He knew he wanted to customize it, and plans for the bike came together while John was halfway around the world.

John drew up his own designs for the bike, working with Ryan Hathaway, the go-to painter for Roaring Toyz, to finalize the look of the ZX-14. “I had looked at a 2006 ZX-14 that Roaring Toyz had done previously, and I got my inspiration from that bike,” John says. “Ryan Hathaway just blew it out of the water; it’s the best paint job I’ve ever seen. I had about five design ideas, and he worked with me until we came up with the design that’s on there now.”

That kind of meticulous planning also went into choosing which builder to use. “I did some research on bike customizers, and I’ve been keeping up with Roaring Toyz for years,” says John. “From customer reviews and the warranties that Roaring Toyz has, they’re the best in the business. I watch a lot of motorsports and I see a lot of professional riders with their products. I figured if it was good enough for them, it was good enough for me.”

John knew going into the project that he wanted a 300 rear tire attached to a six-over swingarm. He also requested minimal chrome accents because he didn’t want to draw attention away from the paint job. Otherwise, John worked with Roaring Toyz veteran Brad Sexton to design the ZX-14 of his dreams.

And John has had plenty of time to come up with ideas for a dream bike. He first rode motorcycles as a teenager, and was hooked early on. He took a hiatus from two wheels during his 20s, and finally returned to his passion in his mid-30s.

These days, John spends his time at home riding around Atlanta with his neighbors, or cruising Myrtle Beach with his cousins. (Family loyalties, John says, are split between Kawasaki and Suzuki.)

When he comes home from his current deployment, John will be able to do all of that riding on his Roaring Toyz ZX-14. He picked it up from the Roaring Toyz shop in Sarasota, Florida, just one week before leaving for Afghanistan.

John says, “Ryan had sent me pictures, but the pictures didn’t do it justice. When I saw the bike, I was awestruck. I didn’t even want to touch it for the first 30 minutes: I just wanted to look at it. It’s clean, classy looking, everything works perfectly, and it rides almost like it was stock.”

John had the opportunity to ride the Roaring Toyz creation a few times before his deployment, and he got a lot of compliments everywhere he went. He’s already planning to customize another ZX-14. He doesn’t want to do any further work on this Roaring Toyz ZX-14 because, John says, “The one I have now is perfect.”

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