In 1842, writer and poet Edgar Al­lan Poe wrote and pub­lished a short story called "The Masque of the Red Death.” It was a lit­er­ary work that re­flected his at­tempt to avoid a plague. Although the ac­tual Red Death plague was fic­tional, Poe did pull in­spi­ra­tion from an ac­tual ill­ness to cre­ate the story. Later in Mex­ico, an un­ex­pected and dan­ger­ous plague oc­curred to which the peo­ple re­ferred to as “The Red Death.” Chris Burke of Pinel­las Park, Florida, had read about the plague and it fas­ci­nated him. The story was in­trigu­ing enough to ti­tle his mas­ter­piece “La Muerte Roja,” which trans­lates to red death.

As a teenager, Chris be­gan his pas­sion sim­ply be­cause he couldn’t af­ford a car. “I knew I didn’t have the money for a lowrider car,” Chris tells LR, “so I did the next best thing.” That next best thing was to pur­chase a bi­cy­cle. Of course with Chris’ cre­ative­ness that bi­cy­cle didn’t stay stock for long. He be­came so versed in met­al­work and cus­tom fab­ri­ca­tion in his teens that he knew what di­rec­tion he wanted to go as an adult. His cre­ations got more in­tense and in­tri­cate and he started get­ting a fol­low­ing and rep­u­ta­tion based on his builds.

Once a year in Ve­gas there is a Fabri­ca­tors Face Off at an OBC cus­tom bi­cy­cle event. It’s the best of the best show­ing off their tal­ents on bi­cy­cles through­out the coun­try. There is one sim­ple rule to be ac­cepted as a com­peti­tor into this con­test. The bi­cy­cle ac­cepted had to be built from scratch, mean­ing it could not be an older or newer frame that is mod­i­fied. Af­ter Chris was ac­cepted out of eight to­tal com­peti­tors, he knew it was time to get to work on his project.

The first step was to draw out his planned con­fig­u­ra­tion for the bike.

The next step was pur­chas­ing the tube and metal. A 11⁄2-inch round tube was mod­i­fied with 7⁄8-inch back legs. Chris added 18-gauge steel plat­ing on both sides to cre­ate the tank. The front bars were con­structed from scratch out of the round tube, and the front fork was de­signed from a 1-inch round tube that Chris man­u­ally bent into his own de­sign. The brack­ets were hand­made, in­clud­ing the shock mounts.

Chris was in­spired by a mo­tor­cy­cle bag­ger so he used a 29x3 wheel in the front and the back wheel is a 26x5, which is the widest you can buy. The back fen­der is from a Har­ley-David­son bag­ger that he sec­tioned to wrap around the back wheel. To add more cus­tom to the build, square tub­ing was turned side­ways and bent di­a­mond style and then cut in half and placed on the down tube on the back fen­der. The body­work was fin­ished on the cus­tom bi­cy­cle so Chris sent it over to Ed­die Zacharek at EZ Kus­toms of Clearwater, Florida, for a com­plete cus­tom paintjob. Chris de­cided that the Red Death theme would go per­fect with this com­pe­ti­tion build. The front fork and the fen­der were then sent to Pro-Fab Pow­der Coat­ing to be coated.

Chris wishes to thank Ed­die for the killer paintjob that turns heads wher­ever the bike is. He also wishes to thank Robert for the cus­tom wheels, Tim for build­ing the kick­stand and grips, and John Lerew for con­stantly keep­ing him in line and fo­cused dur­ing the build. Chris ex­tends his thanks to his bud­dies Ja­son and Joe who drove with him on the 36-hour drive to Ve­gas for the Fabri­ca­tors Face Off. Although he didn’t win, he rep­re­sented Florida with class and cre­ative­ness. Fi­nally, he wishes to thank his beau­ti­ful wife, Michelle, who stood be­side him and never doubted his pas­sion and tal­ent on Red Death.

His cre­ative­ness led him to start his own cus­tom fab­ri­ca­tion shop named CBurke Cus­toms, and he can guar­an­tee he will be in the shop build­ing some­thing even bet­ter for next year’s face-off.

You have to start from scratch to have no match!

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