Mini Framer: Savage MFT-1
Words & photos: Kiefer Jones
The Savage Customs MFT-1 was developed by Travis Johnson, the man behind Savage Customs, and Mitchell ‘Scooter’ Vernon, former national #74. Travis sells it as a complete package, starting at $7000 with the 12in mag wheels. The inspiration and main motivation for building the MFT-1 was to scale down a full-size framer, allowing for the same handling characteristics, and Scooter was the main driver of that. Much like myself, he is obsessed with minibikes. I currently have eight bikes and six of them are minis.
Currently there are three of us in the PNW with MFT-1s, Scooter, myself and current AFT SuperTwins rider. Davis Fisher.
This one is mine, and I have close to $10,000 into it as it sits. The reason for dropping this kind of money on the mini framer is how much I love riding my Knight 450 framer and I wanted something with a powerplant that was a little cheaper to maintain and repair so I could practice as much as I want. The motor is a stock Daytona 190, although it’s been fitted with a custom Lectron 30mm carb, Travis worked directly with Lectron on the setup. I’ve had it Cerakoted, along with the side covers, which I then sent out to Metro Lakes Racing for the laser engraving. They engrave the Turner Racing Hondas as well.
Although I have a set of 14in wheels from a Sunday, I much prefer the 12s. I’ve had the bike dyno’d and tuned by Nels at 2 Wheel Dynoworks, in Kirkland, WA. He tunes all of my race bikes.
We run a mini framer expert class here in the area with some top level mates including both of Mickey Fay’s sons Mickey Jr and Marty, Scooter Vernon, Kenan Duncan, Jacob Lehman, Jeremy Lehman among many other fast guys. Some nights we will have 20-plus mini framers in the expert class.
You might wonder why I didn’t just buy the much cheaper Sunday. I have ridden both Sunday models before this, and while they are nice little bikes, the fit and finish is not on the same level, the geometry is off, in my opinion, and results in twitchy handling at high speed. Particularly on tracks like Castle Rock. The Sunday can end up with some nasty highsides coming off the corners due to the shock angle and unloading of the chassis. I think the Sunday is a great bike, but once you get to the highest levels of riding there are advantages to something purpose built. It is very predictable, it feels very similar to my Knight, it likes to be backed in, stood up and on the gas again. The hardest part is just keeping the front wheel on the ground. This is basically a scaled down proper flat track frame, akin to a single shock J&M. I also felt by spending the money up front I would have an heirloom bike that will last, and something worthy to continue developing and upgrading. My Knight framer is from 1986, and just as relevant now as it was back then.
Since getting the complete bike from Travis, I’ve torn it all the way down as everything comes raw and uncoated from Travis. I had the frame powder coated GT Aquamarine, with black and cobalt Cerakoting accenting. Local racer Kenan Duncan did all the Cerakoting and powder coated the Savage Custom in-house triple clamps in a nice black with gold flake, as well as the inner fender bits. I decided to go all out and swapped all the chassis bolts and a lot of the motor bolts with titanium replacements, cutting weight and looking great. I covered the seat myself with a cow-print vinyl, although next on the list of upgrades is a nice leather cowhide seat with 63 stitched into it. MXG designs out of Texas has supported me since before I started racing, and they killed it with the Dixie cup graphics, earning the bike the name of 'Dixie-normous'.
My favourite places to ride include the Powerline Ranch, my little training ground with multiple flat tracks and trails galore; Castle Rock; Puyallup indoor; Salem indoor, where I took third behind Scooter Vernon and Davis Fisher, and the Rainier Cycle Bowl.
The bike will never be complete, I have an Elka stage 4 rear shock to be fitted, as well as working on designing a new rear brake setup.
I’d like to thank everyone that’s helped me get to this stage with the bike: Travis at Savage Customs; Ken’s Powder Coating; Kenan Duncan; Char at MXG Designs; FlowKote; Nels at 2 Wheel Dyno Works, and my girlfriend, Al, for putting up with all the time and energy spent on it.
Follow Kiefer on Instagram @onsixwheels