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Archive for the 'Parts and Accessories' Category

Custom motorcycle produced in numbers – the production custom motorcycle age

Posted in Chopper Builders, Editorial, Equipment, Links, Media, Motorcycle News, Motorcycles, Opinion, Parts and Accessories on May 5th, 2008

Motorcycle manufacture showroom


The word custom really gets tossed around in the motorcycle industry of today. There are of course still true custom motorcycle builders both commercial and the garage builder. However, I have a hard time with the phrase “production custom motorcycle”. Now there are motorcycle manufactures that use the word custom in the model name, but that does not make it a custom motorcycle. Certainly if we look at the definition of the word “custom” we see that it means that the motorcycle was produced as specified for an individual. It does not take a mathematician to figure out that this means for one.

 Production motorcycles lined up for sale


Some of the top and upcoming motorcycle manufactures insist on staking claim to adding a new production custom motorcycle to their line. This is simply a false claim in advertising and no more than a gimmick of play on words.


The making of a custom motorcycle.

custom motorcycle frame


I think most reading this article would agree that the true custom motorcycle is one built by an individual for that individual. These type of motorcycles won’t be seen sitting side by side on the polished floors of a large manufacture showroom. You will not see the same motorcycle anywhere, because it is a one of a kind custom built motorcycle. Most garage custom builders remain unknown and are happy just to build their own motorcycle or maybe one for a friend or two. Some move out of the garage and open up a shop building custom motorcycles to be sold. Others will grow into large shops that employ many and produce 2 or 3 bikes a month.

Building a custom motorcycle includes fabrication to fit the design of the bike


Still, the one thing that ties all of these builders together is that they build one of a kind custom motorcycles. Their carefully designed product is as original as the person that the motorcycle is built for. In most cases, if the motorcycle is not being built by the owner, he or she still plays an important part in the development of the machine and how it will look in the final outcome.


The custom motorcycle builder.

custom motorcycle builder Scott Hall installing pipes


Everybody has to start somewhere and if you read the stories of most of the popular chopper and custom builders, you will see they also have many things in common. All of the well known custom motorcycle builders have a love for the machine and most started in the industry when they built a custom bike for themselves. Many of them develop a style that is easily recognized and yet each creation is unique in the design. One thing that you will also see if you follow the lives of any of the builders is that the amount of time and effort spent to get to where they are is overwhelming. Though in speaking with many of the builders I know, some seem to feel that a lot of making it to the top has to do with timing. I tend to agree with this in some ways as I look at some of the creations of the garage builders and the guys that have opened shops locally. Their work can be as much of an art creation of smartly shaped iron and chrome as one of the well known builders, yet they do not seem to get the recognition. Still, they push on and seem happy even to win a trophy and prize at one of the big bike shows like the Rat’s Hole custom motorcycle show.

Rat\'s Hole custom bike show winner


Custom bike shows are a great way to see the work of many of the small shops and garage builders from around the country. I recall one show when the wife of a builder thanked me just for taking pictures of her husbands work. Her expression of thanks was sincere and showed that she shared her husband’s passion for building a one of a kind custom motorcycle. This is where I see a notable difference between the guy that draws his gas tank template out on a file folder to create one bike versus the large manufacture that uses an auto cad program to design a stamp mold for hundreds of that design. Simply put, the true custom motorcycle builder fabricates a one of a kind bike that is unlike any other machine created where each process in putting the bike together is as unique as a finger print.

custom motorcycle builder Alan Bernard is the Bobber King


Ultimately, the final phase of building a custom motorcycle is watching the owner look the machine over and sitting on the seat of the bike to take the first ride. Custom motorcycle builders are scattered all over the world and create many types and styles of motorcycles, but they all build for one.


The difference between custom and customized.

Motorcycle gas tank customized with airbrush art work


I think many people seem to get the term custom confused with customized. We have already discussed the meaning of custom above and we know that a custom motorcycle is built for an individual. To turn out a customized motorcycle is to take a stock bike and change or add on parts or paint to set the bike apart from other motorcycles of the same model or class. The building of a customized motorcycle is usually performed by the owner of the motorcycle after purchase, although there are companies that specialize in customized motorcycles. The customized motorcycle begins as a stock model and the customizing begins as new paint, chrome or engraved parts are added. Many times a motorcycle can be customized by simply removing stock parts that are not necessary. Though many may disagree that this is the same as a custom motorcycle, it is better described as a customized motorcycle. A good example of the customized motorcycle would be when a rider changes the seat, changes the exhaust pipes and adds airbrush work or pinstripes. Another example would be removing the stock front forks and replacing them with extended forks and different handlebars. While a customized motorcycle can be a great looking machine, they are still stock motorcycles with pieces added or taken away.


The chopper.

The chopper was originally created by removing or \


Today a chopper can be a custom motorcycle, while the early history of the chopper was to customize a bike by removing or chopping parts down. The original chopper motorcycle dates back to post world war II when solders returning from the war were not happy with the look and feel of the motorcycles built in the states. Many of them formed groups and began to chop their stock motorcycle and customize it to better fit their need and desire for comfort, speed and style. These original groups also began the term “biker” and met regularly to discuss and help each other with new ways to customize their motorcycles.

the captain america chopper from the film easy rider


The biggest recognition of the chopper was when a customized motorcycle was used in the 1969 film Easy Rider staring Peter Fonda bringing to light the cool look of these choppers. The actual designer and builder of the two famous motorcycles are not known to many, while the captain America chopper is world famous. The two men responsible for the building of the two customized motorcycles for the making of the film Easy Rider were Ben Hardy and Cliff Vaughs. After seeing the movie, more riders wanted to have a chopper, but some did not know how to customize their own motorcycle. Shops began to open where motorcycle owners could take their motorcycle to be customized and later as time went on these shops began to build custom motorcycles, choppers and bobbers.

 building a custom motorcycle frame fit for a particular engine and design


Early custom chopper builders would completely disassemble the motorcycle and then cut and weld the frame to extend the front end and lower the motorcycle to the road. Today, the custom motorcycle builder begins with a frame and builds the motorcycle from the frame up. While some builders buy frames pre-built, most of the more popular builders start by building the frame as needed for the end design. In the years passing, many shops became specialized in frames, wheels and exhaust pipes.


The impact of television on the motorcycle industry

Television and movies have had big impact on the motorcycle industry throughout history


More recently, television brought on a new wave of the custom builder with television shows like the Great Biker Build-off, American Chopper and Motorcycle Mania. These television shows sparked a world wide interest in motorcycles and turned many builders into a celebrity. Even more shows and documentaries followed giving a broader insight into the world of motorcycles and the biker lifestyle. Television and the new reality show craze gave us all somewhat of an inside look at some of the lives of the custom motorcycle builder, though most of the shows were staged, they created a spike in the custom motorcycle business for a period of time.

Vinnie DiMartino left OCC to start his own custom motorcycle business


Reality television shows that created bigger than life personalities out of custom bike builders. Jesse James of West Coast Choppers and of course the family business of the Teutuls of Orange County Choppers both had a large following of fans glued to the television set each week. These television shows took the custom world a bit further with the creation of “theme bikes”. Though the concept of the theme bike was not anything new, sponsors were quick to jump on the commercial wave and ride it in to shore.

 Russell Mitchell of Excile Cycles


Names of those known mainly in the motorcycle industry like Russell Mitchell, Chica, Billy Lane and Matt Hotch became household words with the making of the Discovery Channel’s Biker Build-off. These popular hit shows spawned new shows , documentaries and DVD collections attempting to give the television viewer something new and exciting and keep the home viewing audience enthused. However, as the ratings fell, the shows began to die ending the era of the celebrity chopper builder. The motorcycle industry and especially the works of the custom builder have seen this rise and fall before. The builders that survive and continue on are the truly dedicated and hard working men and women that belonged in the field in the first place. It is their drive and spirit that will keep this part of the industry alive to stand the test of time.


Motorcycle manufactures and the custom motorcycle.

Harley Davidson Motorcycles


The large motorcycle manufacturer such as Harley Davidson, Suzuki, Yamaha and Honda produce thousands of motorcycles every year and some still have trouble keeping afloat. Harley Davidson recently reported a fall in sales and laid off workers in the hundreds. American IronHorse is filing bankruptcy while Honda recently opened a mega factory to produce even more motorcycles. Indian Motorcycle is promising delivery of the newly designed Chief, but has not announced a formal delivery date. The motorcycle industry as a hole seems to have taken a drop in late at a time with the price of gas so high that more people think of buying a motorcycle that probably never would have. Yet the industry seems troubled and financially unstable. Some of these major players saw the custom motorcycle market as a way to pull in more sales and began to produce a new look or even produced under a new name. However, new look and name does not make the motorcycle custom and the major manufacture will never be able to break into that corner of the market until they realize that it is not about being number one, it is about building for one. The production custom motorcycle are words that totally contradict themselves and reality will dictate that there is no such thing.

This post is for editorial purpose and is in the form of an opinion. This opinion is that of the author and not that of any of the advertisers, persons or companies mentioned in the post.

Sources and credits:

All photos are the work and property of MNO Photography.

Pictured above

Alan Bernard of Santiago Chopper

Russell Mitchell of Exile Cycles

Scott Hall of Corrupted Concepts

Vinnie DiMartino of V-Force Customs

Custom frame designed by Tempest Cycles


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Happy to have helped

Posted in Bike Week, Daytona Beach, Editorial, Florida, Military, Motorcycle Events, Motorcycles, Parts and Accessories, Travel, Volusia County on March 9th, 2008

We were on the way back to our campsite at the Cabbage Patch Bar when I caught a bike in a parking lot across the road out of the corner of my eye. Cindi asked what was wrong as I quickly changed lanes and made a u-turn. “I think I see a biker broke down” I told her as we made our way back. It was late Sunday afternoon and we had been up since dawn out taking pictures of bike week happenings, so we were both pretty tired. I could tell this young man was happy to see someone pulling in to check on him as we turned into the parking lot. I make it a habit to carry tools and always pull over to see if I can be of assistance when I see someone broke down. It seemed a shame to see hundreds of motorcycles and cars passing by while no one stopped to ask if he needed any help.


The custom motorcycle that this young man was riding looked pretty new and it seemed that the transmission plug had vibrated enough to work its way out. I introduced myself and he responded that his name was Tony. I was quick to notice that he had a great deal of respect as he spoke using the word “sir”. I wanted to tell him to leave off the sir, but I sensed there was a reason for it. Tony was in trouble and had no way of getting help, so I offered to attempt to find a Harley Davidson transmission plug or at least a close resemblance to get him back on the road. We also would need to find some transmission oil for the machine as it was all drained from the case. I knew this was going to be tough late on a Sunday afternoon during bike week, but we headed out to try.

I found a auto parts store reasonably close, but they had no idea what I might be able to use for a Harley. I guessed at the size and grabbed a couple of bolts that I thought might work and then asked if there was any type of a motorcycle shop nearby. The guy told me that Carl’s Speed Shop was up the road about 2 miles, so I gave them a call to see if they were open and had the parts we would need.

Carl’s Speed Shop

Luckily, I was able to get someone in parts and they said that they had the part and the oil. We headed on up Nova Road in Holly Hill to Carl’s Speed Shop though it was right at closing time for the motorcycle shop. When we arrived, I found the guy I had spoke with outside at one of the vendor tents and we went back inside to get the parts. When he held up the bolt I knew it was definitely not what I was looking for. This drain plug was way too small. I had measured the opening to the case and found it was about one half inch.  He asked one of the mechanics to help and though he was busy, he made his way over to the parts bin to find an assortment of drain plugs. We were able to find the correct drain plug, purchase some transmission oil and get back to Tony just before dark.

repairing a motorcycle during bike week on the roadside

When I returned, Tony was glad to see that I had brought back the exact part needed to get his bike back on the road. As he put the drain plug back in and filled the case we talked. I learned that Tony was active Army and was in fact a Captain! He was only home on leave and his parents had surprised him by booking a hotel room in Daytona Beach for Bike Week. After filling the case with oil, we found that one quart was not enough to bring the level up to the stick. He was not real sure as to the Harley specifications for the transmission either. I remembered seeing a fairly large crowd of motorcycles just up the road at a Dunkin Doughnuts, so we followed him up to the restaurant. While I was inside asking if they had WIFI to check on the transmission specs, one of the men asked me what I needed Internet for. I explained the problem and as luck would have it, he had extra transmission oil on him. This was great being as Carl’s Speed Shop had already closed and chances of finding another motorcycle shop or Harley dealer open were real thin. He had enough oil to properly fill Captain Tony’s transmission up and we got him back on the way to having a good time at Bike Week. Thanks for the help!

I followed Capt. Tony back to his hotel and it made me feel good to have helped him out. He called a few days later to thank me again.

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Quick tips for shopping parts and accessories on line

Posted in Editorial, Internet, Links, Motorcycles, Parts and Accessories on January 12th, 2008

Nowadays, when you are looking for a good deal on just about anything, you can usually find what you are looking for at the best price in the comfort and security of your own home. On line shopping has become a common place part of the average person’s life that owns a computer with a broadband connection. Even when you might be shopping for Harley Davidson parts, you will most likely find a better price on the Internet.

You can find the best prices on Harley accessories easily just by doing a search on your favorite search engine. Larger search engines such as Google will even offer you a discount and quick check out when you want to buy Harley parts from your computer. Try doing a search for the motorcycle parts and accessories and get your best price on line. You can also use your computer as a tool to get store hours of operation, telephone numbers and maps to stores that you are close to. Another great thing about shopping on the Internet is being able to get hard to find items. Make sure to make a folder in your favorites too! This way when you find a site that has things available that you will want to come back and shop for later, you will not have to search for the site again.

Belt Buckle Knife

Posted in Camping, Internet Video, Media, Motorcycles, Parts and Accessories, Shopping on January 28th, 2007
YouTube Preview Image

World’s Fastest Knife! This video is a demonstration of the belt buckle knife performed by Greg Gillespie. The video is really homemade which includes wind noise and barking dogs, but you get the idea of how this knife works.

World’s Fastest Knife Fast and handy. Always right where you need it. These uniquely designed belt buckle knives are held securely in place but come out fast in an emergency. 

This is what one of these belt buckle knife looks like up close. These knives are handcrafted and come in many engraved designs or they can be personalised. So you are asking, where can I get one of these belt buckle knives? click here to learn more.

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Portable Garage for your Motorcycle

Posted in Announcements, Motorcycles, Parts and Accessories on January 18th, 2007

VIP Advanced Cover System – Fits every mass-produced motorcycle up to 1500cc

VIP Motorcycle Cover

The VIP is a two piece cover system. The bottom cover is a strong rubberized material on top of which you park your motorcycle. When this is strapped up against the sides, the second cover straps down from the top, for ultimate protection from rain, snow, sun, dust, and more. The top cover has two layers, combining advanced weather shielding material with heat resistant material to prevent hot engine damage. 

- Top cover can be used alone for fast protection.
- Use both VIP covers together for ultimate short or long term protection.
- Soft top cover protects your motorcycle’s finish.
- Advanced buckle and strap system.
- Maintains total protection and great fit even in high winds.
- 5 year limited warranty

20% off VIP and Motorcycle Covers use code VIP

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Choppers Inc. announces limited retail location store hours in 2007

Posted in Announcements, Brevard County, Celebrity, Chopper Builders, Editorial, Florida, Local, Melbourne, Motorcycles, National, News, Parts and Accessories, Shopping, State on January 9th, 2007

sign on door at choppers inc

There was no big press release in the news papers or on the Internet to tell visitors traveling to the Melbourne, Florida based Choppers Inc of the store closing. On the front door hangs a small printout from the company web site made into a sign. The sign says that Billy Lane’s store, Choppers Inc. will only be open during major motorcycle event and race days and those hours will be announced 30 days prior.

Billy Lane working at Choppers Inc in Melbourne, Florida

While it was announced that Billy Lane was planning to work hard at his Choppers Inc. location preparing motorcycles for the up coming 2007 bike shows, it seems this announcement was low profile. The only way visitors would know the store was not open for business was to visit the news section of the Choppers Inc web site or, as many, visit the retail store location only to find it closed to the public.

Hubless Wheel design created by Billy Lane of Choppers Inc

Billy Lane, is probably most famous in the motorcycle industry for his creation of the hubless wheel design and known to the general public as 3 time biker build-off winner, Monster Garage and owner of Choppers Inc. located in Melbourne, Florida. Billy Lane also holds many patents on custom motorcycle parts that he designed.

Sopping for choppers inc shirts and stuff

While Billy Lane and Choppers Inc motorcycles were well known, it was the Choppers Inc. shirts, hats and posters that people would visit the Melbourne retail location to shop for. Those purchases must now be made online only until the store opens during the next motorcycle event.


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A visit with Cyril Huze

Posted in Chopper Builders, Editorial, Motorcycles, News, Parts and Accessories on December 1st, 2006

As a photographer in the motorcycle world I get to meet many interesting people. I also get to talk with the elite of the industry. I had a chance to drop by and say hello to master builder Cyril Huze the other day and spent a couple of hours just chatting.Cyril Huze and Mike Odom st his shop

We spent only a few moments in the shop as Cyril is in the middle of moving to a new location. 

The rest of the time we spent just getting to know each other. This was the first time that I had the opportunity to meet Cyril Huze.

Seems we have been to the same common places like bike week and biketoberfest in Daytona Beach, we just never had met.

This day was better than meeting at a biker event, we got to spend some time talking which would of not happened otherwise.

I do plan on visiting Cyril at his new shop once he gets moved and settled in. Then I will take more time to document and photograph this chopper builder’s work. The two bikes that I did get to see showed the originality and art of his work.Cyril points to oil tank designed behind seat of bobber

Cyril points out the design of a bobber that has the oil tank behind the seat. He designed this so that the lines to the cooler will be hidden.

When completed this bobber will accent more on the big engine that will be set in the frame with very little distraction of tube lines and cables.

I hope to be able to return and see this unique custom bobber when it has been completed.

As I entered Cyril Huze Customs, directly on the right were two frames. Ah yes, this is were it all starts, the custom motorcycle frame.The motorcycle frame, the start of it all This frame caught my eye right away because of the twisted metal design.

One that when asked brought a smile upon the face of this master builder. “I call this the tiki frame” said Huze adding that the frame is one of the only two made.

The other frame set to my left on a work rack with the engine, tires and a few components that were being added.

Motorcycle parts that were being added one at a time that when completed will have the look, design and feel of a Cyril Huze Custom.Work in progress, a custom motorcycle by Cyril Huze

You can tell by the way that the parts are laid out in a meticulous fashion that each part is added one at a time with precision.

It comes to mind while I write this article and look back on my visit to the shop why people have a hard time calling chopper building a art.

To build a custom motorcycle starting with the hollow tubes that create a frame, adding custom parts and an engine. Creating a custom motorcycle with personality is arguably an art. A art that Cyril takes seriously.Cindi Odom with Cyril Huze

Of course my wife Cindi was present and took some pictures during our visit.

I will be returning to see Cyril the first of the year to visit his new shop and take a closer look at his work. Hopefully, I will have the chance to see some of these motorcycles in there completed state.

Be sure to visit the web site of Cyril Huze Customs and his blog to find out more.