When I am asked what kind of customized bikes people will want to ride next year, in 5 years or in the future, I usually answer that I don’t care. When I started building custom bikes professionally 15 years ago, I made a choice that I never reneged on: to never to duplicate a one-off bike built for a client, even its color, whatever the amount of money offered to me. There is just something about each individual that sets him apart. So, since two clients will never be alike, the same should be true of their custom motorcycles. It’s what true custom builders do: they innovate for each client. Because we are a close knit community, yes we launch big new trends, choppers, bobbers or whatever. But inside each trend a true custom builder can be identified by the fact that with each new project he is able somewhat to reinvent a style, to bring new ideas mechanically & aesthetically. It’s what makes him a true custom builder.
We design and build a bike for you and only you, even if you are a corporation trying to promote itself or a charity trying to raise money for a good cause. So, why would we care about what the mass wants to ride? Custom building a motorcycle is not “one style fits all”. I must admit that it doesn’t sound very smart to try to build and grow a business by refusing to take advantage of your successes. Most of our custom motorcycle industry is making a living by selling good or bad replicas of the work of the true designers & custom builders. And the public must know that these copy machines are the ones who make the most money by knocking off in the US or in China our designs & parts.
It doesn’t mean that the true custom builder doesn’t want to be an inspiration for others, motorcycle shops, garage builders, individuals who, maybe, will want to join our sport because they love what they see on TV, in magazines and in the streets. Yes, as artists, we expect recognition & acknowledgment. But everyone should realize that what we do is for the love of it and that we just try to make a living from our passion Whatever their background, physical appearance, style of bikes, the true custom builders (you know who they are) are modern day “greasers” identifying themselves with the “Kustom Kulture.” They are an artistic subculture that celebrates everything custom. Our love for custom motorcycles is still a mystery, even for ourselves, but it is pure love and we should be respected for such integrity.
How the industry and the public can give us more respect? By acting such a way that the true custom builders receive the just rewards of their work and may be able to continue to be creative without worrying every month about paying the rent. Show organizers: pay us to drive coast to coast to show our work. Would you make money without us? To motorcycle shops: we give you inspiration and bring you clients who would like a bike from you, but”just like this one in the magazine”. Please, pay us back by buying the parts from the original custom builder who created them? To the public at large: you pay for what you get, and although I am for free trade, you should not buy a China part when you know it’s only a copy of the one just created by this custom builder that you pretend to like so much. One way or the other, I know for sure that motorcycle design and technology will continue to advance. Whatever tomorrow’s style of bikes, custom motorcycles must remain an object of desire and affection and a pretext to new friendships. So, please, whoever he is, respect and protect your favorite custom builder.