So you want to be a custom bike builder? Start with motorcycle kits...
So you want to be a custom bike builder? Well friend, before you rush out shopping for motorcycle kits, that will set you on the road to riches and
fame, stop and think about the level of expertise and artistry the top builders
have attained. More importantly think about how long it has taken them to attain
it! Let’s look at a few key issues…
You’d be surprised how well educated a lot of today’s top bike builders are.
Several of them have degrees (some more than one!) ranging from mechanical
engineering to business and marketing management. Billy Lane, the founder of
Chopper Inc, has several patents relating to motorcycle technology in his name
for example. What about someone a little more “old school” like Dave Perewitz?
Dave has accumulated close to forty years of mechanical, metalworking and
painting experience. Not theoretical, but genuine hands on, early morning late
night kind of experience. Could you put that kind of time in? Matt Hotch is
still only young, but has gained an incredible amount of practical experience
customizing first bicycles, then VW’s before moving on to custom bike
These guys are building choppers and custom bikes that are state of the art.
They don’t get thrown together in the yard; the motorcycle shops have all the
tools and equipment required to produce almost anything out of metal, not just
bikes. Just as important are the other services these builders use; the local
chrome platers, machinists, painters and so on. These guys have just as
important a part to play in the construction of these one off bikes as the
designer builders themselves.
All the top custom bike builders live for one thing; building the best bikes
they can. They literally live eat even dream about custom bikes (and looking at
some of the more way out creations you can totally believe this from the designs
they produce!) They are constantly striving to build bikes better. Its not about
money for the top guys, I am convinced of that.
So where does that leave Average Joes like you and me? Actually, I don’t
think we are too badly off; in fact if you want to build a custom bike, it has
probably never been easier. Here’s my take on it….
There is an unbelievable amount of information for the guys who want to start
down the road to custom bike building. Videos, books websites, all of them help
to flatten the learning curve for a novice. Most of the material out there
relates to motorcycle kits, and for the beginner, building a motorcycle kit is
definitely the best way to go if you want to get real hands on experience. After
that there are motorcycle maintenance courses, which again will allow you to get
up to speed as fast as possible in your quest to become the next Arlen Ness!
To put together a shop like the ones you see on television costs thousands of
dollars. But you don’t need all that stuff if you start with a motorcycle kit.
Motorcycle kits can be put together with some pretty basic tools, providing they
are of good quality. Two things that are an absolute must in my opinion though
are a torque wrench and a basic lift. With these two tools, you can tighten the
motorcycle kits fittings correctly, and not break your back while you are doing
Well this is one area where you can match the pros, no question. If you
really want to be a custom bike builder, start doing it for fun and put your
motorcycle kit together.
We can’t all be Billy Lane, Eddie Trotta or Russell Mitchell, but we can have
a lot of fun trying!
Return from motorcycle kits article to motorcycle parts, accessories and more,
Copyright Motorcycle parts accessories and
more, Michael Holmes 2004