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Behind the scenes of bike-building

If you have any desire to customize your motorcycle, to bring your ideas to life with your own two hands, I’m here to tell you: now is the time.

Never before have motorcycle builders, new and veteran, had access to endless information, support and inspiration from other builders all over the world with the click of a button (or a few)

Custom bike build

Look for anything that inspires you

One of the questions I get asked most frequently about my builds is, “Where does your inspiration come from?” And honestly, it’s hard to say. Sometimes, I don’t realize how much I was influenced by something until I see the design completely finished.

Sometimes, my inspiration comes from giants in the industry, like Jessi Combs, Junior Burrell, or Max Hazan. We’re so fortunate to live in a time when we can see work done by master builders all over the world from the comfort of our own homes.

But inspiration doesn’t always come from other builders. I’m deeply inspired by the art deco period, and the taillight on my first build may or may not have been inspired by an evil robot (Gort in The Day the Earth Stood Still, if you’re wondering).

When you’re trying to find inspiration for your motorcycle project, think about the movies, genres, and artwork you’re most drawn to—now or when you were a child. Even taking a walk in the woods might surface an amazing idea. Great ideas can come from anywhere. Be open to them.

Seek support from the community

Of course, don’t get too stuck on forcing your ideas to be completely original. With a community as developed as the custom motorcycle scene, there is very little that hasn’t been done before. But that doesn’t make your build—the motorcycle you make with your own hands—any less customized.

One of the great things about the custom motorcycle community today is that we all inspire each other, and we want to help. I can say first hand that taking a motorcycle from inspiration to completed build is one of the best feelings in the world and we want others to be able to experience it, too.

If you need help, chances are you can find someone online who has had the same issue you have. And chances are, they’ll be willing to share what they learned with you.

Be patient with your build

One thing I’ve learned is that building custom motorcycles takes time. Despite some reality TV shows that might claim otherwise, quality work doesn’t happen overnight. Even professional shops that have more than one mechanic working on a build at a time can take more than a year to complete it.

When I was young, I watched my father work on airplanes during the day, then head into his garage at night to work on classic cars and motorcycles. Through watching him, I learned the value of attention to detail and commitment to quality. Being a true craftsman takes dedication, perseverance, and hard work. You can’t give the build the attention it deserves if you’re trying to rush through it. It’s an art.

And trust me—between the hours you spend searching for rare parts, the days it takes to make your own parts if you couldn’t find it, or the weeks it takes to ship parts—your build will take time. But the time you put into it makes it that much more rewarding in the end.

Don’t forget to show it off

And once you do complete that build of your dreams? Chances are you’ll be able to find an event near you that will let you show it off. No longer are motorcycle shows the domain of name-brand builders only. Shows dedicated to individual, custom builders are popping up all over the country. Even some of the larger shows in the U.S. are open to the public to submit and display a motorcycle.

I love the inclusiveness that these shows bring to the community. Not only is it a great incentive to encourage more people to build a custom motorcycle, it helps bring new ideas and innovations into the community. It gives everyone the opportunity to see, appreciate, and learn from each other’s hard work.

We’re living in the golden age of custom motorcyclists. With endless resources available, if you have a dream, you can make it a reality.

Inspiration is the one thing that made this industry explode to become one of the fastest growing. We’re givers, not takers. We’re all students and teachers. We’re a family who wants to build and ride. And, that is what drives us.