Like many of us, Jason started on a tricycle. By the age of seven, however, Jason was rigging a mini-bike to increase air intake. He hasn’t slowed down since.
How did you start riding?
I was around 6 or 7. I convinced my father to buy me a four-wheeler to start, knowing that if I could show him I could ride that, that I could get a dirt bike. It was a Honda ATC90. After having that for two years and busting my butt on double paper routes, I had managed to save half of the $900 I needed to buy my first bike, a Kawasaki KX80. My father was kind enough to make a deal that I earned the money for half, he would LOAN me the rest … smart man.
How has the industry evolved since you got on your first bike years ago?
The motorcycle industry is a wild one. We ebb and flow with economies, people’s wants and desires, and simple things, like who’s on the pole in racing. For me, I’ve been in the industry “full in,” earning my living, doing it since 2009. It was a big jump from corporate America to the tumultuous motorcycle industry. I’d like to think though that I’ve just tried to follow my passion, as many others have and as a result, we’re sitting at the precipice of the greatest 100 years in motorcycling to come.
You co-founded Dime City Cycles “to help custom motorcycle culture grow and inspire the next generation of motorcyclists.” It’s almost as if you saw the shift in the industry way before anyone else did. How do you feel like you uncovered this insight?
I read in a book once that people who see success generally have the ability to “see around the corner.” That wasn’t me … all I could do was crack the throttle wide open, lean hard, and try to get through as quickly as possible to see what was on the other side. That said, I followed my passion and did what I wanted to do,which was build motorcycles. I ended up at a position where I realized (building my first vintage Honda 450) that there was a hole in the market place and a need for a quality parts supply source people could trust when trying to cobble together custom bikes in their garages. Hence, Dime City was born.
Tell us how Standard Motorcycle Co. came to be.
When I left Dime City, I took a year off to “find myself.” I had, in a way, fallen out of love with motorcycles and I was desperately looking for a way to find that passion again. Through community in all my travels, I found that love I was looking for. I was filming RIDE with Norman Reedus and visited Brother Moto, another co-op based out of Atlanta. I’d been there before, a few times, actually. But for some reason on this visit, it dawned on me that this was what I needed to do. Not only for myself, but for my local community. So I rented a warehouse in Orlando, set up my iMac and just started building. Everything came naturally once I committed. The people came, the bikes came, the opportunity and while it’s a struggle every day, I wouldn’t change the path I took for anything.
You and Standard have a commitment to sharing the stories and experiences of a “community of bike lovers.” What does the community mean to you?
To me, community is whoever you’re with. And some of us are fortunate enough to have a community of those who share the same loves and “viscerality” for life. At Standard, we support one another in everything we do. Whether it’s a member who’s trying to build a new business that might not have anything to do with motorcycles, or a guy who can’t afford to build a race bike but wants to try. It’s anything and everything that does and doesn’t involved motorcycles. We’re a community of artists and appreciators of craft, and we have a responsibility to one another to help keep the wheels turning. I think, anyways.
What do you think it is about motorcycles that brings people together?
We’re all just longing to be heard and to share experiences with others. Motorcycles allow you to not only experience the act of motorcycling, but also allows you to experience everything else that occurs and wherever you might end up as a result of it.
On your website, you talk about “Realizing personal goals as an individual with an interest in the world of motorcycling. Doing so with their own two hands.” What are those personal goals, and how do you think “doing with their own two hands” allows them to realize them?
We get people who come to Standard that don’t even know how to use a screwdriver, but ride. They want to feel that sense of empowerment, and by using the motorcycle as a tool to share that experience with them, we’ve seen people not only become excited, but actually shift their way of thinking and the capabilities they have as an individual, simply because they made a custom seat for their bike or rebuilt their engine by themselves. In the end though, I think the goal for all of us is to just feel self-worth. And I’d like to think a creative and educational atmosphere like Standard helps promote that.
What are those goals for you? Or do they change and evolve?
My goal is simple—to be a curator of things that I love and am inspired by and have a platform to share them with others, because I know personally how much joy they bring to my life. As for evolution, I always strive to evolve my goals because if you’re not, you’ll be left behind.
You’ve said, “Education is paramount to the growth of the DIY motorcycle movement.” Why?
When our society began to make the shift from “factory work” to “knowledge work,” a great deal of self-reliance was given up as a result. Those who fall under the “millennial” age bracket are experiencing the brunt of this. My generation (I’m 36) was the last to see en masse, things like shop class and vocational schools. Were it not for those schools (and my father) I wouldn’t be where I am today. And this is why motorcycles are the perfect tools for education. Because if we educate people on how to be self-reliant, with a motorcycle, it not only gives them the ability to take care of themselves, it also allows them to experience the freedom of motorcycling. Psychologically, that has a big effect on people. When you can do something with your own two hands and also be seen as “cool” by others, that’s a big win for a person.
Your peers often say you’re a “leading light in the industry,” most likely due to your incredible involvement in the industry. Consulting with OEMs, product and lifestyle brands, panel work for the MIC, etc. That’s a lot of pressure. How do you feel about being crowned this title?
Ha. Honestly, I don’t feel like I deserve it. I’m just a guy who loves motorcycles and puts it on the line every day for sport. My day-to-day commitments are a lot to manage. One minute I’m doing plumbing at our facility, the next I’m on the phone with a client about a bike build, then I’m going over accounting with my GM, talking to customers when they come in, taking the dogs for walks, it never ends. We only get once chance to make our mark on this world and for me, that seems to translate into constantly getting myself in over my head. 🙂 But as I said before, I wouldn’t change it for the world.
If you had to describe motorcycling in one sentence, what would it be?
One of the single most important things for a person to experience at least once in their life.
Finally, what’s your best advice for a young rider today?
Be smart. Buy a slow bike, something small. Get familiar with it and learn how to ride it. Also, get gear. At the very least, wear a helmet and gloves. When you have an accident, because it’s inevitable, you at least want those two items. And if you have a custom bike, get insurance! Parts are expensive to replace!
OK! Let’s switch gears (pun intended). What question do you hate to answer?
“Oh my god, is that a wolf?” Kidding, but I probably get asked that 100 times a day. My dog, Jack, comes with me everywhere I go, either in the Sprinter van or the Ural with the sidecar. The metal shop, the parts store, Ace Cafe, he’s with me roughly 100 percent of the time. People always ask, “Is that a wolf?” It doesn’t tire me though, I love it. He brings smiles to kids all the way up to old folks. Honestly, I can’t think of any question I hate answering. I love to communicate. 🙂
If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Mint chocolate chip ice cream.
What’s the longest you’ve ever gone without sleep?
I stayed up for 36 hours one time trying to finish the bike that inaugurated Ace Cafe’s “coming to America.” We literally put the bike and the tools in the van and two of my buddies rode with me and while they drove I finished the bike. It was kind of do-or-die because it was debuting at the Petersen Automotive Museum by Jay Leno. I always seem to get myself into those sorts of situations. Ha!
What ridiculous thing has someone tricked you into doing or believing?
Well, it wasn’t really a trick, but I didn’t know any better. Recently I was in Utah and had the opportunity to ride “single track offload” with some rather seasoned riders (@roth_sfc and @mikerbike) and had no idea what I was getting into. Apparently, single track is riding horse and goat trails at 10,000 feet in the mountains. There were two times where I literally went off the side of a mountain. Fortunately, trees and my reflexes stopped me from plummeting off the edge, but man, that was probably the most insane riding I’d ever done. We were out for an entire day and did over 20 miles. While that doesn’t seem like a lot, when you’re winding up a mountain and it takes you six hours to do, you feel it—in every single bone in your body.
What would be on your gag reel recently?
Oh, I’m always doing stupid stuff. People think I’m the brains of this operation and it’s so far from it. You can find me doing anything from wearing two completely different shoes (black and brown Red Wings look very similar when you live in a dimly lit motorcycle garage) to mounting a tire on a rim neglecting to put the tube in first. Yeah, I’m a total goof.
Most prized possession?
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
To “Hold on loose.”
If you weren’t living this life today, what life would you be living?
My spirit animal is a wolf, true story. I’ve had my tarot and road read several times and it always comes back to the wolf. I’d like to think that I’d be part of a pack living somewhere in mountains peacefully contributing to the circle of life.