WhyBike Motorcycle Blog

Custom Motorcycle Shops Everywhere!

By James - 1/6/2006

Dave Johnston would like to rant a bit . . .

It would seem to me that over the past four years and with the advent of lame bike shows on TV, that every one now is a professional bike builder. Here in Mass I can remember having to drive hours from my home to get the smallest parts. Now its a simple matter of walking or driving twenty minutes to find a local shop. About a week ago I spent a day traveling to several bike shops in the area.

These shops claimed to be custom fab and paint shops but all carried pre assembled bikes. At one shop I noticed a sign that charged ninety dollars per hour for sheet metal work yet they had no equipment what so ever to bend or shape the smallest piece. After talking to the owner he had mentioned to me that he could build me a gas tank for $2,800 but would take 6 to 8 weeks for delivery from their “out source tank builder". I don’t know about everyone else but I am what you would call a neat freak. and I couldn’t believe the disrepair and general “messiness” of these so called professional shops.

There was only one shop I could find that actually built every part of the bike and sold the whole package for $24,000. this was the least expensive bike I could find that was 100% hand made. Not to mention the absolute perfection of the owner and attention to detail. also the shop was very clean, i suppose because some people watch TV and take a few welding classes it would qualify them as custom builders. I feel that it is a true shame the “older” guys out there who have been building bikes for 20 years are suffering because these (what i would call) “TV BUILDERS” are just buying pre assembled bikes, and charging $50,000 for a rolling piece of crap. so i say if you want custom and want to be different and stand apart build it yourself or find a great 100% custom shop. I know that the bike i ride is all hand made and doesn’t look like something that just rolled out of rock tavern new York.

If you are fed up with the current state of custom motorcycle builders, let me know!



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  1. This a fun and entertainong blog. I suppose that you are a motorcycle fanatic. Well, you have a partner in me. I have been driving a bike since I was 12. Cars are great. However, motorcycles are more exciting. A lot of people will tesitfy to that claim

    Comment by Nik Owel — 1/15/2006 @ 6:49 pm

  2. I couldn’t agree more.

    There is a sh!tload of people out there who have WAY too much Discovery Channel and not enough miles.

    Comment by Jeff — 1/18/2006 @ 11:30 am

  3. I too had a run in with a custom motorcycle shop, I stopped by, noticed they had no work, no bikes in the shop with 3 guys standing around, doing nothing, I asked if they could bend the bars on my bike to fit me better, they told me they don’t work on Jap Bikes, I guess they accept any work if they didn’t have any work to do. I guess they didn’t wanta lower themselves to work on a cheap jap bike, I don’t know.

    Comment by MotoF150 — 2/25/2006 @ 7:05 am

  4. I agree and disagree with you Dave. Youare right there are a lot of noname builders popping up that do have very low quality work. However, I know people that have bouhgt bikes from OCC and Jesse James, and let me tell you that a motorcycle that is turned into a peice of art is not meant to riden. They fall apart fast. My buddy didnt even get his OCC bike 1000mi before the fender cracked and also cut into some half ass wiring job. Even if the builder has a TV show that does not insure quality.

    Comment by Dan — 4/3/2006 @ 10:43 am

  5. Grand Opening Coming Soon!
    W B S Custom Cycles, Inc.
    Cape Coral, Fl 33990

    Comment by W B S Custom Cycles, Inc. — 4/3/2006 @ 11:29 am

  6. I’m a huge fan of Cafe Racers luckily there aren’t any TV shows dedicated to this style of bike so there aren’t any Cafe Racer custom workshops around producing low quality customs…hopefully it’ll stay that way!

    Comment by Ton Up — 4/18/2006 @ 1:39 am

  7. Any bike, car, truck…whatever that is intended to be displayed rather than driven/ridden isn’t worth the money spent to make the thing. I don’t bother to watch the shows. I’d rather ride a pos then look at a work of art…

    Comment by Navar — 4/28/2006 @ 11:40 pm

  8. What the hell do you guys know about custom bikes in the first place?

    Comment by Nate — 5/30/2006 @ 7:27 am

  9. Quit your crying about poor quality custom motorcycles. Build your own. I’m about 3/4 of the way through mine. I’m not anything near a gear-head, not an electrician, and dabble in welding. Just decided to build a bike. So far it isn’t hard. Takes a lot of planning time and a little more money to build it but you can end up with a $40,000 bike with about $16,000 in parts, $2,500 in a buzz box welder, english wheel, shrinker/stretcher and I’m guessing 2,500 in a painter who can do the light bodywork. Then if you don’t like what you’ve got you have no-one to blame but yourself.

    Comment by Sam — 6/7/2006 @ 3:50 pm

  10. Custom? How about a Ransom bike? It’s an inline 4 engine with a tubular twin-spar frame, hand formed aluminum body, fuel injection, 6 speed transmission, only 400 lbs., 130 hp, with a top speed of 150 mph! This guy is a licensed manufature, VIN #’s and all. Plus this bike is of outstanding quality and has jaw dropping good looks. THIS is the TRUE custom. Check it out at ransombikes.com–There’s nothing else like it out there.

    Comment by Lee — 8/16/2006 @ 11:31 am

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