gotta love riding with a couple buds.
gotta love riding with a couple buds.
words and photos by Cantina Fly, Luke Taylor..
The Kernville Kampout this year was epic fun. I didn’t have the Triumph locked in enough to make the ride for the first one last year. So this year, with phase one complete on Echo3, I planned on Kernville before they even announced the date. I made plans early and had some friends planning to go with.
The day before we were set to leave, my last friend canceled and said he had to work. So it was a solo mission for the ride. I waited until 11:00am Friday to see if he could get off work, and finally hit the road.
I made a gas stop and was on the 395 2 hours later. The solo ride across the desert was awesome. The whole ride was awesome actually, particularly the 178. Sometimes I feel like I’m riding through a painting on roads like that. Lots of twisties and smooth pavement.
When I pulled into Kernville I immediately saw what a beautiful town it was. It’s a rad little town tucked in between the mountains. I found camp and met Sean (@Pig) . The campsite we had was right on the river. Prime real estate for the weekend. I set up my tent a few yards from the river, and we went up to have some free beers. I had a couple and went to the store for food/supplies (beer).
It was dinner time so we met up with Jon (@ThebeardedGringo) and went up to the brewery. We met all his crew and enjoyed a meal like old friends. I was stoked to find myself at a table full of chopper friends after leaving the house by myself earlier that day. #vivalacantina for that one.
Saturday morning I woke to the sound of the river and an amazing view. I set up my camp stove but it wouldn’t light. I tore it apart and everything was fine. It was bad (old) fuel cans. Sean offered to get some new fuel cans, he ran up to the store, and I spilt all my food 50/50 with him from there out. We cooked up a hearty breakfast, and admired our teamwork.
We lounged around and talked bikes with our neighbors while breakfast digested. Around noon, Sean, John and myself went for a ride along the Kern river, up to the giant redwoods. The road was rough in spots but the curves and scenery more than made up for it.
We found the “trail of a thousand giants”, paid $5 to park, and walked the trail. It was worth the $5. I was completely blown away by these trees. Its incredible. Sean was so excited he climbed inside this tree-vagina. I took pictures like a Japanese tourist, but hey, I was touring.
It was getting chilly, and I headed back to camp. The sun was shining on the other side of the mountain, so I took my time and checked out the river. Next year I’ll have a fly reel with me.
Back at camp everyone gathered by the bikes, booze, and band. I wanted to put my bike up near the show area, so I fired her up and let her warm. I then proceeded to lay down some dirt antics I have no visual proof of, so I will go in to no further detail. But it was rad!!! #trustme
Saturday night was a blast, talked to a bunch of cool people and had a great time.
I have no specifics on the awards (again, free rum and beer) but I can tell you there was some noteworthy choppers. Most notably a Denver’s Choppers barn find. Completely original and immaculate. I didn’t run into the guy, but the hearsay was the neighbor lady had it her garage for years and sold it to him for $1,700!! Props to him for riding it there!
My personal pick was this flathead with the twin top tubes and split tanks. The chrome frame and paint was perfect. Don’t know who to credit for it, but excellent work!
The whole party was a cool vibe, just people stoked on bikes, laughing, and having fun. It was a pretty smalI crowd and I got a lot of positive feedback on my bike which was cool. There’s no party like a chopper party!
We made it back to camp thanks to the light of the blood moon, and I think it was midnight when Sean and I cut up the sirloin, onions, and jalapeños I got at the store. Cooking fajitas was the greatest idea ever. We scarfed some tacos, and marveled at the performance of my tiny camp stove.
Sunday morning everyone was breaking camp as they woke up. Sean and I broke down camp and reflected on an awesome weekend. I splashed my face in the river, and loaded up my bike.
Said goodbyes to all my chopper friends as they rode out. I waited a while for the sun to rise some more, and took off, happy I had already gassed up.
The bike was running super happy on the crisp cool air. I stopped to piss, and while it was running, quickly took what is probably my favorite picture of my bike so far.
Inyokern was my first gas stop and I had a cheeseburger and coke at Classic Burger. That place is crazy good you should eat there. I had a text from my friend that he would meet me in Kranmer junction, and ride the second half home with me. I rode a very windy hour on the 395, met at the gas station and got fuel. We cruised down I15, until this shit happened.
Luckily I was only 50 miles from home. I slapped some zip ties on it and rode to the next gas station. With the bike gassed up again, I got cozy in a parking space to evaluate. I put one more zip tie on it and decided it was as good as it was going to get. I rode the the rest of the way just cruising at 60mph. Thank God I run a front brake!
I always love pulling onto the driveway after a trip. The sense of victory this time was even better. What an awesome run to wrap up a season of riding on a fresh build.
Thanks to Biltwell and the sponsors for a rad event and an epic weekend, much appreciated.
Now do yourselves a favor and get to Kernville next year. I’ll see you there.
Hamtramck Hustle/Oily Souls 4
words and photos by: Jeff Jolly / Hold Fast Photography Detroit
I woke up Saturday August 27th and immediately checked the weather. Low chance of rain until 5pm. I got to the meet up spot at 1:30, a couple of texts came in about bad weather heading our way, but we were already committed to ride. First stop was the 10th annual Hamtramck Hustle, hosted by the Dead Last Car Club.
For those not familiar with the Detroit area, Hamtramck is a small independent city located entirely inside Detroit proper. As we pulled up we were directed to the motorcycle parking behind Kelly’s Bar. There were lots of hot rods, rat rods, classics and customs parked on the street. There was a nice variety of motorcycles as well. Around 3 it started to thunderstorm, people took shelter in the bar. After 2 hours the rain stopped, we dried the bikes off and got ready to head to Oily Souls.
The Jam Handy Building was this years venue. It is slightly larger space than previous years, so more motorcycles were in the show. The amount of different styles of motorcycles included meant there was something in the show everyone could enjoy. The craftsmanship on these bikes was astounding. Gene Payne brought a huge display of Harley Davidson race bikes. The Jalopy Brothers provided the some killer tunes. Outside became a huge block party. Motorcycles of every kind, vans, and hot rods lined the street. So many people showed up they had to park on the grass median between the two side of Grand Blvd. The atmosphere at Oily Souls 4 was really laid back, everyone was friendly
and seemed to be having a great time. This show gets better every year, as Ted Nugent said “Detroit City is the place to be!” If you get the chance, get to Detroit next August for Oily Souls.
check out the photos that jolly_jeff snapped of the event.
One of the site owners ( @loudngreasy ) is having a birthday.. (he’s had many of them already so no need to wish him a happy bday) .. so we decided to make an event out of it.
we dubbed it Gabes Ride Out. bunch of bad ass babe dudes doing bad ass babe things on our bad ass babe motorbikes. it’ll be a small event unless the internet says otherwise and a shit ton of people show. We aren’t in it to gain sponsors, We’re not in it to become the next El Diablo Run, not in it to make any money* or anything like that. I (@wagonburner) am traveling to Texas from Minneapolis for the event and another site owner (@ramzy) is traveling to the Texas from Virginia. We are just missing @thebcb, then the fist would be complete but it wasn’t in the cards.. come make real life friends from internet life screen names.
#VIVALACANTINA #GRO #gabesrideout
*there is a fee to camp ($10) but it goes to the land owner and not in any of our pockets..
1. Hey Ricky! Thanks for taking time to shoot the bull with us. Care to tell the readers a little about who you are?
Hey thanks for hitting me up!
Seems to be the question of late.. Been having fun w/ that hashtag.
By trade, I’m an Audio Engineer and sometimes double as a Production Manager for concert tours, events, and nightlife. I’ve spent the last 15 years of my life touring all over the world, many times over. I grew up just outside Washington, DC; lived in Brooklyn, NY for 10 years; and now settled down in Las Vegas.
I’ve been customizing and building bikes since about 1999.
Working in entertainment, my schedule is flipped. You see- I rarely get to attend many motorcycle events, as I work weekends or when most people are on vacation. In the rare occasion I get off work and enter bike shows (and sometimes win those bike shows) people are always like “Who the Fuck is this guy!?!” … And that’s the story of my life haha
I was always taught never say no to work. Take it whenever you can get it.
2. Is bike building and parts your source of income or just a passion?
It has always been a passion. I work a lot at my ‘day job’ here in Vegas. Fri-Sun I’m pulling 3 shifts back to back each day between the nightclub and MGM. 10am-4am. (That’s 48 hours on the clock in 3 days!) The other 2 days is just 10hr shifts and recently I get Tues/ Wed off. I’m new to this day off thing, but it’s been really cool, as the wife and I just had 2 little ones and it gives me time to enjoy my family.
I was always taught never say no to work. Take it whenever you can get it, because in the entertainment business it comes and goes… I’ve been very fortunate to sustain through the dry periods by always picking up extra gigs when I can. I don’t have cable or never really got into the whole TV watching thing. My mind is always racing on different thoughts and ideas, and I never had the patience to deal with that stuff.
I like to head into the shop and wind down that way. Through the years, I’ve come up with different parts or ideas that I think would be beneficial to other people. That’s why I started my online store: rickybongos.com. I just actually renewed it the other day. I can’t believe my website is almost 16 years old! (Maybe I should throw a party). It’s actually afforded me another outlet, besides selling the bikes I build, to bring in some money to invest back into my passion.
Haha. like the time I punched the lead singer of All American Rejects in the face for disrespecting a female fan…
3. What or who got you into custom motorcycles?
My buddy Dave Hartshorn (soundguy Dave) back in Virginia. Every year we would head down to Daytona and Myrtle beaches for the bike weeks. It was about 3 times before I couldn’t take it anymore and got my first bike. $100 xs750 triple. It was far from running and all in pieces. But, I was determined and after about 6 months of hiding the project from my parents in my sound gear trailer, I got it to run! Painted some flames on it and rode that fucker all the way to Daytona! Smoking oil and parts flying off and all haha!
Some dude offered me cash for the bike on the spot and I was hooked. Took that money, bought some tools and another project and that’s kinda how it’s been ever since. The bikes have always provided for themselves. Re-kindling the money right back into itself.
4. You crank out some amazing bikes to be working out of your home garage. Do you outsource much work or find ways to do it yourself?
I always push to do it myself. I’m VERY adamant about this practice. Even if you don’t have the tooling, find a spot that will let you use theirs. That’s the best way to learn. Today with youtube and befriending old timers, you can learn to do just about anything yourself. Yeah, it takes longer and not as pro in the beginning, but you get more out of it nonetheless.
5. Do you have one bike you built that was your favorite or wish you could have hung onto?
I really miss that first xs750. I almost tear up thinking about that piece of shit bike. It was my first taste of real freedom. We all know that feeling, that’s why we all still ride bikes.
Don’t ask these small businesses to hook you up. Do them the solid and pay full price if it’s a product made in the USA.
6. What kind of services or parts do you offer right now?
I have my integrated headlights. Turn signals built right into the housing. I’m actually tweaking the design and going to be offering full LED next month! I was getting complaints about hiding the big ballast needed to run the HiD. That’s the cool part of what we do.. Rework and change, constantly move forward.
I have riser adapters that will allow you to bolt HD risers directly into Paughco and DNA springers.
Cool accessories with the skull bolt logo like the tail light lenses made by my buddy Mason over at PsychoResin.
My next venture is coming out w/ a full set tank and fenders I designed to bolt on and customize your sportster. Kinda looks like a smaller Dyna. 100% made in the USA and everything I have saved up has been invested into this project. Hopefully coming in the next few months.
7. As a small business yourself how do you feel about supporting grassroots and mom and pop shops?
It’s the only way. That’s what our country was brought up on. Also- Don’t ask these small businesses to hook you up. Do them the solid and pay full price if it’s a product made in the USA. We have to compete with China and are doing everything we can to keep prices low while still offering a quality product.
8. With a day job like yours you must have some memorable stories, we consider the Cantina an internet dive bar so to speak. Do you have any one story that stands out you could share?
Haha like the time I punched the lead singer of All American Rejects in the face for disrespecting a female fan… Or the time in Nigeria when I asked where I’m plugging up my stage ground, and the dude literally digs a hole in the dirt w/ his hands!! …I prefer divulging these types of stories over many beers in person. Hit me up whenever in Vegas! 😉
9. I know you have an upcoming feature in The Horse magazine, any tips for our readers on accomplishing something like that?
I never in a million years thought my bikes would make it in magazines. I’ve literally been bugging them for so many years.. Haha constantly sending pics of my work. They either dig it or not. Doesn’t make your bike any better than anyone else’s.. It is pretty fucking cool to see it on shelves at the supermarket though!
10.Hopefully reading this will shed some light on who the fuck Ricky Bongos actually is. We very much appreciate you finding time to fill in some blanks for us. Any parting words or shout outs?
Here are a few more of the bikes that Mr Bongos has built over the years. -Viva
Open Road Design is a one man shop. I am the one man, Ryan Hausmann. Originally I wanted it to be an online store that sold cool biker stuff and I would do metal engraving on the side. It turns out I hate selling stuff and just want to cut metal all day. So really it’s a metal engraving shop I run out of a room in my apartment. I’ve been an artist all my life. Constantly drawing something. Metal engraving is the first medium I’ve taken really seriously and I’m hooked.
Open Road Design is a one man shop. I am the one man.
To help pay the bills I’ve worked in every kind of factory out there. The usual crappy temp work where you get paid 11 an hour and try not to lose a finger on the machinery.
I decided to start Open Road purely because I wanted to be able to ride whenever the hell I wanted. The season is so short in Canada you have to take advantage of every second. Working on a beautiful day is enough to drive you insane here. I wanted to be my own boss. When it was riding weather I wanted to be able to take the day off and ride. Only way to do that is start your own business. Now that I think about I must be a little obsessed with riding to go into fucking debt, work 60 hours a week for a 3-4 month riding season. Never thought about that until now. hmmm
I do love making other peoples bikes beautiful.
I chose to get into metal engraving because of my love of motorcycles and art. It seemed like a cool way to combine my too passions. I watched a short youtube video on metal engraving and said that looks awesome! I took my savings, walked into a place that sold the equipment, drop about 2-3 grand and then went home to figure out how it all worked. In retrospect maybe I should of done a bit more research but in the end it’s worked out just fine. All it takes is a shit ton of fucking hard work!!
Artistically I don’t actually look to the bike scene for influence.Bike mags are great on a rainy cold day or in the winter. But I’m a fan of street art, pop art, murals and even a good old fashion museum to get the juices flowing. Walking around a bike show looking at bikes doesn’t interest me. If the weather is nice, I’m riding. I hate parking my bike. I get too frustrated that no ones riding on a gorgeous day.
I do love making other peoples bikes beautiful. For most people, they work on a bike for years and years to get it how they like it. Saving up every dollar for what they love. And I know folks save up money to get engravings from me. I take a great deal of pride in that and I work my hardest not to let them down. I’m aware that bikes are very personal, part of their identity. It makes me take my job ..maybe a bit too seriously. To be part of these very personal moving sculptures blows my mind on the regular and to know that people trust me with their money means a lot.
My first bike was 96 Honda Magna. 750 or 800 I think. Purple and white, ugly but fast. Since I’m a short guy it was way too big for me (like everything really is). But if you can learn to ride a bike that you can barely touch the ground on you can ride anything. It was worth the initial pain in the ass learning curve for the skills I picked up.
meh, I can live another few months off of tuna and crackers.
I use a GRS Gravermach set up with all the bells and whistles. It’s a pretty standard set up for people who take engraving seriously/professionally. The tools are expensive but worth every penny if your going to take the work and the craft as far as you can.
Hardest thing is self doubt. When you are in the grocery store not being able to afford anything because you didn’t sell enough parts that month. That makes you think what the fuck am I doing with my time. Then you get to see one of your parts on a bike and your like….meh, I can live another few months off of tuna and crackers. My job rocks!
I hate how much I engrave the word FUCK. At this point it’s lost all meaning to me. Everyone wants fuck you, fuck this, fuck them and fuck me. Best design I was ever asked to engrave was of a vagina. I shit you not, a spread lip close up of some guy’s wife’s VAGINA! The hard part was all the tiny hairs. lmao Apparently she loved it! All in a days work.
I shit you not, a spread lip close up of some guy’s wife’s VAGINA! The hard part was all the tiny hairs.
I think being away from the scene has actually helped. We have some bike shows here, one or two okay swap meets in the summer. But nothing compared to the states. Artistically it works great because I don’t feel I like I have to follow trends or fads. I can stay in my little room and engrave what I want. I’m not caught up in things when everyone is all of a sudden riding a chopper or has the trendy paint job. I just do what I like and ship the parts to Americans that dig my work. In however many years I’ve only shipped to in Canada 5-6 times. And we Canadians FUCKING RIDE IN THE SUMMER!! I bet we put on the same amount of clicks as some folks who can ride all year around.
Best night ever!! At my favorite dive bar Maz. They have “patio”in front of lawn chairs and tables right on the sidewalk. I was having some beers there when my friend calls and asks me where I’m at. I said Maz and she said she was going to swing on by. A cab pulls up half hour later and my friend steps out in a ballgown, hair down up, tiara and all!! She’s a professional opera singer and just had a show. Apparently it went really wellor badly ( nights a bit fuzzy) and she wanted to get tanked and was too lazy to change. A few shots, beers later, she was standing in the street in front of us singing Ave Maria the way only a opera singer can. Not a dry eye in the house! Nothing beats that story.
I appreciate this wholeheartedly man!! I need all the help I can get. I want to give a very big shout out to anyone who buys from small business like me. I know it costs more but it’s worth it and helps keep food on the table and more importantly gas in the tank!!
To see more work by Ryan please visit his website at www.openroaddesign.ca you can also follow him on instagram @openroaddesign.
thank you for tuning in.. -Motocantina.
whitetrashWell first of all I didn’t lose it, It was taken…
Tattooed White Trash – Mike Halloran
1) Care to take a moment and tell everyone a little about who you are and what you do?
I’m Mike, Mike Halloran to be exact.
I have always loved mechanical things and I’ve always liked working with my hands. I started out with woodworking as a kid and then moved into metal work as I got older. Some people have told me I have an eye for design. I don’t know about that but I can say that I have always had an idea in my head what something should look like. So if I couldn’t find something the way I wanted it I would either modify it or build it from scratch. I guess my philosophy from a young age was “built not bought”.
2) What got you into motorcycles?
Evel Knievel of course. Like every other red blooded American boy of the time period I wanted to be Evel Knievel. I remember riding my bicycle around, jumping off of ramps and trying to do wheelies and all the crazy shit that he did. My mother wouldn’t let me have a mini bike, motorcycle or a go kart “they’re too dangerous” she would say. Nothing dangerous about building a gravity racer out of wood and carriage wheel with no brakes right mom?
I would either modify it or build it from scratch. I guess my philosophy from a young age was “built not bought”.
3) What was your first bike?
My first street bike was a 1986 Kawasaki 454 LTD that I bought brand new. I rode on a learners permit for about 20 years. That was the bike I had my first accident on as well.
Evel Knievel of course. Like every other red blooded American boy of the time period I wanted to be Evel Knievel.
4) How did you get started with metal engraving and what were some influences to get you where you are?
I saw an article once in a woodworking magazine that talked about making etched brass builder plates that you could attached to finished woodworking projects and I thought that was cool. The idea was in my head for a long time. Years later a friend asked me to make a wooden plaque for a display piece he wanted to make. He was going to have an engraved plate made that said “Tattoo Remover”. I told him to hold off on the plate, that I wanted to try something. That’s how it started. I did find some valuable information on the internet as I was stumbling through the beginning stages of learning how to do this and I’m still learning as I go.
5) Is TWT a one man show or do you have help?
For the most part it’s a one man show. On big jobs my wife Darlene will lend a hand, there have been a few big jobs that I wouldn’t have been able to get done if it wasn’t for her help. I do get help from my friend from time to time. Mostly design ideas. Some of my friends have given me really great design ideas.
6) What are some of the tools you use to crank out such cool products?
Just your normal metal working tools. A lathe, a small milling machine, a band saw, and your regular hand tools.
7) I know you were in a motorcycle accident a few years ago that resulted in the loss of your leg. Care to talk about how that happened and how it has affected your life?
Well first of all I didn’t lose it. It was taken. Just a little amputee humor there. I was on the R4YL run and we were headed from McArthur Ohio to Slade Kentucky. We were just outside Ironton Ohio on Route 93. A lady in a minivan pulled out in front of me. I tried to go around her but she clipped me and sent me off the road and I hit the end of the guardrail and then slid into a tree head first. The guardrail fucked up my right lower leg pretty good. It took a big piece of meat out of my calf and broke both the tibia and fibula and a bunch of the bones in my foot. They airlifted me to a nearby trauma center. The doctors tried to save my leg but in the end they cut it off. Long story short I was in the hospital for 10 weeks and then I came home and slowly got back to almost a 100%.
8) Most people would have gave up riding after an accident like that but you just hopped right back in the saddle. Did you have to change anything about your bike or how you ride?
Well riding is part of who I am. So for me there was never a question about riding again. Luckily my wife has supported my choice 100 %. I haven’t been back on two wheel yet but it’s on my short to do list. For now I have a sweet ass trike I’m riding. The first time back in the saddle I was so happy, and excited that if I was a pussy I would have cried tears of joy. Ok I am and I did. The trike is a “homemade jobby” built several years ago by my good friend Rich Hutchinson, Hutch to most people. One day Hutch decided he wanted to build a trike. So he found an ’81 Honda CB 900 and built the rear section and installed the rear end from a Suzuki Samurai. The CB 900 is shaft drive so a tiny little driveshaft connect the gearbox to the rear. Did I mention the CB 900 is a 10 speed? Well it is, 1 thru 5 with a secondary high/low gear set. The only thing I had to change was the brakes. The rear brakes were a normal foot pedal setup and the front brake was a normal hand level. The front brake didn’t really do much braking to begin with so I changed the rear brakes to operate via the brake lever on the handlebars. The rear end has disc brakes so there is plenty of braking power.
9) We consider The Cantina somewhat of an internet dive bar. Do you have a favorite dive bar story that you would want to share?
Well I have a bunch of them but this one time, we had a little get together and it was about five month after I got out of the hospital after my accident. I had been walking with a walker and had just switched to a cane. I was doing pretty good but still figuring out the whole walking with a peg leg thing. So I got a little drunk and then my friend Soup decided it was a good idea to give the one leg guy some moonshine. Well a lot of moonshine actually. So now I have to piss. So some of the guys were like Mike do you need a hand getting to the bathroom. “nope I got it.” So in the bathroom I go. Next thing I know I lose my balance and down I go. I broke the toilet tank with my head and now there is water all over the floor and the water line to the tank it still running. So when they came busting in I’m on the floor laying in water trying to turn the water valve off laughing like a fool. We still get a chuckle out of that one.
I broke the toilet tank with my head…..
10) You have been around the bike world for a while now, how do you think it has changed for the good or bad in recent years?
Things are always changing and at the same time they seem to stay the same. I know, I know you’re thinking oh isn’t he a philosopher. What I mean is, we are all looking for the next big thing. In the 80’s & 90’s Street Pro Bikes were the rage. The whole super wide rear tire thing. Now skinny seems to be the new thing. But it really isn’t, it’s just coming back around. I think for me right now things are to my liking. Form with function, there are a lot of talented builders doing cool stuff right now, I there always has been. But I’m sure that will be something “new and exciting” and the traditional chopper will be pushedout of the spotlight. As they say, “history repeats itself”.
11) Any parting words? Shout outs? Advice?
First I would like to say thanks to the MotoCantina for letting me ramble on for a bit. Big shout to all the people who have helped me along the way, both with my etching and my recovering from my accident. I could not have got to this point without you, but especially my wife Darlene, my three sons, and the Go Fast Crew. As far as advice. Don’t quit, keep moving. Adapt and Overcome.
Well riding is part of who I am. So for me there was never a question about riding again.
We here at the Moto Cantina love the fact that we are a community run chopper site. Our forum is full of interesting characters. Recently we were approached by @shovelwitch with an interview to contribute to the site. We couldn’t resist and gave him freedom to interview his good friend Todd at Bearded choppers. This is our first user provided interview and I’m sure it wont be the last.. So sit back grab a drink and have a read.. -The Fist.
Bearded Choppers: A shop for the follically endowed, who happen to enjoy cutting up perfectly good machines.
My ultimate dream bike is an old Harley Flathead 80”…
SW- Whether it be that you saw a potential dream bike in the pages of a magazine, or saw first-hand a righteous chop banging gears past you on your commute to work, you have gotten hooked. For most of us being stoked on bikes involves purchasing a bike, and working overtime to be able to change this or that over time. For a select few of us that means it’s time to wrap up our life and dedicate ourselves full time to the art of building a motorcycle. We find these folks living a monastic life, regarded as absurd to the squares and revered by us folks in between. You can find them secretly welding alone at night in rented shops that have been converted to austere living quarters, devotees to the art of the Chopper.
Todd Boardman, owner of the Bearded Chopper fits the bill for one of most committed builders I know. After serving in the Army as a gunner aboard a Bradley armored vehicle, Todd returned home working odd jobs eventually settling in the university town of Stillwater, Oklahoma to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering. Being friends before his shop opened its doors nearly a year ago, it has been inspiring to see a close homie work his way up completely from his own hard work.
It’s freezing and iced over in Stillwater, Todd and I decided to hit up a warm coffee shop right up the street from my house for this quick interview:
SW- What got you into bikes, particularly choppers? Is there any bike that you can recall that was a source of inspiration to chop a bike?
As far as getting a motorcycle is concerned, after being deployed in Iraq all I wanted was to recapture the thrill. Three months after being back from Iraq I bought my first bike. (featured sporty) I always liked CFL frame bikes made by West Coast choppers, there was one in red and black Jesse James made that was my favorite. What interested/inspired me the most was how Jessee James did everything himself, that’s what got me into welding and learning how to do fabrication my self.
I learned how to TIG weld thanks to my grandpa, who was a welding instructor at Tinker Air Force Base for nearly 30 years.
SW- What kind of background do you have as far as fabricating parts?
I learned how to TIG weld thanks to my grandpa, who was a welding instructor at Tinker Air Force Base for nearly 30 years. He invented a way to weld on titanium without using a bag and purge line on the backside of the welding surface, the process was developed by him for NASA to be used on the Space Shuttle, I think it’s safe to say welding comes natural to members of my family. I am almost finished with a BA in Mechanical Engineering, which sure has taught me a lot about fabrication processes
The Bearded Chopper is exclusively a fabrication shop, for one of a kind hand-made frames, sissy bars…
SW- What kind of chop shop are you running?
The Bearded Chopper is exclusively a fabrication shop, for one of a kind hand-made frames, sissy bars, if you have requests for any fabrication work involving bikes I’m open for requests and up to the challenge. I do have pre-fabricated handle bars in stock, but I can build any set of bars directly to your specifications if you are interested in a one of a kind look.
SW- Do you have any plans as far as future developments or product lines?
Right now I’d like to get full sets of polyurethane foot pegs, shift pegs, brake rubbers, sold as a set, a line of shop shirts will be available soon as well. I’m interested in making sets of handle bar grips down the line too.
SW- Ultimate dream bike?
My ultimate dream bike is an old Harley Flathead 80” in a custom frame built by yours truly, for the classic look I’d like to throw some fat tires on their front and back. I think it would be even funnier to throw the bone-stock crowd off and install air ride suspension under the seat and give it better performing more modern controls”
SW. A couple of days after meeting up the cold spell lifted a bit so I made my way, a blocks away from my house, to where The Bearded Chopper shop is nestled between a UPS distribution center and other shady looking steel buildings. The commercial district in Stillwater Oklahoma is on the other side of the train tracks literally, and is a perfect setting for standing in a shop with a door open, beer in hand, talking bikes. Todd lives with his Shiba Inu named Scoot in a two story steel building that has been converted to a living quarters and shop, the building has had its fair share of seedy tenants I the past according to Todd,
“Haha I guess before I picked up the place there were mirrors all over the walls and ceiling, and a stripper pole in the ‘bedroom’.” -Todd
“All in all I scored a cool dent in my gas tank from my nuts and a great story.”
That shit show has since been cleaned up it is apparent one of Todd’s unspoken laws is shop cleanliness. The frame jig, tubing benders, metal stock, and finished products all have a designated portion of the shop which just in my visit Todd picked up the broom twice to sweep.
The Sporty featured is Todd’s first bike, and first build as well. Look it over carefully because there is a lot to be missed, a Chassis Design rigid frame with a subtly concealed rear axle hardware, all the mounting for the tank, controls, and engine were welding on by his steady hand. The paint work was the first run ever done by one of his friends and it really sets the bike apart, that and a very distinct dent on the back of the gas tank, Todd tells the story better than I:
“I was leaving campus during my second semester in school a mail truck swerved into my lane and brake checked me. I chose to down shift and brake hard, my only other option was to fly into the left lane where I hit a car stopped to make a left turn. I had a broken pelvis, I almost lost my left nut as it didn’t have blood flow for over 16 hours….. All in all I scored a cool dent in my gas tank from my nuts and a great story. I was back riding in five weeks after told to take it easy for six months haha” -Todd
Well I’m glad Todd can laugh about it now……
I have known Todd now for more than five years, longer than I have even had a bike. Before I met the dude and even had a chance to decide what kind of bike I wanted, he helped me make my mind up by riding his chop through traffic with his beard flapping over his shoulder. His style of building has stayed consistent to what he is stoked about, which is hard to find in a culture that flits to trends like locusts. Todd does not discriminate on what projects you want done, his taste in its basest form is quality workmanship not a particular era or trend of bike building. Whether it’s a sky scraper throwback sissy bar like the HA rocked in the 60’s, or a crazy one of a kind modern air bag ride frame I know Todd at The Bearded Chopper has got you covered.
If you have a favorite fabricator, indie shop, painter, etc. contact us at email@example.com and run it past us… everyone knows someone cool.