Life is a funny thing. Just when you think you’ve got it all in line and running the way you want it, Murphy’s Law seems as if it always takes effect and you find your life falling back almost to square one with whatever goodintentioned plan you charted out for yourself. Trust me—i am not being pessimistic at all, my brothers and sisters. I am just laying out the facts of how stuff happens. And usually the karma dealt out is comical, so a guy like me just has to sit back and laugh at how absurd the universe really is at times.
Lately I have found the same type of scenario with custom bikes. Just when I get the parts back from paint and the project is looking really good, some sort of technical roadblock rears its ugly head. Sometimes the issue lies in component incompatibility, or sometimes it lies in the usage of old parts that don’t want to work so good with new ones. When those issues are worked out and the final assembly starts to commence, that’s when old man Murphy and his law jumps up to bite me on the ass yet again: Things happen like painted surfaces being too thick and having to carefully sand and rework sections of a multi-thousand-dollar paint job to get the sheet metal to properly fit on the bike. Or another good one is the same rear wheel, tire, fender, sissy bar, and chain I had on the bike during mockup seems to not be playing so well with one another after coming back from the chrome shop.
It becomes maddening at many points of each bike build—so much so that I can understand the many guys and gals who never complete even one bike build before selling it or handing it off to a professional to finish the bike and get it running for them. It is a harsh reality that happens every day in the twowheeled lifestyle. I am lucky I have friends I can call when times are tough and they will lend a hand and swing a wrench to help me get through any two-wheeled trouble I may be having. And for that I am grateful.
But before any man or woman off the street decides they are also going to build themselves a bike, they need to know one thing: Building bikes is not playing with Legos. The parts just do not fit together like colored blocks. And they should go into this knowing so. This will make the process of building your own bike much easier. The second thing to do is ask a lot of questions and ask for help when you need it. Safety should be a big concern when fabbing your first bike.
This is what makes bike builders and fabricators such a special group of people. The years of practice and hundreds of hours of patience it takes to create custom bikes the correct way is an insane amount of work. And the man-hours it takes to complete a build can seemingly go on forever because this is not easy work by any stretch.
The men and women who are qualified to build badass custom two-wheeled machines and the ones who choose to do this for a living should be commended for it. It is a thankless job that many see as an easy one from the outside looking in. This occupation is a labor of love, and only a very few have gotten rich from building custom motorcycles. Most are just trying to get by doing what they love. So please support these men and women and their dream of being fabricators because they can’t do it without you. And many of us honestly can’t do it without them. HB