Q: How long have you been riding motorcycles?
A: "Only since 2015, so I was 33 years old. Kind of a little later than most."
Q: How did you get into motorcycles?
A: "My dad has always had Harleys. I even followed him to Sturgis in a car before. I grew up around them but for some reason, it never took hold of me until I was older. A lot of my friends had choppers as well, so it must have slowly worn off on me. So one day, I just decided I wanted a bike and I went out and bought a Sportster. It's kind of the gateway bike and I wanted something smaller to move around on easily and get used to."
Q: How long have you been building bikes?
A: "I've only been building bikes for about three and a half years. The first bike I ever built was for the People's Champ show at Born Free in 2020. It was a Sportster Chopper. But very far from average and I went a bit overboard on that one."
Q: What inspired you to build bikes?
A: "I have been doing custom metal work for about 15 years. But I was building stuff for museums, theme parks, and theatrical productions; really artsy and detail-oriented stuff. I felt like my knowledge and experience from my previous jobs worked really well with motorcycles because they're so up close and singular. They're smaller and less intimidating than a car and you can do so much to a bike to change it and make it unique. It can fit in a garage so easily, but there are so many things you can do to a bike to try and make things a little bit better than the average stuff you see. With my fine fabrication background and my new love for motorcycles, it just kind of made sense to customize bikes. I am all self-taught in fine fabrication. I would spend all of my free time reading online, books, or whatever I could find to learn about machining and just taught myself to do it all."
Q: Do you currently have any mentors?
A: "Right now, I am working for Jesse James at West Coast. I'm not being taught day to day but it's inspiring to be surrounded by all of his incredible bikes. He'll pop in every now and then and drop some tidbits of knowledge or history. There are days where he'll come in and ask about my build for Born Free, and we'll start nerding out and we'll talk about ideas to do next."
Q: What do you want to learn next with customization?
A: "More sheet metal work! Like making a gas tank from raw sheet metal. That's the area I'm least active in. I can modify anything but making something from just raw sheet metal, is something I aspire to do."
Q: What is your dream stock bike?
A: "This question is tricky because I don't have the same nostalgia as other people do. Even if I got a stock bike, I would never leave it as is. For example, the bike for Born Free was a really nice bone stock Shovelhead that was in really good condition but I tore it apart immediately and only kept the motor."
Q: Do you currently sell any customized products?
A: "I make my own triple trees and extended length fork lowers. It's pretty much something I do on my own time. I also used to sell pelican case racks. I sold about 200 of them but passed the design off to Speed Kings Cycles because I just didn't have time for it."
Q: What bike/s are you currently working on?
A: "Currently, I'm working on a '72 Shovelhead for the Invited Builder Bike for Born Free. All of the numbers match on the motor, transmission, and all that stuff. Mag fired and kick only; just as simple as it can be. I built the frame and the entire front end. The only thing that is left as stock on it is the motor. Everything else was built or highly modified."
Q: What do you plan to build next?
A: "I don't have anything in the works now but I think I'd like to do another Shovelhead, but I'd like to do something bigger. Like a 96" stroker Shovelhead or even an S&S Shovelhead. My dream bike to build next would have an S&S Shovelhead and get a BAKER 6-into-4 to make an updated chopper. I like modernized choppers. I like them to have nice wheels, brakes, drivetrains, and the most important part is that they're dependable."
Q: What events can we catch you at this year?
A: "I'll be at Born Free in June. I don't have plans to go to any others, but I'd really like to make it to Fuel Cleveland and Mama Tried. I was so new to the motorcycle world that I thought that these shows were invite-only. Like if you didn't get an invitation, then you didn't get in. I didn't know you could just apply. I recently just found out that wasn't true. I'm still just a bright-eyed newb in all of this. Just looking back to the day they announced the invited builder thing for Born Free, I had a real 'what the hell' moment and kind of had imposter syndrome [being a new builder] because there were all these guys that have been doing this shit forever. I've stared at their bikes so many times and all of the sudden I got thrown into this mix."
Q: Is there anything else you'd like to share about your history or bikes?
A: "I guess the biggest thing that led me into motorcycles was that I rode BMX bikes for more than 20 years. I've always been on two wheels, but I think that's what delayed me from getting into motorcycles for so long. Finally, I was getting a little older and realized it'd be fun to ride to work. So a motorcycle was the most logical choice."
Check out this great interview on The Fast Life Podcast with Jacob Conard-