Deadwood Custom Cycles
Q: Intro to your shop and who you are.
A: "I started my first shop out on the east coast in early 2000s. I moved initially from Virginia Beach down to Charleston. I relocated just because I wanted to be down in Charleston. I had a great customer base in Virginia Beach but I just really wanted to be in Charleston. So I took the plunge and relocated the shop and it was fantastic. Obviously, a better riding season and stuff like that. But I was in a really bad motorcycle wreck in 2014. I was riding a rigid springer shovelhead chopper with a BAKER Frankentranny in it. And I got ran off the road and I died in the middle of Highway 17 in the middle of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. After multiple trips over seas as a contractor, it was kind of sad to think that I was going to die in the middle of the highway in Mount Pleasant, SC. A passerby, a nurse, stopped and saved my life because the ambulance took 17 minutes to get there. That makes you reevaluate your life. The only bike I could hold up was my FXR so I came out to the Sturgis rally in 2014. I always loved it out here. Charleston was awesome as well but it was getting a little crowded for me. A guy in Spearfish who owned Maverik publishing offered to merge shops with Black Hills Choppers. And we rebranded it to Black Hills Cycles. I worked at the magazine as well, writing all of the tech editorials for three years. But my heart was really in Deadwood. I liked Spearfish as well but I just always loved Deadwood. I always knew a motorcycle shop in Deadwood would do really well with the right people, right place, right location. So I went back out on my own. In January 2018, I opened the company and we opened our doors May 1st. We are doing amazing business here. We have a crew of seven plus me. Three full time mechanics plus me is four full time mechanics. Then an operations manager, a parts manager, a dedicated fabricator and we're full steam ahead. We're really excited for what the future holds. We do everything here. Absolutely everything. We get a lot of out of town visitors. We do our best in the summertime. We have one today where people travel through the Black Hills and people have a problem with their bike and I feel like it's my responsibility to contribute to the tourism industry in the Black Hills and it's our job to keep these bikes on the road. So we try to rearrange our service schedule when these problems pop up so we can make sure people get back on the road and enjoy the Black Hills. We have so many loyal, faithful local customers. And we've got bike builds for people all over the country. Anywhere from TN to SC to WA to CA, we've always mainly focused on performance so it's really nice that this current trend of performance baggers , that's an oxymoron, but we've always been that way. We do A LOT of motor work. We're turning M8s into 124 or 128s and we do not do those builds without putting a BAKER Main Drive Gear Bearing Kit in them. With the price of new bikes being what they are and the availability of them we're seeing a lot of people reinvesting money into older bikes. We just rebuilt a '98 Road Glide Evo from an 80" to a 96", it got a BAKER DD6 with it, I just put a BAKER DD6 in a 2004 Heritage. We're still doing custom builds. Not as many as before. The big thing we're doing now are SRT conversions from Bagger Nations on the baggers.
Last year, what was meant to be fun, I kind of half heartedly challenged my best friend, Paul Yaffe, into a FXR build off. Which then Curtis Hofman, Brian Klock, and Jeff Zalinski, and Nick Trask all piled on we had some crashers and we ended up having a fantastic time unveiling them at Arizona Bike Week doing our FXR Friends Throwdown. We built a second FXR for Law Tigers with a S&S 124" and BAKER OD6. Then we all decided that we had so much fun that we decided to do another one and this time we're all doing choppers to be unveiled at Arizona Bike Week 2023.
I am building a two rigid frame choppers with springer front end, BAKER Frankentranny in one with a 96" Shovelhead and the other one is getting a 80" Shovelhead with a BAKER replica 4-speed ratchet top. I've been a BAKER dealer for over two decades. I think the world of their products. I love the support we get, their warranty, we never have any warranty issues but we know that it's there if we ever do need it. We just checked out a guy that had a 2018 CVO we did a 128 motor and we did a main drive gear conversion in that and he's putting out 130 hp 140 ft-lbs torque and he said 'Jason, what if something goes wrong', and I said 'Well, I've broke in the bike on the dyno and tuned it if anything was going to break, it would have broken already. Just so you know, we don't use products that the manufacturers don't stand behind'.
That's what people pay us for is our experience. When people walk in and ask 'hey, what about that Ultima 6-speed', I just tell them 'no, I'm not doing it because you're not going to remember that you saved a thousand bucks when that transmission breaks. All you're going to remember is that Jason put a transmission in my bike and it busted'. And I don't see any reason to support Korea anymore than I have to.
I am really indebted to companies like BAKER Drivetrain because they give us the ability to do cool stuff and build cool stuff which we can stand behind. And it's got that Made in America stamp on it. And that still means something. We care about that kind of thing. let's face it, if there was more companies like BAKER, Fueling, Bagger Nation, LePera, then we wouldn't be able to do what we do."
Q: Does your shop specialize in any specific motorcycle or year group?
A: "We work on Harleys and Harley based customs. It doesn't matter what year it was built, we work on it. About 8 months ago we also hired a factory certified Indian technician. So all of the Polaris built Indians, we are qualified to do anything and everything on those as well."
Q: How long have you been riding?
A: "My whole life. My father was a machinist and really into cars. That's where I learned machine work. My uncle was a professional welder. I had an obsession with Harleys ever since I was a little kid, licking the window of my dad's truck as I saw a long grey bearded biker on his 70-something FLH and I just thought it was the coolest thing ever. I've been addicted to Harleys ever since. I have a real passion for Shovelheads. I'm not a fan of the Milwaukee 8 at all. We can make good power out of them but I think it's Harley's attempt to make bikes as cheap as humanly possible. I thought the Twin Cam was a great platform and of course I'm a die hard Evolution guy. I don't believe in putting a Twin Cam in an FXR. I just don't think its the way to do it. I love all different genres of bikes. We've taken sportsters and made them into scramblers with knobby tires, a killer suspension, and a big gigantic motor and made it fun for dirt trails and pavement."
Q: What bikes do you own/ride?
A: "My wife and I ride a lot. I have a '16 Road Glide that is my two-up bike that we travel on. We also have two FXRs, a '77 FLH, a '99 Road King that I put a Shovelhead motor in and turned it into what I call a 'Road Fighter'. And I have a '75 Superglide, '14 Road King, and obviously a custom chopper."
Q: What is your favorite BAKER product?
A: "There is nothing that BAKER makes, that I don't like. I would have to say I'm a very big fan of the OD6 and DD6 products because the change that it makes to the customer's bikes and the ability you have to take something that was whining out at 75 mph on the highway and now it's cruising comfortably. I got the very first ever 6-into-4 with a splined mainshaft that ever came out of the BAKER doors. I was a very big fan of the TTP. I like the fact that BAKER still makes products for all year applications. I think it's absolutely necessary. My plea to Bert would be to bring back the Bully primary. I know that that's a big chunk of aluminum to machine out but I think that the factory needs it now more than ever with the auto adjusting piece of junk chain tensioner. I'm in awe of BAKER's drive and ingenuity. They always got cool marketing but to take the time to really look into the issues like the stock roller bearing (with the plastic cage is junk it's not going to work) and come up with the Timken bearing conversion; I'm a big fan of that."
Q: What is your favorite shop bike with a BAKER product in it?
A: "I've done a lot. I would have to say my custom bike with the Frankentranny in a rigid springer Shovelhead chopper. Number two would have to be my original factory paint '77 FLH with a 6-into-4 in it. We did a couple of really cool SRT baggers with Grudgeboxes in them too."
Q: Any interesting or funny BAKER related stories?
A: "Without embarrassing anyone specific, I would say that my favorite story is the first time Bert Baker came into the shop. He was just hanging out at the bar, telling stories, and crackin' jokes and the regular rally goers were sitting out at the bar thinking 'Holy shit, I'm literally sitting next to Bert Baker of BAKER Drivetrain'. I liked to see their reactions. Any opportunity I get to hug Bert and shake his hand or listen to him fumigate his wisdom or pick his brain, that's a friendship and business relationship that has flourished over the years and I know he always has my back. I think the world of that guy, I think he's one of the smartest people I have ever met, and I'm just proud to call him my friend."
Q: Any cool news about your shop?
A: "We are on the cusp of some really big things. One thing I can let out of the bag now and this goes hand in hand with my favorite project. I'm not going to get political on you, but there was a point where I was not proud of how our country was reacting to law enforcement. And it really bothered me when I'd watch the news and I was annoyed at the state of the union. And I had come across an estate sale that had a 2007 salvage title FLHT police bike. And I didn't know what I was going to do to this bike because it was an older frame and I had the bike, had the title. I was thinking 'I'm going to put $20,000 into this bike and sell it for $10,000'. I then had this random idea. The city of Deadwood doesn't have a motor unit. So I started calling up all the names in the industry like Lisa Baker, Luke Leatherman from Fueling, Paul Yaffe from Bagger Nation, Brian Klock from Klock Werks, and Brian Zalinski from Namz and I said 'hey, this is what I'm doing'. And it was overwhelming with the response we got. So we took that bike and took it all the way down to the frame and built it back up as a custom police bike. It had stock wheels and stock trees. It wasn't a crazy custom. And we unveiled that bike Memorial Day last year. We filmed an episode of Big Kenny's Crank It Up Garage. We gave it to them and it has state of the art everything and they ride the shit out of it. I see it all the time. It's kind of in stealth mode until they light up the sirens and lights then it's a Christmas tree. They use it in everyday patrol. I am very proud of that build. We did it all after hours on weekends and nights and so many things were donated and it was really a team effort to show Deadwood how much we appreciate what they do for us."
Q: Do you guys host any events?
A: "Aside from the rally, I am the owner of the Black Hills Motorcycle Show which we are doing in May of 2023 at the Deadwood Mountain Grand. It's a one day show. We already have a ton of sponsorships and we do a one day full blown motorcycle show. We're working in partnership with Harley-Davidson to do a motorcycle social during the rally on Friday, the 12th. We host our annual shop party called the Deadwood Spring Motorcycle Fling. We open up the shop and grill out and just show everyone how much we appreciate their support."
Q: What does American made mean to you?
A: "It means everything. Are you kidding me? It's not just the quality of the product. It's the fact that you know it's made by American craftsmen. It adds to our employment numbers. That American made tag or sticker or statement is bigger than just the product itself. It's the company, it's the country's economy, everyday Joes earning a living. It's us supporting eachother within this country instead of relying on some outside foreign source. It's the most important tag you can put on a box."
Jason from Deadwood Custom Cycles also hosts a podcast called DAMN (Deadwood American Motorcycle Nonsense) so check out one of the episodes below: