Why I Build Motorcycles?
Why do I build custom motorcycles? It's an obvious question with a rather obvious answer.
by Walter Brown
A year ago
Why do I build custom motorcycles? It's an obvious question with a rather obvious answer. I think.
How and where did I find my passion for the motorcycle custom craft? Well, motorcycles actually found me...early on, when I was around 8 or 9 years old. It didn't help that my parents were both renaissance people who grew up crafting things with their hands, out of necessity. Both, kids who spent their early years in the "country", knew how to construct, repurpose and modify household items, clothes and machinery. My dear, sweet mother was just as adept at making homemade sausage as she was breathing new life into an old couch or chair with new upholstery and wood finish. My dad was an Air Force aircraft technician who could rebuild a car engine, pour a concrete foundation and describe the intricacies of complex aircraft electrical systems with relative ease. Neither put off a vibe of being a "crafts person". It's just part of who they were.
For me, the handbuilt life started with bicycles. I was hooked after starting to ride around 4 or 5 years old, by the freedom a bike offered. My buddy Ricky and would ride BMX bikes we'd built from spare parts and anything we could find to hold them together. Like most kids at the time they were our path to exploring. We knew every nearby park, neighborhood, and field even beyond those we could see.
Bikes were our staple, but his Honda Trail 90 was the treat. We'd fly that thing up and down the alleys around his house until it ran out of gas then siphon gas from some yard machinery so we could ride until the sun set.
It grew from that. Camping with my family in the mountains of Montana was made that much more enjoyable when the Pullen's came along for a weekend. They rarely saw me, or the extra Yamaha MX100 they'd kindly bring along, once I threw my leg over the seat.
By the time I was 11 I was harassing my parents on the hour for a motorcycle, they eventually gave in allowing me to buy the neighbor kid's hopped up Suzuki TS185 (bored-out by some friend of his to 200cc). I rode it and then immediately took it apart. I guess there's something about being the son of a master aircraft technician that didn't pass by me. It's a little help from my pop it was back together in no time. I can still smell the sent to that Bel-Ray two-stroke oil as I fired it up again for the first time. Must have ridden that motorcycle everyday for 3 years after school and every weekend I could. I'd ride on the neighborhood track just a few blocks from home with a number of other boys. I'd ride it all the way around town, 20 miles on roadside trails, to meet Bobby and Rick. We'd ride all day, then I'd somehow make it all the way home just before it got too dark to see. Between all that I'd tear it apart, modify the carb, add a new exhaust, lube it, stitch up a new seat and pull it all back together and ride as my little brother looked on with a glimmer in his eye. Good ole no. 8.
Many motorcycles have come and gone in my life. I never got to buy that '78 YZ 250, but I got to ride an '80 Maico 500 until my eyes watered. I never mastered the little motocross track in our little town, but I could climb the steepest of the rocky, cactus and rattle snake laden hills around my town without even blinking an eye. Five decades have passed and I'm still at it. I have had the good fortune to work on bikes with, and learn from, incredible crafts people of all types - metal fabricators, technicians, and builders. I started OXYD as a simple way to declare how serious I take this passion. Pulling these things apart only to re-imagine them in a way that suits me, suits my eye, my lofty design sensibilities...with a lot of help from my friends.
So, why do I build custom motorcycles? Because they connect me with the people and places I enjoy, and the people who put me here.