A love letter to the custom bike industry

Publish Date: 
Feb 24, 2014
By Rick Fairless

I love all kinds of custom motorcycles, not just Harleys. I am a proud Victory dealer, and we’re doing some really cool stuff to customize Vics. It’s wide open because not many customizers are paying attention to Victory yet and everything is new. But mark my word, Victory Motorcycles are fantastic machines, and more and more customizers are working hard to make some cool parts for the ever increasing Vic owners. Now that Indian is back you will also start seeing many customizers coming out with some innovative parts for them, too. 

Every problem I encounter I figure Arlen Ness has already faced and conquered many times over.

I have been lucky enough to meet and become friends with some of this industry’s icons who I truly respect and I look to for inspiration. Guys like Arlen Ness have blazed a path for the rest of us to follow. Every problem I encounter I figure Arlen has already faced and conquered many times over. Lots of the “new products” coming out of this industry today are eerily close to the parts that Arlen Ness created 40 years ago.

We are also very lucky to be able to look for inspiration from custom motorcycle legends like Dave Perewitz, Donnie Smith and Don Hotop. Dave, Donnie and Don are three of the guys that put this industry on the map — and the cool thing is, anybody can go up and talk to them.

They love talking about custom motorcycles as much as we all do. If you ever run across one of these custom motorcycle legends, please, shake their hand and say “Thank you,” because without these guys we might all be in the boat industry. And I hate boats.

Do you ever just stop and think for one measly second about how lucky we are to be in this crazy motorcycle industry? I do, I think about it a lot, and I thank God every day that I’m here, doing what I love to do.

When I was 7 years old, Dad took my brother, Randy, and me to the Polar Bear Ice Cream Parlor to get an ice cream cone. A chopper had just pulled up front and parked as we were leaving. I was trying to walk and eat my ice cream cone, all while staring at the chopper. Well, I ran smack dab into one of the support columns, it knocked me down and I dropped my ice cream cone. My Dad laughed really hard and said, “Boy, I told you motorcycles were gonna get you in trouble!”

Well, fast forward 50 years. I’m still getting in trouble with motorcycles and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m sure you wouldn’t, either!
How do you like me now?

Respectfully submitted,
Rick Fairless
Strokers Dallas