The headline might read, “One Thousand Motorcycle Companies Opening Soon!” Would you believe it? You should, because it’s already happening. All over the world, individuals, small partnerships and small to medium sized companies are building custom motorcycles and it doesn’t require venture capital or thousands of employees.
Start Your Own Motorcycle Company
If you’re really into motorcycles, if you do your own repairs and you tweak and tune your bike until everything is just right, … start your own company. Are you in college, studying toward an engineering degree, waiting for the day when you’ll get that spot at one of the major manufacturers? Start your own company, instead. Maybe you are part of a group where you and your buddies can do just about anything to a motorcycle that any dealer or repair shop can, … start your own company. Do you know your way around a welder and take pride in the perfect bead and love motorcycles, too? You guessed it, start your own company. Whether you fit one of those descriptions or one of hundreds more, you could start your own motorcycle company if you really wanted to. If you don’t think so, think again.
Standard Parts and Mechanical Aptitude
If you’re old enough to remember the days when the IBM PC first came out, you may recall how the open configuration of the IBM made it easy for anyone with a little technical knowledge to build their own computer from a multitude of parts, easily available. A huge number of companies began producing computers, and, though many quickly failed, some stayed around for years and a few are the major companies still turning out computers today.
If they won’t build it, build it yourself.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve intentionally shown you a number of interesting homebuilt, amateur sportbikes and chopper/customs to get you thinking. It takes an idea, a willingness to learn and the roll up your sleeves, let’s get to work attitude to move from the idea to finished bike. Some of those builders learned how to build on the fly, metal shaping, welding, whatever they needed, it came together because they thought their idea was worth the effort.
Many readers here at The Kneeslider have commented about the shortcomings of various factory motorcycles. That’s not a problem, that’s an opportunity! Design and build a better bike. Don’t expect to compete with Honda or Yamaha but how about turning out a new frame for use with some readily available engine and standard parts. You don’t need the complex aluminum frames some companies use, Ducati seems to do pretty well with a trellis made from tubing, why not you? If you build one complete bike and get it sorted, sell your frame with a parts list of standard pieces to complete the bike. Are you good with fiberglass? Design some bodywork, maybe a small fairing or tailpiece, maybe a total body. If it looks good and the quality is high, you’re on your way.
Manufacturers Make the Small Pieces
You’re not going to build all of the little pieces, you don’t have to manufacture shocks and forks and brake calipers because you don’t have to. Lots of companies make those already. Many vehicle manufacturers source most of their parts from around the world, making a few things themselves but the vehicle they sell is the concept, design and tangible completed product.
Expand Beyond Choppers – Please!
A lot of this has already happened in the chopper area but why not in all of the other segments? Why is there such a fixation on choppers? Sportbikes, standards, off road, scooters, it’s all possible and a lot of you have the technical skill and know how. There may very well be a rush in this direction once a few individuals get it moving, … maybe you? The V Bike from Custom Chrome is their move in this direction but there is far more to do and a lot of creative minds available.
How about the alternative power possibilities? Diesel? Electric? Something else? For the really green among you, get to work.
Sometimes, looking back, it’s easy to see missed opportunities, if only someone had pointed them out when they appeared. OK, look here! Here’s the wake up! If you don’t act quickly, a lot of other guys are going to beat you to it and then you’ll say it’s too late. But even then, if you have a good idea and you do quality work, people will still want your bikes. Do it! Move! Start small, but start!
There has never been such a great opportunity for people to build their own motorcycles from standard parts, using inexpensive CAD software if they wish, CNC machining if they have access to some machine time, all combined with their own idea. Picture your name on the side of the tank, looks pretty good doesn’t it?
A lot of guys did it before with far less available to them, maybe it’s time to do it again.