Roland Sands Design has a new 2007 catalog out and he has some interesting parts and pieces for sale. There’s a Vintage Body Kit for changing a Harley Davidson Softail into a customized Bobber. Most of it looks pretty much bolt on, you just have to paint, powder coat or chrome it to your taste. Drag Specialties has a bike in their current magazine ads with all of the RSD parts installed or you can see one in the RSD catalog. It’s not a bad looking Bobber and is miles away from the stock Harley without any welding or custom metal working skills required. He also has various engine covers available from the Glory Stomper, another of his well known customs.
More of the big name custom builders should do this but they might even take it a step further. Sure, they sell some fenders here or tanks there and other odds and ends but it seems to me there would be a pretty sizable market for complete sets of parts, even up to and including everything necessary to duplicate the original custom bike.
Some customs have a bit of intricate engineering or novel solutions to fitting parts, but once it’s done, the hard work is over. Showing the finished bike at a custom show may win the builder an award or get him some exposure on TV or in the magazines but no matter how many times most of us look at the finished product, there’s no way we’re going to retire to the garage and build one. If you lack the skills, you can certainly learn over time, but most guys have a job to go to or business to run and becoming a master metal worker just isn’t in the cards. But with all of the parts available, lots of folks who are reasonably adept could convert their stock bike into a radical custom. If the frame was included as one of the parts, you could build the whole bike.
Custom builders may want to keep some of their bikes as exclusive one offs and they certainly can sell complete turn key bikes but what if every so often they build a radical custom, showing off their best ideas and skills, not some watered down bike with a few bolt ons but a real example of their best work, and then, after some time to show it off a bit, they produce complete kits.
Some of the bikes that win the various Biker Build Off competitions around the world are certainly well known among the interested biker community and they often make their way to ebay. The exclusivity of the champion bike should lead to a big payday, right? Well, sometimes it doesn’t happen. Then, the builder has a high cost bike and it’s hard to recover the investment. Turn that bike into something others can build themselves and the money comes back, maybe many times over, but there’s a catch.
The catch is, lots of folks who would want to build that bike in pieces don’t have unlimited funds to build a lot of garage jewelry so the bike has to be something that actually functions as a real motorcycle. Some bikes that win the build offs would not work in the real world so those would not sell in pieces or kits, either. If a custom builder designs with the end in mind … eventual kit sales … he might exercise his skills in a completely different direction. Roland Sands has a head start on some of the other builders because his bikes seem more real world friendly but there are some others who can do this work, too. I can also think of a few that would have a real hard time making the transition.
I wonder if a few builders would like to make the leap to kit sales. Which custom bikes would you like to see as a kit you could build? Which builders would you like to see offering complete parts packages? It’s something to think about.
Link: Roland Sands Design