Women Builders Roll to the Front of the Pack  

  • Wednesday, September 13, 2017
  • by Marilyn Stemp
  • 4797 Views
 

2017 was not the first time a woman’s custom motorcycle appeared in the Sturgis Buffalo Chip’s Motorcycles As Art™ exhibit, curated by Michael Lichter. But it was the first time five of them appeared at one time and the first time all the bikes featured were frame-up builds. With more women being invited to participate in motorcycling’s most prestigious annual custom exhibition than ever before, it seems there’s been no better time than the present to wrench like a girl. Read on to meet these women motorcycle builders, find out what’s unique about their builds and see the impact they’re leaving on the bike world.

Meet Savannah Rose

Q: Introduce yourself; where are you living?
A:
Savannah Rose. Viola, Wisconsin.

Q: How old are you and how long have you been working on bikes?
A:
Social Media Coordinator at S&S Cycle, 31. I started riding and wrenching on motorcycles at 27, although I've always owned, and had to fix, classic vehicles.

Q: How did you get into building/customizing bikes?
A:
I started at 16 giving my Mercury Comet a "re-do" which included a rattle-can paint job. I started out (on motorcycles) with a cute little '75 CB360T. Dead stock, it ran perfect with just a carb rebuild. But, it needed some style, so I had a custom seat made and removed all the parts I could. (Who needs turn signals, anyway?) I've never been able to leave anything stock. I'm not a builder in the proper sense of the word, this is my first full build, and it’s definitely a learning process! I built it in my kitchen. It’s cold in Wisconsin!

Q: What type of bike are you presenting for the exhibit and why did you choose it?
A:
The bike is a 2000 Sportster 1200 that belonged to my mother. It was mom’s first Harley so it’s special. Classic ‘60s short chop styling. I hopped up the engine with a Super Stock S&S top end, because it's always more fun when you can ride fast!

Q: What’s the coolest part of the bike?
A:
The one-off final drive sprocket.

Q: What was the toughest part of this project?
A:
Body work and paint. I've borrowed tools and talent from friends, and I've learned this motorcycle inside and out throughout this process. There's not a part that doesn't have a story.

Q: If you think your generation is, or will be changing the motorcycle industry, can you tell us what this looks like to you?
A:
One of my favorite things to do is listen to the old timers on their stories, mistakes and triumphs, and of course, pick their brains for knowledge, tips and tricks. How else would I have learned that you can stop a gas leak in your tank with a bar of soap?

Find out more about Savannah’s custom Sportster 1200 and the work of three-dozen other motorcycle builders under 35 in the article 2017 Motorcycles As Art Exhibit, Old Iron – Young Blood, Takes Custom Motorcycles into the Next Generation.

 

Meet Karlee Cobb

Q: Introduce yourself; where are you living?
A:
Karlee Cobb. Apparel Manager, Admin and Racer from Mitchell, South Dakota.

Q: How old are you and how long have you been working on bikes?
A:
23 years old. I worked on my first bike for the Tony Hawk Foundation back in 2014. it was auctioned off during the event. Perry Farrell won it.

I was then asked by Indian to customize an Indian Scout. They wanted me to do work that someone could do in their garage so we did mostly cosmetic work. That Indian Scout is now my daily rider. I am now working on my Indian Scout Chopper for the show.  

Q: How did you get into building/customizing bikes? 
A: I was brought into the family business. Brian Klock is my step dad, and I threw some opinions of my own out on a bike build one day. Brian loved that I seemed interested and offered the opportunity for me to customize the Triumph for the Tony Hawk Foundation.

Q: What type of bike are you presenting for the exhibit and why did you chose it?
A:
I am building a rigid chopper with a fully polished Indian Scout motor. Indian has been supporting me for a few years now so it just made sense to keep working with them to continue to make their brand stronger and more diverse.

Q: What's the coolest part of the bike?
A:
There is not another fully polished Indian Scout motor out there, so I’d have to say that just makes the heart of the bike!

Q: What was the toughest part of this project?
A:
I am working with a wonderful team who are willing to work hard on this build no matter the challenge. The toughest part I feel like in most builds is time.

Q: If you think your generation is, or will be changing the motorcycle industry, can you tell us what this looks like to you? 
A: I believe that those in my generation have someone in our industry they have looked up to. I believe they will try to continue their idol’s looks and customizations. I look up to many people in our industry, and sometimes I’ll catch myself making something as simple as a bracket from an example of their past builds. We have such amazing people to look up to that it can be intimidating!

Myself, feeling like everything has already been done, it can get discouraging to build a bike. And I think that has happened to many in our industry. I believe that will change with just a little push from people and shows like Michael’s!

See Karlee’s rigid Indian Scout chopper and the work of three-dozen other motorcycle builders under 35 in the article 2017 Motorcycles As Art Exhibit, Old Iron – Young Blood, Takes Custom Motorcycles into the Next Generation.

 

Meet J Shia

Q: Introduce yourself; where you are living?
A:
My name is J Shia. I live in Boston, MA.    

Q: How old are you and how long have you been working on bikes?
A:
I am 27 years old. I have been working on bikes since I was a kid with my father. Professionally, I’ve been working with my team since my early 20’s.

Q: How did you get into building/customizing bikes?
A:
I got into building bikes having grown up in a “biker family” and in a house littered with 50-60 junk motorcycles and machines out back.

Q: What type of bike are you presenting for the exhibit and why did you choose it?
A:
A BSA café racer. This was given to me with a beautiful natural patina and complimented our vision of building a narrow slim machine. Out of all the bikes we have at the shop, we found this one fit to do a quick and interesting “barn-find re-birth” type of build. 

Q: What’s the coolest part of the bike?
A:
Re-purposing, reusing and using mundane objects and turning them into functional motorcycle parts. 

Q: What was the toughest part of this project?
A:
Doing a full build in a little over 2 months and trying to compete with the quality of other builders whom we look up to.

See more of J’s BSA café racer and the work of three-dozen other motorcycle builders under 35 at the Motorcycles As Art exhibition in the article 2017 Motorcycles As Art Exhibit, Old Iron – Young Blood, Takes Custom Motorcycles into the Next Generation.

 

Meet Jody Perewitz

Q: Introduce yourself; where you are living?
A:
Jody Perewitz. A small town in beautiful Massachusetts, Halifax. 

Q: How old are you and how long have you been working on bikes?
A:
Under 35! I have been in the motorcycle industry since the day I was born! 

I personally don’t make bikes faster/better/customized, but we do that as a team at Perewitz Cycle Fab. I have been part of this team for a long time. DP, my dad, said I had to finish college before I could work full time for him, so I did just that and it’s been history since. 

Q: How did you get into building/customizing bikes? 
A: Born into it! Watching my dad do what he does. 

Q: What type of bike are you presenting for the exhibit and why did you choose it? 
A: I am restoring/customizing a 1965 Harley-Davidson Scat. I have had this cool little bike for a long time. It has been sitting in my garage just waiting for the perfect opportunity to be brought back to life! I am really excited about this bike because it will be so different in so many aspects. 

Q: What's the coolest part of the bike?
A:
That most people don’t even know what a Harley-Davidson Scat is! 

Q: What was the toughest part of this project? 
A: Telling DP this is MY project! And that I am working with a motorcycle that hasn’t run in at least 25 years!

Q: If you think your generation is, or will be changing the motorcycle industry, can you tell us what this looks like to you? 
A: I think every generation changes the motorcycle industry. Unfortunately, I think our generation is split… there are the guys who do the bagger thing… and the guys who do the smaller FXR, Sportster-like bikes. I personally hope that the smaller bikes hold ground. Touring motorcycles will always be popular because they are good for trips or passengers but FXRs are way more fun!

See Jody’s customized 1965 Harley-Davidson Scat and the work of three-dozen other motorcycle builders under 35 in the article 2017 Motorcycles As Art Exhibit, Old Iron – Young Blood, Takes Custom Motorcycles into the Next Generation.

 

Meet Nikki Martin

Q: Introduce yourself; where are you living?
A:
Nikki Martin, Centennial, CO. I grew up in a family business doing hot rods and motorcycles         

Q: How old are you and how long have you been working on bikes?
A:
I am 31 years old. I have been working on motorcycles since my teenage years.

Q: How did you get into building/customizing bikes?
A:
Through my dad. I grew up in the garage, starting with hot rods and moving onto motorcycles. If I wanted to spend time with my dad, the garage is where that took place. In turn, it gave me a passion for cars and motorcycles, not to mention incredible bonding with Dad.

Q: What type of bike are you presenting for the exhibit and why did you chose it?
A:
A 1999 Kraft Tech Softail Chopper. I chose this because I have always been drawn to the old-school style of motorcycles, and I love choppers. We have had this frame in the shop for many years, and it was the perfect fit for the exhibit.

Q: What's the coolest part of the bike?
A:
The coolest part of my build is that I designed it around my favorite number, "13". It started with a 13 spoke Harley-Davidson wheel, from there I picked the name "Lucky 13". The name of the chopper was the inspiration to have my tattoo artist, Nik Pew, create my Lucky 13 tattoo piece to use as my seat design. I also incorporated hand engraving throughout. I picked a custom chameleon candy color, using my favorite color, turquoise.

Q: What was the toughest part of this project?
A:
So far, the hardest part of this project has been staying on deadline. I'm a perfectionist, so I'm always finding things to change. Another challenge is due to my height; I'm 5'5” and, being shorter, it has been a challenge to find the right seat placement and comfortable handlebar height.

Q: If you think your generation is, or will be changing the motorcycle industry, can you tell us what this looks to you?
A:
I think my generation is changing the motorcycle industry, because you are seeing people getting involved at a younger age and more females are getting into the male-driven industry. I think we will see more variety of builds, more hand-built, no limitations on creativity for builds.

See Nikki’s old-school Softail Chopper and the work of three-dozen other motorcycle builders under 35 in the article 2017 Motorcycles As Art Exhibit, Old Iron – Young Blood, Takes Custom Motorcycles into the Next Generation.

 

Did you check out any of the bikes from these women builders at the Old Iron – Young Blood Exhibit? Tell us what you thought of them in the comments below!

Presented by the Sturgis Buffalo Chip
Known as The Best Party Anywhere®, the Legendary Buffalo Chip believes festivals should be fun like a high five, reenergize you like a broken rule, and romance you like someone you just met and have to take home. 

This nine-day festival of concerts and motorcycle events promises to bring you exciting events like flat track races and live performances from artists like Aerosmith, Ozzy Osbourne, Willie Nelson, Five Finger Death Punch, Kid Rock, Rob Zombie and many more. 

Find out more or get passes to the Best Party Anywhere at www.BuffaloChip.com and find out why it continues to be one of the most televised festivals in the world.

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