Sturgis Rally 2008. Record Custom Motorcycle Sales?

Jeff Nicklus, President of Jeff Nicklus Customs (Desperado) gave me his feed back on the 2008 edition of the Sturgis Rally.
“Cyril,  just bringing you up to speed from my standpoint. Hope all is well with you and yours. The crowds were indeed down from 30-50% over 2 years ago, however, I believe that worked to our benefit. Like with Daytona Bike Week and Daytona Biketoberfest we always have done better, from a sales perspective, at Biketoberfest than at Bike Week. The smaller crowds allow for us to spend more time to spend with potential customers and when selling items as expensive as the bikes you and I sell we must spend time with the customer. Secondly the crowd seemed to be more of a “monied” crowd. That sounds elitist to say however true. I not once heard anyone complain about our prices on our bikes nor did I hear the normal complaining about prices at “the rally”. That is a first at Sturgis for me.
We took 12 motorcycles with us ranging in price from 42K to 88K, we sold them all have tied a record of our sales at Sturgis (Black Hills as we are located in Lead). In my opinion the economy and down turn in the industry has weeded those companies out who had little business in this industry as well as weeded out the people who couldn’t afford to travel to the events. As bad as it is to say, the people who attended fit our company demographics, from a financial stand point.
I am completely jazzed about what I saw in the Black Hills! I think we may finally be seeing the bottom of the economic barrel and possibly the industry my start a slight upswing around the first quarter or next year …. I hope”. Jeff Nicklus, Jeff Nicklus Customs.

41 Responses to “Sturgis Rally 2008. Record Custom Motorcycle Sales?”

  1. 1 BikerDATA (Jeff Bartucci) Aug 18th, 2008 at 9:32 am

    Cyril: How true your article is in regards to both sales and attendance. I did an interview with Jim Burgess, owner of Black Hills Harley-Davidson and he quoted that this year he had his all time highest sales during any rally. In addition, the tax revenue reported from the vendors at his location where up over ten percent.

    The people that did come to Sturgis could afford it and did spend money. People seemed more relaxed as the crowds just where not there and when they stopped to talk to a vendor, they actually got quality time to discuss business or have a question answered.

    Jeff Bartucci

  2. 2 Gerry Aug 18th, 2008 at 11:20 am

    “Weeded out the people who couldn’t afford to travel to the events”!!! That’s a good one. Perhaps the people that can afford to travel to Sturgis should be taking in the rallies in Cannes or Monaco and leave the Sturgis rally to us whom have been weeded out, the working folk.
    The ones that have lost a good percentage of our investments to those that were not weeded out.

  3. 3 Gar Aug 18th, 2008 at 11:28 am


    Here we go again, the rich guys beating up on the small guys, boo hoo, boo hoo. Seems no one is ever responsible for their own misfortune. “The rich stole my investments that is why I am a loser”, could it be that maybe, just maybe, you can’t invest worth a crap and it is your fault you lost your investments? Nah can’t be that!. The economy is bad and the people who could not afford to go to Sturgis didn’t —– so what is the problem there? Things will improve and they will return to Sturgis at a later date.

  4. 4 Nitrous Phil Aug 18th, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    I agreed with the attendance being down, but the people that were there made a difference.
    Bikes were sold, sales were up – proving quality not quanity weeded out the spenders from the lookers.
    As mentioned above – things will improve and will see larger crowds again.
    Nitrous Phil

  5. 5 Conrad Nicklus Aug 18th, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    “leave the Sturgis rally to us whom have been weeded out, the working folk”….That was the most arrogant thing I have ever heard in my life. Have you ever stepped back to see that, unlike a lot of people that dont have money, the rich are rich because they WORK their ass off. I see this everyday, people like you who think that they should be better than the rich people because they think they work their ass’ off. Thats bullshit my friend. Come to a work week at Desperado or Jeff Nicklus Customs, I bet you would take your comment back if you see what my father goes through everyday.Oh did I forget to mention while everyone works their 9-5 job 5 days a week and has their set lunch breaks and breaks in general the owner, my dad, is their way before the guys get there and way after they leave? (meaning 7am and doesnt get home til close to 9 or 10 pm) Did you ever think about that fact? Ofcourse you didnt. The rich, most of them, are rich because they work extremely hard to keep the money they have earned.

    “The ones that have lost a good percentage of our investments to those that were not weeded out.”
    Smart investers invest in a sure stock, not questionable ones. But just like any investment there are RISKS. As an “invester” you must see the risk involved and its called LOSING YOUR MONEY…Wow who would have thunk? I can clearly tell you are probably the person who said they had lost 5.2 million dollars in Enron because thats how much your stock was worth. But really you didnt lose that at all. You only lose what you put in and in most cases such as Enron you may have put 10k in and 9 years later it was worth 5.2 mil. Well to me that means you lost 10k and if you bitch and cry about that then I am sorry you could not afford to be in the investment business.

    Now, as for my take on Sturgis. My dad was jazzed the entire time we were there. The only dead day we had was Wednesday and I must say that is typical. From starting day Saturday until leaving day Sunday we had an insanely interested crowd come through. We were busy constantly and figured out how our break schedule went. We had a straight flow of traffic for about 2 hours everyday then it would go away for baout 45 minutes. Those 45 minutes were used to relax our voices and legs from all the work we had entailed. Then the crowds came back again…Same thing everyday. I am extremely happy to see that maybe we have found the bottom of the industry and hope to see nothing but good things in the future.


  6. 6 Gar Aug 18th, 2008 at 2:47 pm


    Go get ’em kid!

    I, like your Father, hate the term “Working Man” —- that term breaks down, in my opinion, as an hourly wage earner who works a 40 hour work week, takes regular vacation, sick days, holidays, 401K and bitches constantly about “Management”. They never reazize that what you are saying is the truth.

    I talked to your Father earlier today and he made the comment that it had been 8 years since he had taken a vacation ….. now that is a “Working Man” in my opinion. When was the last time you took a vacation?

    Gar out!

  7. 7 RedNeck Aug 18th, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    The attendance was lower than the other years and one of the reasons why sales were not too off, especially on bikes is because the prices were “reasonable”. A Texas Chopper is NOT worth $38,000. But it is worth $25,000. So the intelligent vendors who reduced prices while still making a little of money sold something.

    The days where an Arlen Ness production bike was selling for $65,000 are done. But at $42,000, it’s almost sellable.

    Again, the smart people who adapted to the market won the game. Especially the HD dealers who were selling bikes between MSRP and a little bit under sold a few.

    This market has to come back down to a reasonable price range. That’s the only way to sruvive.
    Selling a P.O.S bobber with a Revtech engine and super low-end parts made in China for $25,000 is nuts, when the bike cost $9,000 to make. The people who dropped the price from $25,000 to $17,000 saw some fairly good sales and still made a few thousands on it.

  8. 8 Conrad Nicklus Aug 18th, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    I had my Senior trip to Florida!!! That counts as a vacation but that was almost 3 years ago! lol

  9. 9 Gar Aug 18th, 2008 at 4:43 pm


    I think up are on the number as well as way off.

    American Ironhorse was not at Sturgis as a Company. The company that had the old corner on LaZelle was Charles Strand (who you will remember from this Blog) the American Ironhorse of Texas Dealer from Ft. Worth. They did indeed drop the prices on bikes that they are stuck with as American Ironhorse has gone into Bankruptcy and then been saved by a new buyer. No matter the case the bikes were and are built by a bankrupt company.

    In regards to Arlen Ness dropping the price of his bikes —- yes, that is true, however, his bikes are no longer a One-Of-A-Kind situation they once were. They are now “production Customs”. A true Arlen Ness One-Of-A-Kind Bike will still set you back 100K.

    The $100K market is still alive and very well and I expect it to continue on. Just ask Arlen, Ness, Jeff Nicklus, Eddie Trotta, Joe Martin etc. if you doubt it. The production bikes are the units that have had the dramatic price reductions.

    When I visited the Jeff Nicklus / Desperado Motorcycles Group in Lead, I failed to see any mark downs. I would guess (just a guess) the average price of one of their bikes was $48-50K +/- and they sold out. So maybe all is not lost.

  10. 10 Gar Aug 18th, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    That should not be “up” it should be “you” …. no one ever said I could type.

  11. 11 John Aug 18th, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    For some very beautiful/very expensive customs $100K + look also a Cyril.

  12. 12 bcarter Aug 18th, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    All arguments aside, it’s nice to hear that the vendors did well at Sturgis. For myself, I was unable to attend.

  13. 13 Conrad Nicklus Aug 19th, 2008 at 5:30 am


    I would say that as a part of Desperado and Jeff Nicklus Customs, We did well and I hope every one of the big guys did well also. I hope the little guys did not do so well though. This is the weeding out of the weak and the introduction of the strong. The little guys helped out to the killing of our industry and we need to get them out as fast as possible to allow the quality product re-introduce themselves.

  14. 14 a 1 cycles Aug 19th, 2008 at 8:40 am

    i take offense to the statement above just becuase you are little doesnt mean you dont produce quality..i have quality parts and award winning motorcycles from a small shop. 13 years and i will not be weeded out! and i will stay small.i will keep my quality and just becuase you think your “big” doesnt mean quality..which from reading this blog you have a nice product..but size means nothing in this industry. and most of the time the size of the companies are all smoke and mirrors anyways, rented semi’s, rented models, big sales lots, leased buildings and equipment..i think the large shops are more prone to failure becuase of the large overhead right now.

  15. 15 Gerald Aug 19th, 2008 at 9:03 am

    I agree with A1 cycle. Conrad nicklus, you are very arrogant and you don’t understand business very well. Big doesn’t equal strong and small doesn’t equal weak. It’s not about size but about being professional and well managed. In an industry where egos are huge, companies over spend and very often live above their means, like many individuals. The weaks are disappearng, but it has nothing to do with the company size. Go back to chool, Conrad, and take a course on business management. You may learn quite a few things.

  16. 16 Fausto Simoes Aug 19th, 2008 at 10:22 am


    Maybe you meant the dabblers or the people that entered into this industry with dreams of fast money and fame. Those people are now realizing it’s a real business which translates into very long hours, a lot of hard work, and higher stress levels. They are quickly disappearing.

    I’ve seen a lot of large companies in this industry become very weak and then die, and some of the people that are still around from the very beginning of motorcycle customizing are still in business because they knew how to manage growth properly.

  17. 17 Jeff Nicklus Aug 19th, 2008 at 10:59 am

    OK, just when I thought I was out they drag me back in! I will interject a thought or two here to help sooth things over.

    I believe Fausto Simoes hit the nail on the head. I am sure that Conrad’s statements should have been more reflective of the comments of Fausto. As my Son I know he wishes no one ill will or misfortune and sometimes the kid lets his hot head override his good intentions, seems to be a quality I suffered from myself in my “younger” years. (Some would say I still suffer from this affliction but what do they know?)

    This industry, as all will agree, has under gone many ups and downs in the past few years. The recognition that the industry received from such unrealistic TV shows as OCC and the Biker Build Off series, while entertaining, did enormous harm to our industry. These shows, as well as many others, in my humble opinion, brought all the wrong attention to an industry that I and many of you reading this blog, love. It is unfortunate that this attention brought every want-to-be “Master Builder” out of the woodwork with visions of TV Stardom dancing in their heads. But that was the case.

    Today, again in my opinion, those who entered this industry for all the wrong reasons are fading away. That is a good thing. I believe this is what Conrad is referencing in his writings. He has watched first hand as we, as a company, have gone from employing 56 people to where we are today. As distasteful as it is, that is business. Whether I was clairvoyant, saw the hand writing on the wall or just suffered from a bit of luck, I managed to prepare for this day and started cutting back on our overhead and unnecessary expenses almost three years ago. Everyone told me I was crazy, that we had a good 10 more years of growth ahead of us, and that I was a pessimist. Whatever.

    A1cycles, man you are right on! The big guys are the companies that need to be watched. They are typically so upside down in debt that it would make your eyes water. Also, I don’t care what anyone says “Quality” will always override mass production. Again, my opinion, before I start getting phone calls on the hot line from the “Big Guys” saying I am a traitor. Keep knocking out quality work, control your overhead, love your work and success will follow. I try and live by that every day.

    To reinforce the writings I sent Cyril, we kicked ass and took names in Sturgis (Lead) this year without the need to lower our prices. Again, quality speaks for itself. I am completely and totally jazzed about our industry and I truly do believe we all are starting to turn the corner on this down turn.

    Thanks for your time,

    Jeff Nicklus

    Jeff Nicklus Customs / Desperado Motorcycles

    PS: I love you but please get off the computer and go to class!

  18. 18 Conrad Nicklus Aug 19th, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    Im not saying all the little guys. I am saying the people who have come here for their 15 minutes of fame and built shit bikes. We have had several people come to the shop and ask us as friends to help them with these kind if bikes. Maybe if they would have come in and built good quality products we would not be having issues like we all are today.

  19. 19 Conrad Nicklus Aug 19th, 2008 at 1:26 pm


    Ive already taken that class dude. Sorry but I can run circles on you with that part. Ive learned 500x more from my father than I did in 6 of the management classes that I have taken. The basics of the class or lower level compared to what I have already learned. I came across wrong with what i wanted to say. Im not meaning big as in Big Dog, Desperado, Swift etc. By big I mean the people who have been here for a long time and who are here for the correct reasons and actually have the right to be in this industry. You are correct at the point of companies living beyond their means. I have watched companies come and go in this industry and others we have been a part of since I was 5 years old. It sucks to see such great names and people go out of business because they have loans out the ass and waste money on rediculously large buildings and inventory they do not need. At Desperado and Jeff Nicklus Customs we only buy what we use and we only do that as the bikes are ordered. Thus keeping our inventory low and money not sitting on the floor for no reason. We also dont have a HUGE 200,000 square foot warehouse that only 20k of it is being used. We have a few acres with a few buildings to keep the dirty stuff seperated from the clean ( Fab shop, machine shop, pre assembly then final assembly). We feel that we can accomplish everything without having to show-off and seem huge. We dont do the debt thing like most aswell. My father has worked his ass off to make sure we dont have loans and can take the final paycheck home to help pay for my school and everything else without having huge building payments, 18-wheeler payments etc.

    So, what I am saying here is that all the people who have come in from the onset of the custom motorcycle industrys shining day (2001 or so) and have ruined the industry because of shit products and rediculously large spending habits. I wish tghey would leave. These people, aswell as some of the LARGE companies have done in the past, jack up our prices on parts because they screw over our vendors. Example; When Titan went down the tubes the first time they screwed Daytek Frames out of 950,000$ or so. That jacks the price up for everyone after that. Thats not right and I understand that is business but it hindered a lot in this industry just like the wanna be bike builder companies have been doing in recent years. Not as large though but still runs on the same principle.

    The End. I feel I have corrected myself and gone into a deep explanation of what I was trying to say in my previous comment that was so critized.


    Hi dad! Don’t have class until Monday!

  20. 20 RedNeck Aug 19th, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    Hey guys… what do you expect from a company who advertises a $25,000 bike signed by Bush and his wife for sale at $1 million (for charity or else, whatever). How’s that for arrogant. I wonder if the T-Shirt I have with Bush’s signature on it would sell for $200,000 on Ebay, ahahahahah. Ridiculous but funny.

    It’s nice to see some bikes stll going for $40K. Some of them deserve the price tag. Some don’t. The market is still there but people are smarter in their choice. If you look at Sturgis, the number of choppers and custom bikes was way way down and has been replaced with conventional bikes with Kuryakyn bolt-ons on them. Still $25,000 bike but the resell value is certainly there compared to a Swift, AIH, OCC or Desperado.

    Overall I think Stugis was fairly successful for big and small vendors. Everybody who makes a quality product and is honest (I know,… it’s a scary word for our industry) and stays with both feet on the ground will survive those tough days.

    The rest will go away like they did 10 years ago. Unfortunately TV didn’t help the ego of most of those morons. Tell you what: the OCC truck was pretty slow and the guys like Big Bear Choppers were still taking a nap at 3 o’clock on Monday when the attendance was high on Lazelle Street cuz they didn’t have anybody to talk to.

    I saw a lot of people walking and looking but I don’t think a lot of them biught someting outside the usual T-shirt and postcard. I certainly didn’t see too many guys writing $50K check for a bike, no matter what everybody says.

    it will get better though… another year or two and the people that should not be in our industry will go away. Actually the small guys will probably do better because they are more flexible, listen to their customers more and certainly don’t have a big head like some I have seen recently.

  21. 21 Jeff Nicklus Aug 19th, 2008 at 4:56 pm


    FYI: Christies Auction House in New York City did the appraisal on “The Bush Bike” for insurance purposes. Their appraisal stated, and I quote, “This pristine example of American Art is likely the most valuable motorcycle ever built. We therefore appraise the value at between $5,000,000.00 and $7,000,000.00 USD.” (That would be millions in case you can’t count the zeros) The bike is on display at the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum until it’s placement in the Presidential Library of George W. Bush.

    Further: People buying the big dollar bikes typically don’t write checks nor would I insult them by asking for a check. We do, however, accept their credit cards, or bank wire transfers.

    Some may recall “The McBike” I built for the Ronald McDonald Charities a couple of years ago. (Before you say it – No we donated the bike 100% to the charity – we didn’t make a dime for the sale of this bike) “The McBike” sold for $278,000.00 with all the money going to the charity. I suppose that likewise was just another example of a $25,000.00 bike making good. If so I can live with that and so can the kids at the Ronald McDonald House that benefited from it.

    There are still many people in the market place that demand only the best and they are not afraid to pay the price for such items, thank God! It is true that our bikes are not for everyone, nor are they intended to be so. Nothing wrong with that!

    One more thing: Just because you didn’t see anyone shelling out $50K for a bike doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

  22. 22 steveb Aug 19th, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    Running a business, be it a large “enterprise” or small “shop” requires discipline to do correctly (meaning make a profit) so that a business can survive and maybe even thrive…let alone be in compliance with the myriad laws and reg’s, courtesy of the City, State and Fed.

    Running a business is tough and requires the owners/managers to have maturity and experience in areas that aren’t directly related to the “product” itself. Knowing how to manage cash flow, contract work and inventory, not to mention infrastructure (IT, HR, Accounting/Finance, Real Estate) is a steep hill to climb for most folks,…and the curve is not a gentle one….Business is not a forgiving sport in my experience….To that point, can anyone relay their marketing Strategy and how they’ve identified their core constituency as one worthy of building a business around.. Can anyone here verbalize their growth strategy in context of a saturated NA market??

    To get smart, you need to be smart and realize that alot of the core competencies required to make a successful business need to be learned – y’aint born with it, sorry…….and just where do you get that knowledge….hmmm…well, you either earn it through working for various company’s (a career), you hire it or you takes your chances and learn through “OTJ”. Our industry is not rife with folks with this type of business experience…as a matter of fact, we as an industry tend to be mistrustful of folks with this type of experience….we consider them “irrelevant” or outsiders, and not “true” enthusiasts, I mean how can you be the real deal if your a Finance guy…right??

    What i find surprising is the mindset of “real company’s” vs. the “fakers”. What I am getting out of this thread is that we hope the real company’s make it whilst the fakers/opportunists go bye bye. Well, none of this is god given, the fakers, if they run a business like a business and make a profit will thrive – the opposite also holds true the same as if a “real deal” player who doesn’t know shit about running a business fails…there is no karmic justice here, sorry…good guys don’t always win, fakers aren’t always unmasked and enthusiasts often wind up disappointed when their passion doesn’t support them

    The weeding out process is harsh to folks who: have a lousy product and get found out (can anyone tell me why is Dragonman still around after all these years, eh?), those who dont know how to manage the precious commodity known as cash flow and folks who’ve no clue about the cyclical nature of business. I wont get into acknowledging Business Strategy (horizon planning and ideation) here, as most folks dont understand the concepts, even if they are successful….they just play the cards they are dealt on a daily basis…and manage to keep their seat at the table, despite the odds…. Good on them, thats as close as your going to get to Karma in business I think…..

    Having your eye on the customer, anticipating their interests before they do, delivering a quality product/service, pricing it right (so you make a profit) and knowing how to run a business – are all ingredients for success…you cant rely on “being the real deal enthusiast” and hoping people “get it” for survival….ya got to earn it.. ….And that is a big bucket of work

  23. 23 Scott Aug 19th, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    Jeff, you can put any number of zero’s to the price of a bike not for sale. It means nothing.

  24. 24 rodent Aug 19th, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    i just hope that all these guys who made such huge sales gets sraight with the SD tax nazis and the irs.

  25. 25 Conrad Nicklus Aug 19th, 2008 at 10:19 pm

    Steve B…..You hit the nail right on the head. I wasnt thinking at all apparently because this
    “What I am getting out of this thread is that we hope the real company’s make it whilst the fakers/opportunists go bye bye. ”
    Is exactly what I wanted to say but didnt know exactly how.

    Great wording my friend.


    My father has already told you how it goes as you can read above. But you caught my eye with this comment; “I certainly didn’t see too many guys writing $50K check for a bike, no matter what everybody says.”

    I saw that happen on a few bikes aswell as a few AMEX cars and Discover cards thrown down aswell. I held the checks and cards in my hand. Aswell as a few wire transfers like we usually see. Its simple. You may not SEE it with your own 2 eyes but I bet it has happened to others aswell. We cannot say we were the only ones who were very succesful this year at The Black Hills Rally.

    Now to your $25,000 bike comment. There is an ass for every seat sir. My father has told me that several times and everytime it has come true. But the value of the Bush bike is real and the price tag is real also. What does the car you drive look liek to you and what did you pay for it? Say its a Ford Expedition, nothing special option wise but still about $30,000. What does it look like to you money wise? Does it look like $30,000 or does it look like something you can piece together and say yea $12,000? Do not tell me I am off subject because I CLEARLY am not. It is the same exact thing. I can build a car just like I can a bike, trust me I have done it before.

    Your house that say you paid500k for. Is it really worth 500k or could you build it for 190k and say yea its a 10k house with a 500k price tag. Yes, it is all about demand. I will again say there is an ass for every seat.

    ALSO. The Democratic Nation Committee, or whatever they like to think they are, offered to write a check for Bushs bike in 2004. 🙂 Trust me, the offer was more than a million bucks.

  26. 26 jspfc Aug 19th, 2008 at 11:07 pm

    This has been quite a funny thread to read because of Conrad talking about his dad’s company. It is funny to hear someone who is having college paid for him by his dad talk about all these real life experiences and building a business. It sounds like you may be old enough to buy beer now without a fake ID. Why don’t you get some real life experiences and make your own way instead of living off of your dad’s coat tails and having diarrhea of the mouth.

    And please don’t say, “I work in my dad’s shop and earn a paycheck.” I mean your dad kindly asked you to shut up, so why don’t you listen to him on this because it is apparent you don’t know how to conduct yourself as a business owner, but I guess that is what young is all about, thinking you know everything and not knowing when to walk away.

  27. 27 Conrad Nicklus Aug 19th, 2008 at 11:36 pm

    Ok JSPFC…Thats cute. I actually dont work for my dad but good try chief. I am a floor supervisor at Sams Club. I just go to shows with them on occasion and build stuff for me.

    Ask my father about coattails and shit man. I dont use him for it I can make my own way with the people I have met away from the industry and away from him. I already have my plan up and currently collecting the funds to build it.

  28. 28 Conrad Nicklus Aug 19th, 2008 at 11:45 pm

    Anyways Im done on this debate

  29. 29 Nitrous Phil Aug 19th, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    Steveb – well put.

  30. 30 jtm Aug 20th, 2008 at 9:20 am

    Hey Jeff. Please post pictures of the George Bush “$5,000,000 – 7,000,000” bike. I would love to see what a $5 – $7 MILLION DOLLAR BIKE looks like. I could a good laugh!

  31. 31 jtm Aug 20th, 2008 at 9:21 am

    I could use a good laugh!

  32. 32 Ben Dalbry Aug 20th, 2008 at 9:29 am

    JTM. The picture of the Bush bike in in their website. In intro of their homepage, 2nd bike appearing in slide show. Looks to me like a $25,000 bike in red, white & blue. LOL. It’s a joke.

  33. 33 Gar Aug 20th, 2008 at 10:23 am

    I believe if you do go to Jeff’s website at and look at Gallery 1 you will see the bike built for the President.

    Further, if some of you will actually read the list of who’s who that have been involved with this bike and all the doors this bike has opened for the motorcycle industry you will understand why this bike is so valuable. It truly is a piece of motorcycling history and art. This motorcycle will live on long after you & I, our children and grandchildren are dead and gone and nothing can ever change the fact that the “Bush Bike” was the first to accomplish the deeds as outlined on the options page. Like George Bush or not the fact is this motorcycle was actually a major part of a Presidential Election and that has never been done before or since.

    The Sturgis Museum considers this bike so valuable that an employee of the museum told me last week when I was in Sturgis, that the bike is locked in the safe at night.

    I know it is hard for some of you people who are totally clueless as to history and the values of history to understand but it is what it is, like it or not. Also, anyone who has actually seen this bike will know that the paint job alone cost $25K.

    Gar Out

  34. 34 RedNeck Aug 20th, 2008 at 11:35 am

    To close this debate, this tells you one thing: Marketing is everything. You can had a $25,000 motorcycle estimated by Christies at $7 million and the general public is still not offended. Well they probably would if they knew but that’s a different story. This also tells you that nobody has any clue of the value of things these days. No matter if the money goes to charity, politcial candidates or to big oil company CEOs. At the end of the day, you still get comments like the one Gar just posted about the bike being in a safe at night. That’s okay… it’s funny and ridiculous but I understand why people could react like that. Who is going to steal that thing?

    I am glad charity bikes (Bush or Mc Do or others) continue to raise money for kids or else. They are in decline but there are still there. Thank God. I can only applaud the fact that Jeff got that gig with the White House. It’s impressive.

    As for a piece of history, please please please, tell me what on this bike is hand fabricated, unique and exceptional that Christies would assume this is worth $5 million and that my grand children will remember forever? it’s a freaking rigid chopper with parts straight from a disitributor catalog. As for the general value of things, I must agree with Conrad, a house that sells for $500K is not worth $500K to build. That’s true for most of the products we use everyday, from T-Shirts to motorcycles. However, it’s not common that people would want you to believe that a $25,000 motorcycle who costed about $15,000 to build would actually be appraised at $5 million. I think that this is the main debate on that blog. And if you look at the housing market, there is a reason why foreclosures are going nuts. It’s because people who were selling 500K houses that were actually worth 250K thought they would get away with it. And that came to bit them in the ass and this put 17 millions people without a house. Today, the real value of things are coming down to a more realistic number. This is true for bikes, cars, houses etc… And it’s about time.

    If someone would have said that this Bush bike was worth $100K and it was for sale for that price, we wouldn’t have that debate. But saying it’s for sale for a $1 million and appraised 7 times over this is just too ridiculous. Maybe Bush can sell it for $5 million and give the money to Harley-Davidson so they can bring back the 800 people they laid off this year or S&S so they can bring back the 60 employees that just got fired or buy some plane tickets for a few hundred soldiers stuck in Irak that Bush and others sent while they were proudly posing on this chopper.

    This bike is not a piece of history. It’s a White House project to put at the same level as other contractors they commission for Christmas decorations. It will end up in a museum just like any other bikes every built for celebrities, baseball palyers and other high profile dudes (or gals). The first HD ever built at the HD museum in Milwaukee is a piece of history. The first HD produced after the AMF years is a piece of history. This one doesn’t go in that category. Sorry.

    Oh yeah… there is no such thing as a $25K paintjob on a motorcycle. EVER. It’s even hard to find on hot rods. The Bush bike has a $4000 paint job and that’ pushing it I can show you a $7000 paint job that would blow a bunch of red white and blue flame job like this one.

  35. 35 Ben Dalbry Aug 20th, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    Very good comment by RedNeck. Any average builder/shop can easily build this bike out of a catalog. There is not such a thing as a $25,000 paint job, even on Cyril’s very fancy bikes and paint jobs!

  36. 36 Jeff Nicklus Aug 20th, 2008 at 1:00 pm


    First let me say that I appreciate your comments and input.

    First a question then into the meat of the subject matter:

    Question: Have you actually seen this bike? Obviously not or you could not have made some of the comments you did.

    First off let me tell you about the construction of the bike. I (we) built every major component on that bike, including, however not limited to, the frame, gas tank, fenders, (including the rear fender that houses a 7 quart oil tank and hidden oil lines), the 6 speed transmission is one of ours that we build ourselves, the “Original” engine is an in house built 131 cu. in billet motor featuring a “real” crankshaft (not flywheels) and rods like a car that requires rod and main bearings (The engine now being displayed from TP is a hollow for display purposes only) the engine when Dino Tested produced 188 HP & 109 lbs Torque., the seat is upholstered with the skin of an African Bull Elephant ( trust me you don’t want to know what that material cost!) and has the emblem of the Republican National Committee Embroidered in the material, we designed and cut the billet wheels here in house in the shape of The Lone State of Texas and then chromed, we produced the forward controls, grips, handlebars, clutch slave unit, primary covers, brakes and rotors and I am sure I am forgetting something else. Whatever the case I am sure you get the idea.

    The paint cost us at lease $25K, in fact that may be on the lower side of the cost. Every thing seen on the bike is Paint …. No stickers or decals. The airbrush work alone took almost three weeks of labor cost out at $100 per man hour, well you can do the math. All three colors of the paint are pearl based with many coats of clear. All the body work and frame were all molded in prior to painting.

    When all was said and done the total cost of this bike was well over $110,000.00.

    To say this bike is not a piece of history ????? pull your head out of the sand. This bike could never be replaced and no other bike could do what we have done with this bike. There were too many firsts accomplished with the “Bush Bike”. The people signing the bike, and there are many, could never be gathered together again, in the same positions they held at the time of the initial signings, to autograph another bike. This motorcycle was at the Republican Convention in 2004, it traveled with the President (in the “Reggie Rig”) to many campaign appearances, it was used as a display piece for voter registration, the bike appeared in Constitution Hall in DC displayed under a Plaque with The Preamble to the Constitution to the U.S. Constitution (The “Bush Bike” has the Preamble on the gas tank), the bike was at the Vice Presidents Inaugural Ball in DC and more. So to say this bike is not a piece of history is ludicrous.

    As for the value of the bike ….. I did not place the value on the bike, a certified appraisal company is responsible for that not I. I can tell you this however, I have turned down three separate offers of 1 million dollars for the bike. One offer was from a professional baseball player who wanted to use the bike as a display piece of art in his bedroom, one was from a Democrat Based Group and the other from a person from Dubai. I will not accept any offer from a foreign country, a political group other than a Republican/Group or anyone who will not agree to display the bike at the George W. Bush Presidential Library once built.

    As for HD and the other companies you mention ….. they can take care of themselves.

    Ben Dalbry: I think you might be shocked if Cyril would tell you what it costs to build a one-off bike! Most can not imagine!

    Jeff Nicklus
    Over and Out!

  37. 37 RedNeck Aug 20th, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    Jeff… thanks for the info on the bike.
    That’s all I have to say 🙂

  38. 38 Conrad Nicklus Aug 20th, 2008 at 2:47 pm


    I just tried to post some pictures up. What kind of code do I need to post? Or should I email pictures to you?

  39. 39 jspfc Aug 20th, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    I think what everyone needs to realize is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So even if you don’t think something is worth $1 million doesn’t mean someone else doesn’t or wouldn’t pay that much. And just because some piece of paper says it is worth $1 million doesn’t mean someone will buy it for that much.

    The person or company who will actually shell out the coin will be the one to decide, not you or I debating it on a blog.

  40. 40 Jeff Nicklus Aug 20th, 2008 at 3:48 pm


    You are welcome. Sincerely, if you get a chance to see the bike, no matter what your feelings may be for the President, it is worth the time.


    You couldn’t have hit the nail on the head any better!


    The bottom line here is that motorcycling has been brought to the forefront, in a positive respect, with the Bush Bike. While I am deeply honored to have been asked to build this bike, the building of the bike was never about any Political Statements or positions. It has always been about the idea that anyone, including the leader of the free world, can and does enjoy riding motorcycles. I truly believe that we as riders, no matter what we ride American or Import, we know something that so many people of this country will never understand or experience: the wind in our hair.

    With that I will say that I appreciate all of your input and comments. If you are ever at a show and I am there and you have a minute please do not hesitate stopping by and saying hello.

    Over & Out,

    Jeff Nicklus

  41. 41 Walt Lumpkin Sep 2nd, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    jspfc has put the cost/sales price ratio matter to bed.

    After all how much did the paint cost for the Mona Lisa?
    It’s priceless and historical. Behind that impish smile
    she is probably thinking, “Somebody’s gonna pay a shitload
    of money for me one day.”

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Cyril Huze