Death Of Custom Motorcycle Builder Jerry Graves

Very sad news this Saturday morning. Custom builder Jerry Graves, one of my professional neighbors in South Florida, was found dead this morning in his home. Born in Frankfort, Indiana in 1971, he was a 3rd generation biker who started modifying his own bike when he was 16 years old, then built his 1st full-blown custom at the age of 19. He moved to South Florida in 1999 to work for another custom bike builder, then opened “Graves Custom Cycles” in October 2002. His best very radical work is featured in Tom Zimberoff’s Art Of The Chopper 2. Lately, Jerry was running his top gas bike in drag races running 8.20 in the 1/4 mile. My condolences to his family and friends (picture Zimberoff).

51 Responses to “Death Of Custom Motorcycle Builder Jerry Graves”

  1. 1 bobfather Jan 10th, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    That’s a tragedy. I’ve seen his bikes and always thought he had great vision about the artistry involved with building custom bikes. My condolences to his family and friends.

  2. 2 Boss Hawg Jan 10th, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    Hi Cyril,

    It is very sad to hear about a fellow brother’s tragic loss of life.

    May Jerry rest in peace and ride the heavens!


  3. 3 steveb Jan 10th, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    i met Graves during Sturgis 2006 @ Thunder Road where i was running The American Iron magazine bike show. Graves and his crew showed up late to register…we had closed about a half hour before he got there. Once i saw his bikes, I let him and his fiercely loyal crew in, no one really knew of him before that…..and low and behold he won like 3 trophies and was all the rage.

    Such a great guy, such a talented builder, such a fierce look! I dug Graves and will wear the shirt he gave me off his back that next year when he came back to win even more trophies at our show

    *see ya Graves* clink.

  4. 4 Jack Deagazio Jan 10th, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    This is a sad day in the bike building community.We have lost a very talented builder and friend.As chief judge for the Rats Hole Bike Shows i have witnessed Jerry’s talents for the last ten years first hand.Every year i would look forward to see what new build he would bring to the show.I will miss that,but even more i will miss my friend.
    On behalf of myself,Tony Massaro and the Rats Hole Judging Team, we send our deepest condolences to Jerry’s family.


  5. 5 Jeff Nicklus Jan 10th, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    My condolences to his family and friends.

    Rest in Peace Jerry.

    Over & Out,


  6. 6 Brian D. Jan 10th, 2009 at 11:38 pm

    He was a talented builder for sure. His bikes had style.
    Got to spend q weekend in Alabama with him while filming pinks. (A-1 VS Chandler Originals).
    Was a weekend I will never forget.
    My condolences to his family & friends.

    Brian D.
    Midwets MC Supply

  7. 7 Michael Lowhorn Jan 11th, 2009 at 1:51 am

    I was a friend of Jerry’s from high school in Frankfort IN. I just got a call about his death and to say that I am shocked is a huge understatement. I have been an admire of Jerry’s work for years and I am sorry that I had lost contact with him and have been trying to e-mail for a wile now.
    He will be missed!
    My condolences to his family.

    Rest in Peace Jerry.

    Michael Lowhorn
    Lowhorn Productions

  8. 8 Jack Lodato Jan 11th, 2009 at 9:37 am

    I only met Jerry about a week before Christmas when I went to him to have him work on my Harleys. He had such a sweet and cool demeanor and I immediately connected with him and was certain that we would have a long friendship for years to come. I was so happy to have found him and his team and I had been to the shop numerous times since our first meeting. I was in total shock when I went to the shop yesterday (Saturday, 1/10/09) and learned of his passing. They say that you meet people for a reason and I am truly a lucky man for at least knowing Jerry for, if only, that brief period of time. Jerry had a good heart and I know that if there is a God in Heaven that Jerry is with him now. I not only will miss him in the future but I grieve with everyone else that has had the opportunity to meet and be touched by his life here on earth. My heart goes out to his family and friends at this time. Jerry was taken way too soon from life but has left behind a legacy that many will remember. I miss ya Big Man.
    Jack Lodato
    Boynton Beach, Florida

  9. 9 Christina Richardson Jan 11th, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    I have known Jerry for several years now as I great and loyal friend. Jerry was one hell of a visionary with his choppers and just a wonderful man all around. As my father’s best friend he and his son came to be a constant in my life. His powerful appearance, yet easy to talk to personality made Jerry a friend to everyone who he met. I’m sure I speak for everyone who knew him when I say that his death is a loss to not only all of us as friends, but to the motorcycle industry. Jerry has left his mark on us all in many different ways. R.I.P. Jerry Graves. We will miss you greatly.

  10. 10 Josh Jan 12th, 2009 at 1:07 am

    I have known Jerry for a few years. Like everyone says.He was a real,straigt up,ONE OF A KIND awsome guy. It was an honner to have him as a freind. If there is a GOD..Maybe Jerry will built him a kick ass bike.he will be missed. My condolences to his family.

  11. 11 BIKERPICS JACK Jan 12th, 2009 at 7:33 am

    I learned of Jerry’s death while at a biker show in the Meadowlands Saturday morning. Jerry has been a great friend and one of the builders that I “couldn’t wait” to photograph. He was the most colorful, happy, talented, and I mean talent like I have never seen before, builders around. To say he will be missed is understating it. If it takes me all day, I’m going to post a memorial on my site of my favorite pics of Jerry working, having fun, and just an all around look at the man JERRY GRAVES.

    Man will I miss that guy. R.I.P. Jerry!!!!!


  12. 12 ChopperGuy Jan 12th, 2009 at 8:04 am

    This is aweful. My thoughts and prayers to the family and friends. I have a bike of Jerry’s and he was always on the cutting edge with his work.

  13. 13 BIKERPICS JACK Jan 12th, 2009 at 9:04 am

    OK, I have just created a gallery of Jerry Grave’s pics to view with a video to be added, a great great video that no one has seen later today. The link to the images is

    I hope you all like the images…

  14. 14 J.P. Harris Jan 12th, 2009 at 10:22 am

    I grew up with Jerry, he lived right around the corner from me in our po-dunk town of Frankfort. I just now found out the news. This is going to take a long time to get over. Possibly, never! RIP Jerry!

    I’ll Miss You Greatly! J.P.

  15. 15 Ken Jan 12th, 2009 at 10:45 am

    I’m shocked. He was great guy and always had time to talk about his new crazy bike…he will be greatly missed.

  16. 16 Eric Farrar Jan 12th, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Jerry was a good friend he will never be forgotten.
    Me and my brothers Phillip, Carl and friends Brad Dexter,Troy Rosen had alot of fun with Jerry
    when he was home in Indiana. He was great to hang out with and there was never a dull moment with Jerry and his dad BIG JERRY aka( POP) around . Jerry had a great sense of humer , he was like a people magnet, everyone always wanted to be around him. I would like to think Jerry , his crew, Pop, and Brad for the wonderful time I had in Sturgess in 2004 . Jerry had a dream of building bikes he built the best bikes i have ever seen . He had a great talent . We are all fortunat to have had him in our lifes even though it wasnt long enough. Some of the best times in life are
    with friends and family . Jerry was like a brother to alot of us . My condolences to all his friends and
    family… We all love ya jerry .

    Eric,Brad,Troy,Phillp and Carl

  17. 17 Tyler Jan 12th, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Jerry was a true visionary, to know him was my honor, he was a great friend and father. Pray for his family. RIP and godspeed Buddy

  18. 18 miguel(miami choppers) Jan 12th, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    i knew him personally,we talked alot during the shows and after,a very talented and nice guy his vegas bike is actually my favor bike.god bless you JERRY se you some time. miguel

  19. 19 Kim Morrell Jan 12th, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Jerry Graves

    Words can not describe the person he was. I am a fellow racer of Jerry and he was definitly an amazing individual. Whether we were lined up together or just talking in the pits he definitly left his mark in life. An amazing bike builder, an amazing racer and also a friend. Our deepest sympathy goes to his son and family. His presents will truley be missed.

    The Slater Racing/ Underpressure Team

    Kim, Geoff, Steve, Randy, Lil Mike, Charlie

  20. 20 Fringe( Outcast MC Florida) Jan 12th, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    You will be missed Jerry. My deepest sympathy to the famiy. May he rest in peace.

  21. 21 jay hart Jan 12th, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    i grew up roller skating with jerry and his sister jenny. i still have the tattoo he gave me when we were tnagers. he was riding shovelheads to school before he had a driving permit. we went our separate ways after high school but surprisingly ended up crossing paths in the same industry many years later. we enjoyed sharing our new creations with each other at all of the shows. he dedicated every second to motorcycles. jerry graves was the real thing. -hart

  22. 22 A 1 cycles Jan 12th, 2009 at 5:38 pm is not to ask why. ours is to carry on his memory. i know my friends and i will. miss you already bro..see you soon. mike

  23. 23 Jammin' Grafix Jan 12th, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    I had the honor of meeting Jerry through a mutual friend, and lettered a couple of trailers for him. I always wanted to paint one of his beautiful bikes. He was truely a visionary.
    Our thought’s and condolences to all family and friends.
    Jerry, you will be missed.


  24. 24 BOBBY DAVIS Jan 12th, 2009 at 10:06 pm



  25. 25 SMOCK Jan 13th, 2009 at 3:29 pm


  26. 26 john sachs jr. Jan 13th, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    godspeed jerry. condolences to all family and friends

  27. 27 Fran and Wendy Kinsler Jan 13th, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    Went to school with Jerry, there was never a dull moment with him. My first tattoo was by him also like J Hart. He was in our wedding in 1989. He will be missed….Ride free Jerry

  28. 28 J Chaney Jan 13th, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    Watched Jerry cut his teeth on all the bikes he had when he was growing up around here. He always rode em like he stole em. Have some fond memories,although they are kinda foggy,of Saturday nights at the Cactus with him and the boys.I had a great time in 98 with Jerry, Troy, Brad,Bobby D.and the rest of the crew when we went to Sturgis together.Only saw him a couple of times after he moved south,but always followed his builds in magazines and on his web site.He will be missed. My sympathy to Jerry Sr. and family. RIP Jerry

  29. 29 Mel Jan 13th, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    It’s hard to know what to say but here goes……I have known Jerry since my early twenty’s. Which as always your twenty’s are a tough time and we went through some tough times together and remained good friends. Jerry was a good person at heart. He was always the center of attention because he had a great personality. He was adventurous and would do anything for his friends. His first love then was building bikes and I knew someday he would make it big. My condolences to his family especially his dad as they were as close as father and son could be.Gods speed Jerry…you were loved.

  30. 30 hankster1800 Jan 14th, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    Jerry was a great friend to everybody who crossed his path, a great guy in general who loved his bikes and loved to ride, he would often come to the club( everybody knows what club i mean) and want to drinnk his scotch but i would have to limit him to two because he would get to havin too much fun, !! Ride on Jerry . You will be missed…

    Hankster- Lafayette,

  31. 31 Brenda Fox Jan 14th, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    My deepest condolences to his family and loved ones.
    You’ll be sorely missed.
    Rest in peace & ride on in heaven.

  32. 32 Aaron Pullen Jan 14th, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    Here is the Tribute to my Brother In Law. A true loss and he will be dearly missed by all. A self made man with impeccable character and refused to fit the mold and lived by his own terms.
    Love ya Bro,
    AP & the Crew

  33. 33 Andrea Walters Jan 14th, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    I went to school with Jerry. I remember meeting him the 1st day of 7th grade. What an impression he left on people. He always had great passion and was always an amazing artist. You will be missed. RIP Jerry.

  34. 34 Josh Jan 14th, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    It was an honer to have had Jerry as a freind. He will be missed. If there is a God .Im sure Jerry will build him a kick as bike.

    Godspeed Jerry
    Hope to see you again

  35. 35 Uncle Joe Jan 15th, 2009 at 11:04 am

    My nephew, Jerry Graves( we, family, always called him “Little Jerry” imagine that!), possessed a God given talent and he honed that talent through hard work and determination to produce some of the most exotic and finest customs bikes built. He was always artistic and became a top notch welder in his teenage years and developed a fabricating ability which led him to his first professional building job. It was really a great and exciting time when he was able to go out on his own and produce the great looking bikes that all have seen. Although he was miles away from Frankfort, Indiana, and as happens to often, we lose contact,we made it a point meet in Sturgis in 2005. What a great time we had. We told him over and over how proud we were of him, and how we bragged to all how would listen. My wife actually embarrassed him. Jerry was definitely his own man, but a good and great man in so many ways. Thanks to all of you who submitted thoughts.We will all miss that infectious smile and spirit he had. He will be sorely missed. It’s so hard to say goodbye, Little Jerry, but until we meet again- God be with you and may you soar on the wings of Eagles.
    Uncle Joe

    P.S. to BIKERSPICS JACK- What a great photo collage, well done!

  36. 36 Tony Jan 15th, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    Knew Jerry since 1st grade. An extremely caring individual with a huge heart. A lot of memories that will never be forgotten. Say high to R. S. for me.

  37. 37 Scott B. Meinket Jan 16th, 2009 at 12:13 am

    I had the pleasure meeting Jerry in 2000 and admired his skills. He was a very unique person. I also meet you years ago Cyril, my good friend Michael Lombardi created your first website. Jerry was a true artist and he will be missed. My prayers are with his family.

  38. 38 Bubba Longbottom Jan 16th, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Jerry Graves,What a great person and bike builder! Put Trotter in his place at Rats hole with the winning custom bike.He will be missed.My condolences to his girl friend and family.RIP

  39. 39 JohnnyAgogo Jan 16th, 2009 at 11:59 pm

    I met Jerry when i used to run the WPB Bike Show (aahhhhh those were the days). True to form, jerry and the crew showed up last minute. But he was professional and gave full respect. I thought he was a great builder. his bikes were not my cup of joe, but the work was very impressive. He won best of show that year. He’s even on a promo video from the show I keep at my desk. i see his face everytime I play it……When I heard the news i was shocked. A tragic loss, regards to Jerry’s family and friends.


  40. 40 Nanette Jan 17th, 2009 at 4:09 am

    I only knew Jerry for a short time, but he touched my soul like I knew him a lifetime. I will truly miss a beautiful person I had the priveledge to have met and call a friend. People meet others for a reason and I was reminded earnest hearts still exist! I will carry the shared laughs in my heart! Jerry will be missed by those that knew him and left behind to wish we knew him longer. Rest in Peace, Jerry.

  41. 41 Heather Knuckles Schumaker Jan 19th, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    Jerry was in my class in HS in Frankfort iN….he was a class clown, talented artist and full of spirit….he was a unique individual that truly made his mark….my thoughts are with the family and his son…..

  42. 42 Ken Kershaw Jan 21st, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    Jerry was a Great friend and the best fabricator I will ever know.
    Miss you

  43. 43 Jill Jan 22nd, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Ride on Jerry. You were always so full of energy and ideas, so much so I sometimes would vibrate just from the energy that you exuded! I am shocked and saddened. My condolences to all his family and friends.

  44. 44 Tyler Jan 23rd, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    Lake Worth Florida, January 29, 2009Lake Worth Bike Night’s Jerry Graves Memorial


    Press Contact: Melissa Nangle cell: (561) 927-7331

    Biker’s rally to support Michaele “Hot Rod” Graves and honor his father, fallen chopper builder, Jerry Graves.

    Lake Worth, Florida, Fl, January 29, 2009

    An outpouring of sympathy from the area motorcycle community is fueling a memorial on Thursday, January 29, 2009. Lake Worth Bike Night is hosting a special Jerry Graves Memorial starting at 7PM. A portion of the proceeds from fund raising efforts will be donated to Michaele Graves “Hot Rod”, son of Jerry Graves.

    Jerry Graves was the owner of Graves Custom Cycles. His custom chopper designs are known throughout Palm Beach County and the country. A sample of his work has appeared in The Art of the Chopper, a book featuring national motorcycle designs. The following quote is from The Art of the Chopper. “I’ve got building motorcycles on my mind all the time,” says Graves. “Generally it’s the last thought on my mind before I go to bed and the first thing I think of in the morning. If I get up in the middle of the night to pee, I’ll sketch what I couldn’t get out of my head on the bathroom mirror.” Samples of Graves work will be featured all throughout downtown Lake Worth.

    Lake Avenue and Lucerne Avenue venues will be alive with music on this special night. Two of the bands scheduled to appear are Slip and the Spinouts and The Dillengers.

    Custom bike builders Mike Pruss, Mike Beland, Adam Chandler, Cyril Huze, Billy Lane, Chop Shop Customs, Thunder Cycle, “Chiki” Vagabond and more to be announced will be attending. So many great people in the industry coming out to support this sad but needed cause. An array of vendors will also be set up at various downtown locations.
    While a soul has passed from the motorcycle world the soul of the motorcycle community is stronger then ever. Evident in the support thrown into this effort is the wide reaching and generous donation of raffle items for this special night. A partial list of donating participants include Chandler Originals, Choppers Inc, South Florida Choppers, A-1 Cycles, Demented Graphics, Vagabond, Palm Beach Harley Davidson, Iron Eagle, Eddie Trotta, Chop Shop, Cyril Huze and Daddy- O’s

    . The raffle will be announced at Havana Hideout at 9 PM & The Cottage at 9:30 .

    National and local motorcycle media will be covering this event with photographers and reporters on site.

    The Jerry Graves’ Memorial begins at 7 PM at area venues on Lake ave and Lucerne Ave in Downtown Lake Worth.


  45. 45 Josh Jan 24th, 2009 at 1:33 am

    In Memory of ,Jerry Graves window decals are available for sale on ebay

    All Proceeds will be donated to Jerrys son

    Click link below

  46. 46 Stan Jan 24th, 2009 at 11:17 am

    I met Jerry less than a year ago. I ride my bicycle on Saturdays with my daughter to apark close to his shop in Boynton Beach. I asked him if he would install a jetkit and 4in1 pipe on my 1981 Kawasaki Gpz.
    On my days off, I would stop by the shop and we would talk mostly about racing engines and building a pink shifter cart for my daugher.
    Jerry had a clutch lever powder coated to replace the broken one on the GPz, so I stopped by the shop with my daughter for the first time to meet him when I heard the news. The only thing I could do was to take a long ride on the Gpz that evening.
    I am not sure why our paths crossed in this world, but I always felt like we connected in some way other than motorcycles.
    I decided that the broken clutch lever is staying on the bike now.
    God Bless You Jerry and your family.
    Stan and Kaelyn – Boynton Beach

  47. 47 Josh Jan 27th, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    In Memory of Jerry Shirts on ebay.

    All proceeds will be donated to his son

    Link below

  48. 48 Joe Louis Feb 8th, 2009 at 7:43 am

    I and, we love Jerry Lee Graves II , My condolences…… to his family.

    My prayers are with him and his family

    Joe Louis Marinho ( Brazil)

  49. 49 Rollin Sixes Choppers. Jul 13th, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    I was just thinking of my friend today thats all.

    We are sadend here at Rollin Sixes. We found out our friend Jerry has decided to ride out ahead. I don’t understand it, nobody does but some riders were just ment to soar free. He held out his hand in friendship and we took it and have no regrets. We didn’t talk to each other everyday or even every month, didn’t have to. I know if i needed him he’d be there and he knew we be there for him and his crew. I met alot of big headed jackasses in the custom world and Jerry wasn’t one of them. He tried to live true to his word. When he gave it to you, you pretty much knew thats how it was going to be. I met Jerry and after talking with him i decided he was someone i wanted as a friend and would stand by him if needed no matter what(Real Bikers and Brothers know what i am talking about)and will stand by his name and memory in death. I am not trying to ride anybodys fame train or am i saying i was one of his best friends. I can’t explain the way i feel, it’s just the way it is. Someone told me that you measure a man not by how much money or stuff he has but by how many folks who’s hearts he touched and by how many will really miss him when he’s gone. From what i can see it’s going to be alot. I will miss my friend.

    Jerry and crew from Rollin Sixes Choppers n Rods.


  50. 50 GHIS Apr 8th, 2010 at 9:44 am

    Voilà plus d’un an que nous avons perdu un grand nom de la Custom Culture.
    Mes condoléances sincères à sa famille et ses proches.
    Son nom est gravé à jamais dans le métal.
    (Pdt Ghis Custom Crew – France)

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