Liability Trial Against Big Bear Choppers

venombigbearchopperscomMotorcycle are dangerous and potential liability exposure of Builders and Manufacturers is extremely high.

A product liability trial arising out of an alleged custom motorcycle defect on a Big Bear Choppers motorcycle began yesterday in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York.

The plaintiff’s claims (Marcus J. (Marc) Mathews) against Big Bear Choppers include defective design, defective manufacturing, inadequate warnings, breach of warranty and negligence.  According to the complaint, on June 13, 2004, the plaintiff was riding his three month old Venom Pro-Street motorcycle in New Hampshire when the front fender assembly failed causing the nearly 10 pound fender to come into contact with and lock the front tire of the motorcycle. The plaintiff then lost control of the motorcycle, crashed into another motorcycle, and was thrown into a ravine where he sustained severe arm and leg injuries. After more than two years of surgeries, the plaintiff’s right leg was amputated above the knee.

An investigation by Police and State Troopers after the accident revealed that two of the four ¼”-20 screws intended to hold the motorcycle’s front fender to the bike had fallen out prior to the accident and that it was the reason of the crash.  After three years of discovery, the plaintiff’s attorneys claim that Big Bear Choppers had actual or constructive notice, more than one year prior to the plaintiff’s accident, that the method it selected to attach the Venom’s front fender to its lower legs was inadequate. The trial should last 2 weeks.

110 Responses to “Liability Trial Against Big Bear Choppers”

  1. 1 Joe May 16th, 2009 at 9:59 am

    Ummmm, shouldn’t the guy have been checking bolts and stuff every so often to make sure they don’t vibrate loose? This is a common thing on motorcycles, especially dual sports and stuff. You always need to stay on top of that stuff and periodically check to make sure things are bolted on securely, no?

  2. 2 Conrad May 16th, 2009 at 11:05 am


    100% correct here sir. We warn every single customer that they MUST check their bike often. Not just check it by looking at it and cleaning it but by actually getting an allen key set out and checking torques on every bolt in site. With high-performance bikes you must make sure you maintain them. I dont care if they are 3 months old or 3 years old this is a precaution so that accidents like this do not happen.


  3. 3 jspfc May 16th, 2009 at 11:08 am


    I would say a person who has any motorcycle knowledge and mechanical ability would do this. However if you buy a vehivle from a manufacturer, or even someone who claims to be a manufacturer, they should be responsible for these things. When you buy a new car or truck, do you have to check the bolts, electrical system, engine, etc, on that?

    I am not sure how Big Dog’s service schedule is but any motorcycle company really should give you a 500 or 1000 miles check up at no cost where they check things like bolts, belts, oil levels, electrical system, etc. That would hopefully prevent problems like this.

  4. 4 Jeff Nicklus May 16th, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    I know, before you guys start giving me hell, that the Big Bear in questions price tag was in the $30s however, this story is yet another example of why I argue against the $15-20,000.00 bikes out there. The companies selling these bikes can not afford to sell their bikes for that if they are paying a Product Liability Insurance Premium. If this had been about the XYZ Bobber Company, instead of Big Bear, selling bikes without product liability this guy would be out of luck. The XYZ Company would have, at best, filed bankruptcy and more than likely just closed the doors, and gone on down the road. Again I say you get what you pay for and fortunately this guy made a good choice and has some recourse.

    Further, we build our products to be as close to idiot proof as possible ….. we have to assume that the person buying our bikes is not a gear head nor should they be expected to check bolts. We do in our service manual ask the customer or Service Provider to check bolts, however, we have to assume they will not be checked we therefore over engineer everything and soak the hell out of the bolts with LocTite!

    FYI: Someone needs to hire an engineer at Big Bear ….. a front fender is way too heavy and carries a load greater than one can expect 4- 1/4×20 screw(s) to provide.

    Just my opinion!

    Over & Out,


  5. 5 Busfreak May 16th, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    This is a sad story because of the guy getting hurt. I am not an engineer but 4 1/4×20 inch screws for a 10 pound fender. Even I know that is not going to work. Iride an old FLH shovel and I have to check all my bolts because they are always coming loose. I need to buy stock at the lock tight company.
    By the way Jeff, I have seen a lot of 15k bobbers that are better built than a 30k show piece. This wouldn’t of happened if he was on a bobber because he would’t of had a front fender.

  6. 6 Robin May 16th, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    Sad story for all involved. Big Bear Choppers, who I know to be a conscientious manufacturer, Mr. Mathews, who lost his leg in the accident, and those who were riding with Mr. Mathews who undoubtably needed to clean their shorts after witnessing the accident and having their day’s activities ruined as well.

    Those who have been riding V-Twin vibrators for any length of time certainly know that fasteners need to be checked often, not just occasionally. Not knowing anything about Mr. Mathews, he may have expected his new $30K motorcycle to be as sound and dependable as his car, “Lexus Maximus” or his last bike, the “Guy a Busa” both which are like the products in Ron Popiel’s TV ads where you “set it and forget it.” Manufactures cannot expect buyers to know what they (the manufacture) know and manufactures are one step farther removed when a dealer in their network may or may not have given adequate direction.

    I’m not an engineer so I can’t comment on whether 4) 1/4 x 20 bolts are adequate to properly support the fender in question but the information provided doesn’t indicate a failure of the bolts, it says that two of the screws had fallen out prior to the accident. They didn’t break, they vibrated out. This is a distinction which could have significant ramifications at trial.

    We will not solve this case in this forum, that’s for the court system, but it is interesting to consider it and I look forward to the update when the case is completed.

  7. 7 Believer 45 May 16th, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    Very sad for both parties.

    As for my 35 plus years in law enforcement, I can give you some basic and general guidelines that these type of insurance claim cases carry:

    1. No doubt the accident did occur. However, there are many ‘allegations” in these type of cases and they need to be proven.

    2. It’s very hard to prove product defect/engineering mistakes. How many times has this happened before? is this a constant and ongoing problem/defect ? etc. Was tampering involved? example: Did the plaintiff have his bike custom painted and was disassembled and assembled a week prior to the accident? Who was the last one to touch it? Had he been drinking? Was it rider error? Did he hit a pothole and did the bolts break from the impact? or did they fall out from the lack of lock-tite? or maybe he hit an elephant?…..get the idea? obviously, anything is possible and it all has to be proven.

    3. Many mitigating factors will play into effect. I can assure you that the insurance company lawyers
    are being very aggressive. Fact that they have been conducting discovery for over 3 years tells you that the insurance company feels that there are some serious holes in the plaintiff’s case and would rather go to trial. Insurance companies hate spending money on legal fees for trials that they feel that they can’t win.

    4. The Plaintiff’s damages/suffering is probably in the 5 million plus. Insurance companies prefer
    to settle a case when the evidence is overwhelming to minimize their loses. Obviously, not in
    this case. Litigation is ridiculously expensive. I can assure you that this case in the hundreds of

    5. Is this a bench trial or a jury trial? Which party is in favor on this issue? Venue…..did the accident
    happen in NY? Once again, which party has the advantage?

    6. I can assure you that there are mechanical engineers involved in this case as critical witnesses
    for both parties.

    The outcome will be based on how effective the lawyers can ‘manipulate” the factual evidence as well as the mitigating factors to swing it to their respective party.

    Will be interesting to find out more about the actual facts.

    Has anybody read the actual filed complaint? Is it available on line? I would be interested in reading it.

    Personally, I’ve never heard of a semi-attached front fender locking up a front wheel. But, like I said earlier, anything is possible. In my opinion, something smells rotten on this one.

    Keep us posted Cyril.

  8. 8 Grayhawk May 17th, 2009 at 6:52 am

    Lessons learned on this one, if your the rider check your bike routinely, but good luck on that one as quite a few of todays riders will not or can not, so if you fit in that catagory pay to have it serviced, it is your life on the line, no amount of money is worth your health.

    If your a builder take serious note and make sure you are covered from an insurance/liability standpoint as it is the nature of the beast, does not matter what you build 15k, 30k, etc. if it hasn’t happened, an incident, it will no matter the cause or fault, neglect or even partial neglect, The final ruling may ease the cost impact depending on outcome but not keep you from spending to contest and not from impacting your insurable cost.

    Big Bear’s insurance will more than likely settle the case the rider will get a bit of cash but will not get his leg back and Big Bear’s insurable rate/premium will go up. BB’s front fender securing design will change as shame on them if a second incident would occur, their name sake and liability risk both have continuing cost impacts to their business viability.

    If you lose your builder reputation you might as well be building out of your garage.

    Another reason I made the comments I did on the wheel recall of Big Dog another earlier blog post and an incident and/or lawsuit waiting to happen outsourced product componet or not.

    If your a builder build the best bike you can no matter the luxury level as your rep and someones life is in your hands and your responsibility, be also be a smart business person and have the coverage to protect your business and build it into the cost of doing business, the cost of the bike if you will of course.

    Rubber side down always.


  9. 9 mbofill May 17th, 2009 at 7:37 am

    this is stupid for aren’t you supposed to check your bike over before you ride? especially if your bike is new for things do need to be re-torqued after the first hundred miles just like an oil change…its too bad some dumbshit doesn’t know how to properly maintain his ride. it caused him his own injuries and he is trying to cash in on kevin’s success

  10. 10 bigalyts May 17th, 2009 at 8:06 am

    Boy oh Boy am I out of the Ball Park with a Columbo like Believer 45 and Jeff you are on the Money as well and Grayhawk you are beliievable as well. The Real Deal is Yesterday that made a Settlement Offer in the Range of the Maximum Liability that Big Bear Carries and that was turned down. I would say that it was 1 or 2 Million Dollars. They are not going to offer more than Big Bear is Insured for. Next, iis to stretch this Suit and Settlement out as long as they can.They already alloted for their losses to be acruing Intrest in a Account somewhere that they chose! I think that the 5 Million Settlement would be a Close number on which the Plantiff’s Attorneys are Shooting for. This is a 60/40 Case for sure. The Jury’s are not what they Use to Be! They don’t have the SOFT SPOT IN THEIR HEARTS like they did! I would say that I hope the HELL the Plantiff’s have picked a Jury with at least 2 Bikers ! This is a tough Case but I think that if this is a Contributory Negligence State that the Monies that are awarded to Him will be significantly less. What you Guys don’t understand is that whatever liability that a Person carries in Insurance that is what they will get sued for 100% of the time. I think that If the Jury’s award is more than they and Big Bear want to pay< well APPEAL! There is another 3 years intrest for the Insurance Company.
    PS Contributory Negligence State means: If it is 60% Big Bears Fault than the Reward will be based on that figure, meaning that 40% of the Accident was the Plantifs fault!

  11. 11 Otis May 17th, 2009 at 8:25 am

    As a business owner, my response is likely politically incorrect, but these litigious f*%ks piss me off!

    This is the problem with our country! Dude, if you’re a biker, you accept the risk of living the life! I know, you lost your leg, but I’ll bet, if you could do it again, you’d go over your bike and maintain it! Your obvious lack of attention to detail, cost YOU your leg. It shouldn’t cost Big Bear “an arm and a leg!”

    I have been the owner of many Harleys, multiple metrics, and custom built bikes. Guess what, they have ALL had hardware that worked loose! Never, did that result in a serious problem, because I always do “pre-flight” checks and cleaning.

    Ok, maybe if a Big Bear Truck driver was intoxicated and ran you off the road, I could see it, but not this. If you ever had a “biker bone” in your body, you’d accept responsibility for your own actions, or lack of.

    I feel for your loss, it’s real. However, I hope for all Americans, that you loose this frivolous case and the attorney that brought it to court gets fined.

    If you’d been thrown from a real horse, who would sue….God?

  12. 12 Dave Blevins May 17th, 2009 at 8:27 am

    Am I missing something… aren’t Big Bear’s bikes sold in kits only? Wouldn’t this mean the owner, or at least an assembler other than BBC put the bike together?
    If the bolts loosened and fell out, not broke, I don’t see how BBC is responsible under these circumstances, but rather the assembler.
    Just my 2 cents.

  13. 13 Carlton May 17th, 2009 at 8:41 am

    You would think that someone how buys a “custom motorcycle” would be somewhat of a gearhead. Its the motorcycle shows that attract people to riding and not all have a tool box, sad. I ‘m really on the fence here… if you buy a custom bike, you should have some sort of mechanical ability.If the bike was assembled at big bear they should use loctite on every bolt thats on the bike. if it was a kit, (big bear offers both versions) I built a kit bike in ’03, I used loctite on the fenders, and don’t have a problem with bolts backing out. LOCTITE IS YOUR FRIEND! You can’t trust all shops to do this for you Its your bike, and your live on the line, learn to check your own bike and use loctite.

  14. 14 Troy May 17th, 2009 at 8:52 am

    One 1/4-20 bolt will lift the entire bike, they forgot the Loctite. I have thought that the design of the front fender on these bikes causes unecessary turbulence, too thin at the front and way to close to the front tire. They think it looks cool, I think it looks dangerous. Big Bear also sells a production bike as well as kits.

  15. 15 Jim C May 17th, 2009 at 9:35 am

    Isn’t Big Bear also having a problem with a lot of their frames cracking and breaking. I have heard that there are a lot of pissed off guys who are getting no satisfaction from Big Bear concerning this problem and that basically Big Bear is just blowing them off.
    This makes me wonder how much actuall engineering they have done and whether they are going for more “form” and less “function”. Personally,there was a time that I thought Big Bear had a good thing going on but as time goes on,I would have to say that I would NOT buy a Big Bear. A motorcycle is dangerous enough with all the idiot cagers out there without having to worry as to whether your bike is going to break in half or something along those lines. Routine maintenance is one thing,poor design and engineering is another. I have enough things to not want to buy a Big Bear even if only 1/2 of what I have heard is true.

  16. 16 Nocturnal May 17th, 2009 at 9:35 am

    As long as I’ve been wrenching on bikes, I can tell you that I’ve never seen fender mounts to be 1/4″-20’s on a ’04 BBC Venom. As a matter of of fact, they are 5/16’s. I worked for 7 Cities Cycles as their main tech for 5 years and prior to that I worked at Mike’s HD for 11 years where I received my PHD certification as well as a host of other classifications. Prior to that I did a tour of 4 years in the US Army where I was a level 3 machinist in an armor division. I know own my own machine shop and do contract work for Lockheed. I have also been racing bikes for over 20 years in numerous classes.

    At 7 Cities, we were a dealer for BBC and we serviced and sold over a hundred of their bikes when I was there. We never, ever had an issue such as this. I have personally seen 2 bikes where the front fender bolts had fallen out and the fender bounces off front tire for miles. Yes, miles! The idiots that were riding these bikes did not notice it for several miles. Usually the first thing that happens is that the paint starts to melt from the friction. Both bikes had to have the fenders re painted and the tires replaced from the scraping and heat coming from the front fender hitting the tire.The front lowers are made in China and so are most other “custom” front ends that are out on the market by CCI, Drag, Midwest, etc. And yes the metals are soft so you need to be careful not to over tighten any of the bolts because you might strip the treads in the lowers.

    I do find it odd and mysterious the fact that the ” 1/4-20’s” fell out 3 months later. If they were left lose from the original assembly, they would have fallen out way before from the vibration of the motor. We all know how bad these “customs” vibrate. Also keep in mind that BBC does not like using motors that are larger than 100ci due to he excessive vibration. Anytime that I would work on any bike particularly a custom, I would “dip” the bolts in lock-tite and re check the torque after a test ride. I would also go out of my way to explain to the customers that it is crucial that they perform a pre-ride check before they ride their bike. A good time to do this is when you wash the bike. We also had in writing on our work orders that we did not warranty any of the work on a custom motorcycle that was out of warranty from the builder.

    Some custom builders have reached a point where the bigger the motor is and the wider the tire is, the better the bike is. These bikes have reached an overkill situation. Vibration is so bad from the large motors that they have become a liability. These “custom” bikes and the components very rarely get “tested” by actual engineers for integrity and assurance. Let alone safety. And most important, the parts that come out of China are unregulated and don’t have to meet any safety and integrity regulations. In reality, most of these customs never make the 10K mark. They fall apart and the owners get disgusted with the service and attention that is needed in order to keep them on the road. Take a look on Ebay and you will see how all of these owners are trying to “dump” these customs for less than 1/2 the price for what they paid for them. And they are only 2-3 years old. In other words, a 3 year old custom is a dying dinosaur.

    Builders should adjust the warranties based on the motor and tire sizes to protect themselves and make the customer aware of what exactly they are getting for their money.

  17. 17 Woody May 17th, 2009 at 10:18 am

    +1 to Troy. Four ¼-20s of even grade 5 would be able to secure a 10lb. fender, whether they actually DO is another matter. Since the fender is so long and snug to the tire, the clearance tolerance on the holes would have to be minimal and compression would have to be maintained beyond normal applications so there’d have to be sufficient reinforcement of the fender sheetmetal at point of fastening, as well as nylock fasteners over locktite as my preference. Long fenders like that always had fender struts for the very reasons we’re dealing with this bike’s problem now. Sometimes form over function doesn’t work out too well…………………….My best wishes to all parties involved to come out of this as whole as is still possible.

  18. 18 Woody May 17th, 2009 at 10:33 am

    Nocturnal-I onlt have a 2yr degree and 4yr journeyman’s card so I respect your background and opinions. that said-doesn’r finding other of their bikes having fender bolts fall out tell you they have a design problem? I’m glad your customers were able to bounce along just fine minus the missing screws, obviously it didn’t work out that way for the guy who went down. With that fender’s design I can see where with just the right bounce, the lower fender tip could catch the tire and roll up under itself in only one or two bike lengths after the second bolt fell out. Not much you could do at that point, and psooibly no warning prior. I’ve been riding30+ years myself and check my bikes during (infrequent 😉 ) washings but to be honest I haven’t dug under the tupperware to check my CBR’s rear shouck mounts for bad welds or my Valk’s driveshaft splines since I changed the rear tire 5-6 k miles ago. There is culpability on both side, I’m sure-but design problems never go away and don’t lie.

  19. 19 Woody May 17th, 2009 at 10:35 am

    boi, eye wish this bord had spaall checar or I should tipe with wun fingur, huh? 🙂

  20. 20 American Flyer May 17th, 2009 at 11:07 am

    So Conrad, tell me……..

    If you do tell your customers to check their bolts and they do just that and all the bolts are tight from initial assembly by you, however, a bolt does falls out that day and causes an accident with a major injury and the bike is still under warranty…………..who IS liable here?

    Can you comment please.

    Also, what is your warranty on your bikes?


  21. 21 American Flyer May 17th, 2009 at 11:12 am

    So Conrad……..tell me…

    if you tell your customer to check the bolts before a ride, and he does that every time before he rides and finds that all bolts are tight from initial assembly by you, however, that day, a bolt falls out causes a horrible accident with major injuries……bike is still under your warranty….who is liable then?

    Can you comment?

    Also, how long are your warranties?


  22. 22 J May 17th, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Jeff Nicklus alluded to the real problem here- it’s all about overly-aggressive lawyers, seeking out deep pockets. Wouldn’t have mattered if it was a bolt failure or a belt failure, eventually the sharp product liabiilty lawyers get around to whomever carries product liability insurance;

    Everyone gets knicked, eventually.

    Solution? End this legal extortion. Tort reform.

  23. 23 Heavy D May 17th, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    I tell you what !! To all you people who think this kind of thing can’t happen to you. Guess again. I know from my own experince. I too had a very bad motorcycle accident due to a custom bike builder who built a custom motorcycle and mounted a front fender on a springer frontend and well you guessed it the same thing happened to me as Marc it acted just like a giant brake. To make a long story short I have been riding motorcycles for over 35 years and wrenching and ridining Harley’s for 30 of those years. A inlaw had the motorcycle build for him we picked it up in the evening took it home I took it for a very short ride before it made contact and over I went. I spent over 7 months in the hospital due to internal bleeding, broke all my ribs, left hip, right knee, right sholder, brused lungs and lost the use of my right leg and foot also for 2 of those months I was on a ventilator (life support) Almost took the ride to the ski. So the bike builder feels it was mine and my inlaws falt the builder had no liability ins and he had the balls to say the bike was not finished he even has like 15 people who is willing to lie and say it was not done. So what I am trying to say is no amount of money is worth turning your life upside down. I got no I’m sorry, I got no are you OK and I got no money. But I did get having to depend on help from people which I do not like to do I depend on myself. It been 3 years since and now I am trying on a very tight budget to build my own by myself a trike so I can ride you again. I feel all MFG motorcycle companies should be at falt when this happens they go through all the TESTING thats why we pay so much fo a great product LIKE HARLEY DAVIDSON

    P.S Its our life in MFG & Custom Bike Builders hands. If we build it thats our life in our own hand.

    Ride Slow & Low

  24. 24 john reed May 17th, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    When I got into bikes, many years ago, if you didn’t wrench you didn’t ride, I came up thro the cafe racer, rocker area in England, every Saturday and Sunday we went out to find someone to race, but every evening until the next weekend the bike was in the shop replacing something we broke, or finding screws that have fallen off..
    I watch the the television programs whre the tv people call everyone master builders ( although most seem to me to be masturbaters) but apparently they are a lot better bike builders than I,because when I build a new bike, it takes me a long time to get it road worthy and many months
    of analytic testing after before I have the confidence to ride it any distance, or to its full potential , but the guys building bikes on television to a really short deadline sometimes even weeks , and then fire it up jump straight on it and ride hundreds of miles with no tools to see their adoring fans.
    People used look down on motor cycle riders and you had to be an enthusiast to be a biker, but things have changed, now motorcycles are a fashion statement and most are ridden by posers that have no mechanical aptitude,who never check their bikes.,
    but I have noticed something,
    a few years back Harley guys didn’t wave unless it was someone on another Harley , but the last few years they wave to everyone, so either the Harley guys have got more mellow, or the R.U.B.s
    have figured out how to ride with one hand off the bars.

  25. 25 Heavy D May 17th, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    Well spoken John Reed I see you too come from the old school. You do have ones who occasionally ride and some of us who just really do live to ride. But still I feel who ever builds it should have some kind of responcabilty. People do put their own faith in someone else’s hands or trust.

  26. 26 alan May 17th, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    the problem is all this new biker they want to have some custom bike but they don’t know nothing about motorcycle

    before you go for a ride take 10 minutes to look at your bike and use your tool box

    or go buy a mercedes

  27. 27 Conrad May 17th, 2009 at 9:42 pm


    I have a Mercedes and I still check the obvious things on it every day I drive it. Does this mean that since I am a new “biker” and have some custom bikes that I am not capable of looking them over for 10 minutes and deciding whether or not its safe to ride?

    I dont like your comment, it is complete bullshit to be honest and has no relevant point. People who own Harleys I would say are more likely to not know their bike than a person who owns a custom.

  28. 28 David May 17th, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    Watch this and you will probably understand why Jesse James pulled all his products off the market.
    Its the Lawers and Politicans that have ruined this country.Also the sorry ass public that doesn’t take responsibility for there actions,They dont uderstand WHY this Country use to have FREEDOM!!

    Over and Out; David

  29. 29 Heavy D May 17th, 2009 at 10:48 pm


    There my friend you are wrong if you own a Harley or had been riding Harley’s or even been around them for years like I have 30 + years you know what to look for or maybe just maybe you would take it to a dealer to have it gone over. However if you or anyone else who thinks it is great to stand out in a crowd and have a custom bike built or see what a custom bike I can buy knows what to look for and not just what pops out at them. You may not see or hear what is about to happen. Why because you did not build it or you did not watch them put it together it could have been a 12 year old who’s father has a bike shop with no liability Ins. because no one says to build bikes you have to have insurance. Like I said Harley goes through alot of testing they have people who have alot of traning also it has to have all of that because they do have the liability they have people who puts their life in their hands not just some fly by night bike builder or someone who want to get noticed. So for your thoughts on people who own Harley’s and know nothing about their bike’s guess again. I would rather get on a bike that I build or was a Harley than a custom bike built. I am glad I don’t own a Mercedes I would Rather a Ford, Chevy and a HARLEY DAVIDSON.

    P.S I made one mistake I assumed. A knowen custom bike builder built my inlaw a bike and I rode it. Thats right assumed made a ASS out of U and ME. I am the one who paid.

  30. 30 Conrad May 17th, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    Ok Heavy D apparently you have no idea who I am.?!?!?

    Owning a Ford, Chevy or Mercedes has nothing to do with this and that is the point I made to Alan. I have a Mercedes and have no issues with it. I also have a Ford F series and Corvette. I must say The Mercedes is a dream car compared to the truck and the corvette. I had numerous issues with the vette and truck but not the Benz. So that statement on your behalf is incorrect if you dont want problems.

    Also, my comment about people who are into Harleys vs Customs is meant to say people who are in the market to buy not one who “want” to buy. We build 300+ bikes a year and I must say that 95% of our customers know what they are looking for in a bike as well as what to check on our bikes. As IDIOT PROOF as we do like to make them of course we get that one customer who doesnt know jack shit about the bike besides how many people look at it as he/she rides it. Those are the owners we try to avoid to be honest. Also, for the bike builders son comment. I could not agree more with you, we pride ourselves in knowing we pay a ton of money every year to have liability insurance as well as knowing we make a great quality motorcycle. Unlike Harley, Ironhorse ( well at one time Ironhorse) Big Dog, Big Bear etc, we have less than 1/2 of 1% warranty rate on our bikes. We use only the best quality parts and use the top notch builders in our shop. That is something you and many other die hard Harley riders dont understand. While you have your 33% warranty rate we sit back and laugh at while we put the money we keep from not having warranty issues into research and development for future bikes. We dont have to take loans from people and we dont have to worry about not being in the industry tomorrow because we have made our brand better than most.

    Conrad Nicklus

    Desperado Motorcycles/Jeff Nicklus Customs/ Impressive Motorsports

  31. 31 Conrad May 17th, 2009 at 11:09 pm


    Product liability has NOTHING to do with why Jesse pulled his parts off for public buyers. He wants to raise the value of his product again and not be known as the Wal-Mart brand custom bike builder. He is editing his company and is going to bring back a top of the line bike like he had at the beginning. He knows how greed can bring you to do anything for money.

    Just watch WCC over the next 18 months or so and see what he has done. It is a great idea and I have full confidence it is going to work.

    Conrad Nicklus

  32. 32 Heavy D May 17th, 2009 at 11:15 pm


    I’m sorry to say its not the lawyers or the politicians that F*#ked up the custom bike shops or why Jesse James had enough its because every tom dick and harry started building bikes and yes taking no resonsability and slapping them together and calling it custom and people where getting hurt. Its not about freedom when you are hurting or even disabling your own people. It just down right Bull Sh*t. Freedom is from those who helped get us it and for those Men & Women I thank you so much. My family members helped get Freedom it was not free so please don’t tell me about freedom was taken from custom bike builders that sounds so much like bull.

  33. 33 Conrad May 17th, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    Heavy D to david. I could not agree more. It was not the politicians It was the mom and pop shops that started building “custom bikes” with shitty parts and a cheap price. Also, the poeple who decided to come into our industry with a few bucks trying to make millions on TV by acting like complete fools and making the rest of us look the same. Its horrible and I am sad to see the industry in the shape it is in now. I used to hate it when people would ask if my dad ran his companies like Paul Sr runs OCC and yells at his sons. Its sad. OCC, as wlel as several others, made our industry look like white trash.

  34. 34 Heavy D May 17th, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    Well said Corad Well said
    That is the point I am trying to get across. If you build it be responsable. Make it like if you your self are going to take it on a long ride.

  35. 35 Conrad May 17th, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    Ok so this may be a dumb question that I think I may already have the answer to, BUT….How the hell does the front fender on a 21 x3.5 wheel weight 10+ lbs?? I am thinking its a formed 14g with the typical Big Bear machined holes in a 1/8″ steel plate on both sides? If so ok but then I ask how the hell did the weight alone not hold the bolts in place. lol.

  36. 36 Heavy D May 17th, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    I am sorry for the miss spelled name. How ever not to get you pissed off but I myself do not care even if you was the president of the USA. You are still a person like I who depense on others for our families safty and ours. Ride To Live & Live To Ride.

  37. 37 Mike Greenwald May 18th, 2009 at 12:36 am

    Shakespeare was right. The first thing we should do is kill all the lawyers.

    Part of motorcycling is personal responsibility. This responsibility would include maintaining yourself and your bike to a level that you would deem to be safe. If for any reason you forget yourself or your bike, you will be reminded. I don’t really have any sympathy for Marcus J Mathews. He bought the bike, he owned the bike, he was responsible for the bike.

    Mathews, now that you are a pegleg, you can get on a creeper more easily and check your bike. Or were you a poser from the very beginning and expected to ride a bike that makes the statement, “Look at me”. If your bike was saying that, you should have taken a closer look, Stumpy.

    Sorry for your loss. Tough shit. Move on, Hop-a-long.

  38. 38 Conrad May 18th, 2009 at 1:00 am

    Heavy D,

    That is Ok!! I didnt even see that you hadnt spelled it correctly. But I agree with you for sure. But I also agree with Mikes point. He should have looked over his bike or the shop that serviced it should have. But my issue here is back in 2003 Big Bear was building kits to which people assembled themselves or shops did for them. I hope in this case that Matthews built it himself and in the end gets nothing for being like this and taking it to court.

  39. 39 Bikes are NOT fror sisses May 18th, 2009 at 8:51 am

    The problem with the last 10 or so years is from the housing “ATM” machine of second mortgages, refi’s and overly appreciated real estate..etc…etc.. that’s made the “posers” able to buy these customs that were built to show, not so much to ride.

    I have a custom, and it ALWAYS requires a lot of preventive maintenance, even though I check EVERYTHING including disassembly if thats what’s required, and guess what? I STILL have bolts vibrate loose on a regular basis, and yes, I soak them in Red Loctite also, its part of the game, its a semi complex, moving vehicle and shit happens….and that shit happens when its the worst possible time.

    I “almost” got into the custom build game myself when i first retired but when I ran the liability factor past my attorney he said that I would’ve had rocks in my head to do it, no matter how good you build em, there is always going to be some shit head that going to make you and your build look bad, even if Einstein did the engineering on it, its just the way the legal system in this country works, it doesn’t have jack shit to do with justice, but has EVERYTHING to do with corrupted lawyers gaming the legal system for unjust gains. Kinda like a small version of Wall Street and the political system.

    Its too bad, nobody in this country today is at fault for anything they do, the lawyers will make it out to be somebody elses fault, even though the injured dipshits caused it 95% of the time from neglect or ignorance.

    I have seen a picture of a big bear chopper that had the stem tube completely come off at the welds, HOLY SHIT !!! There were NO gusset’s welded into the area at all, and a SINGLE down tube……..They didnt do any engineering on it….because an engineer wouldve seen the 7 degree’s of rake in the tree and 45 degrees in the frame with a long ass front end and said, “this shit is dangerous, but it looks cool”….Moral of the story is: When you trade your actual engineering from a real engineer, for some punk ass kid who determines if it looks cool or not, well, your headed for serious, painful trouble when your buyer/poser actually rides it…..

    Its not going to be the 1/4-20 bolts failing that’s going to be the culprit, but the desing of it….1/4-20 are plenty strong enough if it was designed properly for strength instead of “cool looking”
    Big Bear has some negligence on their part in this case and sadly its probably going to shut Kevin down.

  40. 40 American Flyer May 18th, 2009 at 9:48 am

    BBC will NOT, I repeat, will NOT go out of business from this ridiculous lawsuit. I am sure their product liability insurance rates will increase. I am also sure that they have had other suits as well.

    As a matter of fact, there have been several other builders who have been sued as well. We also know that Harley has had it’s fair share of suits as well. So this is not the 1st or the last suit that we will be reading about. After all, the scum sucking lawyers and politicians have to justify their jobs.

    People need to understand that the custom bikes are not a Toyota and cannot be treated as a car both in safety and reliability. Ultimately, the rider accepts the final liability of the bike due to the fact that he is the one riding and operating the vehicle.

    I agree with Nocturnal, builders should adjust their warranties to a minimum when they build these “3 headed monsters” or “works of art” considering the fact that these customs are a witches brew when it comes to mix-n-matching parts. Additionally, custom builders don’t have the funds to hire engineers to design and test each bike that they build. In reality, builders just cross their fingers and hope for the best and that nothing happens. It’s a huge liability for these guys. To summarize it, they are playing Russian Roulette.

    Customers need to understand exactly what they are getting for their money. Especially, the insecure idiots that want a custom so that they can look cool in front of all their buddies……….like the knucklehead(Mathews) that is suing BBC for his own lack of common sense.

    I believe the minimum federal warranty on a motor vehicle is 6 months. If I were a builder, I would not go a day over that number. However, I would offer an additional “limited warranty” that the customer buys a replacement the part that has failed, they get free labor for 1 or 2 additional years. Additionally, I would only give them the normal 30 day shop labor warranty as well on the repair.

    Food for thought…..

  41. 41 Dick May 18th, 2009 at 10:42 am

    BBC is a production motorcycle not a custom. If this was a kit bike in this incident, I don’t think it would be going to Court, BBC would have shut this down immediately! No one has said how long this person had been riding that day. How does any of us know that the rider checked the bolts in the morning and as the ride went on they worked their way out.

    This is right from BBC’s Website, “The backbone of what makes us unique and powerful is the fact that we design AND manufacture every bit of the frame, tanks and fenders, bars and frontends, foot controls and other proprietary components – all for the purpose of an absolute motorcycle. Each Big Bear Chopper is a tried and true, strictly engineered motorcycle that will be an enduring vehicle for thousands and thousands of miles. Go to an authorized dealer for availability on a Ready-to-Ride Big Bear Chopper.”

    Someone lost there leg and there life is $%#@ed up from this point forward and all the ego out there from these defensive bike builders says this guy should have checked the fender bolts so it’s his fault! This company is selling to all walks of life and the dealers selling them are making them sound bullet proof like the their site states above. Does anyone really think the “Doctor” or whatever who just bought his new BBC knows where the fender bolts are to check to see if they are loose? Even if he did check them, if they were properly assembled with loctite, they would not have backed out!

    Let’s call a spade a spade here!


  42. 42 Jim C May 18th, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    “Also, the poeple who decided to come into our industry with a few bucks trying to make millions on TV by acting like complete fools and making the rest of us look the same. Its horrible and I am sad to see the industry in the shape it is in now. I used to hate it when people would ask if my dad ran his companies like Paul Sr runs OCC and yells at his sons. Its sad. OCC, as wlel as several others, made our industry look like white trash.”

    “Product liability has NOTHING to do with why Jesse pulled his parts off for public buyers. He wants to raise the value of his product again and not be known as the Wal-Mart brand custom bike builder. He is editing his company and is going to bring back a top of the line bike like he had at the beginning. He knows how greed can bring you to do anything for money.

    Just watch WCC over the next 18 months or so and see what he has done. It is a great idea and I have full confidence it is going to work.”

    Jessie working to make his bikes top of the line again-so what he can charge $75K for a bike that cost him $15K to build? Also how did appearing on Celebrity Apprentice help him achieve this goal of making him less of a Wal-Mart type of bike builder? As far as OCC being white trash-hhmmnn Let’s see,they have written 2 books,appeared on numerous talk shows including david Letterman and the Tonight Show where you would normally NOT see “white trash” Normally you would see “white trash” on shows like Jerry Springer. Not to mention the production bikes they build are in the $25K to $42K range using some of the best parts available today. Like S&S,Baker,Mean Street,Rolling Thunder,HHI,Metzler,RC Components,Danny Gray,ect Not to mention the parts that are made inhouse. The production bikes are well engineered and I have yet to hear of front ends breaking off or frames cracking like I am hearing from a lot of different companies who up to now were talked about with respect. That is until the truth comes out about the practices that are being used in the building and design of their bikes (BBC,Iron Horse,,ect). I get tired of hearing the comments stated above where they are based more on emotion rather than facts. The theme bikes are made for comapnies who are looking for a specific look to further expand their brand which is what the bikes accomplish and all of this takes imagination and skill. Now for the hard core riders out there-then bikes like the Christmas bike,Pez bike,ect seem silly when in fact they were made for kids.
    Anyway,I don’t claim to know who is at fault with the law suit in question here but I have heard enough things about BBC and its engineering and building practices that makes me think that they have some liability here. If that is true then they should be brought on the carpet. I agree with the statement that there have been a lot of guys who claim to be builders and opened up shop and built some of the worst crap out there with parts from overseas. I am thankful that these same guys are finally being weeded out and hopefully they will go back where they belong which is probably working in salvage yards,ect. 😉

  43. 43 Blue Sky Rider May 18th, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    Locktite saves lives!
    A good PDI helps too!
    American IronHorse put out a good bike.
    We’d PDI, but did not have too many
    issues with factory work on the bikes.

    Bad idea to sell any bike in a kit.
    Then the customer has to get a shop to PDI and
    put their name on it for the DMV. Not something
    I’ll do.

    Lawsuits are a waste of emotion and money!

    The only winners are attorneys. It’s a job for them, so they drag it out
    and don’t give a darn if it ends, cause it is a job for them!

    Big Bear should have done more to keep this lawsuit from happening!

  44. 44 David May 18th, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Conrad and Heavy D,
    Conrad, Point well taken about Jesse. Heavy D , My forefathers also fought and died for freedom of this country. I was not really refering to just the case at Hand but the whole situation the that the country is now involved in.


  45. 45 jeff & Robbie May 18th, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    BB will loose!

  46. 46 Jim Gianatsis May 18th, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    I bought a used 3 month old Ducati 916 from an attorney back in 1995, the bike which had just been rebuilt back to new by Ducati after a threatened lawsuit. The attornery was riding the bike on the freeway to a race track for a track riding day when all the bolts on the rear brake disc vibrated/fell out, letting the brake disc jam in the rear wheel assembly, locking up and destroying the rear of the bike and throwing him to the ground…..

    Should he have checked the disc mounting bolt, especially since he was taking it to the race track to ride it at racing speeds? Certainly he should have just for race track safety.

    But when was the last time you crawled under a new car you just purchased to check all the suspension, wheel and brake caliper bolts for proper torque? Right…never.

    Because today every production vehicle built on an assembly an line with is assembled with an automatic torque wrench, and Loc Tite on critical fastners.

    A new bike should be no different.

    Since 1995 every Ducati production motorcycle has a paint mark on every bolt to indicated it has been Loc Tited and torqued with a torque wrench confirming it as having been done.

    You have no idea how a speciality custom production bike was built – probably just with hand tools, by a mechanic who got fired from a dealership because he had too many come backs. Was the mechanic hung over from drinking the night before, and he needed to meet an assembly deadline to get you bike out the door that day, or get fired? And who checked his work? Probably no one.

  47. 47 Road12 May 18th, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    It’s going to be a difficult case for both parties. Motorcycles, just like cars are not supposed to break like that but it happens everyday. It could be devastating for BB if they loose.
    There are 15K bikes better built than 45K bikes on the market. But as soon as you are looking at a licensed manufacturer, listed and everything, rules change and liability change.
    If the same thing would happen to the HD motor company, they would be in as big as a trouble as BB…. except maybe they would have better lawyers to defend themselves. But that’s a different story.

  48. 48 Grayhawk May 18th, 2009 at 8:30 pm


    For sure it has happened to HD many times over, further noting numerous times that incidents were rider caused and not design defect but still settled with expensed end result, HD paid out settlements and incurred legal cost right or wrong just like any coorporation does or will do as BBC and Big Dog will do in their cases. Cyril’s introduction to this post pointed out the motorcycles can be inherently dangerous and liability burdening and that will not go away thus rider or builder must use your common sense for your benefit/livelyhood.

    I have seen riders that just got out of a training class that allowed licensing to ride to kill themselves and sellers sell them bikes they could afford but not come close to being able to handle the power or size of the bike all impacting, whether it be the newbee, the ego driven purchaser of the biggest/baddest bike or the commission driven salesperson, its bad for business, bad for the individual, bad for the industry – all culpable.

    The bigger the corporation the larger the legal department or retainment, their risk assessment group entwined with design at the earliest points of concept all increasing cost to produce, outflowing to the cost of the bike.

    Behind the scenes and usually not cognizant nor apparent to the rank and file of the company nor the consumer is that the larger the company the more their visionary designers whether you are OEM or Custom Manufacturor’s are handcuffed by legal/risk imput and restrictions and as such design and model enhancements are slower in change or to come about at all.

    When hit with judgements Smaller companies go bankrupt/Larger coorporations roll the cost on to the consumer or end products.

    Some litigation justified most not, but all reflect premium and liabilty costing increases as time rolls on – incidents and non incidents occur for whatever the reasons with litigation on going and risk assessments and legal design restraints affecting all over time.

    Take for instance the crash bar that has been around forever, but when the legal eagles argued a couple of cases where the riders were broad sided by cages and subsequently sued HD with mixed results if I remember correctly but end result costed all dearly and said incidents were not the manufacturor nor the riders neglect in either case, limbs were lost, bodies mangled as the then called crash bar wrapped around the leg or impacted the rider and resulting suits followed.

    Legal position was since it was called a crash bar it should by its own named terminology choice should protect the rider. Subsequently they are now called engine guards and so on and so on.

    So think things out you may be a builder and not a lawyer but you better have some insight if your in it for the longhaul.

    If your a rider know your limits, ride at your pace in conditions and on that which you can handle.


  49. 49 Heavy D May 18th, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    As far back as I can rember we as a biker bought a Harley did the custom work on them ourself or with a buddy in a garage as there was very very few bike shops that did custom work. You only had Harley dealer’s here and there. If something happen we brushed ourself off and rode on. Now thanks to TV, Occ & Jesse James every one thinks they can be a custom Builder. So you do need some kind of liability. Don’t get me wrong I was one of those ass’s who watched them. Occ reminded me of my old man when me and my buddies would be wrenchen on the scoots he would come out to the the garage just to bust our balls God I miss that old man. As for jesse James he built some bad lookin scoots but again it was getting out of hand when everyone started saying look I can build a custom bike better than those guys. Now everyone is building. So Jesse backed down from building. Me I still like the work Jesse does but Occ I think they should just fade away. Like I keep saying yes as a rider we do decide what to ride and to some point we as that rider are resonsibal for our scoots how ever so is the one who built it. So all in all where do you draw that line.

  50. 50 Conrad May 19th, 2009 at 2:35 am

    Jim C (OCC)

    Ok so here we go, let me lay down a “track” for you my ill informed child. “As far as OCC being white trash-hhmmnn” I never called them WHITE TRASH….I said they make us look like white trash as a father son team such as my father and I. Also, along with your story about how well “engineered” the OCC bikes are. We have a dealer who used to deal OCC at the time of their explosion into the reality TV market. I overlooked their motorcycles in great detail and you can ask my father, employees and people from the dealership, they are SHIT produced bikes. No dusk covers on the triple tree bearings, open ignition switches, open bearing seals on the wire wheels. etc. Issue after issue I could name for you, but maybe since they have done some production line build up and research into building a nice quality bike, i dont know nor do I give a rats ass. The point of the matter is Jesse has WAY more than 15k into a bike. Custom cut wheels, fenders, tanks, frames, engines, random aluminum parts. etc cost a lot of cash homie. I am sorry to inform you but you are incorrect and being from OCC you think on a PRODUCTION level not a CUSTOM level like Jesse is on. I hope I informed you on your ill informed suggestions of a stupid reality show which in, infact, makes us look like a pack of stupid arrogant assholes in a pissing match over who is right and who is not or what looks good and what doesnt.

    Ok, so now that I am done with Mr. OCC lets get into a bigger picture.
    Being on David Letterman is such a big deal eh? Well fuck Hilary Clinton, Barbara Walters and Reggie Jackson have also been on Letterman. Ok cool your publisist got you on a TV show? Do you feel special? I wouldnt. Just because you are on TV and sell a butt load of T shirts does not mean you are special, it means you got lucky.

  51. 51 Jim C May 19th, 2009 at 7:52 am

    Sorry to disappoint you,but I am not from OCC and obiously you have not looked at an OCC bike lately and you need to read my comments more carefully and realize what I was really saying. There is no doubt that Jesse;s shop puts out a nice bike. How many bikes do you think Jesse actually has his hands on and to what degree.. Customs cut wheels,fenders,ect is no different than anything else. It was done on a machine not done by hand. There is a difference. Of course the more you do the less a part costs but custom to me as far as a fender is when it is shaped by hand,ect. Cutting by machine is no different than if you did 10 or 100,to me anyway.
    And the only way that they would make someone get the impression of white trash is if they themselves were white trash. And also I would not call them stupid arrogant-well maybe a little arrogant but defintely not stupid who argue about who is right or wrong. With Paul sr I would think it has more to do with passion and wanting to get it right and willing to get passionate about it to get his point across.
    Also,you are taking this way too personally. This is nothing to get emotional about. I have ridden the newer production bikes and they really are a step above the average production bike. Quality control has come a long way.
    Again as far as Jesse is concerned,he puts out a nice bike,I just don’t feel they are worth the kind of money he wants for them. But people are paying it,so why would he take less. I also think it was a big slap in the face to the average blue collar guy when he closed down his parts line as that was the only way the average guy was going to have anything close to a WCC bike. And he is always saying how much he wants to help the average guy,ect Kinda hypocritical if you ask me. And I like Jesse 🙂 It’s all good in the end

  52. 52 fuji May 19th, 2009 at 9:01 am

    Does this mean that I can sue Harley for all the skined knuckles over the years, cause it sure shows on what where pristine hands at one time in my life.

  53. 53 Conrad May 19th, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    Jim C,

    Ok, well if you know the Teutals in person than you know they are NOTHING like the TV show portrays them to be. They are very nice guys who enjoy having fun and signing shirts at times. The TV show does givee the image of trash to father son bike teams around the world. I have been asked so many times if my dad and I fight like that, its annoying. Yes we get into our arguements and get pissed off at eachother but thats when we walk to different buildings and do something else to forget about it, we dont egg it on.

    Now to the “AVERAGE BLUE COLLAR GUY”. Jesus H Christ what the fuck is it with people saying the AVERAGE BLUE COLLAR GUY? Describe the average blue collar guy to me please. Because if AVERAGE means they can afford the most expensive parts out there, WCC, they are damn sure not “AVERAGE”..The AVERAGE person can not afford a motorcycle let alone afford to buy parts to put on it. I am so fed up with the “blue collar” bullshit that I can scream. I would say the average blue collar guy cant afford a bike like Jesse’ because they are too worried about being to work exactly at 9 and leaving exactly at 5 or a little earlier if they can get away with it. They do not look at expanding their future by working harder and putting more hours in. Or, even worse, they are part of a Union to where the longer they are there is how they get promotions not by the actions they make at work. They can sit in a corner sucking themselves off for 5 years and at the end they still get a raise for being there. I am sorry but people saying AVERAGE BLUE COLLAR GUYS really pisses me off. They are average because they dont want to make the effort to better themselves, its called being lazy.

  54. 54 Nicker May 19th, 2009 at 2:59 pm


    Good points.
    But, those who haven’t invested any time or effort into bike building will never understand this.
    They think it’s about envy.

    Frankly, i could care less about how successful or nice the OCC guys are.
    Either way it’s no skin off my nose.

    However, their Three Stooges act(?) trivializes the industry and the rest of us.
    And that, unfortunately, isn’t an opinion. It’s fact based on what people say to you.
    The rest of us have heard similar things…. “oh, your like those guys on TV”…
    We are perceived to be the same type of people.

    The down side for you guys who are in business is that sort of “image” isn’t what you want if you expand your activity to other market segments.
    One wouldn’t expect an instrumentation vendor to take a bid from OCC very seriously.
    (what….. Mikey in charge of QC…. i think NOT!)

    In real estate the most important issues is Location.
    In any Business the most important issues is Presentation.
    About the only thing Mo, Larry, & Curly ever sold was popcorn.

    “… give the image of trash to father son bike teams around the world…”

    Actually it’s more ubiquitous than that (father & son).
    We all are viewed as dysfunctional beer morons, (guilty by association).
    In the mind of the general TV viewing public, anyone who is interested in engineering and building MCs is considered the same sort of moron portrayed on TV.

    “… average because they don’t want to make the effort to better themselves…”

    Well that’s the down side of a free society.
    The choice is their…….. Buy a Beer -vs- Buy a Book
    No one ever got put down for having a Brew-ski.
    However, no one ever go hired for being a Beer-Moron.

    Don’t shoot the messenger.

  55. 55 isaac May 19th, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    There has to be responsibility on both sides, manufacturer and end user. Ignorance does does excuse the rider and If you accept money for a product you got to stand behind it period.

    Conrad, you can’t hold the Teutals responsible for all the fools that think they represent all bike builders. That’s just dumb of those folks to make such an assumption.

    The Tuetals phenomenal success is due to the rags to riches story. One that all Americans can hope to aspire to. The fact that the family is dysfunctional makes it easy for us to relate to them. They could have been building rat rods or muscle cars the show would still have been a success, in my opinion. Fortunately for you and others they happen to be bike builders and their IMPACT on the industry can not be disputed. I’m not in the industry but I can see for my self that their product is all show. I wouldn’t buy an O.C.C bike for nothing. Their 10 YEAR anniversary bike is a Nightster knock-off and it doesn’t even look as good nor is it as well finished. And the kicker is their getting $25.000 for it. TEN years from now you’ll see that only the builders with quality products will still be around. My guess is that the O.C.C. showroom in New York will be a Museum for O.C.C. Make product that stands on it’s own merit and people will come back again and again.

    P.S. Look out for BIG BROTHER!!!! Motorcycles are next on their list for CAFE standards. 100MPG?

  56. 56 just my opinion May 19th, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    since when is being average a bad thing? maybe some of us aspire to be more and do more but that fact alone does not mean those so called average people are less than the spoiled kid who has more only because daddy gave it to him. Most motorcycles are bought by the average guys that is why so many businesses in the motorcycle industry are hurting right now because the average guy does not have a lot of expenable income at this point in time. And as for a front fender falling off. that should never happen. A stock Harley has a keeper that insures this could never happen. If you are building bikes for the masses maybe you should use a keeper like harley uses to ensure that this sort of thing does not happen. No one should have to check there bike every time they ride it for parts falling off. If parts are falling off that is a bike that is not worth owning let alone paying more than the price you would pay for a Harley. Any company that warns there buyer’s that they need to check for loose bolts and parts falling off is not a company I would buy anything from. Use lock tyte and that won’t happen or keepers for crying out loud. Whether a company builds one bike a year or three hundred bikes a year if you are paying your hard earned money for a bike that is touted as being a custom that is quality built that is what you should get. A quality bike no more and no less. One more thing before I close just because some one has a small shop does not mean they are not capable of building a quality bike. Harley Davidson them selves started in a shed so too say only a rich man and his arogant kid can build quality is not only wrong it shows how little real life experience that brat has. I don’t remember seeing any rich people on the line building Harley’s those are Average, Hard Working, Honest Americans building quality bikes that most small builders wish they could compete with. There are a lot of companies that have started with little or nothing and with alot of hard work and treating people the way you would want to be treated those companies grew to become big players in this industry. So please don’t tell me only a wealthy company can build quality I know better and believe most who read this know better as well. After all most of the parts used by Desperado are the same as the parts used by Big Dogs and yes even American Iron Horse used alot of the same companies to supply there parts so stop already with the BS about how you and daddy build better bikes.

  57. 57 Conrad May 20th, 2009 at 1:59 am

    Just My Opinion,
    Want to know something really cool? My father got into this business and is still in this business with no loans or debts to anyone. We strive to make the best that we can, I never said we make the best because we have money backing us or that we make the best quality bike there is, no one makes the best quality bike….its not possible to make that destinction… Our bikes have little to no warranty issues because we are not on an assembly line, we have 1 person building one bike to exact measures to assure quality. If chrome is even nicked or scratched it doesnt make it to the bike and same goes to every other part.Also, you can say we use the same parts that Big Dog, Ironhorse, BBC, OCC etc. That is false, we build 90% of our parts either in house or out source to machine shops around the country, these machine shops also have contracts which state they can not sell our parts or designs to any other company besides us. That means the guys you quoted can not be using anything of ours. But also while we are on the parts note, we dont use a SINGLE HARLEY PART, how cool is that??? See, unlike Harley, we use American parts 95% of the time unlike Harley who uses only 20-25% American made parts. Yes they are ASSEMBLED in the US but really they are NOT American any longer. Most of the time our Non American parts come from Canada not China Japan etc like Harley, Big Dog etc.

    Also, to burst your bubble a tad bit here, my father doesnt “give” me things or hand me things. Ask the guys in the shop about that and it will be proof. I work just as hard as them, the same hours and often even more as well as taking an honest paycheck when the company is capable of doing.See what you dont understand is my “daddy” doesnt pay me, the company does when they can afford to staff me but most times I do it because it is my dads company and he asks me to. And not always do I work on building bikes or cars, most of my time at the shop now is actually dedicated to lawn work and cleaning. Now that it is summer and the grass is growing and flowers are up I must maintain the property and keep it clean and nice. So, as for me being “spoiled” I think not. My parents bought me my first car and after that it was on me to work and pay for gas and whatever else I wanted. Do you think all I do is go to the office and get a paycheck or “daddy” gives me cash? Yea right I am not that lucky like some. I work at a restraunt as my main pay and usually when I am done I head to the shop to work on my stuff or get stuff ready for the guys the next day. It is2 am here and I just got back from the shop after I went to work at 330 until 10 tonight. Yea the shop is not my only job man so dont even give me that, I understand I am fortunate but I am not spoiled. I have been able to meet a lot of people and see a lot of places but I do not take that for granted because I respect the issue. But I am fed up with you and your fucking idiots cronies who think they are “blue collar workers” because they work 9-5 or whatever. We are not a “huge company” like Big Dog, Harley or OCC, we are just honest, hard working people like you call the ones who work at Harley. My father is at the office every single day of the week from about 8am to 7 at the earliest and sometimes 2 or 3 am…..

    But my main argument is that people think that because someone owns a company or has something nicer than they can afford that they dont deserve it. That is not right at all and I feel that it is way messed up to even have to deal with that in life. Some make it further than others because they risk it or because they want it enough to try for it.

    Now for what really pisses me off; “I don’t remember seeing any rich people on the line building Harley’s those are Average, Hard Working, Honest Americans building quality bikes that most small builders wish they could compete with” SHUT THE FUCK UP. You realize how arrogant that makes you sound? Give me a fuckign break man, every company starts somewhere and I must say that Harley started right there too like you stated. I dont see Willie G on the line building shit yet you fuckers PRAISE that guy. For what? He does nothing but puts a face to Harley. My father on the other hand started the company and will die with the company. He does everything from the smallest to the biggest. When we are really backed up you will see him in the shop handing tools, picking up trash, moving boxes, helping in the mock up room, welding and evertything else you can imagine. When we are not that busy my father is out in the shop lining the parts up for each bike on the stands so that the guys can complete them at a better rate and let things run smoother for them. If you dont think some of those people who work are “rich” you are stupid and blind. Not just money makes someone RICH man, money is not everything here. Family, friends, hobbies those make people RICH in life. Not having more green than their neighbor. Stop being so ignorant asshole.

    Oh, also, use your real name if you feel like coming back at me or anyone else.
    OK? Thanks.


  58. 58 Conrad May 20th, 2009 at 2:01 am

    OK and again back to the BBC subject. I agree that the fender should not fall off and in no way is a 1/4×20 bolt capable of holding a fender in place. We use 5/16 x18 and sometimes feel that is not enough so we opt out for a 3/8×16. Yes we loctite EVERYTHING…. Our loctite collection in the parts room is actually quite funny. Tubs of Blue and Red sitting there being refilled constantly.

  59. 59 Fred P. May 20th, 2009 at 9:36 am

    When all is said and done on this blog, there are several items thatBBC will have to prove to the courts.
    1. Who builds or supplys the metal for the bodywork? ( metallury reports, etc)
    2. Who is the bolt supplier? ( hardness tests, Proper grade of bolt used)
    3. Who and what is the procedure for recv’ing in vendor products? ( inspection,etc.)
    4. What is the procedure for building each bike? ( build sheet with signatures and parts listing, deviations sheets for substituted “items”?
    5. Final inspection and test reports at the factory.
    6. Inspection of bikes when shipped.
    7. Delivery inspection reports from dealerships.
    8. Correctly filled out Pre-Delivery Inspections reports from the dealerships

    This will come down to WHO touched the bike LAST and WHO can show PROOF. Been there, done that!

  60. 60 Mike Greenwald May 20th, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Fred P,

    The owner of the motorcycle has the personal responsibility and liability for operating the vehicle. Cavalier attitudes, ignorance, lapse of good judgment and laziness do not exonerate anyone from foolhardy operation of this nor any other vehicle. Nor does it imply any warrantee by the manufacturer or its agents.

  61. 61 Jeff Nicklus May 20th, 2009 at 10:11 am

    Just my opinion,

    Wow, my 22 year old Son sure bitch slapped you into place now didn’t he? You should aspire to work as hard as this kid has all his life. Never mind, your main aspiration in life is to be average ….. God help us all.

    FYI: The parts we use on our bikes are not used by Big Dog or AIH and if they are I will sue the fuck out of our suppliers!

    One last thing Conrad forgot to mention …. while he works here and at a resturant he also goes to college full time (Senior next fall) and he just enrolled in summer classes that begin on June 1st.

    So in the words of my Son …. go sit in the corner and lick you average nuts!

    Over & Out,


  62. 62 Baby Bear May 20th, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    vile Nicklus!
    You need a bar of soap in your mouth!

  63. 63 Jeff Nicklus May 20th, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    Baby Bear,


    Over & Out,


  64. 64 moto 1 May 20th, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    This happened to Big Dog Motorcycles in 2005. The Bulldog model had a heavy steel front fender and thin aluminum mounting brackets that broke and let the fender falloff. There was a Recall to fix the problem.

  65. 65 just my opinion May 20th, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    I laugh every time I read one of your post or one of your kids post you guys bad mouth every builder and make your little hidden racist comments. What is next? Maybe you could start saying that all foreigners are less than you and that idiot son of yours. Your little boy said in an earlier post that the average guy can’t afford a motorcycle. Guess that idiot is not in college for accounting because truth be known most motorcycles are bought by average people. He also said that you two clowns tell your customers to check there bikes every time before ridings them for loose bolts and such. Assuming that statement was true you must not be building the quality you claim. Or your kid is a fucking idiot for making such a statement on a website like this.
    As for you not using the same components as Big Dog,OCC and Iron Horse well if that is true then you must not be using Quality parts because they use Baker transmissions,S&S engines along with with many other well known quality parts and I guess the guy that makes your wheels does a better job for you than any one else they build wheels for just because you are the who you are? ” how fucking arrogant is that way of thinking” you may have parts that are exclusive to your bikes but they are built by the same guys that built for iron horse and currently build for every other bike builder out there. Let me give an example of just how stupid your kid really is. He has made claims that your company uses bigger bolts to hold the front fender on. How funny is that when in fact the front end is pretapped at the factory for a certain bolt size. They dont make the holes bigger for you and even if they did the failure would most likely be the aluminum thread giving out not the steel bolt. So don’t try and convince us that if you use a front end from American Suspension that you would then use bigger or better bolts to hold the front fender on. The threads are the same on your front end as they would be for any other builders front end. Oh sorry my example assumes that you would be using a quality front end to begin with and not some make shift piece of shit. As for any one being average like I stated before just because you may have more than someone else or aspire to do more than someone else does not make you better than them. God created all men equal even an asshole like you started the same as any other man. As a baby and naked. an asshole who has more than some one else is still an asshole and working more or less than others does not make you a better person either maybe some day you will figure that out. Don’t try and tell me that you don’t think you are better than others when you make statements such as
    Never mind, your main aspiration in life is to be average
    Again there is nothing wrong with being average.
    You don’t have a clue what I am I could be a trash collector or a CEO either way does not make you better than me. And in fact I would rather be a homeless wino than be you. After all you are the ASSHOLE that raised that arrogant racist piece of crap you call son. Guess the apple did not fall far from the tree. Yes it is un-American to bad mouth our President just because he is black that is racist.
    If your company is doing so great than why is you kid working in a resturant? guess he is just an average kid after all. One more thing before I close your kid made a statement that the OCC father and son team makes you guy’s look like white trash. Stop worrying you were white trash long before they even had a TV show. Why is it that every time you and your kid walk in a room the sound of banjo’s playing the theme to deleverance is heard? Now go tie your kid to the tree again.
    You ignorant racist piece of shit.

  66. 66 Conrad May 21st, 2009 at 2:44 am

    Just in my opinion,

    Ok man now you have really crossed the line wtih your rude commentary and obscene name calling. If you had the balls to admit to who you are I bet more than just me would rip you apart. People like you are what give people bad names and are the kids who people beat the hell out of in “school”. I can tell you have an “edumacation” because you write with some dignity but what you didnt learn in school was to get facts before you argue.

    Now to begin with the ass rape you deserve for the language and forethought you aimed at my dad and me.

    ….”Guess that idiot is not in college for accounting because truth be known most motorcycles are bought by average people”….
    Guess what brother? That is ONE of my majors. Business Finance. Yes I can count, and yes, more than likely better than you can. Most Americans “average people” can not afford a $25,000 Harley or any motorcycle such as that. A $8,300 crotch rocket? Most definitely but not a Harley unless it is an 883 or 1200 Sportster. Yes Crotch Rockets ar emotorcycles but they are most certainly not the kind of bikes we are talking about here. They are a whole different breed and they are not meant for the elders of our communities, they are meant for the younger people who can not afford the higher priced “big boy bikes” like Harleys, Desperados, Big Dogs, BBC…etc

    …”.you must not be using Quality parts because they use Baker transmissions,S&S engines along with with many other well known quality parts and I guess the guy that makes your wheels does a better job for you than any one else they build wheels for just because you are the who you are? “….
    FALSE yet again homie. We build our wheels in house and have for several years now. We orignally started with Ego Tripp, Greg, Way back in the day then moved to RC Comp, then Weld until they sold out and then the new owners decided not to allow proprietary wheel designs. So now we have 4 Haas VR-11 CNC machines on the floor. We build forward controls, wheels, hubs, tripple tree clamps, hydralic clutch units (slave cylinders) hand controls, lower legs, etc in house, Hell we even make our own brake discs and “SPROTORS” in house now too. All polishing is done in house and Chrome is out sourced to a local chromer who is as anal as my dad. We also use some S&S Engines but on our lower end bikes (bobbers and low end Version 1 model Rigids) but our Primary engine is a TP ( Total Performance) AND on our top of the line we go with Jow at H&L….Transmissions?? We build our own, we have our cases cast ( In Wisconsin ), polish our cases and build our own gear sets in house as well.

    …”you may have parts that are exclusive to your bikes but they are built by the same guys that built for iron horse and currently build for every other bike builder out there”…
    Please name at least two other builders!!!! Actually what is funny is we have several “builders” who buy parts from us or have parts built for them by us….We use Goodrich brake lines and basic Banjo bolts for the brake calipers..But I would say that doesnt count because even Harley uses those.

    …”How funny is that when in fact the front end is pretapped at the factory for a certain bolt size. They dont make the holes bigger for you and even if they did the failure would most likely be the aluminum thread giving out not the steel bolt.”…
    Well Funny part is, as the FACTORY WHO BUILDS THE LOWER LEGS, we make three ( 3 ) different fender caps which bolt in place on the basic lower leg. Each fender cap is threaded with a different thread. One has 5/16×24 another has 5/16×18 and the other is a 3/8×16…..So what do you have to say now Mr no it fucking all Harley man????? And yes we use Vince (American Suspension, Surfs Up dude if you are reading this!!!) on occasion to build us a great front end. We use his front ends on our high end bikes because it is cheaper to buy a great, top of the line product from him than for us to do R&D and build our own, and honestly we wouldnt do that to him he builds a perfect product which we trust 130%.

    ….”You don’t have a clue what I am I could be a trash collector or a CEO either way does not make you better than me”…
    One of my bestfriends dad actually works for Waste Management as a “trash collector” as you call it and I must say his dad works his ass off and makes a ton of money as well, 90k a year to be exact from what I was told not long ago. So that was a very messed up analogy to use. Also, just because you see the term CEO does not me MULTI MILLIONAIRE….It means they are in charge of a company. Some make 10k a year and some make 1 billion a year. It is all in dependence of the company. So either way as a “trash collector” or a CEO you are a person who is fighting for the wrong evilness.

    …”Yes it is un-American to bad mouth our President just because he is black that is racist.”…
    I did not know that because I did not vote for Obama made me racist. I did not vote for him because he is “black”, he is not “black” anyways. I did not vote for him for two reasons, his beliefs are way different than mine and because I fear he is a bad choice for our country due to certain things stated in the Bible. Also, I am not “RACIST”, I simply stated in a previous statement that there is a DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE colors as well as there is with whites. YOu take it all into the wrong context becaus eyou feel that everything is brought to a racist level because the media has portrayed life to be that way. But what do you call the people who pull the race card or say “whigger” and “cracker”?? You dont say a word because you are afraid to retaliate like they have. I support our countries choice but I do not have confidence that it will work at the end of the four year term.

    …”If your company is doing so great than why is you kid working in a resturant? …”
    I choose to work there. I want a resturaunt of my own so bad that I can taste it. But before I go out and take on such a hufe venture I must learn the business and figure out exactly what kind of establishment I want. Not everything just works because you want it to, it only works if you know what you are doing and have the experience to allow it to work and the willingness to see it through. Plus that is extra cash in my pocket to save for my own resturaunt.

    ….”One more thing before I close your kid made a statement that the OCC father and son team makes you guy’s look like white trash. Stop worrying you were white trash long before they even had a TV show. Why is it that every time you and your kid walk in a room the sound of banjo’s playing the theme to deleverance is heard?….”
    As one of the most respected families in our community I will say that we are far from white trash. So, an arguement on this would be pointless and would only allow your selfish mind indulgence to become even more prevalant.

    Well that only took me 10 minutes so that was not too bad for once. I just got home from the shop and I am tired. I am looking forward to more questions and animadversions from you later in the day.


  67. 67 Conrad May 21st, 2009 at 2:46 am

    I can go all day long but if you had some brass balls and could come out and join me face to face I think your perception of morality would become way different than what you have to say on a keyboard. I

  68. 68 Conrad May 21st, 2009 at 2:49 am

    think you would find that my styles of speaking are way more potent and straight forward than those I write via keyboard. Meet me at a show and Ill sit with you and explain in further detail if you have enough nerve to do so.It is hard to honestly confront someone via “blogging” because people like you dont understand humor and do not understand what having fun is all about. I am hear to hear more than what I could normally find out in the industry and because it is funny to rattle cages, not to argue with arrogant assholes such as yourself about how everything you say is right and I am wrong.

  69. 69 Jeff Nicklus May 21st, 2009 at 10:09 am


    Don’t waste any more time of this fool (Just my Opinion) … it is very obvious he doesn’t have a clue what he is talking about.

    Over & Out,


  70. 70 David Ryan May 21st, 2009 at 11:17 am

    As the Chief Operating Officer of Big Bear Choppers, I am providing the following statement relative to the trial in which design defects, etc., negligence is alleged on behalf of Big Bear Choppers.

    We have chosen to litigate and defend the company based on discovery that has been conducted over the last several years. Any injury or loss of life is a serious matter, however, it does not equate to automatic culpability on behalf of a manufacturer. As a company, we had hoped to settle the case, however, at some point, a line has to be drawn. We regret that the plaintiff has been injured, however, maintain the injury resultant from plaintiff actions while riding the motorcycle. The case has gone to trial as a result of our belief in the preponderance of evidence.

  71. 71 Conrad May 21st, 2009 at 11:28 am

    David Ryan,

    You guys are doing the right thing there. I wish you luck with the litigation and hope you dont allow someone to take money that does not deserve to be taken if the situation is not as it seems.


  72. 72 Jeff Nicklus May 21st, 2009 at 11:57 am


    Good for you for having the nerve of drawing a line in the sand!

    Over & Out,


  73. 73 Greg Hoeve May 21st, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    Been there, done that. We were implicated and involved as third party defendants in a bogus product liability suit. Scenario——— Drunk guy rides 150 miles with his buddies around Chicagoland area on a 5 year old build. The front wheel is squeeling, he rides anyway cause he don’t wanna miss out, you know? Documented that they were riding from bar to bar. Red light leads to low speed endo, pitching his wife to the road. His riding buddy runs over her head. Her medical insurer files suit on husbands vehicle insurer who won’t pay cause she had no helmet. His vehicle insurer files suit on buddy for riding too close. Buddy’s insurer files suit on everybody with a liability policy including the builder. The builder (Famous) from AZ. fingers us as we delivered the wheels to him. The builder who has an axe to grind with me over amounts of money (still owed to me) fingers me by saying that I delivered the wheels with the timken bearings installed, complete with grease and seals and all. (Total Bullshit).

    Upon tear down of the front end it is discovered that the bearings had no grease whatsoever. They came out as crumbled parts and metal dust. Turns out that the owner had his other friend who owns a power tool and lawn equipment repair business do the routine service on the bike, but that’s OK cause he is (REAL GOOD WITH BIKES). It turns out he did service the front end and reassembled without the grease.

    Anyway, three trips to Chicago and 20K later the judge throws out the case against us as, you guessed it (TOTAL BULLSHIT). I asked the judge about compensation for my time, trouble and expense caused us by this nuisance suit. Judge replies, ” That’s just the cost of the legal system Son.”

    Now for those of you who don’t do math, that 20K expense negated over $200,000.00 in revenue generated by us as it equates to the rough net margin for said revenue.

    It’s sad but it is reality. One more reason to say “FUCKIT” to the bike industry.

  74. 74 Grayhawk May 21st, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    I commend David Ryan for coming on this blog and stating the company stance and pathforward, most probably in attempt to minimze the back and forth or assumptions if you will derived from/of our discussions in previous comments and set the record straight from their standpoint and posture.

    BBC and the plaintiff are in a no clear win situation as nor would any of us be no matter who you are in a litigation situation of this sort. It has to run it’s course.

    I wll not ask him any questions in relation to design, discovery, nor any other specifics of the case further to what has been stated in the posting as he can not answer and should not dwell into that territory and we all should understand and be curtious to same.


  75. 75 Eatame-2 May 21st, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    Desperado Motorcycles announces international motorcycle sale

    Powersports Business
    Is this why you dont hear about the parts fallen off or a recall of the Desperado motorcycles or is it maybe all the SOFT V-Twin American Bikers ride Harley Davidson.

    Tuesday August 28, 2007

    Desperado Motor Racing & Motorcycles Inc., has reached a one-year sales agreement with Arabtec Enterprises International, an international investment conglomerate based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), according to a Desperado press release.

    Desperado will supply Arabtec with 100 motorcycles. They will receive the first 50 bikes in January. This agreement makes Desperado Motorcycles available to the general population of the UAE for the first time.

    Jeff Nicklus, founder and CEO of Desperado, is excited for the opportunity to expand the company.

    “This contract will account for a full one third of our self imposed production cap of 300 bikes,” Nicklus said in the release. “The inking of this agreement couldn’t have come at a better time considering the soft V-Twin market here in the U.S.”

    Support you local 1%

  76. 76 just curious May 21st, 2009 at 11:46 pm

    Just purely out of curiousity, Jeff and Conrad, what exactly differenciates your motorcycles and company from the other custom production companies out there? What makes Desperado so special?

    I am talking specifics, what parts, frame materials, motor, transmission, handlebars, build process, warranty, customer service, dealer support, etc. Please elaborate (the both of you) as specific as possible. American Ironhorse, APC, Big Dog, Big Bear, Bourgets, Brass Balls, Saxon, Swift Motorcycles, Sucker Punch, Thunder Mountain, Vengence, And anyone else I am leaving out.

  77. 77 Conrad May 22nd, 2009 at 2:19 am

    Just Curious,

    We keep things like a family around the company. We like to know each and every new or used bike owner. My father PERSONALLY calls every person who buys a bike to talk with them and get to know them as a biker and as a person. We keep things simple stupid here basically, we like to have a bond with our owners since not everyone can afford our bikes. My father and me have made more friends than I can count through this business due to the way he runs it. Our bikes are made with 100% care by bikers themselves who know what they like and they go along side my dad to design and make our bikes even better every day.
    We dont like to be like everyone else, we have always beat our own drum and others usually copy and follow. My father, as well as Roger Bourget (Bourgets of course), go with the theory of build what you want not what others have already build. With our bikes, Rogers included, you either love them or you hate them no in between. Wtih AIH, Big Dog, APC, Saxon, Swit,Thunder M, etc they basically all look the same. What I am basically saying about the copy and follow thing is we were the FIRST to produce a CHOPPER from the factory NOT AIH witht he “Texas Chopper” like they claim. We have always gone off of our own designs and never looked at others bikes as a lead on what to build. My father prides himself on the thought of being the first to do things and he will not follow or build “replicas” as I call them.
    (BTW, Vengence is no longer around)

    Another BIG fact is unlike most of the companies listed we were one of the first “Custom Production” motorcycle companies as you call them. It was AIH, Titan ( Kerry family started/owned for a while before they went under) Bourget and Big Dog…..APC, Big Bear, Brass Balls, Saxon, Swift, Vengence (aka old Ultra employees) Sucker Punch, etc were nto even around until YEARS later.

    What makes our parts different is what I stated earlier today/yesterday. We design and R&D AND BUILD our own parts without copying others. Our frames are made of the top materials and all machined pieces instead of bent on a press like the “other” manufactuers and only TOP of the line TIG welders weld the frames. Also, as stated above, our engines are top quality engines TP and H&L. We build our trannys, handlebars and 90% of the other parts.

    As for warranty, customer service and dealer support. Basically whenever you call and have an issue as a dealer or a owner my father will be there to talk with you personally. He will do anything within his power to fix the problem and make whatever the issue maybe not an issue any longer. If my father isnt at the office his right hand man Frank will help, but again my fatehr will be available 99% of the time.

    Now what I actually like to talk about is our build process. We build our bikes one at a time with one person on each bike. We have stands set up that are seperated from eachother and have a tool box to each person with every tool needed. 1 PERSON TO 1 BIKE NO OTHERS WILL HELP. Our builders are trained in house from start to finish on a bike with myf ather personally, not me or anyone else. Our builders know by heart every spec, torque, bolt etc on the bike and we pride ourselves on the fact that this make sus different than the other builders of production bikes. We have the mock up shop, paint and body shop, pre-assembly shop and parts room, final assembly shop, and the clean room to store the bikes while awaiting shipment. We also do not build a bike UNLESS it is sold already to a dealer or an owner unlike the other guys who build as many as they can and let them sit until sold.

    Now if you dont feel like that is special then I dont know what else to tell you besides you are naive. I am saying this with the utmost respect and mean no harm in anyway.


  78. 78 Jeff Nicklus May 22nd, 2009 at 9:44 am

    Hey Just Curious,

    Let me give you one item you will only find on a Desperado Motorcycle (& Jeff Nicklus Customs), well at least you will only find this on our bikes as of today … everybody and their brother will start doing this tomorrow and claim it as their own in the future …… ever had the pulley bolts back out of a rear pulley or know of anyone who has? Years ago to fight this problem we started doing left hand, fine threads on our rear hubs, on our left side drive bikes and the reverse of that on the right side drive bikes ….. problem solved! Now before you say it, “just use some Loctite”, we do use Loctite and yes just because you use Loctite on a bolt does not mean it won’t back out or this problem would never have reared its ugly head in the first place.

    I had two people come up to us at Thunder Beach a few weeks ago looking for 7/16×18 Bolts for their bikes (Harley’s) as their pulley bolts had backed out.

    Just one thing we have done over the years to make our bikes a little bit better and more worry free.

    Over & Out,


  79. 79 Jeff Nicklus May 22nd, 2009 at 9:58 am


    Dude, we have been a licensed motorcycle manufacturer of 14 years (as of June 5th) and during those years we have produced over 3500 motorcycles which are in place on the roads here in the US and another 351 sold worldwide (I will be shipping another 20 bikes overseas in the next 30-45 days). Further, we have an average warranty rate .07% over the 14 years …… that is less than 1%. Not bad for a few white boys from Texas.

    Over & Out,


  80. 80 Scot May 22nd, 2009 at 10:29 am

    I see a lot of talk on here about lawyers being the problem but I seem to remember that a few years ago Big Bear Choppers sued a bunch of different builders over the shape of a particular swingarm. Yes, the shape of a swingarm…

    Karma’s a bitch. What comes around goes around…

  81. 81 john reed May 22nd, 2009 at 3:31 pm


    You said you work for your dad, and you are at school,
    but you give your opinions on a lot of different subjects which means you have a quite
    rounded data base. I am curious how you got this information at what seems to be
    at a young age, what your professional background was, your training etc
    john reed.

  82. 82 Conrad May 22nd, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    John Reed,

    Well lets begin with my schooling and background I guess. I get my so called “data base” from being in the industry since I was 7/8 years old. All through grade school I went to the bike events and hungout at the shop learning the trade to begin making my own mark on the styling of our bikes. Of course most of the time none of my ideas are incorporated into the production bikes but on every one of the one off bikes I actually have a say and am allowed to do a large amount of work on the design and build process. I currently just transfered to Houston from UT and have decided to follow my path in business, hell it is what I know and enjoy so why not?.

    Now I think to answer the question which is hidden in your comment. I would say I have my opinion on several subjects in this industry because I am part of the industry. As someone who has been in the industry for 14 years I would say I know more about it than most of the people who are in the industry now and have watched it at its peak and at the rock bottom (now I hope is the rock bottom). Yes I am only 22 and most of the other builders are in the ladder part of their days, I still fit in great at shows. Yes this is do to who my dad is and who all he knows but once I am given the chance to speak with someone for a few minutes they soon realize I actually have a clue as to what I am talking about. Basically I feel like I am accepted within the group and am seen as just another one of the guys, not Jeff Nicklus’ son or a “kid”.

    Training? Well, LOL, I dont know how to approach this question. My training is basically self taught or taught to me by experience at the shop. With cars I teach myself by actually experimenting and doing the modifications myself. Back in highschool I made a mistake with one of my cars, I bought all the parts I could afford then not thinking about the installation factor I had $37 left for the install of a lot of parts. Well as you all know shops charge a minimum of $60/hr for installs and tuning on cars/bikes. This left me with only one option, doing it myself and learning. So I did, yes it took me 3 days without a car to drive but hey I learned and have done it to several of my friends cars to this day. Carbs and such I learned from my dad as a kid and even now, with the race cars, he still teaches me things. For instance just about 2 months ago he showed me how to set the timing exactly straight on a 555ci race engine that is in his Camaro. On a bike I can time it with my eyes closed but never had I done it to a car before,that was a good learning experience.

    But to this day I can honestly say I hate going to shows, I hate it when people say “I know you, you build bikes right?” or “Ive seen you and your dad on TV before or in magazines”. I HATE that crap. I would rather be at the shop where there are no windows, no outsiders, no pressure. Its just me cutting, bending, welding, visualizing and making the bikes/cars I dream of at night. Yea autograpghs are cool on OCCASION but not every single time we go out to a bar/club or go to a show, it is a neucense to me. I know my dad doesnt care but to me it sucks at times.

    I hoped that helped to inform you on my background a tiny bit.

  83. 83 just curious May 25th, 2009 at 1:34 am

    Jeff and Conrad, thanks for the answers you gave. I appreciate the willingness to elaborate.

    I must say, the one thing that I do believe without a doubt to be original is the rear wheel left hand thread bolt idea. That is pretty smart.

    But, I can’t figure out what makes you so sure you are so different than everyone else. Your ideals mimic that of any small business, the involvement of the owner, relationships with customers, Your build process does as well: 1 man, 1 lift, 1 bike.

    With styles and designs of bikes, how different can you actually get. Unless you build bikes that look like airplanes. Better yet, how different have you guys actually gotten. I see Pro Streets, I see Choppers, I even have seen a bobber that you guys produced when the bobber scene took off??? How is that different from what everyone else is doing? Is it because you are always the first ones to do it?

    I know a few companies I mentioned have come out with their own signature styles or parts on their bikes and have stuck with it specifically because it is their own seperation from the rest, eg: Bourgets Oil in frame, Swift M.C.s 2″ o.d. frame, Big Dogs hand controls and switches, most everyone machines their own triple trees, brakes, forward controls, builds their own frames, all the same as Desperado or JNC.

    I know the mc industry very well, I know many people and have a very good understanding of. I realize who has been around the longest, who has grown the largest, and who isnt around anymore. I just can’t figure out why you are so insitant upon bashing everyone else.

    I mean no disrespect towards your company. I am just blown away that you show no respect for anyone elses

  84. 84 just curious May 25th, 2009 at 1:37 am

    I meant dont seem to show respect, no accusations here, just observations

  85. 85 Conrad May 25th, 2009 at 2:20 am

    We, unlike most, show plenty of respect towards the other builders. What makes us different is we care about what we do and we have more than just making money on our minds. We are here because we love motorcycles, we love to ride, build and design bikes at which others want our dreams, our visions. You say you are part of the industry, cool, so are several others on here but they atleast name who they are. Now as for saying that the above named builders produce their own trees, brakes, frames etc is a flagrant LIE. With AIH aside, since they exist no lobger, no one above makes their frames, brakes, trees or frames. If you look back into the past you will see where I get my information. Big Dog doesnt, and never has, built their frames. they have used Daytech and Rolling thunder to produce their frames and in the past have had a major recall on the above mentioned frames. They also dont build their forward controls or trees, I know who does though, PM being one of them.

    Now to the question about Big Dogs controls.We, unlike them, build our controls in house and do not out-source them. You are also incorrect by assuming they were the first to have “custom” controls as well. While thye were using Japan/Taiwan made chrome controls we were building our own Billet Aluminum controls as an optiion instead of the basic “Harley” controls.

    See as someone, who fails to mention their name, who says they are very informative on the industry you have some very bad information on who is who and who has started what in the industry.
    If you are so informed on the industry I am sure I have met you or have heard of you,if you have not heard of me.


  86. 86 Conrad May 25th, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    Also, I forgot to mention this, we dont use “lifts” for our bikes. We have a way more efficient way of building a bike. Our method allows you to use all the room possible and not have to reach over a 6 or 10 inch overhang of metal from the lift.

  87. 87 just curious May 25th, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Conrad, you missed my point, but 1st let me correct you on one thing with BDM (big dog motorcycles), their frame recall was on the frames they produced in house. They purchased a very large quantity of tubing from overseas which they determined to be the cause due to impurities in the metal, all of which, once the problem was found were recalled and replaced.

    Phil Day of Daytec builds the best quality frames on the planet. As much care as you claim to put in your motorcycles, he has the same passion for motorcycle frames. His processes are flawless along with his attention to detail and his quality control.

    Their hand controls(bdm) I never stated for them to be the first with billet hand controls, my point is that they are different from anyone elses, whether made in china or not, they were designed in house at big dog, and no one else has them.

    Which brings us now back to my point. True Originality, whether it be made in china, costa rica, or Mars, if it is your design, your tooling, your investment, and only used on your bikes, isnt it original? Doesnt that seperate yourself from others? Plus, originality is hard enough as it is, especially in an industry that evolves as rapidly as this one does. When builders have a customer base that sees a product out there that the builder isnt currently producing but get enough interest and oppertunity from their customers, as a passionate motorcycle company if they chose to produce their own rendition of that style product are they copy cats or smart businessmen?

    Also, you are wrong about what you said. I know which of these companies makes their parts and who has outsourced them. I can give you some specifics (not all, because i admit i dont know everything) but I dont think it would make a difference. I still havent figured out how you think you know so much about everyone else and their flaws. Have you worked as a spy at these other companies?

    I know the answer so dont bother with that last one. Anyway, no we havent met, and I have never heard of you specifically, but that is irrelevant, along with who I am. I am not trying to hide who I am, it just doesnt make a difference within the convo we are having.

  88. 88 Conrad May 25th, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    Phil does make a great frame and when we first opened up we used him for a few years. BUT the lack of curves and machined parts over just bent pieces of stock are not what we look at and havent in a long time.

    Big Dog has NEVER made their own frames. The frames that were breaking were Rolling Thunder frames and it was a metalergical “miss-hap” with the welding rod metal and the DOM steel which was being used. This was on the 2003/2004 bikes I believe???

    Now they also had an issue such as the above mentioned BBC fender issue. The rear fender strut bolts were breaking off and, I think, they said over 7500 bikes were feared to have this issue. I would say it is time for some Grade 8 bolts guys.

    But with the Big Dogs rear fender ordeal only being an issue in 2007 there is way more to it than just that. It also happened on 1998-2002 bikes as well that they had produced. But instead of the bolts that time it was the actual Fender strut mounting bracket. I would have to look it up and assure that I am correct but I am almost 100% positive right now it was on the 98-2002 Pitbulls.

  89. 89 Conrad May 25th, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    Build Years/Makes/Models: 2003 – 2004 BIG DOG CHOPPER

    UNits affected: 1446

    Recall Number: 03V535000





    Make : BIG DOG Model : PITBULL Year : 1998
    Build Dates : 19970911 – 19990707
    NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number : 02V016000
    Date Owner’s Notified: 20020415 Date Received by ODI: 20020115 Date Added to Databse: 20020125
    Manufacturer’s Involved: BIG DOG MOTORCYCLES, LLC
    Manufacturer’s Responsible for the Recall: BIG DOG MOTORCYCLES, LLC
    Manufacturer Campaign Number:
    Potential Number Of Units Affected : 286


    Make / Models / Build Years:
    BIG DOG / BULLDOG / 2005 2007
    BIG DOG / CHOPPER / 2005-2007
    BIG DOG / K-9 / 2006-2008
    BIG DOG / MASTIFF / 2005-2008
    BIG DOG / MUTT / 2008

    Manufacturer : BIG DOG MOTORCYCLES, LLC

    NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number : 07V580000

    Mfr’s Report Date : DEC 11, 2007

    Component: STRUCTURE:BODY

    Potential Number Of Units Affected : 8,061



  90. 90 Conrad May 25th, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Just Curious,

    …….”Conrad, you missed my point, but 1st let me correct you on one thing with BDM (big dog motorcycles), their frame recall was on the frames they produced in house. They purchased a very large quantity of tubing from overseas which they determined to be the cause due to impurities in the metal, all of which, once the problem was found were recalled and replaced.”……

    My father has always told me to do my research before getting myself into a predicament even if I already know the answer. You tried to correct me in which you can not correct the correct with a lie to feel like you have corrected someone. Big Dog has never made their frames in house nor has AIH or many other “big” companies. BBC? Yes I believe they do though.

  91. 91 Jeff Nicklus May 25th, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    OK …. it is time for Conrad to say good night now and stop the diarrhea of the mouth!

    The views expressed by Conrad are not necessarily those of Jeff Nicklus, Desperado Motorcycles, Jeff Nicklus Customs or Nicklus Performance.

    Over & Out,


  92. 92 just curious May 25th, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    Thanks for the insight guys. I appreciate it

  93. 93 Chris Moyes May 25th, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    Conrad, jeff, just curious

    This is Chris Moyes the GM and VP of Product Design for Swift Motorcycle Co. I have to say, young Conrad, you know jack shit about my company and its’ processes. Don’t include us in this conversation as if you do. I enjoyed the post but admit when it has gone past the point of no return and stop.


    As for Just curious, if there is any other info you would like to know about my company specifically, just ask.

  94. 94 Nicker May 25th, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    Simple facts:

    In 2007 tort cost the US $252 Billion.

    Over the last 30 years litigation costs have grown over 9% annually.

    A 2002 survey of 500 CEOs of large PA companies reported litigation caused:
    – 36% to discontinued products
    – 15% laid off workers
    – 8% closed up shop

    So far, asbestos suits have bankrupt 60 companies, costing some 60,000 jobs.

    43 % of the doctors in the US have avoided tested & approved drugs because of existing litigation.

    OBGYNs report 23 states where medical liability threaten women’s access to delivery docs.

    Most high risk medical specialists say fear of litigation have stopped them from providing certain services.

    What’s the point…….????
    Well, local judges (who have the power to ditch frivolous suits) are elected.
    Curiously, the Trial Lawyers Association is a major contributor to Judicial elections.

    So, who contributed to the judge you-all elected last go-round………..????
    But then, we’re all “too busy” to be “into the political process”……right…????


  95. 95 Conrad May 26th, 2009 at 2:25 am


    As I have said not a god damned thing bad about Swift, you should be quiet and not interject in this blog at the current time “old timer”, are yall even around any longer? Also, as a VP and GM you will know that Swift is not YOUR company, you still have a President/CEO and OWNER ahead of you, sir. No one has ever heard of Chris Moyes Designs, as I have mentioned before. Just Curious DOES NOT CARE ABOUT SWIFT, AGAIN not YOUR company, he was asking me about my thoughts and where I aquired my information from.

    Now back to the basics. Thanks for the above Nicker, that was funny. I am done commenting on this due to the commands from my pops.

    Peace love and fast ass cars.


  96. 96 Conrad May 26th, 2009 at 2:43 am

    But maybe Jerry allows you to call it your company. IDK


  97. 97 john reed May 26th, 2009 at 6:52 am

    I think its time to listen to your dad NOW even if someone else says something which can or is intended to wind you up.

  98. 98 Mike Greenwald May 26th, 2009 at 7:11 am

    John Reed,
    If you don’t have a dog in this hunt, what are you doing here?

  99. 99 LostDog May 26th, 2009 at 8:32 am

    I’m not sure if anyone is still looking at this string any longer, but I feel compelled to correct a couple items previously stated. First, Big Dog manufactures all of their frames in-house at a facility in the 1200 block of N. Mosley in Wichita, KS with the exception of the rubber mount frame used on the new Bulldog and the hardtail Ridgeback frame, which both come from Daytec. Any of you can call Phil and he’ll confirm that for you. Second, the hand controls that were proprietarily designed by Big Dog have never been made overseas; they are made in Lockport, NY. Also, Big Dog has never purchased their frame tubing from overseas. Unless you consider Earle M. Jorgensen (EMJ) to be a foreigner…

  100. 100 Jeff Nicklus May 26th, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    Chris Moyes,

    Just a note to you, who ever the hell you are, ….. don’t use my name in this crap …. I have said nothing about Swift and you damn sure don’t want to get me started giving my opinion of Swift because you won’t like what I have to say.

    Over & Out,


  101. 101 NH Guy May 26th, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    I’ll threadjack this back a little. Here’s a few facts:

    1) This was Mathews’ first motorcycle.

    2) At the time of the incident, Mathews’ license was under suspension for drunk driving.

    There’s more that will come out at trial. Is there news on the trial?

  102. 102 Conrad May 27th, 2009 at 2:54 am

    Back on course with the Big Bear Choppers litigation lets here some more facts like above. If he was riding a motorcycle, or driving a car for that matter, why was he not arrested once he left the hospital? Was anything done with him being out on a bike with a suspended license?

    Also, in humble opinion as usual :), I dont think it really matters if this was his first bike or not. That is not a relevant factor at this point in the lawsuit. Should the bolts have fallen out? NO, absolutely not. Does anybody know if BBC built the bike or if it was a kit bike? I would hold the builder responsible at that point if it was a kit bike. I have seen nothing but great things from BBC and respect the hell out of what Kevin has done with his company, he really madea market for himself with what he did via kit bikes and designs.

    David Ryan,
    Is there anyway that you can possibly elaborate on what the conditions are in the litigation, or is that off limits until the final verdict? If so I dont want to ruin it by having it on here until after the suit is over.

    Anywho, I wish BBC the best of luck with this and hope that who ever is at fault is held responsible, good or bad, and Matthew also doesnt get away with riding on a suspended license.


  103. 103 Chris Moyes May 28th, 2009 at 3:53 am

    Jeff, let me start off by saying your name was brought up due to the nature of the conversation I noticed to which I thought you were included in. Not to call you out. So I apologize for that at least.

    I have never “bad mouthed” any other competitor in the industry due to 2 reasons, I think it makes my company look bad, and I don’t think it helps make a sale anyway.

    Further more, I don’t mind opinions, accusations, or criticizm, as long as I am given the oppertunity to respond.


  104. 104 Chris Moyes May 28th, 2009 at 4:00 am

    Conrad, I wish you knew more about what you were talking about with Swift specifically. But, you don’t. If you are interested, just ask. With Swift, there is a CEO and a President, yes, it is my father. I co own the company, and his envolvement ended 4 years ago since I became a partner. You are wrong with the assumption that I have to answer to someone “higher up”. Really the only people I answer to are Dealers, Customers, GE, and Textron. Just so you know.

    Chris Moyes Designs is a private design firm that I own that does anything from furniture, to websites, to retail store design, to full custom homes and garages(mancaves). As I stated before in the post you replied to, it is a need to know basis really. Local to Arizona, and on a small scale. Word of mouth advertising only.

  105. 105 Jeff Nicklus May 28th, 2009 at 10:03 am

    Chris Moyes,

    Thank you for your comments.

    Over & Out,


  106. 106 Cindy Fakhoury Jun 5th, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    My husband bought a Big Bear Chopper about a year ago, he upgraded from a Honda (I use the term upgraded very loosely!!) This thing is nothing but a piece of junk. We spend more money per month fixing this thing. Screws, bolts, and cables fall off on a daily basis. He checks his bike everytime befor he rides and it never fails that he gets stuck somewhere because something has fallen off. Oh and of course it is never covered by the original warrantee or the extended that we spent so much money on. His bike is pretty, but that is it. It is the biggest safety hazard on the road. I fear one day that what happened to this gentleman on the bike will happen to my husband, because this bike is simply a PIECE OF JUNK!!!! Oh so it is said, it was brought in directly assembled from California and painted from California.

  107. 107 Danny johnson Mar 7th, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Big Bear may or may not have a quality problem. They alone will determine and fix that. Big Bear does however have a perception problem. Toyota is the perfect example on a much larger scale. Toyota worked hard for years to develop a positive reputation only to see it damaged by a relatively minor problem on a limited number of cars. A good reputation takes years to build and is easily lost.
    Big Bear may be perfectly innocent but there are concerns “on the street”. Big Bear better address this and quickly or it could destroy them. The custom motorcycle market has become very competative and a quality reputation is a companies greatest asset. Big Bear needs to hire one of those PR “disaster” companies and nip this problem in the bud. They could win the case, be innocent and still see their business badly damaged. Custom motorcycle customers today are no longer the “hard core” riders of yesterday. Yuppies, weekenders and relatively new riders are buying custom motorcycles. They have almost become status symbols. If Big Bear is going to sell to this market they may need to make some changes. Big Bear could easily “win the battles and lose the war”.

  108. 108 TWY Oct 10th, 2010 at 11:38 am

    I know Kevin & Mona,They built me a bike they were real nice once I rec. The bike they became a holes my bike had stuff falling off as well they wouldn’t do anything about it they got there money and then they wanted nothing to do with me! P.S. The bike was only three days old!

  109. 109 Bart Dec 16th, 2010 at 9:49 am

    In response to TWY’s post, heard that is Kevin and Mona’s m.o.

  110. 110 Ryan G Jan 26th, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    Ok let me start off by saying if you weren’t raised on motorcycles then leave the riding to those of us who were and if you still feel the need to buy a bike and ride use what sense you have and buy something cheap and get familiar with bikes, then go ahead purchase a big boy bike. Lol I crack myself up. As for the guy who wrecked that sucks but come on really there was obviously some sign of it moving ,making noise? I’m in favor of big bear shoppers and plan on buying the bear bones this summer …………….stay off bikes yuppies

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