Ron Finch opened Finch’s Custom Styled Cycles in 1965 in a small building in Pontiac, Michigan. Not only to design, build and paint striking one-off motorcycles in his own very unique extreme style, but also creating metal sculptures and other objects resisting any aesthetic classification. All along his professional career, Ron has pursued a broad spectrum of artistic activities and is highly esteemed for his ground breaking experimentations with unusual materials and paint processes.
His first nationally known custom was a 1966 BSA named “Kaleidocycle”, which prompted Ed Roth to headline him as “Michigan’s Motorcycle Madman” In 1968 Ron married Ruth and together they grew the business. He taught Ruth how to ride and built her a custom 1966 Triumph, which was painted orange and white pearl and named after her favorite treat a ”Creamsicle”! They could be seen riding together with Ron on his three cylinder BSA, called “Ron’s Rocket” and Ruth on her rigid Triumph chopper. In the late 1970’s, Ron built a Triumph Trident three wheeler named “Trilogy”, that featured the “tri” theme throughout with triple gas tanks, rear fenders, exhaust and a front end that resembles the number three.
Ron Finch’s career was interrupted in 1981, when he was hit from behind by a drunk driver, who left him and his motorcycle lying on the road. He spent six long weeks in the hospital in traction and was told that he would never walk again. His crew came in and installed wheels, a gas tank, handlebars, and a headlight on his hospital bed, so Finch could keep on riding! He left the hospital in a wheelchair, but soon progressed to crutches and eventually to his own leg power!
To celebrate his recovery, in 1982 Ron completed an Ironhead Sportster that hid the gas tank in the rear fender and had a two-part detachable frame. The neck tubes attached to the engine as the arteries to a heart, inspiring the name “Aorta”! Then his first “bagger” called “Loophole” because the exhaust pipes artistically looped through the frame above the engine. Another loophole in the Law of Average! In the 1990’s, Ron built a very industrial looking custom, this time hiding the gas tanks in the floorboards! In 2003, Finch completed another outrageous personal custom that was affectionately called “Wing and a Prayer”. The multi-functional aluminum saddlebags house the 3.5 gallon gas tanks and also provide storage space! While working with charities, Ron took again a very unique approach in building a giant motorcycle sculpture that is known as the “Dreamcycle”. It measures ten feet tall and fourteen feet long and actually has the capability of blowing flames from the exhaust! Ron’s latest was unveiled in 2010, an amazing sidecar called “Outsider” featuring a gorgeous and intricate twisted metal work.
In June of 2004, Ron and his dedicated crew were filmed building his latest personal custom for the the Biker Build-Off on the Discovery Channel broadening the number of his admirers to a younger audience not born when he started his artistic career. In April of 2005, competing with today’s top builders at the Las Vegas Biker Build-Off, Ron was awarded the “Biker Blacksmith” Award for extreme metal fabrication.He was recognized in Daytona Beach in March of 2006 at the V-Twin Biker’s Ball with a Lifetime Achievement Award!
To this day, each of Ron’s extreme creations continue to draw big crowds of admirers, to attract international media attention inspiring magazine headlines such as “The Fabulous Finch”, “The King of French”, ”Finch Effect”, “King of Custom”, “Mad About Metal”, “Michigan Magician”, “Ron Finch is Nuts”, “Finch Fest”, “Got Finch?”, “Ron Finch Gets Finicky” etc…
A highly imaginative and versatile artist, Ron is a colorful and high-esteemed presence in the custom motorcycle industry. He assured me that his life’s work was not finished and that his contributions to the motorcycle industry are far from being over. Yes, he has plans to do much more! So, expect more of his “2 or 3-wheel architectural achievements” in a show near you, on TV, in magazines and of course in my Blog. While in Daytona for Bike week and before returning to his Pontiac studio in his beloved Michigan, Ron answered my questions… Finch’s Custom Styled Cycles (top 3 pictures copyright and courtesy Tom Zimberoff for Cyril Huze)
Cyril. Who were your childhood heroes? Ron. I had lunch with “ Soupy Sales” (a local kid show comedian). Soupy would announce what was for lunch the next day and my Mom would fix it for me. When I came home from school for lunch, the TV would be on and lunch would be ready! I remember having tomato soup and grilled cheese with Soupy Sales and White Fang!
Cyril. What was your 1st vehicle? Ron. When I first got my driver’s license my parents didn’t want me to have a motorcycle. Winter was coming and they asked me to decide if I wanted a used car or a motor scooter to drive to work! They thought that “ Mrs. Finch’s Little Boy Ronnie” would be smart enough to choose the car. They were wrong. I drove a Cushman Eagle through the snow and ice all winter long!
Cyril. If you were not working in the motorcycle industry, what would you do? Ron. Race car Driver.
Cyril. Best/worst qualities? Ron. Best Quality: Fun to be around. Love to party. Worst Quality: I’m perfect……..I don’t admit to any faults!
Cyril. What is your favorite way to relax? Ron. I enjoy riding my motorcycle, building metal sculptures, doing creative landscaping with rocks, trees and bushes while drinking a cold barley pop!
Cyril. What is the last music you downloaded in your iPod? Ron. What’s an iPod. A pPod? Who cares? If I did, it would be Funk 49 by the James Gang.
Cyril. Preferred city in America and in the world? Ron. Pontiac, Michigan where is my studio. All cities have something cool.
Cyril. What are you afraid of? Ron. I used to be called “Fearless”, took lots of chances. I have calmed down, just a little!
Cyril. What is the person you would love to meet? Ron. I would like to meet Jay Leno and see his car and motorcycle collection.
Cyril. Do you have any tattoos or piercings? Ron. No tattoo or piercing.
Cyril. Name five things you hate. Ron. I hate Japanese Motorcycles and cars, slow people in the fast lane, people talking on a cell phone while driving, people trying to be cool, the plastic throw away world………. especially water bottles.
Cyril. Do you practice/watch any sport? Ron. No sports for me.
Cyril. What is your best life achievement? Ron. My greatest achievement is realizing my dream………..building custom motorcycles.
Cyril. What do you miss most at home when you are on the road? Ron. I miss home cooking when I am traveling.
Cyril. What was the last book you read? Ron. I never read a book in my life ….. I like the pictures! Who needs a book of rules or those “some assembly required” instructions?
Cyril. Where is your favorite vacation place? Ron. Grand Canyon at sunrise is my favorite vacation view.
Cyril. Do you have any guilty pleasures? Ron. I don’t have much of a conscience. Guilt is a waste of time.
Cyril. Do you collect anything? Ron. I collect fire hydrants, manhole covers, light poles, rocks, meat grinders, and all kinds of unusual treasures.
Cyril. What was your worst buy? Ron. Investing in property before the bottom fell out!
Cyril. How do you take your coffee? Ron. I am not a coffee drinker.
Cyril. What was the most embarrassing thing you have ever made? Ron. I don’t embarrass easy!
Cyril. What is the best thing you can cook? Ron. I cook a mean breakfast.
Cyril. When was the time you were really angry? Ron. I was extremely angry in 1981 when I was rear-ended by a drunk driver while riding my motorcycle. Lying by the side of the road, my furious yelling at the driver (as he attempted to cover me with a blanket) caused him to leave the scene of the accident! I suffered a crushed pelvis, broken hip socket and leg. Doctors said that I would never walk again…
Cyril. What is your perfect weekend when you are at home? Ron. Riding my bike through small towns in northern Michigan or driving my van to garage and estate sales.
Cyril. What is your preferred rally? Ron. I had great times in Sturgis. Daytona cops SUCK!
Cyril. What is the worst question a journalist asked you? Ron. All always asking me. “But where is the gas tank?”