Like many young custom shop, Mad Jap Kustoms is a small one man operation with no big fancy equipment in his shop, no CNC machines, no show room, just a nice place to work with one bike lift and a sweet ass heater because man it gets extremely cold up there in beautiful Calgary, Canada. I met for the first time builder Dale Yamada & a couple of his traveling helpers during the 2010 Sturgis edition. At the time quite depressed because he was participating to is first Black Hills Rally and didn’t know he need a vendor permit sell his bikes bikes, parts and even tee shirts. A round trip to South Dakota without making one dollar and spending a bunch can easily mean professional death for a young builder… Well, this year things went much, much better for Dale the MAD Boy. Back this year in Sturgis, he had 2 locations, one on Lazelle Street where he could do business and one with the Limpnickie lot, a cooperative of “tomorrow’s builders” that he recently joined. And between both locations he was riding this “Knuckle”, a bike that you will probably never find displayed in a Vintage Meet.
But first, I asked Dale “Why the name Mad Jap Kustoms?” He told me ” It was my late father nickname. Way back in the days my father Bobby Yamada had some Club friends and they nicknamed him Mad Jap due to his larger than life nature. I guess that it was a nice way of saying he was a raging and out of control large Japanese man. So when it came time to actually start my company and give it a name, it was a no brainer…” About Dale’s background? A mechanical past building full tube chassis race cars, working in a ton of shops on heavy-duty machinery, big rigs, cars and bikes. None of his former jobs fulfilling his aspirations, starting his own shop was the only way out of a boring professional life.
Since then, Dale Yamada didn’t stop “freestyling” bikes, not taking himself too seriously, just doing what makes him happy, without a real plan when he starts a new project, working sheet metal following his impulsions and emotions, never thinking about how a Knuckle, a Pan, a Shovel, etc should look. Just doing his thing because in terms of custom building there is never an absolute right or wrong as long as a bike can take a long beating on the road. Dale even went to tell me “My best memories of a ride is in crapy weather and with mechanical break downs! Your bike is down on the side of the road and all your buds get together and help you fix it. Man I love that shit! There is something about riding bikes like mine. You experience so much more…”
Customizing? Of course there are no rules. A good example is this very Mad Chop powered by a 40 EL Knuckle (88″) using twin super G carbs coupled to a 4-speed Panhead transmission (Foot clutch shifting, driveline 24 tooth front 47 tooth rear.) with MAG ignition. Rigid frame has a 30-degree rake. Rolling on 40-spoke wheels (21″ front, 16″ rear) with suspension provided by a modified Sportster front end. Both gas and oil tanks are hand made out of copper, not copper plated. Rear fender out of a dumpster at a swap meet. Sport bike calipers found at a bike wrecker, etc. Worship the Chopper Gods… Mad Jap Kustoms.