Darwin Motorcycles Closed. Customers File Complaints For Custom Bikes Paid And Not Delivered.

darwinmotorcyclesDuring these last weeks I was contacted by clients of Darwin Motorcycles (Brass Balls Bobbers) owned by Dar Holdsworth asking me if I could shed some light on the status of the Oklahoma custom shop. These clients, located in the US and abroad, stated to me that they ordered and paid in full for custom motorcycles never delivered. Some orders would be more than 2 years old.

darwinmotorcyclesbisTwo weeks ago, I contacted Dar Holdsworth, asking if the allegations were true and his reply was the following:

“Cyril. This is not entirely true. I value our customers and am trying everything possible to take care of them. Yes, we are going through some challenges. However, we are trying to restructure to overcome them, so that we can take care of our customers. I am not at liberty to say much more than that at this time, but should have more for you soon. Unfortunately negative press & rumors make the restructuring more difficult, which in turn negatively affects our ability to take care of our customers. Things are not entirely as they seem. I will let you know more information as I have it in the very near future. Hope all is well for you. Best regards, Dar”

My reply was the following: “Dar. Sorry it’s happening to you. If you intend to complete work (if it’s possible I know you would prefer) or to refund (even with delays), I would strongly suggest that you make an official announcement to say so. Better prevent. If you wish to make it via my news website, let me know.  All my best. Cyril.” Dar didn’t reply to me and yesterday again, I renewed my offer to let him express his intention.

Currently, the doors of Darwin Motorcycles are closed and Dar works for Sam Wills at Racing Innovation. Some foreign clients have hired US attorneys to get at least a refund on work paid and not performed. Darwin Motorcycles has hired local Oklahoma attorney Rudy Hiersche to resolve the issues.

It has been incorrectly reported on the web that country singer Toby Keith is co-owner of the business. Although discussions to which I was a witness were going on in summer 2014 for Toby Keith to be involved in the business, Dar confirmed to me that it never happened, the singer being afraid of the liabilities risk inherent to the activity of building custom motorcycles.

I must add that Dar is a good friend of the industry, a man with very good values and great integrity, just going through a difficult financial situation. He knows and understands that my duty is to report to my readers the news objectively and factually, whatever is my professional and personal relation with any member of the motorcycle industry.

58 Responses to “Darwin Motorcycles Closed. Customers File Complaints For Custom Bikes Paid And Not Delivered.”

  1. 1 Ricky Mar 25th, 2016 at 8:17 am

    Met him. Nice guy. But most builders (artists) of the industry have no clue about managing a business. Do you work for compliments or first for profits?

  2. 2 P. Hamilton Mar 25th, 2016 at 8:18 am

    Reminds me Big Bear Choppers, although it may be a different story looking the same.

  3. 3 Greeko Mar 25th, 2016 at 8:24 am

    Another one biting the dust. Sad.

  4. 4 Patrick Bunel Mar 25th, 2016 at 8:33 am

    He will be back in business in a couple of years because custom building is an addiction…before being a business,

  5. 5 Bob Mar 25th, 2016 at 8:36 am

    It’s sad if the business goes under – but a completely different story if other people lose their money.

  6. 6 Sean Mar 25th, 2016 at 8:41 am

    If true, the amounts supposedly owed to clients (and vendors?) are quite big.

  7. 7 Chris Moss Mar 25th, 2016 at 8:45 am

    Tough business…

  8. 8 Lugnut Mar 25th, 2016 at 9:01 am

    Best wishes for a decent workout for these guys. Bad things happen to good people. Selling a completely optional high priced machine in an economy that continues to sputter would scare most folks away. I am glad these guys gave it a try.

  9. 9 Brett Garner Mar 25th, 2016 at 9:07 am

    I am sorry for the clients. They should not be the victims of bad management. The money given by clients was not to pay the biz bills or other clients’ bikes. Or it was a kind of Ponzi scheme.

  10. 10 Joshua Mar 25th, 2016 at 9:39 am

    Building custom bikes for the blue workers (I think it was the slogan of Brass Balls Bobbers) will always be an unprofitable business. Rich clients wanting a fancy custom bike are not so many. So, in all cases building custom bikes, hot rods, etc leads to more failures than in any other businesses.

  11. 11 Murdoc Mar 25th, 2016 at 11:40 am

    Best of luck to Dar. He’s a class act and I’m sure will do whatever he can.

  12. 12 mkviz Mar 25th, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    You just shot yourself in the foot

    “Cyril. This is not entirely true.”

    So its partially true that you scammed people out of their money and not give them what they paid for.

    Even if it was one person building the bike and you had all of the resources, a normal build shouldn’t take even more than a month to make once your next in line.

    I find the name fitting since they will be next in the evolution of dying off

  13. 13 1550tc Mar 25th, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    How big can the market be for bikes likes this??????????………..do these guys ever do a business plan, or a 1-2-3 years sales projection, market research break even analysis ect……

    Every one has business in their head but not everyone’s head is right for business

    I feel for guys who are owed bikes like this one 🙁


  14. 14 BOSS HAWG Mar 25th, 2016 at 1:12 pm

    GIT REAL Folks!

    Dar’s/Brass Balls customers agreed to purchase and funded, subsequently Dar/Brass Balls agreed to produce BUT apparently failed.

    Misrepresent , take others money in commerce and do not produce the merchandise = FRAUD! Prosecute the guilty to the fullest extent, and the unfortunate buyers can get in line for the bankruptcy proceedings after the tax man.

    Dar Holdsworth now joins the ranks of Mona & Kevin Alsop @ Big Bear Choppers and Chip Miyler @ Mid West Choppers along with a few others, too!. Some of the advertisers of Dar Holdsworth and Brass Balls should be right there with him!

    Boss Hawg

  15. 15 Woody's Mar 25th, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    Is it Federal or just some States’ law that it’s a crime to use one customer’s deposit on another’s build? Just curious ’cause if it applies here it’ll be difficult to make restitution from jail. I sympathize with running a small business and feeling the walls closing in, but you can’t get out of a hole by digging downward.

  16. 16 NoH2oh Mar 25th, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    Always thought his FXR inspired bikes, the Brawler, were way cool.

  17. 17 Johnyletgo Mar 25th, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    Even if Dar is a nice guy, doesn’t matter. If the customers allegations are true, Dar comitted a felony, several times. Sad ending.

  18. 18 Donnie Surrey Mar 25th, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    If he could not build or finish building these bikes it’s probably because vendors refused to sell him parts without pre-payments. So where went the money given to him by clients? In his personal bank account? Fraud.

  19. 19 BCinSoCal Mar 25th, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    In 40 plus years of building custom bikes, I never took, up front, more than 1/2 the price of the finished bike. Would start the bike immediately, if building one for myself or one on spec, would set it aside, to build the customers bike first. Other practices are a recipe for disaster, take all the money up front, if the business is struggling, soon all the money is spent, customer gets only an empty promise.

  20. 20 Matt Sullivan Mar 25th, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    I am a customer of Darwin Motorcycles and find it offensive that Dar is half playing the victim here. I paid in full for my bike in March of 2014 and was told it was mocked up and would be ready in 5 to 6 weeks. 2 years and a million excuses later I still have no bike. The communication from these guys about what is happening has been non existent other than the same story above. There is no doubt in my mind that my money was used to fund other builds and other expenses and everything but what it was intended for. My only wish is that there is not too many other people out there like me. Thankyou Cyril for shedding some light on this.

  21. 21 bigitch Mar 25th, 2016 at 9:58 pm

    maybe he should have partnered up with erik buell

  22. 22 Shane Mar 25th, 2016 at 11:39 pm

    I also, was a BBB customer back in 2011. In the end, it took me 2.5 years to get my bike after paying in full, only getting it after threatening to take action. The whole while i’d suspected this was happening with his business. Writing himself too big of a check, not leaving enough to buy the parts to make the bikes. I can’t believe this continued for so long. I’m one of the lucky ones that actually got what I paid for, and I feel gutted for all the others.

  23. 23 Matt Sullivan Mar 26th, 2016 at 12:22 am

    I have been contacted by many others who all tell the same story as you Shane. In life and business, reputation is everything and Darwin Motorcycles reputation is now in the crapper. This will be a fatal blow to them from which they cannot recover. Dar continued to take money from customers knowing that he could not fill orders. This alone speaks to the character of this individual. Integrity and Darwin Motorcycles do not belong in the same sentence.

  24. 24 John M. Mar 26th, 2016 at 6:27 am

    Same thing happened with Tony Cenzi’s shop in spencerport NY

  25. 25 Steve Mar 26th, 2016 at 6:43 am

    It’ll be a sad day if Brass Balls does fail, I really like the style they promote, but, why is their website still active? If I ordered a bike kit now, what are the chances of me getting either the parts of my money back?

  26. 26 Frankie Mar 26th, 2016 at 6:51 am

    How a nice guy can turn into a dishonest person? EGO.

  27. 27 ChaCha Mar 26th, 2016 at 7:25 am

    I was bit by the BBC swindle. He’s another example I’ll use to tell my friends to “Stay away from the Custom Build Shops.”

  28. 28 Phat Custom Cycles Mar 26th, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    As a manufacture of custom bikes we never take full payment for new bikes to be built,and I do not understand why customers did this.When the industry took a hit new bike builds dropped for us and to here shops out there are so busy with new builds it does not make sense.Shops like Darwin and big bear make all of us look bad and it isn’t fair to shops that run business properly.

  29. 29 Keith Oliver Mar 26th, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    Sorry to hear this about our friend Dar. We expect he will rebound soon! For the record, we build American custom/production performance cruisers in California that deliver in approximately 90 days. Our KRGT-1 is custom-fit (ergonomically) to each client and can be personalized (cosmetically) to meet your preferences. Each unique motorcycle comes with an EPA and CARB approved drivetrain, and is built on a platform that provides the performance, reliability, and serviceability of a production motorcycle. Check out archmotorcycle.com for details. You can email me directly at keith@archmotorcycle.com.

  30. 30 Heavy Metal Mar 26th, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    I always feel for people that get screwed by a bad business practices. Nice guy or not people trusted this shop to build them a bike and that didn’t happen. Good reason to ride boring stockers with aftermarket exhaust, seat and handlebars.

  31. 31 BadMonkeyMW Mar 26th, 2016 at 3:45 pm

    Sometimes too much time is spent convincing the industry you’re a big time bike builder, instead of keeping your nose to the grindstone and actually being one. It’s unfortunate that he’ll likely declare bankruptcy and end of being able to stiff most, if not all, of the people that paid for a bike.

    Custom bike building is a tough business to be successful in, but that still doesn’t let you off the hook for taking people’s money and not delivering.

  32. 32 Matt Sullivan Mar 26th, 2016 at 4:19 pm
  33. 33 Darwin Customer Mar 26th, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    I gave Dar Holdsworth DBA Brass Balls Cycles a $10,000 deposit in early November. At that time Dar knew he would not or could not build my bike in the time frames promised, if at all, which makes his actions criminal. It’s called fraud.

    Dar’s window to do the right thing and return funds is quickly closing.

    If you believe you have been taken advantage of by Dar Holdsworth, Darwin Motorcyclrs, and/or Brass Balls Cycles, please contact the Oklahoma Office of The Attorney General as soon as possible.

  34. 34 1550tc Mar 27th, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    “There’s a sucker born every minute” is a phrase most likely spoken by David Hannum, in criticism of both P. T. Barnum, an American showman of the mid 19th century, and his customers. The phrase is often credited to Barnum himself. It means “People are foolish, and will always be fools.

  35. 35 Zenaldo Mar 27th, 2016 at 6:45 pm

    I’m not a fan of ripping on another builder…but, where are all these customers willing to pony up 100% up front ? Really ? People are you really that crazy to prepay any builder for a bike without some type of plan in place to get you to certain levels of completion ?? Wow, I guess I’ve missed the boat here somewhere. Sad part is even with those types of customers writing big checks he still couldn’t keep it afloat. Something really stinks here…not sure where all the $$ went..there’s plenty of reputable builders all around the country who put out a high quality product on time on budget…all you had to was look around..check out any previous customers builds ??..c’mon people..takes 2 to sides to every story though..ask Paul Sr…

  36. 36 Matt Sullivan Mar 27th, 2016 at 6:53 pm

    Zenaldo the full payment was not upfront. There was a $5000 deposit with the balance being asked to pay when the bike was “4 to 6” weeks away from being ready which in reality was a lie. Hope this clears this up for you.

  37. 37 Pat h Mar 27th, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    Feel bad for the buyers, never would have thought he was a sham, too early to tell ,can’t find anything else on this, time will tell, too bad another American employer might be out of business

  38. 38 patrick de gregoriis Mar 28th, 2016 at 4:09 am

    why willing to pay tons of money to these builders while you can buy a donor bike, a frame with a vin no from a seasoned frame builder and have yourself building one of a kind custom bike or have your local stealer of indie build one for you ? And have your local paint shop involved for that one of a kind paintjob ? It will cost you much less and you’ll have a nique bike not a one of 25 idetentical style bike from a soidisant bike bikebuilder…. unless you’re ego so is so small you need to lift to it confirmed by a 100.000 USB bill ?

  39. 39 Woody's Mar 28th, 2016 at 8:35 am

    Why are people so quick to hate on the victims here? What’s next, making fun of people who get mugged for their wristwatch because they can get the correct time from their phone anyway?

  40. 40 A 1 CYCLES Mar 28th, 2016 at 9:25 am

    20 years in the business….50 percent down..25 percent when it goes to powder and paint..25 percent when title nd bike is delivered..never ever more than 2 months…but i guess thats why 20 years in business?

  41. 41 Doug Wozney Mar 28th, 2016 at 10:10 am

    When I used to build bikes, I used the exact same method of funds collecting as A 1 Cycles just described. I haven’t built one for a customer in years because I found it too difficult to stand behind other companies products if/when they failed. Some of them MIGHT replace their defective part, but I had to eat the labor as the customers would expect a warranty as offered by any big manufacturer, which wouldn’t be a problem if I was getting 100-150% mark up on the parts when doing the initial build. Scratch built customs are simply not very profitable to begin with, and if the builder has to bear the majority of the cost to repair/replace parts supplied by others, well, the builder would be better off flippin’ burgers. I spoke with Dar one time when he called to ask a few questions about the FXRX-Wedge I built for S&S Cycle back in 2010. Seems like a very likeable/honest person, and I’m guessing he simply got caught up in the spider web I just described. I hope he can find a way to work through this and keep his earlier reputation intact.

  42. 42 Hillbilly Jim Mar 28th, 2016 at 10:51 am

    I have been building custom bikes and doing restorations for 39 years and still have found no way to make a living doing what I love. Few can turn their passion into an honest living, them that can, become famous and often wealthy. Some only famous!

  43. 43 Skull. london Mar 28th, 2016 at 11:48 am

    I remember when those who wanted to ride “custom” used to build them.
    The TV star appeal of a few “lucky” bike builders has given many good bike builders the false belief that running a bike business is profitable or even easy. Just gotta see the comments here from those who have been building bikes for years and their confirmation that it is still difficult to make a living.
    100% up front for any trade is a no no ! Some people have more money than sense and too much desire for instant cred.

  44. 44 WTBIKER Mar 28th, 2016 at 11:50 am

    another dreamer without the business sense to know if he was winning or losing. there is no excuse to take money from people without delivering the goods.

  45. 45 MDSPHOTO Mar 28th, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    I can empathize with the guys that have gotten burned. The same thing happened to me
    when the custom bike craze tanked. Your out your initial deposit, in my case $15K, and then your lawyer sucks you dry as you try to recoup your deposit only to have the company fold and your throwing good money after bad. Nobody wins, except the blood suckers. Best of luck to all of those owed money or bikes.

  46. 46 5 th gear Mar 28th, 2016 at 7:42 pm

    Gun’s , Lawyers ,& the I R S always start at the top of the money pile.

  47. 47 blu dog Mar 28th, 2016 at 9:18 pm

    Dar is either an incredibly adept con man or pretty bad business man and I tend to thin/hope the latter. Just like a hopeless gambler, a bad businessman is always one streak from turning it around, just press the bet and ride it out. Eventually there comes a point that there’s no more cash, no more credit, and nothing left to pawn. Follow the money and you can tell if there was any criminal motive or neglect, but I doubt you’ll find that here. No solace for the customers and that really stings because these bikes were marketed as a working man’s custom.

  48. 48 Reshon Mar 29th, 2016 at 9:14 am

    As someone who has had direct dealings with Dar, he is not a good person and has no integrity. His only values are for himself. He uses everyone around him, and if you think you are his friend, that is only because you have something for him that he wants to get for free. Start charging him for your service and see how far you get with him. He knew exactly what he was doing when he took customers money. Matt Sullivan, you want to know where your money went? It went to Dubai with him and his wife, or to his lawyers to settle other complaints against him. Sorry to say, but since you’re bike wasn’t for a celebrity or a magazine to make him feel important it was sacrificed for the good of Dar’s ego. Just as his reply to Cyril shows, it is never his fault in his mind, but it is all by design. It cant be said enough: Dar knew when he took money for a bike he had no intention of following through with his end of the deal, and he truly felt it was his right to do so because he has been in magazines and won awards, and who are you to question him?

  49. 49 JR Mar 29th, 2016 at 10:58 am
  50. 50 Mike E Mar 29th, 2016 at 11:40 am

    I speak from my own experience. I paid in full for a frame and if I’d not lived an hour away I’d still be waiting. 18 months for a classic frame and 7 visits to receive my frame. Nice work but terrible business practice.

  51. 51 Donnie Mar 29th, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    Wow. So, following the 2 links posted by JR, Darwin Motorcycles was already defunct in 2011! But Darwin Motorcycles still markets and sells motorcycles and parts. Dar Holdsworth has already failed with another company, was not paying his assistant, was not paying his vendors! Dar Holdsworth may not be as innocent as he may pretend. Character revealed by former lawsuits?

  52. 52 takehikes Mar 30th, 2016 at 5:19 pm

    As far back as the late 60’s our shop, AEE Choppers, saw the light and gave up building anything for customers and went in to the parts business. Made a fortune, spawned a publishing empire then folded. Money is in parts not building bikes except on a very exclusive basis. Ask Arlen when he started making real money……

  53. 53 Shane Mar 30th, 2016 at 6:38 pm

    JR, thanks for posting. I can’t believe the shifty nonsense this jackass was up to at the time I was waiting for my bike and threatening to sue him, and I cant believe I even got my bike when all this was going on. Pure luck I guess.

    This guy was a poor businessman, and a shifty conman. He deserves to be held liable for his reckless use of other peoples money.

  54. 54 Woody's Mar 30th, 2016 at 7:34 pm

    AEE, brings back memories of drooling at catalogs with no money. Santee, AMEN, SB&F, CG, good times ☺

  55. 55 Blackmax Apr 2nd, 2016 at 6:04 am

    Sorry to hear about this
    I remember a lot of respect shown on these very pages
    I really, really hope that was not misplaced
    Seems like another casualty along Big Dog, Titan, Big Bear & the rest

  56. 56 REV. JIM Apr 17th, 2016 at 7:54 am

    Been in the bike building business since 1970. I find one thing never changes , Two sides to every story. Since I’m not part of the business I’ll only hope the whole story ,the true story, comes out soon . These stories are bad for the industry.

  57. 57 Dealer Dave May 11th, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    Cyril………. You did the right thing by trying to right a wrong and give Dar I chance to explain… But when you steal people’s money..well there is no explaining.. Only one thing to do is Payback … You know he’s not willing to part with his stuff …. He should give his own bike to his customer if he spend their money… Karma is a bitch and will catch up with him…..

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