Surge

Writing a motorcycle's story through customization | Cover Story

By Kristen West

For The Surge

A motorcycle in the Joker’s Customs shop in Surfside Beach. Photo by Kristen West for The Surge.
A motorcycle in the Joker’s Customs shop in Surfside Beach. Photo by Kristen West for The Surge.

It’s no secret that those who ride do so with passion, love, and pride. There is no doubt of how strong those feelings are as you see the thousands upon thousands descending upon the gorgeous Grand Strand. Not only does each rider have their own story, each bike has its own as well. Some are bright and flashy, others are subdued and elegant, and then there are the head-turners that leave you in complete and total awe. How did they come up with that? How did that gorgeous piece of machinery come to be?

Ben “Happy” Dilmore, is a 35-year-old amateur builder, and devoted father, who has spent the majority of his life with a love for machines, and for him, it’s more that just a hobby. Dilmore says he’s been building and working on cars and motorcycles since he was around 8 years old, a long time developing his philosophy on bike customization. “Make it yours, make it different, and make it stand out for the crowd a little bit.” In general, he prefers old-school choppers.

Dilmore gave a little bit of insight on how easy it is to get hooked into the world of customization, delivered while he was working on replacing some handlebars on a friends bike: “You can start with the little things like changing the grips, lights, seat, handlebars, or you go on to maybe a more expensive paint job or changing the tank or fenders.” From his perspective, every single change, large or small, makes it a custom.

Make it yours, make it different, and make it stand out for the crowd a little bit.

Ben Dilmore’s philosophy

While Dilmore aspires to grow his abilities for bike building, others take a different approach - like Gene and Michelle Broyles. They are “do it yourselfers” and have quite the impressive pair of Baggers, which put simply, are touring motorcycles that have cargo bags or compartments attached. They say that they ordered many of the parts online, or picked them up in shops locally and put them together themselves. Both have their own flair, with Michelle’s having special chrome details, and Gene’s a killer dark black and blue paint job.

Since there are so many different parts, styles, ideas, and individual preferences, it would make sense that there is an abundance of locations that have a keen eye for their preferred aspect of the motorcycle industry. From shops that specialize in paint to welding the frames, here are few spots that have that knack for these beautiful machines:

Chadwell Metalworks

Myrtle Beach, SC

Specialty: Welding

Starting from something solid, all bikes have a frame, but there are a plethora of ways to which that frame can be created, chopped, or stretched. This is where Chadwall Metalworks come in, and as a long time welding professional in the Myrtle Beach, Jon Chadwell has been instrumental in making the local bike scene tick. He specializes in welding, braking frames, metal on gas tanks, straightening frames, and basically everything dealing with metal. He’s was even part of working on the metal brewing equipment for local brewery New South when they first opened in 1998. His passion for the integrity of a bikes frame is intense, and Jon’s favorite thing to work on is still motorcycles.

Personally he loves vintage models and has several the he’s working on to restore and bring back a level of purity to them. In order to get them to that point, he often visits swaps and searches online to find the ultra rare vintage components. “Growing up, I spent a lot of time playing with LEGO’s and Erector sets. I love taking things apart and putting them together.” That’s what he says has fueled the direction he has gone in with bikes and building them.

Not only does each rider have their own story, each bike has its own as well.

Paints by Rusty

Murrells Inlet, SC

Specialty: Paint Jobs

When it comes to self-expression, no piece of art is complete without the proper finish. Rusty Nash is highly-touted as one of the best in the biz by those that know his work, and to those that don’t, well, it’s easy to see where the acclaim comes from. From his shop in Murrells Inlet, Nash says “Bikes are a blank canvas for people to express themselves with.” Nash’s shop handles many different styles and options as far as a paint goes from flashy to sinister, and everything in-between, to a finish with lots of metal that’s likened to a disco ball. No two will ever be alike. He explained that with a bike, anyone, even someone who might be in a stuffy office all day, could get on their bikes and reveal a whole different side of their personality altogether. His favorite style to work with is older 60’s Choppers, but does a lot of work on touring bikes.

Paints by Nash and Chadwell Metalworks are also coming together in spectacular fashion by playing host to an event called “Definition of the Chopper.” The event which includes live music, raffles, awards, and more will be held on May 14 at Chadwell Metalworks beginning at 2 p.m. and located at 10615 S.C. 707 Murrells Inlet.

Joker’s Customs

Surfside Beach, SC

Specialty: Full Service (Repair and Build)

Setting out to be the shop that has the capabilities to do almost anything you could think up is no easy task, but Joker’s Customs seems to be on that track. From the moment you walk into the cozy, eclectic atmosphere, you get overwhelming sense of comfort and belonging. When you add in Mike “Joker” LaFramboise, you get the feeling that with the sky as the limit, things are going to go very well. Not only is it Joker’s passion to create and build amazing motorcycles, but number one priority is take care of the customer. “It’s all about the people and the community. It’s important to me that they feel like they are getting what they pay for,” he says when asked about his shops specialty. His shop stays equipped to do all aspects from repair work, motor builds, frame stretching and shaping, all the way to parts and paint. “We get the work done. In some other places, bikes are usually things that sit, but here we take pride in getting the work done efficiently and done right.” Some of his favorite things to work on are choppers.

Gorby’s Machines

Myrtle Beach, SC

Specialty: Wheels

One of the primary things someone might choose to change up on their bikes is the wheels. From flashier styles to moving on up to a bigger size, modern technology allows them to be more creative than ever. Bill Gorby, of Gorby’s Machine in Myrtle Beach just happens to specialize in that aspect of bike customization. Not only that, his shop just happens to create just about any aluminum bike part you can imagine. From stock sizes all the way up to 32 inch, his is one of just a handful of places in the country capable of such feats - they even machine rotors, hubs, and everything to do with the wheel in-house.

Just taking a walk though the shop to get a glimpse of some of the projects going on, it’s apparent that each piece is thoughtfully and beautifully designed. Gorby says that whole collections of pieces, even to the floor boards or passenger pegs, can be designed to go with an overall theme. “There is a sense of pride when you’re at a bikefest and half the bikes have parts from your shop. It’s a good feeling to be able to go to work everyday and do what I love.”

Previously located in Ohio, Gorby relocated to Myrtle Beach about five years ago. “Long story short, I was a junior in high school and was going to a vocational school where I learned to be a machinist, and to a shop my senior year through the school’s job placement program. It’s the only job I’ve ever had.”

It was during those years that his skill set would progress. At first, it started with his own bike, a 99 fat boy, and he wasn’t dilmore with the appearance of the wheels. He was able to work off the clock on his own pieces after work, programming the machines to make the wheels look the the way he wanted to - and his future was set in motion.

I saved my pennies and bought a machine for my garage, and before I knew it, I had the UPS guy there every day. In 2005 when the chopper craze hit, with all the shows that were on TV about them, Logic Motor Co. came to me for their custom wheels and the business took off.

Bill Gorby

“I saved my pennies and bought a machine for my garage, and before I knew it, I had the UPS guy there every day. In 2005 when the chopper craze hit, with all the shows that were on TV about them, Logic Motor Co. came to me for their custom wheels and the business took off.”

When asked what his favorite thing about bikes he said “They’re all unique, everyone has their own thing. Whether it’s a $250 part or a bike that has $100,000 into it, just making those changes shows personality.”

It’s obvious that those in the community see their bikes as an extension of themselves. Through customization, and even in the way they are ridden, they’ll always be your own, personal set of wheels.

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