About 15 years ago, I helped my dad build a custom Harley Davidson. Back then, custom bikes meant only one thing: motorcycles. Custom chopper motorcycles were all the rage in the community we grew up in. most of the people we knew didn't have a lot of money, but it didn't matter because we had connections. We knew places to get the parts and could put together our own gear, father teaching son and older brother teaching younger. When I helped my dad work on the custom bike, I was surprised that there was any chance of ever putting it together. After all, when we first started it was such an old rusted out piece of junk. Basically, we raided junkyards, police auctions, and any other sources we could find to get custom bike parts. It was not easy work, and we spent most of the summer on it, but soon we had a beautiful vehicle together. When I first started to build custom bicycles years later, I was able to draw on the experience I had working with my dad. Putting together a custom bike is a lot easier than a customized motorcycle, but it applies a lot of the same principle. When you customize your bike, you fit it out for a particular purpose. Maybe you want to make your road racer meaner and leaner, or give your mountain bike a better high-performance smooth ride over those bumps. Then again, some of the most popular custom bikes are the ones that are made purely for style. A lot of the custom bike work is done to build so- called “tall bikes”. These things tower over the crowd, and are getting to be pretty popular at street fairs and parades. One of the great things about running a custom bike shop is, not only do I get to build some fun and far-out projects, but I also get to help draw attention to some of the most pressing political issues of the day. You see, when you get down to it, custom bike building is about more than good looks and high performance. It is about getting people to think about the kind of transportation that they use. Sure, cars are faster and more convenient, but they pollute the air and don't give you any exercise. By helping people to build custom bikes, I get them to take pride in alternative transportation.
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