Custom Builder Jim Nasi River Run Interview

May 1, 2011
Bryan Harley
Bryan Harley
Cruiser Editor |Articles|Articles RSS|Blog|Blog Posts|Blog RSS

Our resident road warrior has earned his stripes covering the rally circuit, from riding the Black Hills of Sturgis to cruising Main Street in Daytona Beach. Whether it's chopped, bobbed, or bored, metric to 'Merican, he rides 'em all.

Jim Nasi at the River Run.
Custom builder Jim Nasi stands behind the fairing of his latest custom bagger, a stretched beauty made of all steel and aluminum.

There’s a short list of talented custom bike builders out there who use baggers as their medium. Coincidentally, two of the best come out of Arizona. Jim Nasi out of Phoenix is one of them. Nasi opened his own shop in 1998 and has been honing his craft since. From full on bagger conversions to custom parts, Nasi products are a hot commodity. We caught up with Jim at the 2011 Laughlin River Run where we had a chance to ask him a few quick questions.

Motorcycle USA: What led you down the path to become a custom builder?

Jim Nasi: Well, I was born and raised in Detroit. My two older brothers and my father did a lot of street rods and cars. I relocated to Arizona. You can’t ride motorcycles that much in Detroit, you know. The weather was better and bikes were just more popular over here so I started to get into them.

What have you been working on recently? 

A lot of the bagger stuff. Baggers are real popular so we’re making a lot of parts. And there’s so much you can do to a bagger. When you build a custom and you do the work to it, it is what it is. You’re not going to add anything else to it. But a bagger you can just keep adding stuff on. So we spent a lot of time with R&D making some really good quality ABS products. Economical, obviously, with the economy now. Nice easy bolt-on parts, stuff like that.

What’s your hot selling product right now?

I have a brand new fairing out for the Street Glides and my side covers, I’ve been making those a long time. Stretched

Sangre Azul by Jim Nasi.
Jim Nasi’s Sangre Azul, a custom Nasi got medieval on.

side covers. I have a bagger conversion kit, it’s an entire rear kit, saddlebags, steel fender, those are selling well, too. A lot of guys are bringing me their baggers and just dropping them off and letting me do my thing.

Where do you find inspiration for your builds?

A lot of is just things I’m thinking of. I mean, I’ve probably got about 10 bikes in my head right now that I want to build. You meet a customer and get to know them and talk to them about what they’re looking for and eventually I can use one of those bikes in my head to suit their needs.

Tell me a little bit about Sangre Azul.

That was built for a guy named Robert Renero in New Jersey who became a good friend of mine. He pretty much told me he wanted his family crest on the tank and his wife’s family crest on the front fender. It’s got kind of a medieval theme and he let me do whatever I wanted to. That was one of the bikes I had in my head. The airbrush and the black

Sangre Azul tank.
The tank of Sangre Azul is adorned with the family crest of the owner.

chrome, I wanted it to look like old armor sitting somewhere. I wasn’t going to put swords and s@#* all over it so what I did was make the whole bike look like a weapon. It’s got a 124 S&S engine, dual Keihin carbs, open belt primary, Baker 6-speed, front and rear air ride suspension, air-operated kickstand and a lot of homemade stuff.

The one out in front, the silver bagger, is my newest one. All steel and aluminum, no glass or plastic. Took over a year to build. Stretched the whole thing out. A lot of these baggers you see with the big front wheel and the back’s still kind of pushed in so we stretched it out so it’s more proportioned. It’s got a 24-inch front hoop and a thicker tire on it so the overall diameter is the same as a 26 but it’s got more meat on the tire.

I know you were with Titan Motorcycles. Now another similar company, Big Dog Motorcycles, has gone under. Do you think those styles of bikes are played out?

My brother’s been at Big Dog for 10 years. It seems like the mid-range guys just aren’t buying bikes anymore. That’s why what I’m doing is parts and high-end motorcycles. Unfortunately that middle range has just really taken a hit. It’s unfortunate, but that’s just the way it happened. And then the financing all went to crap. No one’s lending money anymore and those guys can’t buy those bikes.