Clocks dictate so much of our lives. My wakeup call is at 6 a.m. Checkout is 9 a.m. I’ve been on the road for 30 of the last 48 hours to get to the roller for J&P Cycles’ Giveaway bike—At least before Paul Wideman of Bare Knuckle Choppers (BKC) rips into it. Kate, who’s been with me since Atlanta, is from my hometown near Chicago. She knows me better than myself. She’s also the Sicilian version of Jessica Rabbit, if Jessica could belch like a sawed-off shotgun.
“Quit being a little bitch,” she lovingly encourages. Since I moved to Raleigh, I missed her Mid-Western charm. I give in, and we pull over after sundown and hit the hotel pool for a couple hours, with a garbage can full of Miller Lites. This is when I lose track of time. In the morning I’m meeting Paul Wideman at the crack of dawn. It’s a good thing I’m not building the bike since there’s only six weeks to do it. Well, that and the fact that only the J&P Cycles Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show champion gets the privilege—and that trophy belongs to BKC. (You can see Paul’s winning bike in the February 2014 edition of Cycle Source.)
“The roller came in about three days ago. We tucked it back there until you got here to shoot it,” Paul confesses as I get to the shop. It was obvious he had approached it with wrenches in hand, and then had to back away from it. The pro-street style bike looks as if it already has won a couple of quarter-mile strip races without hitting pavement. All Paul can see is dead weight. Whoever wins the raffle for this bike had better know how to ride fast.
Anyone who has seen a BKC bike knows that there’s nothing you could call an “add-on” or “accessory.” Every part is essential to the operation of the machine. The Bare Knuckle style is purely functional and unapologetically stripped-down. The 117” X-Wedge engine makes the Rolling Thunder FXR frame look beefy, but also brutally fast. Paul gazes at it like a blank canvas – it was obvious the wheels were turning in his head. Like Michelangelo said, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”
The BKC Shop is truly a sculptor’s paradise. A row of refrigerator-sized lathes, routers, and presses line the perimeter of the compact factory. Many of them are from the 1950s. Paul has built some of these machines by hand, so working with a Rivera Primo drive and the 54° triple-cam motor was something he felt he could figure out—although he hasn’t even seen one in person before. As we study the project, Paul has gone beyond the day-dreaming stages of the bike, and is envisioning his ride on the finished product. Nichole, Paul’s girlfriend and office manager, snaps us back to reality with a list of new orders. The business and bike build will have to share Paul’s attention.
“I’m known for building choppers and bobbers, so this is going to be interesting… Definitely looking forward to the challenge. This bike deserves it,” Paul philosophized. “Obviously it has just gobs of horsepower. I’m excited for whoever eventually gets this thing.”
Paul only has six weeks to take this bike from roller to completion to make the tour for J&P’s Ultimate Builder custom bike show, but Paul is confident, despite it being an impossible timeframe for many shops. To stand next to the man and hear his plan, you would think it is already done.
“Go ahead and snap some pics of the shop, whatever you need. I have to chew one of my guys out for being late.” This bike is being created for the winner of the J&P Cycle’s Raffle. You can enter to win at the International Motorcycle Show or anywhere you see a J&P Transporter.
J&P Cycles Call Out
J&P is proud to welcome Paul and BKC to their catalog, with more than 10k items available, for the completion of the J&P Cycles Ultimate Builder Giveaway. Zach Parham, General Manager of J&P, is excited to see the final product.
“It’s going to be a great. Paul’s bikes are quite ride-able. We think this bike will be narrow and made to be ridden. He makes the kind of bikes that make someone want to get a motorcycle. I think I’m going to want to take it home for
Myself,” Zach lamented. Zach and the crew at J&P love customization.
The bikes that you see out at the J&P transporters are actually their daily drivers when they’re on the road, so they know what it takes to maintain a hard-ridden bike.
“If there’s one thing we want our customers to know, it’s that we’re structured to get their parts to them in as soon as two work days, including consumables like tires and oil. We like working with builders because we want people feel comfortable working on their own motorcycles, and show them what they can do with bolt-on parts. We have 35 techs on staff ready for calls every day… They can walk you through an oil change or rebuilding your engine.”
Follow Paul and the J&P Cycles Giveaway bike at bareknucklechoppers.com/ and #JPUltimateBuilder and
#BareKnuckleChoppers on Instagram and Twitter.