Cutting Edge Illusions – Custom Paint Feature

MotorcycleUSA Staff | May 8, 2015
Custom paint. It catches the eye, causes you to stop and pause, to look hard and notice details that are only revealed after closer inspection. It’s the trademark of some of the best builders out there, industry stalwarts like Arlen Ness, Dave Perewitz, and Rick Fairless. Like tattoos, a custom paint job reflects the personality of its owner, and in the custom bike world can be the difference between simply placing or walking away with “Best of Show” hardware.Cutting Edge Illusions has been cutting its teeth in the custom motorcycle world since 2004. It began small, a little shop out of Eugene, Oregon, slowly building a reputation spraying bikes. Cutting Edge paid their dues, from long days in small booths at hot rallies to pounding pavement at shows like SEMA. But when you do top-notch work, reputation will grow. Next thing you know your work is being featured in magazines like Easyrider and Hot Bike, demand for your services grows, and a company flourishes.

Because Cutting Edge Illusions has flourished since Solomon Harris took control of the company in 2008. The business now occupies two 17,000 square-foot warehouses, along with another equally big warehouse a few blocks away. While it still specializes and prides itself on custom painting motorcycles, its portfolio has expanded astronomically. During our visit, it had about ten motorcycle projects in the works, from touch ups on an Indian to a disassembled pro streeter whose various parts were hanging in the infrared drying booth. In the prep area nearby, a Volkswagen bus was being hand-sanded while a Porsche whose owner pulled the engine and installed an electric motor and a fleet of batteries was next in line for the Cutting Edge treatment. Beyond that, an SLSA-class plane sat in a big booth, its fresh red paint gleaming against white wings. Cutting Edge has a contract with Vans, an Aurora, Oregon-based business who is the largest kit plane manufacturer. In the next hanger over, an RV was going under the gun. Then there’s the arrangement with Far West Steel whereby Cutting Edge Illusions paints industrial steel and their fleet vehicles. The company has indeed come a long way from its humble beginnings.

It is their attention to detail and willingness to give customers exactly what they want that have a hand in the company’s success. It starts as soon as you walk through the door. The design team works with you personally to nail down the specifics. Some come in with sketches in hand. Others shop from the pages and pages of themes Cutting Edge has already painted for inspiration. Their resident artist, Mike Vary, is up for doing preliminary sketches. They’ve also got color spray cards so you can see first-hand what the paint looks like beyond a computer screen. Cutting Edge sets up online customer accounts so they can see each step of the process and will work with them along the way to ensure their paint job comes out exactly how customers want.

Because it is quite a process. Parts are primed and sanded before any work is done. If a job requires, tape-line mock-ups of graphics are done and a spot prime is done on pinstripes and such. Sealer is applied to fill in holes and scratches, and the surface is inspected to make sure it’s smooth and ready for the base coat. There’s a tight 24 to 72 hour window after the base coat is sprayed to get it clear coated. For Kandy’s and complex designs, an inner clear coat is used to control color bleed, manage edges, and for added protection. Cutting Edge is painting our 2004 Sportster project bike with a color blend, Red Kandy to Black, which will get six to eight coats of Red Kandy alone. Next comes a double application of final clear before its undergoes show finish, where it’s polished and buffed with 1200, 1500 or 3000 grit until it is custom show quality. Then the pieces are wrapped in fleece fabric for shipping and encased with spray foam for shipping.

A prime example of Cutting Edge Illusion’s attention to detail is a Street Glide in the shop with extensive damage. The motorcycle already had a custom paint job the owner liked. A lot. So he wants Cutting Edge to redo the entire bike with the exact same paint scheme and graphics. It’s an intricate pattern comprised of various shades and multi-colored striping. A daunting task, but one Cutting Edge is willing to tackle.

“One of the things that makes us unique here at Cutting Edge is the fact that if you have a custom painted chopper, bike or whatever it may be, you take a spill and it gets damaged, most shops won’t touch it. Right now we have a bagger with a custom paint job and what we’ve got to try and do now is figure out what the Kandy is, match that, do the layout, match all the different airbrush techniques and get it back to its original condition,” said shop manager David Sebold.

With an extensive inventory of colors in its mixing bank and a team of skilled craftsman, Cutting Edge has the means to pull off a nigh impossible task.

In addition to custom painting motorcycles, CE Illusions also does their own line of fiberglass parts in-house. They’ve been making items for Harley’s V-Rod for ten years now, from fenders to stylish ram air box covers. They make stretched saddlebags for Harley FLH models as well. The bags are contoured in the rear and add almost two to three inches of length at the bottom, making baggers look longer and lower. Their KB4 model fits 1993 to 2013 FLH models while the KB5 fits 2014 models with Rushmore-style hardware. Cutting Edge also makes stretched rear fenders that match the styling of their bags. They also offer custom lighting kits, the standard set consisting of a 10-inch LED tube back-mounted in the filler panel. It comes with a module so the LEDs function as run, brake and turn signals. Cooler yet, they can do hidden lighting systems which shine through artwork. The area to be illuminated is masked out with a Plexiglass piece serving as a heat-treated lens. The mask is then pulled off allowing the light to shine through the artwork. Certain colors like silver and white allow more color through. Cutting Edge recently got back from a trip to Daytona Beach Bike Week where it set up at the Speedway to showcase its new Harley Project Rushmore saddlebags and custom painting abilities.

We’re big fans of the work Cutting Edge Illusions does. In fact, the Sportster 1200 is the third project they’ve helped us with. The first was a 2009 Honda CBR600RR they did a paint scheme on inspired by Freddie Spencer’s 500GP championship-winning NSR500, taking it to another level with ghost flames in the red and white and subtle raindrops in the blue. They also painted our 2011 Honda Fury project bike in an awesome old school gold metal flake with ultra-clean pinstriping. Cutting Edge joked gold metal flake was all over the painting booth weeks after the project. Now they’re working their magic for us a third time, applying a color blend on our 2004 Sportster 1200C project bike, a Kandy Red that melds into black. Similar to the ghost flames on the CBR, a subtle smoky effect will be laid over the blend, black on the Kandy Red area that seethes into red smoke in the black areas. Wicked.

Whereby some paints shops might hesitate to tackle painstaking projects, Cutting Edge Illusions attacks them head on without flinching.

“If paint will stick to it, we’ll paint it,” said Cutting Edge owner Solomon Harris. After seeing motorcycles, a plane, RVs, a VW bus, an electric Porsche and medical equipment all being sprayed in-house during our visit, we believe you Solomon, we believe.

Cutting Edge Illusions – Custom Painters

Mike Vary shows the steady hand a professional airbrush artist needs. Our 2004 Harley Sportster XL1200C all stripped down as its tank  fenders and covers headed up the road to Eugene to be custom painted by Cutting Edge Illusions. Parts off an Indian Motorcycle are one of about 10 custom motorcycle projects Cutting Edge Illusions had in the works during our visit.
Planes  RVs  motorcycles  cars  industrial steel  medical parts - if paint will stick to it  Cutting Edge Illusions will paint it. The owner of the pro streeter with the Dark Matter paint job wanted just one skull on his motorcycle. Cutting Edge Illusions shop manager David Sebold can spray with the best of them.