In today's culture, many people follow a path that I'm going to define as fad surfers, jumping headlong into the latest trend. They appear cool and relevant, wear all the latest fashions, hang out at exclusive, swanky clubs and drive leased Hummers. They might prefer a good pinot over a PBR--hell, they might not even know what PBR is, for that matter. Part of chasing their American dream is filling store-bought, ripped jeans with greenbacks. It doesn't seem to matter to TV audiences that many of the custom, celebrity-builder bikes catch fire and break down with regularity. That just makes good YouTube banter. If it's "cool" and "famous," I guess it doesn't matter if the bike was built by a guy who was selling carpet or computers five years ago before becoming a "master builder."
There's clearly some tongue in cheek involved in the previous paragraph, but it hints at somewhat of a pathogenic condition that's helped dilute and deteriorate the American motorcycle scene. Due to overload and economy, the industry is seeing a culling of the herd--a Darwinian correction of 21st century business. Few are in this business because of the love of riding bikes. I can understand an older guy who traded in his steed for the sake of running his business, but not much of the current crop of "builders" who'd rather refinance than ride. Motorcycling is a passionate endeavor--seems like you get it or you don't.
That sure took a long time to get to the point. Hopefully you stayed with me and will forgive my intro to talk about Ron Simms. He's one of those few men who have the character, charisma and constitution to do just about anything they set their mind to. Luckily for us, he's stayed true to himself and what he loves. Simms Custom Cycles has led the charge in custom motorcycles. Ron didn't succeed over the past four decades by copying what everyone else was doing. He did it his way, gracing the covers of every motorcycle magazine along the way. I have '70s-era Street Chopper mags with Ron's somewhat longer hair blowing in the wind on a radical Hardtail.
Every bike that rolls from Simms' Hayward, California, crew is designed first and foremost for riding. Sure they look good, but function is primary. Their customers demand reliability and performance, and Simms delivers by using only the finest materials, components and time-tested fabrication methods. A businessman can't stay around too long if his rep is crap.
Dennis Robertson wanted more from his stock FLHX--more bling, more wheel, more paint and, most importantly, more power. To say Dennis is a big man is an understatement. Huge might be more appropriate. For get-up-and-go, the top end of the 96er motor was torn off. Heads went to NorCal legend Hannan's to breathe life into the two-cam beast. While new valves were being installed, the cylinders were prepped for the big-bore JE slugs. Wood's bump sticks found a new home inside the cam plate. Keeping with the East Bay theme, a two-into-one single Thunderheader propels the bike like a rocket ship. To get the most power to the Cruise Drive tranny, a Pro Clutch was used and housed within the H-D primary.
Depending on at what angle you're looking and lighting conditions, the custom paint laid down by Horst changes color. A whole palette of House of Kolor pigments was sprayed along with some tasty flames throughout the bike. Adding flames diagonally across the Simms saddlebags shows off and highlights their stretched shape. Stuffed snugly under the Simms front fender is a 21-inch Metzeler wrapped around an airy modified three-spoke PM wheel. Flanking the billet hub is a pair of PM four-piston calipers grabbing matching PM rotors. Although the rear wheel is largely obscured by the Simms fender and bags, it's an 18-inch PM unit.
It's a clean and functional custom bagger, with just enough of everything to make it stand out but not so much that it's dripping with chrome doodads. Ron and his shop stand by what they build and are not likely to fade away anytime soon. That's important to consider in today's motorcycle market. Any market for that matter. Don't try to save a buck today and then have the shop that built your scooter disappear at the first sign of trouble. The strong survive; the weak go back to pounding nails. Simms will continue to bring you only our best...till the end. B