Custom Harley Motorcycle News: Big Bear Choppers Titanium

Ti1SAN BERNARDINO, CA, March 13, 2013 – Big Bear Choppers today introduced the TITANIUM, a completely new design for 2013 that reinvents the type of motorcycles that Big Bear Choppers offers to consumers. With improved suspension, braking, different fairings, a completely new exhaust system, and carbon fiber components, the TITANIUM takes the philosophy of an FXR style motorcycle and takes it to the next level. Big Bear Choppers working with Yoshimura will also introduce a new line of custom parts for Harley-Davidson Sportsters including new exhausts and fenders. Big Bear Choppers will have the TITANIUM and its new BBC/Yoshimura parts line at Daytona BIke Week, March 8-17, 2013.


Next Trend In Custom Motorcycling

I just got back from the Indianapolis Dealer Expo, where an odd thing happened to me. As you’ll read in the article, American Iron was the sponsor of the Expo’s first-ever Ultimate Dealer Bike Show. The awards ceremony was held on the last day of the expo, and the audience consisted of many accomplished builders in our industry, as well as their co-workers, friends, and family. At one point, I was asked to go up on stage and talk about what I thought the next trend in custom motorcycling would be. Normally, I don’t have any trouble speaking about this since I’m always watching where things are going as I look for new bikes to feature. However, this time it felt all wrong. But the reason why didn’t hit me until later that night. Whenever I’ve spoken about this in the past, it was to people attending the show. This time I was speaking to the guys that built the bikes in the show! That’s a totally different gig. When I got the microphone, instead of telling them where I thought things were going, I should have been asking them. After all, these are the guys designing the bikes and doing the building. These are the guys deciding where the custom bike industry is headed. Want to see what’s the next trend in custom bikes? Just read AIM because I’ll be watching what the builders create and bringing the best of their work to you in the pages of American Iron Magazine.

Chris’ Travel Tips
In keeping with the theft protection theme of previous issues, here’s another one for when you’re staying at a hotel overnight. Back in the day, when I travelled on a narrow chopper, I always rented a ground-floor room in a cheap motel, so I could roll the bike right into the room. Back then, we didn’t have alarm systems on our bikes. Heck, we didn’t even have key switches, just a couple of toggle switches: one for ignition and one for lights. Nowadays, I doubt you’re going to be able to pull that one off with a modern stock H-D. The next best thing, of course, is to park the bike right outside your first-floor room’s window and set the alarm. Thankfully, I do see quite a few guys do this with their bikes. It’s not as secure as having the bike by your bed, but it does make it a lot easier to get around the room!

See you on the road.
Chris Maida

Keino Cycles Custom Harley Motorcycle, Blazing Saddle

Sure, he’s got a last name (Sasaki). So does Madonna. And Bono. And Sting. And Cher. (Well, maybe not her). But who cares? If you’re reading this magazine and the name Keino doesn’t ring-a-ding-ding in your skull, then you probably shouldn’t be reading this magazine.

Mr. Sasaki. No, that’s not right. Keino is known as one of the four major players behind the Indian Larry Legacy. The others (as you should be well aware) are/were Paul Cox and Bobby and Elisa Seeger. In 2008, Keino, Paul, Bobby, and Elisa split ways. No bad blood.

At that time Keino Cycles was born. But everything wasn’t always easy for our mono-monikered friend. (Don’t worry, we’ll get to this stunning bike in a moment.) After a somewhat charmed life growing up in Japan, riding small-bore machines, and being schooled by his dad, a motorcyclist, sculptor, and general craftsman, Keino shot himself across the Pacific to Arizona and attended MMI (Motorcycle Mechanics Institute). That’s when trouble began. But you’d never hear that from Keino because, despite his star status, he’s a remarkably humble, sharp-as-hell, soft-spoken guy. Essentially, face-to-face, if you don’t dig Keino, the problem is yours.

After graduating from MMI, Keino sent out a flurry of applications to various H-D dealerships. The one that picked him happened to be a now-defunct joint in Brooklyn, New York. “They told me to come for an interview,” Keino recalls. “I don’t think I understood. I thought that meant I had the job.”

So, feeling his place was secure (and, luckily, it turned out straight), Keino packed clothes, tools, most of his life, and old Shovelhead into a U-Haul and headed across country to New York City. “I didn’t know anyone there,” he says. “But I didn’t know anyone anywhere, and Brooklyn seemed a bit exotic — at least interesting.”

Given short funds, Keino chose a $70-a-week apartment in East New York. For those who don’t know NYC, East New York is about as rough as you can get. “It was super, super ghetto,” Keino admits in his charming way. “Hookers, pushers everywhere. Gunshots every night.”

And then there was the neighborhood bonfire. One bucolic evening, Keino met a friend at a bar. When he returned home, he saw flames and thought maybe his ’hood was having a celebration. Then he got a bit closer.

“My bike was on fire,” Keino says with total nonchalance, as if some pal had just picked a French fry off his plate. They #@&%in’ torched his Shovel! Welcome to New York! Or, at least East NY.

With that greeting behind him, Keino moved forward and eventually found himself at forgotten New York City’s Soho hotspot American Dream Machine. That’s where he met Indian Larry. “I didn’t know who he was when he introduced himself to me,” Keino remembers. “I was hired as a mechanic and I did everything. Sweep the floors — whatever. People think Larry showed me how to do everything. No. That’s not how it was. He and everybody else were busy doing their own $#!%. Larry was my great friend and my mentor. From time to time, he would come over and give me advice, and you had to pick up on that advice. Why is this happening? What is wrong? No answers. What do you think? If you worked anywhere near him, you had to think.”

Currently, Keino is working alone and not thinking at all. Stop! You know that’s a lie. Keino’s gig is now out of Red Hook (another rollicking NYC area), and he lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He’s also a wanted man — because he’s so damn good.

For instance, take a look at this bike.

Take another look.

If you don’t immediately spot that singular, head-to-head, springer front end then your glasses need to be replaced with a telescope.

“I don’t claim I’m the originator of this style,” Keino says. “I have a collection of ’60s and ’70s magazines, and I’m sure people back in the day did it, but I haven’t seen it around lately.” Neither have I. Or, likely, you. “It was usually just one spring instead of two to make it super skinny. I know Ron Finch used to make a lot of single springers. I just love the tightness and skinniness of them, but I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of one spring, so I set two in line.

That way I get the best of both. I didn’t make it too skinny because if I did, then I couldn’t run a brake and whatnot. If it were my bike I’d run a spooled wheel and go super-skinny.

“I’ve had this idea for about seven or eight years now, and I finally just did it. But I’m not selling it to just anyone because I have a small shop, and I don’t want to be doing front ends all the time. I’d lose my mind. I like to work on all parts of the motorcycle. I don’t want to be known as the front end guy so I’m not pushing it. It’s an exclusive to the bikes I build myself.” The fact that Keino, with his good taste, would allow this ride to be called Blazing Saddles … well, let’s not touch that.

Back to the bike. It was originally inspired by Indian Larry’s iconic Grease Monkey. “The customer wanted me to do a replica and that’s when I told him that doing replicas doesn’t inspire me,” Keino cops. “This is my version of Grease Monkey. As much as I know S&S motors are very reliable, just as Larry, Paul, and I always did, I take them apart and put them back together, if only to keep educating myself. Sometimes, I discover something new and cool inside, and sometimes I see something that I think I could do better. I’m constantly learning.” Keino is self-taught. But he tips his hat to Paul and he gives it up to Larry. Huge.

And his business is on fire. Not his old Shovel. That’s already smoked. AIM

Words by Sam Whitehead, photos by Bob Feather


Story as published in the August 2011 issue of American Iron Magazine. Get back issues of this and many other AIM issues at!

American Iron News: Big Dog Closing Rumors

The blogs and forums are buzzing today with the topic of Big Dog Closing. According to the Wichita Eagle, “The company cut 10 production workers and now has 22 employees, company president Mike Simmons said today. He said the company hasn’t made any motorcycles since last year and is now filling orders for parts and other supplies.”

Blogs and Big Dog rider forums are also getting heavy traffic on the subject. No news on their website or facebook pages at the time of this post. Most blogs are posting that the future will be a form of parts making for existing models for now.More details to follow.Read more: