Wrench Against The Machine

Article By: Chris Callen

Originally Published In The February 2017 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

I was made aware of a new motorcycle television show that was coming out on the Esquire Network last month and had heard that it would be garage builder based. I immediately got excited to see how it would come off, but even more so when I learned that some of my good friends would be on the second episode. The premise of the show is two teams. Three days. Three grand. Make it beautiful, and make it GO. The whole idea cane out of a place called the Skidmark Garage in Cleveland, Ohio. Owned and operated by Brian Schaffran, Skidmark is a communal garage where anyone with any motorcycle project can come and rent time in a facility where the tools, I the lifts and even experienced staff are at your disposal. Two teams were assembled and in grand fashion two identical bikes are unveiled for each team to base their build from. In the case of episode number two, since our tech editor Will Ramsey was on the team including Jody Perewitz of Perewitz Cycle Fab and led by Kevin Dunworth of Loaded Gun Customs, that bike was a Sportster.

“Once we saw that we got a Sportster to work with we were more excited! American power is our forte. Kevin wanted to give the bike an aggressive stance with higher shocks, converting belt drive to chain, changing handlebars, a cool paint job of course, and a few other things. Immediately Will stepped in to start fabricating. He built a bad ass exhaust in a short amount of time. Kevin got some new handlebars that later we found out would not work. Will decided he would build a set of bars with some scraps we found lying around the garage! Things were moving along. JP”

Since the teams had to build on a tight budget, three thousand dollars to be exact, they really couldn’t get too over the top with their plans. They would have to manage time, money, abilities, strengths and weaknesses to get it done and have a chance.

“Within the first 24 hours I could immediately feel the pressure of being an East Coast boy on the West Coast. KD”

At the same time, they all wanted to showcase their abilities but in the end, anything they did would be put to the test. For the judging portion, Roland Sands, Alan of Revival Cycles and Wooley of Deus Machina would not only judge the bikes aesthetics but they actually took them out and tried to destroy them. These cats are all hard riders and if a bike from this show was gonna make the cut, it was gonna have to run.

“That’s where I felt the show kept the integrity of all this, they care about functionality and rideability more than they did the aesthetics. Function was a big part of the show. WR”

All of this went down with what might be considered a limited number of tools. In keeping with the trend today that so much of what makes the custom motorcycle community is happening in the “Garage Builder” arena now, this was a double-edged sword. On one hand, it encouraged people to put their hands on these machines and make it happen. For our poor friends, who have more tooling available at their own shops, it was somewhat problematic.

“Well, I did say that if they gave me a flapper wheel and an acetylene torch I could hold my own…. But the limited tooling didn’t really bother me. Our team just kept the same standards we would in our own shops and didn’t do anything that would be out of reach with what we had, we didn’t cut the frame all apart just for the sake of being portrayed as radical. WR”

Like most motorcycle TV shows, the drama was there a bit, you could understand since the time, the short money and the team factors all played into it, but I’d say it wasn’t too bad all in all. I know how things get in our shop when it’s a few of us working at times with no cameras involved and only self-imposed deadlines.

“In the final hours, assembly of the bike started taking precedence. It was all hands on deck with Jody running for some last-minute parts for our chain conversion. The pressure of the clock with the cameras at all angles became super intense. KD”

If the timeline didn’t get them then the lack of sleep would. You see, this was seventy-two hours of straight building. If one of the team needed a break there was a little room off to the side of the shop set up for naps. Other than that, the clock only stopped for food, and that was only because the camera guys had to eat too. They went around the clock and were constantly reminded of where they stood as far as the clock.

“In the end, I know that Kevin, Will and I put in all we had, we wrenched, painted, fabricated, got no sleep, ran out of money, had camera’s in our face 24/7 and managed to come out on top. Regardless of winning or losing. It was a great experience! JP”

In the end, they did win and for that win not only did they do themselves proud in front of the viewing audience but Kevin, as team leader, got to take his bike AND the other teams bike home with him. Not too bad for a few days work huh? But seriously, the fact that they are trying to give people a look inside of the garages that these creations come from, I tip my hat to them. So, tune in and give it a watch, the network is Esquire and you can hit their FaceBook at Wrench Against the Machine for dates and times. Congratulations to both teams from episode two and as for you, keep your eyes peeled as we will have a feature on the winning bike from that episode and hopefully a visit to the shop where it all went down in upcoming issues.

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