Article By: Chris Callen
Photos By: Chad Murphy
The Limpnickie Lot in Sturgis this year was off the hook. Not only did we have the new “Johnny Chop Memorial Hill Climb” but several new members were in town for the big digs. As I sat there looking around at the chaos that is anaverage week at a rally with the lot, a bright yellow and purple metallic Shovelhead came flying by with a young dude dressed in skate clothes on it doing rear wheel brake slides like it was a pedal bike. Oh yeah, that was the scene man and the bike, you guessed it, this month’s cover that you’re looking at right here.
Dale is his name and the shop he built is called Mad Jap Kustoms. His style suggests that he’s from a different generation but his story tells us of a cat that grew up in the traditions that make this thing real.
Originally from Vancouver, Dale is a 3rd generation Japanese immigrant to Canada. His father hung around all the MC club guys back when you couldn’t be in a club if you were Japanese but all his buddies were in and they used to call him “The Mad Jap.” This was the environment Dale grew up in. This influence became clear to him as he got a little older and started to travel to regional events with his BMX career and there would be like 15 one-percenters with him for support. He says that was the kind of thing that just sticks with you and the lessons of respect and how things should be are still with him to this day. His old man was a truck driver so this left Dale with great flexibility to develop his own independence as well. He remembers traveling what would have been an hour and a half car ride, by BMX bike to hit a skate park as a kid, and this included some highway travel. It would prove to be good practice later on as he began to travel all over Western Canada and the United States for BMX events and later still, when he turned to road racing. He told me about his first fast street bike, of course like most of us, it came from a decision involving how much money he had to spend; not much was the bottom line. He saw a fully polished GSXR 750 and it was just within his price range. In about two weeks from the time he bought it, he was doing stand up wheelies and racing on the street. Dale was so fast that his friends told him he needed to take it to the track before he killed himself. In his first race, he managed to pass 40 other beginner racers and lapped the entire pack in seven laps giving him the victory. He was onto something; he was a natural at it and he loved it. Racing, he said, is something that just consumes you, and that’s what it did to his life. He began to eat, breathe and live life at the track.
At around the ten year mark, he got to the level where he had to consider what the next step in his career would be. He decided that it was getting too corporate and just wasn’t fun anymore, so he quit. It would be nearly a year before he’d get the itch to even ride a bike again. When he did, he just couldn’t find one that he wanted; one like he remembered from his dad and their friends. He would visit shops and explain what he was looking for. The shop owners would come back and ask him why he wanted mid- controls because they were gay, or they’d tell him how much cooler a 300 series rear tire would be rather than the 130 he wanted to go with. So frustrating was the prospect that he eventually gave up and decided to just build his own.
The next two bikes he came up with lasted only long enough to get finished and take their first show or two before someone would buy them. This was when Dale finally hung his shingle. Mad Jap would begin as an underground operation in 2006 and he was picking up speed like crazy. The same type of all consuming passion as he found in racing was happening in building bikes but it was different. He had found something inside himself that just drove him to do more. Like many of us, his father was his biggest fan and sadly, just six months before he established the company legitimately, his dad passed away. Of course, when it came time to officially name the shop, he did it in a way that would honor his father.
Mad Jap was up and running but the hard times were far from being over. In 2008, Dale was hit by a car and left paralyzed. His back was broken in three places, his pelvis in four and his left leg was severely disfigured. He spent two weeks in intensive care in a coma and came home months later unable to walk, unable to build a bike. At the time, he had deposits on six bike builds that he had to refund and nearly lost everything in the process of rehabilitating himself. He got to the point where he had sold everything and was at the end of his rope. Sitting around in a funk, he realized that he had to build another bike, he had no choice.
The prospect of doing the work from a wheelchair was hard enough, propping himself up at the lathe or the mill was another thing entirely, but doing it all with no idea what was going to happen to his future, well that is the thing heroes are made from. As he was nearing the end of that build, another customer came in with a deposit. It would give Dale enough funds to keep going with Funk Master and keep the doors open. Another came after that, and after Funk Master made its first showing, more orders came in and they never stopped ever since. The only downside it seemed he had to deal with from those days was when he went to turn in the wheelchair, once he no longer needed it. The company refused to take it back and charged him for its replacement. Apparently, overspray from his metallic paint and the wear of it being in the shop just didn’t fit their needs as well as it did his.
So what about this bike you ask? Well baby, there’s not a whole lot that is left to say except DAMN! This thing is king pimp from front to back. There are all kinds of tasty little details to feast your eyes on like the speed drilled brackets and mounts, crazy combinations of different metals and applications of them. There are influences from hot rods, skate boarding, BMX and the wickedest old school flavors. It is beautifully intricate and simple at the same time, and is the height of what I believe our generation is striving for. Dale has enough experience with racing that his bikes are built with function at the forefront of what he does and you can tell from the parts and application on Funk Master. This isn’t a trailer queen even though it is a show winner. Trust me, I’ve seen it in action, this bike will get down and dirty with the best of ‘em.
Finishes like deep metalflake purple and gold paint, funky cartoon type lettering and the use of plaid here and there go to make the statement that this is NOT a bike like another cat built, this is a Mad Jap Kustom. Anodized parts and powdercoated pieces next to polished aluminum and blacked-out pipes have been done to such a degree of planning that not one thing looks out of place or as if it were too much. In my eyes, this may have been one of the finest builds I’ve seen from the next generation and we couldn’t be happier to have it on our “Year in Review Issue” for 2010.
I asked Dale how he felt looking back over everything he’s been through and his reply was simply this: “You never know how things will turn out. You just have to ask yourself, do you love it enough to keep doing it no matter what?” And therein lays the secret to a full and happy life with the motorcycle. Happy 2011, and may we all find the treasure in this man’s simple quote for the upcoming year!
Funk Master Tech Sheet
Owner: Sheldon Bower
city: Calgary Alberta Canada
fabrication By: Mad Jap Kustoms
model: Mad Jap Hardtail
time: 4 Months
Year: 1972 model: Shovel Builder: HD Ignition: Electronic
Displacement: 74” Pistons: Stock HD heads: Stock HD cam(s): Stock HD carb: Super B w/ a TJ
air cleaner: 1929 Ford Horn
exhaust: Mad Jap
make: Swap Meet Special
shifting: 6 Speed
Year: 2009 make: Mad Jap rake: 30
type: Springer Builder: extension: 4 Under
front Wheel: 40 Spoke Spool
tire: Avon Speedmaster Brakes: What’s That? rear Wheel: 40 Spoke size: 16”
Brakes: Some Times They Work
Painter: Mad Jap
color: Purple and a Pinch of Gold
type: House Of Kolor
Graphics: Gold Leafing and One Shot molding: Ya Mean On My Car?? chroming: We Won’t Go There…
Bars: I Copied A Set I Saw Online
hand controls: Jaybrake Gas tank(s): Indian Larry front fender: Are Gay!!
rear fender: Cut Up Fat Front Swap Meet
seat: My Attempt At It
foot controls: Mad Jap
mirrors: They’re Hangin’ Out With The Front Brake
Oil tank: Good Friend Phil headlight: 4.5 Spot taillight: Nope
speedo: I’m A Boxer Kinda Guy
Photography By: Chad Murphy
Mad Jap Kustoms
Calgary, Alberta 403-803-3049