My new Cycle World came in the mail today and one of the first things that grabbed my attention was this full-spread ad from Yamaha. That’s my man James Stewart on the right… contemplating a 2010 Supercross Championship!
As far as I’m concerned… January is only good for one thing and that’s the kickoff of the AMA Supercross season… and tomorrow night is the night. Anaheim, California will be rockin’ with the best off-road riders in the world and if you have SPEED channel you can see all the exciting action LIVE beginning at 9:00PM (Central). Will you be watching? I CAN’T WAIT!
Since 2003 the motorcycle industry as a whole has received a huge visibility boost courtesy of The Discovery Channel’s (and later TLC’s) reality based show American Chopper. The wildly popular show chronicles the day-to-day operations of Orange County Choppers, a custom motorcycle shop located in Newburgh, New York. Of course, unless you have been under a rock for the past few years you already know this… and you also know that besides manufacturing some of the most incredibly detailed theme bikes in the world, part of what has made the show so interesting is the often tumultuous relationship between father and son owners Paul Teutul and Paul Jr. Things have gotten so bad that Paul Jr has now left OCC to launched his own design company Paul Jr. Designs.
I recently caught up with him to discuss his past with OCC, his future with Paul Jr. Designs and a few other things.
SWAG: I’ve often wondered what you were like growing up. Were you a good kid or one of those troublemakers?
PAUL: I was a pretty good kid. I hated school but loved my friends.
SWAG: What were your interests back then and what was your family life like?
PAUL: I was always very curious about how things worked and I enjoyed sports and building things. I had a pretty dysfunctional upbringing due to the fact that my father was a heavy drinker. Only by the grace of God am I.
SWAG: At what point did you become interested in motorcycles?
PAUL: I didn’t become interested in motorcycles until about 18. I was always around them but not that interested. Growing up we always had quads instead of motorcycles but my first motorcycle was a Yamaha RZ 350… it was a 2 stroke. I eventually sold it, but bought another one just like it and still have it to this day.
SWAG: By the time we were all introduced to you on TV you had already developed a keen eye for design and the ability to make your visions reality. What were some key things in your life that brought you to that place and honed those skills and when did you know you had the gift of design or that it would be your life’s passion?
PAUL: I was exposed to motorcycles at such a young age, but again had little interest. I had worked in the steel business for 10 years prior to television and then had the opportunity to have creative freedom with building motorcycles. Only then did I realize my God given creative abilities and started really exploring what I was capable of.
SWAG: OCC got a huge shot in the arm when Discovery began broadcasting a behind the scenes look at your business. How did the relationship between OCC and Discovery begin? Did they approach you guys or did you take the show idea to them?
PAUL: Discovery was looking for a motorcycle reality show on the east coast. They asked the co-executive producer of Survivor to find the show and he looked online, found us and almost immediately we began filming. We had no intention of having a show and we had no idea the phenomenon it would become.
SWAG: In the past 10 years you have designed some of the most recognized custom bikes in the world. Is there one that you are particularly proud of?
PAUL: Always what comes to mind is the Black Widow. It was the first bike for the series and not only is it one of my favorites; it seems to be a huge fan favorite as well.
SWAG: You experienced a tremendous amount of fame at a relatively young age. How has that affected your personal life?
PAUL: The good part about fame is you gain some financial freedom, become a role model and have the ability to have a positive impact on people around the world. Fortunately for me, I’ve lived in the same town all my life so I think that adds to the normalcy. The down side is that you lose your privacy and anonymity.
SWAG: You have worked with your father for a couple of decades. How does it make you feel to be on your own and calling all the shots now?
PAUL: It feels really good to be on my own, in my own company. I still own a part of OCC, so technically I own two companies. With that said there are a tremendous amount of challenges as well as expenses in starting a company, but I’ve been fortunate enough to have some unbelievable clients.
SWAG: Your volatile relationship with your father has been laid out there for anyone with a TV and a cable connection to see. First, how much of the rough side we see on TV is reality and how much of it is edited for the sake of a good show? And second, do you see a time when you might work with your father again? Would you ever consider going back to OCC?
PAUL: In the past our arguments, though always intense, could seem more frequent then they really were due to the obvious desire in production to use every one of them in the show. I wish I could say the fights were staged, but unfortunately that’s not the case and that’s exactly why I can’t see us working together in the same capacity. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I have been forced out of the situation, in spite of my ownership interest. I think my brother Michael said it best when he said, “It would take an act of God to get us back together.”
SWAG: It appeared that you and Vinnie DiMartino had a close relationship. Just out of curiosity do you have contact with him now?
PAUL: Me and Vinnie were very close. We grew up in the same town and went to school together. I see him on occasion, but our relationship is not what it used to be.
SWAG: By the way… the new website www.pauljrdesings.com looks great. It also looks like a lot of work… it’s very intense!
PAUL: The new website was very time consuming and continues to be time consuming as it is always changing.
PAUL: It was important to me for the Paul Jr. Designs logo to be as good, if not better than the OCC logo I created many years ago. The idea behind the logo was to use my new company name, Paul Jr. Designs, and integrate it into the logo itself. I figured the “JR” that makes up the crown would be appropriate because that distinguishes me from my father, even though technically I’m not a junior. As far as integrating the “JR” into the crown, it took both me and Rachael (Ed Note: Paul’s better half) to figure out how to make that work. I am extremely excited about the new logo and feel like it is diverse enough to be used on a variety of things.
SWAG: The new Coleman 10 Year Anniversary Grill you created is a testament to your skills as an innovative designer and to the fact that those skills are not just limited to motorcycles. How did the Coleman relationship come about and was your approach different with a non-motorcycle project?
PAUL: Being that the idea behind Paul Jr. Designs was to expand my work into new products, the transition from bike to grill was a no brainer. We set out to find a company that had a vision for innovation, and Coleman was that company. With ten years of working with some of the top companies in the world, Coleman is up there with the best of the best and they have been phenomenal to work with. I look forward to future projects with them.
SWAG: For a lot of us, you were and will always be the true talent at OCC. I know you are expanding your horizons with other product and that is way cool… but many would be disappointed if you stay completely away from motorcycles. Will we see a Paul Jr. theme bike one day?
PAUL: First of all thank you. As for custom theme bikes, I can’t wait to build the first PJD blown out custom chopper. I think I will find a nice balance between inventing and innovating products that are both practical and affordable, including building tricked out custom bikes for individuals and corporations. The future is a very exciting thing!
SWAG: Paul, thanks for taking the time to chat. I look forward to seeing what Paul Jr. Designs creates in the future! Any parting words?
PAUL: Thanks so much to the people who have supported me and continue to support me! I hope everyone finds my new company and new direction as exciting as I do.
© 2009 Biker Swag, All Rights Reserved. No part of this article/interview may be reproduced in any format without express written permission.
Since I live in Music City, USA, the home of country music, and a big portion of my work is music related… I guess you could say I have an interest in Country Music. That’s why I noticed that Harley-Davidson recently posted a YouTube video that highlights the Academy of Country Music’s Chairman’s Ride that took place back in April. The annual event which coincides with the ACM Awards Show and benefits the Lifting Lives Charity brought out a number of big-name stars and this year Willie G. himself even participated. Check out the video below.
Oh, and as a side note… the bike that James Otto is riding (Silver Road Glide with orange wheels) is one that I photographed back in 2008 at a local dealership. A pretty cool, high-dollar one-off…
Every year I look forward to the annual “Spring Thaw Bike Show and Swap Meet” held in Shelbyville, Tennessee and the 2009 version (7th annual) is happening this Saturday April 4th. My buddy Scooter over at Both Barrels Promotions has done a fantastic job of building this show over the years and I hear that this year there will be more bikes and vendors than ever before.
You gotta check it out… there are classes for literally every kind of bike (I’ve never been to any show where they give out more trophy’s) plus the best of show will receive $1,000 cash plus a spot on the cover of a future Thunder Roads Tennessee magazine and… my favorite class… the Low-Buck Chopper class winner will take home $500!
If you are close to Middle Tennessee this weekend, I hope you will come check it out… BTW, I am one of the judges this year so be nice to me! Ha!
For more info visit www.BothBarrelsPromotions.com.
Two subjects that I make a point to avoid on my RANT are motorcycle accidents and politics. There are plenty of other sites out there that more than cover both of these subjects and frankly I have no desire to show you pictures of two-wheeled crashes or engage you in the the Obama pros and cons.
Having said all of that, there is a politcal issue that I feel I need to help get the word out about. It seems our Government has once again employed the “ready-fire-aim” process they are famous for and on February 10, 2009 enacted the “Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act” (CPSIA). This act was well intentioned but was passed before it was thought through.
Part of the act is the lead content standards for children six years or older. That’s a good thing if you are talking about toy cars that can be put in the mouth… but a bad thing if you are talking about a 50cc motorcycle.
Because of CPSIA, the small powersports industry has all but been shut down. Thankfully, Missouri State Rep Tom Self is fighting to save the future of small powersports but your help is needed. A petition has been started to approve a waiver for the small powersports industry.
If you are so inclined, please follow the link below and add your name to the petition. It’s quick and easy and the future of small powersports is at risk.
Below is a video put together by the AMA on the subject. You can also visit their site about this subject by CLICKING HERE.
Man… I am totally pumped that the “Dark Months” are about to come to an end and frankly it’s not a minute too soon. I’ve reached my limit. The weather this winter has been worse than usual in Middle Tennessee and because of that I’ve only put in a little over 500 miles since Thanksgiving. More often than not during that time period my bikes have looked like the picture above… tucked away in the garage and under cover. It’s a horrible feeling for a “Certified Bike Nut” like me but it’s all about to change. Very soon I will be greeted with longer days, warm breezes and sunshine… and my 8 month binge of motorcycle madness a.k.a. “riding season” will bring my intermittently sucky attitude back in check.
I am ready and the bikes are ready too… including their ever finicky batteries. Despite the fact that the batteries in these two bikes have been sitting idle much of the time over the past few months, they have remained fully charged and ready to crank. How can this be you may ask? Easy… A few years ago I discovered the Deltran Battery Tender and have been using them since. If you don’t have one, you should get one. They are around $30 and I’ve seen them on sale for as low as $24. Regardless of how much you pay for one, it is well worth it. The Battery Tender constantly monitors the charge in your battery and if needed trickle charges it back to an appropriate level. That means longer battery life. And it couldn’t be easier to use. All you do attach one end to the battery and the other to a wall plug and let it do its thing. The Battery Tender even comes with a quick disconnect plug (see the last picture) that allows you to plug in and start monitoring in about 60 seconds.
I’m not sure how this RANT turned into a Battery Tender commercial but the bottom line is that if you have a vehicle that is not operated on a daily basis (anything from motorcycles to classic cars to riding lawn mowers and more) you should have one. And if anyone from Battery Tender reads this… feel free to send me product in exchange for this glowing review! Ha!
No time for riding this weekend… too busy for sure… but I did waste some time on-line and found this cool video. It’s called “Motorcycle Reel” and was apparently produced by a company called Fuel360Productions. Lot’s of cool bikes and lots of high profile motorcycle people including the legendary Indian Larry. It even features one of my favorite Cheryl Crow tunes… but my favorite part of this video is the shot of the videographer at about 1:07… good grief man! It’s a quick shot but if you look closely you’ll see that this guy earned his pay on this day!