One Harley-Davidson retailer, Trev Deeley Motorcycles , with a new angle on the business of commissioned custom work. It’s called TDMC Customs.
Personalizing stock OEM offerings is a traditional rite of passage for Harley-Davidson owners. The factory realizes this and has long since embraced the concept with a lengthy line of Genuine Accessories. But Harley riders have shown a preference for mixing and matching OEM and aftermarket products in their customization—this is often the point where professional custom shops step in. But TDMC Customs aspires to play that role for Trev Deeley Motorcycles customers. TDMC Customs was created to hop-up, refresh or rebuild projects and is ready to go “mild to wild.” Well, maybe not totally wild. “We’re not a full custom shop,” says TDMC Customs Parts Manager Ryan Murphy, “We don’t do crazy mods.”
In fact, TDMC Customs isn’t exactly a standalone entity. Rather, it’s a new onsite division of Vancouver-area Harley-Davidson retailer Trev Deeley Motorcycles, and was created as an in-house branded design centre to focus specifically on the needs of customers who want to personalize their bikes.
Obviously H-D retailers are only too aware of their customers’ tendencies to customize stock Motor Company products and are more than happy to help them personalize their mounts with OEM kit. Typically, a Harley-Davidson store will have a parts manager, a build adviser or, at the very least, a parts catalogue to consult with.
But being more than just helpful parts guys with big books of Genuine Accessories, TDMC Customs will step buyers through mild bolt-on mods or assume a kind of general contractor role on complex builds that might involve sourcing aftermarket goods and services or farmed-out procedures such as, say, frame alterations.
TDMC design consultant Mike Chisholm likens what they’re all about to Warr’s Harley-Davidson of London, England where mind-blowing bespoke Sportster, Big Twin, and V-Rod builds are rolled out seemingly every day, many of which could likely compete in the various classes of the AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building series. Warr’s is definitely “mild to wild” with no holds barred.
Whether or not TDMC Customs will follow in lockstep to the Warr’s beat remains to be seen but the only real limitation to where they’re willing to go is likely dictated by the preferences and budgets of customers themselves.
Murphy says that at any given time TDMC Customs has five to 10 custom builds on the bench, with customers generally spending in the $10,000 range on mainly Softails and Dynas.
Murphy and Chisholm also spearhead the “dealer builds” found on the Trev Deeley Motorcycle retail floor. These are standard models customized by management request to showcase the stock product and inspire customers to fill in their own blank canvasses.
Many of the subsequent customer-directed build requests lean toward the current super-hot café racer category or the so-called “club style” Dynas. And where the Dyna and Touring family mods are typically performance oriented—especially in terms of suspension upgrades—the majority of Sportster builds tend to be aesthetics driven and lower budget. “New riders are more hesitant to go into a full build,” says Murphy.
As for the V-Rod, it’s a member of the Harley-Davidson family that is rarely brought in for a custom treatment. “The V-Rod is unique part of our family,” says Murphy, who admits there is a limitation to what can be done to the power cruiser without making severe modifications to a model that was born to serve a specific purpose, straight-out-of-the-box. In any event there are comparatively few component options available through the factory or even the aftermarket.
“Thunderbike has some parts,” says Chisholm, but the reality is the V-Rod’s best development work is an ongoing process now in the capable hands of the Screamin’ Eagle/Vance & Hines crew on the quarter-mile strip.
Though the truly big-budget builds are few and far between at TDMC Customs, some folks are willing to spend considerably more than even, say, the guy who dropped close to 10 bills on his Sportster Forty-Eight hardtail bobber conversion.
One owner of a Softail Breakout spent in the neighbourhood of $30,000 for custom work that involved air ride suspension and fabricated components from Thunderbike Customs, which has an operating model like Warr’s, hosted by Germany’s famed retailer and seller of parts, Thunderbike Harley-Davidson.
Certainly, there are customers whose visions for their rides will exceed the thresholds of their warranties, such as the fellow who wanted the neck of his Street Glide chopped and refabricated to accommodate a 26-inch front wheel. Clearly, the made-in-Milwaukee warranty would be an issue in this case. So, what happens then? “We have them sign a waiver,” says Murphy, who also points out that other aspects of the bike—such as powertrain—remain covered so long as the work done in their vicinity is in accordance to OEM specs, dictates and requirements.
The question practically begs itself. If someone wanted extensive aesthetic and performance modification work done to their Harley-Davidson, why not simply bring it to the local chop shop, where full-blown mods are SOP? Perhaps it’s the convenience of one-stop shopping, Murphy suggests “They buy the bike from us ( Tree Deeley Motorcycles ) and now they want one point of contact instead of having to deal with the painter, the lacer of wheels and so on.”
After all, we do live in a convenience driven world, and trust isn’t always implicit in the custom industry. The local Harley-Davidson retailer is the issuer of warranties and very likely the original point-of-purchase. So, it makes sense, especially when the local factory-authorized dealer has a mechanism such as TDMC Customs that makes it easy for an owner to think about a custom treatment beyond OEM limitations.
No single breed of rider is more likely to customize than buyers of Harley-Davidson models, and it’s really only a matter of time till riders of the Bar & Shield brand make changes to their stock mounts. Some are as simple as swapping seats or buttoning on a new derby cover, while others involve fresh paint, more aggressive wheels, or crisper suspension to complement motor and tuning work. Some know precisely where they want to go with their customizing, while others aren’t really sure. All they know is they want “something.” So, what’s the process if you choose to involve Trev Deeley Motorcycles Customs?
“Come visit the design centre,” says Chisholm. “We do a consultation and get a sense of you as a rider. We’ll bring out a parts book and find out what you’re looking for and what style of riding you do. Then, we’ll show you some examples online, flush out a direction, tell you what’s going to be involved and start to build a quote.”
Depending on what your vision entails, the turnaround on your custom project might be anywhere between two weeks and a month.
“During the busy season, we might direct them to winter builds,” says Murphy, who suggests that there is an in-house rewards program to those who commission work during the down season. A bit of motorcycle customization backed by Harley-Davidson’s warranty and tasty fit-and-finish might be something to look forward to in the winter.
Story by John Campbell Canadian Biker Issue #315
Photos: Ryan Murphy