HJ/EDMarch 6, 2006

Trio builds custom cycles at Dassel shop

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

Patrick Kelly of badboyscustom in Dassel is giving motorcycle riders more time and more opportunities to keep riding, even those older than 60, he said.

“They couldn’t enjoy motorcycling without what we do for them. That is the thrill,” Kelly said.

The average two-wheel motorcycle is larger and heavier than ever before. A small-framed person or an older person, for example, can’t always hold a motorcycle up right out on a highway, he said.

So badboyscustom makes trikes so bike riders can continue to enjoy the sport. “We help people have that choice,” said Kelly of Plymouth.

Badboyscustom trikes are safer and more stable than other three wheelers because of the rear end suspension system. Kelly’s racing experience allowed him and his partner, Tom White, to apply engineering and racing technology to three-wheel cycles, he said.

When a trike goes around a corner with a fixed axle suspension it can easily tip over. In an independent suspension system, the wheels are mounted to the bike and can move independently to the frame. However, when the trike goes around a corner, the wheels stay on the ground but the bike body leans significantly, Kelly said.

On the other hand, Kelly and White adapted a linked independent suspension used on high performance race cars to trikes. It prevents the trike from tipping or leaning, Kelly said.

This system keeps the bike perpendicular but all the wheels on the ground. “That is the one we’re most excited about,” Kelly said.

Kelly’s favorite bike is a Honda Goldwing that is already sold to a couple from Plymouth. Originally it was built for his wife, Natasha, who weighs only about 115 pounds and is too small for a regular two-wheel motorcycle.

The bike for Kelly’s wife, Natasha, who is originally from Odessa, Ukraine, is how badboyscustom came about. Kelly originally bought the building at the corner of Highway 12 and Third Street to store medical and bank records about two years ago. The building originally was used to mix commercial paint, said Kelly, who works for AIG, an insurance and investment business.

About the same time as he and White were cleaning up the building and installing storage bays, Kelly wanted a bike for Natasha that was safe for a small person and a relatively inexperienced rider, he said.

She also wanted the bike big enough to take out on the highway.

Kelly developed an interest in mechanics because he enjoyed racing. He started racing quarter midgets, which are small high-powered go-karts. After five years he moved on to NASCAR type-stock cars and then raced Formula style race cars for eight years.

“It’s always been a fun hobby,” Kelly said.

As a result, he and his partner, White, started building a safe trike for Natasha. White, originally from Colorado, is a mechanic. “My passion is custom painting,” White said.

Kelly emphasized though, that badboyscustom doesn’t paint at the Dassel site.

There are six primary companies that make kits to convert cycles into trikes. Badboyscustom is a factory/dealer for four of the six companies. After they completed the trike for Natasha, they were surprised at how strong the market was for the trikes, which run between $30,000 to $35,000 each.

The baby boomer generation is approaching retirement age but many want to start riding or continue riding big cycles. Kelly told about a couple in which the husband was 64 years old. His wife had asked him when he was going to quit cycling. “I’ve got a whole other 10 years because of the (badboyscustom) trike,” the man had said.

Another couple who wanted a trike had witnessed a terrible accident involving a two-wheel cycle and wanted to make sure it didn’t happen to them, Kelly said.

They sold the first trike to a couple in their 60s and built another trike exactly the same, but in a different color, for Natasha. Currently badboyscustom produces 50 to 60 trikes a year. In a few years, Kelly expects to be up to maximum capacity of 150 a year, he said.

“We ship them all over the country,” Kelly said, adding the trikes are even more popular in places with warm climates.

The shop has been so busy building trikes, the Kellys and White haven’t had time to line up clients for their record storage business. Last month they replaced the garage door on the north side of the yellow and black building with glass so people can see into the showroom from the street, Kelly said.

Kelly and White, who lives in Litchfield, are currently working on a Harley Davidson Ultra Classic with a California kit for a woman in her early 60s from Estherville, Iowa. Kelly called the cycle a “beautiful creature.”

“We also build our own trucks,” Kelly said.

In addition, badboyscustom is building a “toter home,” a motor home that pulls a trailer.

The most challenging part of the custom built trike business, hasn’t been the mechanical or engineering side. “Neither of us is capable of giving up,” Kelly said.

Whenever someone operates a business, the owner must accommodate many rules and regulations. Those numerous rules are the most challenging part of the business, Kelly said.

White recalled a V-rod he worked on that was difficult, however.

“It was how tight and small everything was,” White said.

Also, whenever badboyscustom takes on a new trike design, the Kellys and White must start all over with the planning and engineering, Kelly said.

In response to a question about Kelly’s favorite part of the custom cycle business, Kelly said, “The people – absolutely!”

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