The first time I met Bill Dodge, of Bling Cycles, was at a gas station just across the California state line. He was rolling out and I was on my way to LA. When I pulled up at the pumps, I saw the Bling Cycles logo on the tank of a very bare bones chopper parked up there. I thought to myself, this is pretty far out in the desert for most guys on that kind of sled, and I immediately wanted to meet the rider. Me and my doods mooched around the pumps, waiting for the rider to return. We had just come 3,000 miles on rigids and we had not encountered any other long distance chopper riders. While we cracked jokes that the trailer can't be too far away, Bill came shuffling across the lot. I immediately knew that he was not only the rider, he was the builder; recognizing him from numerous magazine covers and feature articles.
It was so refreshing to see a well-known builder actually riding one of his builds cross-country. Bill gave me and the younger guys in the group plenty of his time, answering an ass load of questions for nearly an hour as he smoked butts right next to the pumps. I was surprised at his humble demeanor and cool as a cucumber vibe.
I continued to run into Bill periodically over the next few years and his true southern gentleman ways endeared him to me. Every time I meet Bill he is the same guy; not changing for the circumstance or snubbing you in different social settings. I like guys that are real and they don't come much more authentic than Bill. It seems he also enjoys that reputation all over the country. Anytime his name comes up, it’s nothing but roses and it’s easy to see why. Take this photo shoot for example. I called him up because I happened to be in Daytona, where his shop is now located. I asked him if I could drop by and snap some pictures for an "Inside Bling Cycles" feature for Chop Cult. Without missing a beat he said, "Give me 20 minutes".
In our short call, I failed to mention I had avid Chop Cult member Logan Benton, fellow distance rider and photolog, Kurt Morgan, and Uncle Jimmy Lyon with me. When we arrived, I quickly realized that, in the heat of the moment, I had neglected to mention I had these guys with me. Dropping in on a reclusive motorcycle builder with a party of excited dudes is different than showing up solo with a camera. Bill's not a fan of unannounced visitors. But once everyone was introduced, he poured out stories and details about the bikes and answered a million questions from the guys while Kurt and I snapped pictures of his eclectic work space.
Later that evening, I called Bill and apologized for having my band of merry men in tow and his answer was priceless. "It’s all good Bear. They were cool. I just don't want to have to shoot anyone."
I did a quick, no bullshit, interview with Bill while I was there and his ethos has been the same since when he started building bikes full time in 1990: "Bad-ass motorcycles that run." He does not mess with the social media or the interwebs too much for two reasons: he “doesn't need anyone’s opinion" and he is “too busy turning out bike after bike.” I swear Bill Dodge builds more motorcycles in a year than some builders do in five. Bling Cycles is known for true custom work at fair prices, complete bike builds, and Bill’s line of frames. He is always ready to help up and comers, answer intelligent questions, and displays swagger/integrity that can only come with time. Thanks Bill, for always being so welcoming and down to earth. I tip my hat to your work, your business, and genuine soul. Its pretty easy to sum things up, Bill Dodge is one rad mofo.
Here's a look at Bills world.
Photos by Bear Haughton and Kurt Morgan
Check out Bill's website, contact him here, and give him a follow on Facebook.