The Speed Merchant is a Southern California based company founded on the principles of quality, form, style and function. The rich history of custom and racing bikes on and off the streets, all across the world have influenced every aspect of The Speed Merchant. Firmly rooted in tradition, while also looking forward to the ever evolving motorcycle world, every part is designed, engineered and manufactured with pride in Southern California. Three friends with a dream, they all have full time “real” jobs and have been busting their tails to build this business and bring it to an “official” level….
Photos by Mark Kawakami
Location: Signal Hill California!
Who works at The Speed Merchant today and what are their roles?
Brandon “Brawny Built” Holstein Master fabricator, bike building savant and mechanical engineer… supreme commander of R&D
Denver Dan Begakis Jack of all trades…marketing, merchandising, brand creation, art direction and promotion…always hustling
Mark Kawakami of Joyrides Art Company….magic photographer, graphic design genius, and probably the nicest guy you will ever meet!
90% of our income goes right back into parts manufacturing, and new product R&D, as well as promotion and advertising
When did The Speed Merchant become a full fledged business? After several hurdles, we officially hit the ground running in April of 2011
Is there a certain type of builder you cater to for your parts? We don’t cater to a specific type of rider or builder….just like our broad love of all things two wheeled; there are as many types of bikes as there are people. We are just stoked that people have discovered our products and choose to put them on their personal machine!
Do you feel it’s important to have made in America parts? Absolutely!
We feel it is in fact, essential. We know our bottom line would swell, and our profits would soar if we manufactured in China. But we would lose control of OUR product. Quality controls…the alloys used are sub par, the machining processes, etc. can be questionable.
You can see and feel quality and care, the essence of the part is tangible. In addition, look where this country is now that the great industries have fled. If you manufacture at home you are helping your neighbor, and in turn, you are helping yourself. We have relationships with the shops and people we work WITH…that is to say we work together, there is dialogue, communication and a mutual respect. We are COMMUNITY.
Quality and customer service are #1 for us.
Brandon “Brawny Built” Holstein is currently finishing up his build for The Invited Builders section of Born Free 5. This is his second time competing and I’m sure he’s going to knock it out of the park. He is a very quiet individual that let's his motorcycles speak for themselves.
Born-Free 5 Invited Builder Series-Brandon Holstein of Brawny Built from Born-Free on Vimeo.
What's you favorite part of the bike building process? As a builder, my favorite part is visualizing the bike, and the actual design process..
What's your least favorite? DEADLINES!!!!
What's the most used piece of equipment in the shop? Welder, grinder, hand tools and ……the computer…
I've noticed the SM logo attached to many riders lately. How important is cross promotion for your brand? We believe cross promotion is key to reaching a broader audience; it’s like a guy telling his friends about something he has discovered and likes…..an endorsement from others that are respected in the community. And being a small, grassroots type of company with a very limited advertising and promotion budget, cross promotion is essential for us to grow.
Who are you sponsoring now? We are sponsoring a bunch of great guys who ride the hell out of their machines….Kade Gates stunt rider on his wicked FXR, Chris Wiggins Speedway racer and awesome machinist and nicest guy, Caleb Mason stunt rider on his Evo Sportster, Ryan Kibbe owner of Kibbetech, amazing welder and fabricator of custom off road vehicles, Ryan Suchanek out of Lacrosse Wisconsin who is an amazing stunt rider and currently holds the WORLD RECORD fastest wheelie on ice….108.25 mph!!! And he has one leg! Absolute Ruler!…The big man, everyone’s favorite wheelie monster from Bill Wall Leather Kevin Cornish! We have also been working with Big Chris of the infamous Foundry Moto out of Phoenix as well as Danny G…
Do you get to ride much or is everyone cooped up in the shop all the time? Unfortunately not a lot of time to ride….between all of us keeping very busy schedules and taking care of kids, picking up parts, running to different shops, powder coater, polisher, etc it seems that we are always hauling parts around or having to pick up kids etc. Some lucky days we get commute on our bikes and occasionally there is that rare epic day where we can just get out and ride and leave all the trappings of daily life in the dust…
Do you think the Internet has helped or hurt today's underground chopper scene? That is a very complicated question! And like many of life’s questions multi faceted…that’s like asking “who’s your favorite band”! Impossible to answer! It depends from which angle you come at it….but I will just say, that it is a fact that it has allowed the custom m/c (and every other mini sub sect of society) to grow and evolve at warp speed….it is awesome that you can connect with like minded people across the globe and form a kinship and bond that goes beyond main stream culture, language, etc…
Anyone you'd like to thank? We have so many people to thank for their help and support…. The amazing Jeff Decker for giving us our name, at the very beginning … Cole Foster, The magical Jason Jessee, Robbie from Alloy Art, Jeff Wright from Church Of Choppers and FTWCO, ChopperDave, Marco Costiglio of Mach Modified, Tom Curran, Stevie Pfifer, Kevin Cornish, Mike and Grant with Born Free, Mark Felt, Len Higa of Oni Motorworks, Uncle Kirk, John Edwards, Victorian Coleman, Matt and Dean from DiCe, Gary from SiDeBuRN, John Copeland and Jeffro McShad from Brooklyn Invitational, Jake Hobbs from Bolts Action, Ryan from Stance Socks, Lisa and Duane Ballard for their never ending support of so many of us upstart, independent businesses, our families for their support and understanding (most of the time) of our time commitment along with the stress and fatigue!
As well as our sponsored riders and everyone who has followed us, believed in us, supported us and bought our parts…..CHEERS!
Visit The Speed Merchant Here:
Be sure to visit their booth during Born Free 5, let em know ChopCult sent ya!