Detroit Brothers, of Ferndale, Michigan, versus Twisted Choppers of Sioux Falls, South Dakota: Thereâs nothing like some good olâ down-and-dirty competition to get the adrenalin up.
Source: Brad Branham, Haas Automation, CNC Magazine
That’s the premise of Discovery Channel’s Biker Build-Off show: Get two of the best custom motorcycle design-and-build shops to go head-to-head, with each producing a custom chopper in a very short time – then judge the results at a national biker rally.
These bikes are not out-of-the-box Harley-Davidson Fat BoysTM. They’re one-off pieces of radical, rolling art that you throw your leg over and ride. They are custom-made, from frame to fender, with many components fabricated by hand. Some builders have their own milling machines to create these parts, and others outsource the custom-designed parts to local machine shops. But Dave and Jamie Kaye – the Detroit Brothers – got some unexpected help from Macomb Community College in Warren, Michigan.
It happens that Aaron Anderson, a Detroit Brothers employee, is a student at Macomb, and he wanted Dave and Jamie to visit the school’s Haas Technical Education Center (HTEC) to check out the machines. But first, he arranged for Gary Walters, Professor of Engineering Technology at Macomb, and Bob Skodzinsky, president of the Haas Factory Outlet in Flat Rock, to tour the Detroit Brothers shop. After meeting Walters and Skodzinsky, and hearing about the school, Dave and Jamie decided they needed to take a look at the Macomb HTEC. “I wanted them to see what I was doing at the school,” Aaron recalls. “When they finally got there, they were very impressed.”
“It’s just incredible,” Dave explains, “seeing how easily the stuff that we cut on a knee mill can be done on the Haas CNC machines. My limitation was always in the ability to machine my ideas. Now, I’m only limited by what I can imagine.” After getting a quick lesson on Cimatron Software, Dave designed the bike’s front end that day, and their Macomb HTEC tour turned into an opportunity.
Dave and Jamie liked the design freedom and the ease of bringing an idea to reality with CNC machining. They knew the bike they were going to build would require more than a few custom-designed and machined parts, so Dave approached Gary Walters with an interesting idea. Instead of them struggling to fabricate custom parts on their knee mill, or outsourcing them to a machine shop, would Gary and his students help machine them at the Macomb HTEC as a project? Gary agreed. He was looking for interesting and fun projects, and Biker Build-Off was a great opportunity to work with a local business.
“We knew this would be fun, and some public exposure wouldn’t hurt the school, either,” says Gary. “When I saw what we needed to accomplish, I started asking friends and business associates for help.” Chuck Beckas, Rick Steinard of Iscar Metals, student Gary Stroze, Mike Polzin of the Flat Rock Haas Factory Outlet, and several other skilled volunteers joined the effort. “I found out I had some really good friends,” Gary observes.
Several long days and nights later, Jamie, Dave, Aaron and the Detroit Brothers team finished the bike on time, with several custom parts fabricated by Gary and his crew at the Macomb HTEC. The results are amazing.
The Twisted Choppers’ and Detroit Brothers’ bikes were unveiled at the world-famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally – and you can see them September 25th at 9:00 p.m. on Discovery Channel’s Biker Build-Off.