Monday, March 14, 2016

Americana Speed Shop - Ian Smith's 70's Survivor Digger


I have only been to the state of Alabama a handful of times in my life but it's safe to say I have some pretty amazing friends that come from that state. One of those friends is Ian Smith, owner of Americana Speed Shop. He is a leather goods master, motorcycle enthusiast, the life of the party, and truly an amazing human to always be around. I always look forward to seeing his face at different motorcycle events throughout the country and I am extremely stoked he is going to bring his 1970's survivor digger to Fuel Cleveland on May 28th. I sat down with Ian the other day and asked him a handful of questions so you could get to know and fall in love with him a little better. I added some of his sweet leather work and bikes he's owned over the years in the mix here too, enjoy.

- Mikey Revolt


Ian Smith, where do you call home?

I: Birmingham, Alabama.

Tell us a little about yourself and your shop.

I: Shop is a loose term. My career is in the beverage industry but I have a passion for motorcycles. The goal is to one day have a retail shop here in Birmingham, but for now I’m content with working from home. I began doing leatherwork almost 5 years ago out of necessity. Some friends and I were heading on a trip to “The Big Mountain Run” and I needed to be able to pack some gear. After looking at what saddlebags were available to buy, I decided to try and make my own. I took a beginners class at my local Tandy store and made the saddlebag. I was hooked after that project and since then I have been learning all I can about leatherwork. I mostly make wallets, belts, knife sheaths and the occasional saddlebag. I am actually working on a bag now for a friend. About 3 years ago, my best friend Ross Lenoir and I partnered up. Ross is an excellent machinist and makes some really cool parts—that are sold through Lowbrow Customs! We both do it for fun, but ultimately I would love to make Americana Speed Shop my full-time gig!

What do you specialize in at Americana Speed Shop?

I: I specialize in handmade leather goods (wallets, belts, knife sheaths, saddlebags, etc.) and Boss Ross is a ninja-machinist. He makes our foot pegs, “Wedge Pegs” that are sold via Lowbrow Customs and specializes in one-off parts for a variety of bikes.

What’s more challenging, leather work or motor work?

I: Leatherwork is something that I will do for the rest of my life. It is a craft that will always challenge. Working on bikes is fun for me, but I definitely know when to take my bikes to others. I am NOT a “builder”. I prefer “motorcycle enthusiast”. I try and ride every day and having a solid runner is always a top priority.


Who or what are some of your inspirations?

I: I draw inspiration from a variety of places. Paul Cox is definitely someone I look up to. He is a true Renaissance Man…his leather work, knives, bikes. He can do it all and I was excited to meet him a few months back. He took the time to give me some tips and I will always remember and appreciate that. Sometimes you meet people that you look up to, admire, whatever, and they are a big letdown. Egos are a funny thing.


What bike are you planning on bringing to Fuel Cleveland and what's the story behind it?

I: I’m going to bring my Shovelhead digger. I was actually working on this project with a different frame, front end, etc. and ran across this bike on Instagram. It is a survivor from the late-70’s that has Smith Bros and Fetrow fender struts, spring struts and their girder front end. Rickey Lewis, of Rick’s Cycle Parts, had finished my shovel motor build and it is killer. The engraving, done by Shane B., really was icing on the cake. So with the motor done, I was ready to see it going down the road. A deal was made for the digger and Rickey and I dropped my drivetrain in. I put a 5-in-a-4 trans in to help it cruise on longer trips. The plan is to have a new exhaust system done in time for the show.

What or who got you into motorcycles?

I: I was working for an Energy Drink brand in 2005 and we sponsored a National Motocross Series. I met some guys at the races that turned me onto custom bikes. I think they showed me some Roland Sands bikes and one had a copy of “Choppertown: The Sinners” and I was hooked after seeing the bikes featured in that documentary. I’ve been obsessed ever since.


Tell us about one of the craziest moments you have ever had while riding a motorcycle.

I: This past May, on the El Diablo Run, there was a group of us jamming back from the Hot Springs outside of Puertecitos. Our buddy, Sweet Lou, had a flat and for some reason the rest of us decided we needed to ride 100+ mph to be the first back to camp to alert the chase truck. I blew a corner coming back into San Felipe and launched off the road—about a 5 foot drop into some soft sand. I saved it but sat there for a minute and couldn’t help but think “why are we all racing back to camp just to get someone to go pick up Lou?!?”

Favorite trip you have ever taken on a bike and why?

I: Hands down the El Diablo Run. I love Mexico and have always enjoyed vacationing there. Riding your bike with friends in another country is really fun. I have met so many of my friends from that run. Friends that I know I will be in touch with for the rest of my life. Pretty special event.

Where is one place you would want to jump on your bike and just go if you could right now?

I: I’m always looking for a reason to head to western North Carolina, around “The Tail of the Dragon”. The Dragon is fun, but there are roads in the region that are WAY better for riding.


What is your dream machine or do already own it?

I: I’ve owned a variety of bikes. The goal is to stop selling and only buy from now on but life tends to get in the way. I traded an FXLR last year to get this digger. I will be back on a FXR at some point. Actually, I saw the new 2016 Dyna Low Rider S that was released today and I hope to be able to get one. I’ve never had a brand new bike and I think that is the one I want.


What is your favorite thing about riding motorcycles?

I: The friendships I have made through motorcycles is what makes it special. I’ve also learned that just because you are into motorcycles, it doesn’t necessarily mean you HAVE to be friends. This hobby has brought some great people into my life but it has also brought some problems. I’ve learned that when you get a feeling about someone, trust that feeling. Your first intuition is probably right.

Remember that time you scared a unicorn with your sportster on the Skyway to the Danger Zone run? …. That was awesome!!!

I: That was fun but stressful! Holding my rear head in my hand on Friday afternoon was not good. Turned out to be points that were arching, causing all sorts of backfires. I know people were bummed to ride behind me but I was determined not to miss that ride! Such a fun weekend!


How much do you love Cleveland Whiskey? You are always the life of the party, does it come natural or does the party just find you?

I: I’m off brown liquor…for now! Ha! Such a rookie mistake and my club brothers remind me about that weekend pretty regularly. Don’t know about being the life of the party, I just try to be myself and cut loose when I can. I have found that people generally find it refreshing when you are just yourself, not some stick-in-the-mud that is trying to portray an “Insta-Image”.

What’s next for you, any big plans or bikes you are working on?

I: I think I am going to take the rest of 2016 to dial in the digger and my Sportster tracker. I am excited to take some trips with my girlfriend, Ashley, to Texas and now we are really excited to come to Cleveland! Planning a low-key summer then it’s time for The Catalina Wine Mixer 4 in September!


Anyone you would like to thank or give a shout out to?

My girlfriend, Ashley, for being such a positive influence in my life, my Inbred club brothers: Boss Ross, Kustom Jeff, Loaf, Jason, Big Al and Whit, and to Rickey Lewis for his friendship and always lending a hand to keep our old bikes going down the road.

Make sure to check out Ian's digger at the show and to follow more of his bikes and leather work follow him on IG:  @americana_speed_shop and @thecatalinawinemixer_4, FB: Americanaspeedshopor his website: www.americanaspeedshop.bigcartel.com

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