Monday, April 24, 2017

Cole Rogers - 138 Cycle Fabrication

While walking through the motorcycle section of the Piston Power Show two years ago, I stumbled upon this insane looking Sportster. My eyes were locked onto it from across the walk way and I couldn't stop myself from walking towards it if I tried. The front end was like nothing I had ever seen before and the stance was so low. Right beside it was another one with a similar style but an Ironhead. With all the normalcy that show gives, there where these two diamonds hiding in the rough. As I finally fought my eyes to look away, I saw Cole standing there by his table. I immediately walked over to shake his hand and tell him how amazing the bikes were and how much I enjoyed every detail. The dude couldn't of been any nicer, humble and very knowledgable, it was an instant bond made and I'm glad to call him a friend today. With so much talent and beautifully built machines it was a no brainer to ask Cole to bring one of his bikes to show at Fuel Cleveland on July 29th.

I sat down the other day with Cole and asked him a handful of questions to try and get to know the man behind the brilliance even more, here is what came of it. Enjoy.


-Mikey Revolt


photo by: Michael Lichter





Tell us a little about yourself...

C: My name is Cole Rogers and I started my own shop called 138 Cycle Fabrication in 2007 after building bikes at home and working at other shops. In 2001, I started working full-time in motorcycle shops. Before that I was a tool maker, welder, general fabricator, and electronics tech. I took every art class in school and still dabble a little with painting and drawing. I skateboarded a lot as a kid and listened to the Punk that goes hand in hand with it.




What does the 138 stand for in 138 Cycle Fabrication?

C: It is a song called "We Are 138" by my favorite band, The Misfits. It's a song that can be interpreted many ways but it's basically about non-conformity.

What got you into motorcycles?

C: When I was a kid, we lived 2 houses in from a main road that was used by bikers to get to a place called Gilberts Party Barn. This was the mid 80's so the Harley craze had not taken off yet. I would hear the bikes coming and I would run to stand as close to road as I could to watch what seemed like thousands of bikes go by. I would always look for the choppers. For some reason, I thought they were the coolest things in the world. Fast forward to 16 years old. My older brother had a BSA. When it quit running he told me if I could fix it I could ride it. I rode my skateboard to the library to check out a service manual. I got it running and I was hooked.




What was your very first build? What was the experience like, and the challenges you faced?
Anything you would do differently now that you know more on that first build?


C: I graduated from high school and one of the first things I did was start looking for a project. I bought a 1970 triumph engine, an old Columbus Customs Springer, and the front half of a frame from a guy named Limey R.I.P. Finding the rest of the parts was frustrating. That's when I realized to build the bike I wanted I was going to have to make some parts and learn to weld. I worked at a tool shop so I asked one of the welders to teach me how to weld. I was able to finish the bike and it was an amazing feeling to ride something I had built. I learned a lot from that first build. The most important thing I learned is RED LOCTITE! The only thing I would do differently on that first build knowing what I know now would be weld on the hardtail instead of bolting it on.

Photo by: Michael Lichter



What is your all time favorite build you have ever done?


C: My favorite build, is a bike I named "Salvador". It's a 1975 Sportster with the transmission cut off. I had seen it done before and had always wanted to do it my way. The ones I had seen always looked cool but they did not look right fitted to a big twin frame. This bike was for me so I could do anything I wanted with it. I had just sold my '58 XLH to a guy in Australia. It wasn't for sale but he threw out a number I could not turn down. This is the bike I will be bringing to the show.

Can you talk a little about your signature front end design and how that came about?

C: I'm not sure where the idea came from. Maybe old bicycles or other builders attempts at building something similar but I had a plan. I measured a ton of springers and stock front ends just to get some general dimensions. I drew up all of the drawings for every part and then took the design to my dad to look it over. My dad is literally a rocket scientist. He worked in solid rocket propulsion at Wright Patterson Air Force base for 32 years. He took a look at my design, made a few small changes and told me to get busy. I built the first one with low expectations but it turned out amazing. It rides like a new narrow glide. I call it the Bullet Girder but it is really a knee action front end. I got a patent on it in 2010 and it is the favorite of my customers.



What is your ultimate dream machine that you wish you could own one day or do you already own it?

C: I already have my dream car. I have a 1959 Corvette that my Grandfather bought new, then it was my Dad's and now it's mine. It has never been "restored". We only fix or replace things that wear out. My Dad says it runs and rides the same as it did when it was new. My dream motorcycle would be to build a bike with an Ariel square four engine.



Is there a certain style you look for when building or does it change build to build?


C: I don't try to fit into a certain style. I just build what I think looks cool. I guess I have my own style. A lot of my bikes have a similar look because I'm always trying to build what I think is perfect for each customer..




Who or what inspires you?

C: I think a lot of my inspiration comes from early race bikes. They were small and stripped down and there is just something about them that kind of calls to me. The craftsmanship of street rods inspires me to really focus on the fit and finish of my bikes. And of course old punk rock inspires me to just forge ahead. Fuck what's happened in the past. Let's live now.



What is the process like for you when building a bike? How long does it usually take?


C: My building process starts with the frame. I think about what I want the overall stance of the bike to be and then I set the jig up where I think it will best match the stance I want. After the frame is done I put the drive train in, the back wheel on and set the ride height. I really don't have a plan further than that. The bike then kind of builds itself after that. My builds usually take 3 to 4 months.

What is one of the biggest highlights, awards or things you done in your career that you are proud of?


C: The biggest highlight of my career was winning the International Master Bike Builders Association national championship.










Are you a movie on the couch or going to the theater type guy? 

C: I'm a movie on the couch guy unless it's a Syfy movie like Star Wars. I have to see those in the theater.

Name one band that is always on repeat in your garage.

C: The Misfits

Any life mottos or words of wisdom that you live by?


C:You only live once. Live in the now!

Is there anyone you would like to give a shout out to or thank?
 

C: I would like to thank my wife. Without her I would be nothing. My daughter for being my BFF and my dad for always saying "just do it yourself".




Make sure to check out Cole's bike "Salvador" and his booth at Fuel Cleveland on July 29th and be prepared to be blown away by the craftsmanship of his work!






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