Interrogation | Chris Richardson
Name: Chris Richardson
Shop: LA SPEED SHOP
Home Town: Los Angeles, CA
Twitter/Instagram Handles: @laspeedshop
What is your latest bike build?
A customer from South Africa came to me with a wide-tire bike that had a 100ci motor, a six-speed, and a 3-inch belt drive. He wanted me to take his existing bike and put my spin on it.
What was the inspiration for this current bike?
I was most inspired by the challenge to do a skinny swingarm bike. I like it when a customer puts his faith in me and gives me the opportunity to do something different.
What components did you use on this build?
This customer came in at the perfect time because I was working on a parts line with Paughco, and I was able to use some of my first samples on this build.
Did you use any new or aftermarket parts?
The frame is an LA Speed Shop by Paughco. It’s based off a 1959 swingarm frame but narrowed 2 inches and stretched 4 inches in the seat section. The swingarm is narrowed 2 inches and stretched 2 inches. The rear swingarm is made from the rear legs of a tapered springer front end. Progressive Suspension made me a custom monoshock that I mounted under the seat. I modified the stock H-D calipers, and the rear master cylinder is FXR style.
What do you take the most pride in with your builds?
I’m proud of the fact that I do all my fabrication and machine work myself. I also get the bikes running when I’m finished. I pretty much build the entire bike myself and only farm out the chrome, paint, and electrical.
Did anyone help you out on this particular bike build?
First off, I couldn’t have done this build without my customer giving me the opportunity, so I’m super thankful for him. Second would have to be Paughco for collaborating on a parts line with me. I’m a one-man shop, and my business supports my family. My parts line with Paughco gave me the chance to have some of my ideas manufactured on a scale that I couldn’t have done myself.
What other builders do you look up to?
I really look up to the old-time builders and their style from back in the day like Arlen Ness, Dave Perewitz, and Barry Cooney. It blows my mind that I get to talk and hang out with those guys today.
What is your most essential fabrication tool?
Definitely my welder ’cause I’d be useless without it.
What inspires you to keep building bikes?
I would have to say seeing the finished product inspires me to keep building bikes. I’m always super excited at the beginning of a build because I get to be creative and come up with an idea. Then I’m motivated to start the build and get to work and make my idea come to life. The enthusiasm usually starts to dwindle as the deadline approaches because I’m working extra hours, stressed out, and not sleeping. This is the time I’ve been known to say, “I’m never doing another deadline again.” But then when the paint and chrome come back, I get my second wind. I’m amped up again to start final assembly. Once I finish and fire the bike up for the first time I’m inspired to do it all over again.
What do you think of the current custom-bike scene?
The current chopper scene is pretty insane right now. I love seeing new builders and new ideas. I have a lot of respect for craftsmanship and things built with human hands. The only thing that bums me out is when you get guys who farm out all their fabrication and then call themselves builders. To me that shows a lack of integrity and honesty. If you come up with an idea and then have someone else do the work then you’re a designer, not a builder. I could never take credit for something I didn’t do. I’ve worked a lot of years on my craft, and I feel I had to put in my dues before I considered myself a motorcycle builder.
I consider myself lucky to have a few great friends who help me on every build. I want to thank Buck from Buck Wild Brand for his amazing paint, Pascal from Riff Raff Leather for all my seats, and Berto from Mobile Custom Wiring for his help with my electrical.
Finally, I really have to thank my wife, Fiona, for putting up with me for all these years. She’s supported me working so many late nights and never complains when we have to go to motorcycle shows. She’s really the backbone of LA Speed Shop, and I’d be useless without her. Plus, she gave me the two best gifts in the entire world, my beautiful daughters, Bella and Faye. Family is everything to me, and they are the reason I work so hard.
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