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Loveland man’s custom bikes grab attention

SHELLEY WIDHALM
Loveland Reporter-Herald
** ADVANCE FOR USE IN WEEKEND EDITIONS OF AUG. 15-16 ** In this photograph taken on Monday, July 20, 2009, Ryan Boyd sits on a custom-made motorcycle at his fabrications shop in Loveland, Colo. (AP Photo/Loveland Daily Reporter-Herald, Jenny Sparks)
AP | Loveland Reporter-Herald

LOVELAND, Colo. – On sunny days, the gold underneath the heavy metal flake green of Ryan Boyd’s custom-made motorcycle grabs attention. But the focal point is the swooping curve of the frame of the Loveland resident’s first solo custom project.

“This is the first one I had all my influence in,” Boyd said. “You’ll never see anything like this.”

Boyd, 27, owner of RB Fabrications in Loveland, started with a Buell drive train. He made a custom gas tank, forward controls and frame, through which he ran oil rather than putting it in a separate tank. Boyd hand-fabricated several of the smaller parts, putting in a gold-colored chain and brass accents, such as grips, footpegs, clamps and exhaust tips.

“I just call it my bike,” Boyd said.

Boyd finished the motorcycle in July 2008, two weeks before the annual rally in Sturgis, S.D. He was asked to participate in Michael Lichter’s “Stay Gold” exhibit and received attention from a few motorcycle-enthusiast magazines.

“I read a lot of magazines. I see what I like and don’t like,” Boyd said.

Boyd was 14 when he started putting together mini-bikes and 18 when he bought a used Toyota pickup truck with the goal of lifting it for four-wheeling.

Two years later, a friend taught Boyd some fabrication basics, but since he often was unavailable, Boyd taught himself welding, cutting, grinding and bending.

Boyd, who also took vocational classes in high school, became an ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) master technician that same year.

He already had been working four years at a Fort Collins car dealership, starting as a wash technician when he was 16 and working his way to a line technician doing repairs, the job he now holds, he said.

In addition to working full time, Boyd puts in another 45 to 50 hours at his shop.

“This is what I want to be doing,” Boyd said, adding he will focus solely on his shop when it becomes financially feasible. “Nights and weekends doesn’t mean it’s the real deal.”

Boyd started working on trucks in his three-car garage, but had to move to a local shop complex when friends’ requests for work turned into word-of-mouth referrals. He now custom builds motorcycles, hot rods and trucks, along with doing mechanical repairs, rebuilds and restorations.

Graig Mackay of Fort Collins helps with the work, focusing on hot rods and trucks.

Boyd bought a computer numeric machine, which cuts out parts, for his shop. He also purchased a metal lathe that makes round parts and welding equipment, essential tools for custom work, he said.

“I can fine-tune parts here and make them perfect,” he said.

Boyd helped a friend custom-build a motorcycle before he built his handmade Buell, using custom parts for everything but the engine. He tries to make each project better than the last, he said.

“It’s just cool to see how I can do everything better,” he said.

Boyd has a third bike project in mind and plans to start it later this year, he said.

“It will be more racy,” he said, adding the bike will be more compact than his Buell bike and better able to handle corners.

In the meantime, Boyd is finishing a few projects, including one for Fort Collins resident Ken Conte, who does public relations and marketing for the motorcycle industry and who wrote a recent article in Hot Rod magazine, “A First Timer’s Handmade Buell.”

“I literally have my pick of bike builders,” Conte said. “I saw what he does and the attention he pays to detail. He’s the guy I wanted to do it.”

Conte brought in a fully running bike, wanting something unique, he said.

“It’s going to be real racy and narrow,” Conte said.

Boyd likes the smiles he gets when he makes something special for his customers.

“It’s cool to see people get excited about their stuff,” he said.


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