A Letter From Custom Builder Scott Webster At Leroy-Thompson

“As I sit awake it is 3 A.M. eastern standard time and I have to clear my thoughts. With the current economic situation, this great country we love, live and work in has left us all in an undeniable feeling of loss and confusion of what it is we all believe in and live by. As a motorcycle enthusiast first and foremost, the thought of better days for the entire industry has not only left me, but everyone in the entire motorcycle industry, wondering how this ca be made better. And as all of us have come to realize things are what they seem and there before us are the cards that life has handed us. In time, as all things do, this will change, it may not be this year, it may not even be next year, but there is one thing I know for sure – none of this has truly changed the way I personally feel about the business I work in and live to love….Motorcycling.

 If you are reading these words you too undeniably feel the same as I and feel there is a need for some sort of way to make a change. As a builder, manufacturer or simply a rider, this is the love and burden you carry and carry proudly. You may be new to the industry or have thirty some years under your belt but none the less you are as hooked as I am. This is a love I am not afraid to admit, a love of something that is so simple yet lets us all forget the every day reminders of our daily grind. How is it that something so simple can bring so many together for the same reasons and general feeling of freedom on so many levels. The grandfather of rallies is slowly creeping upon us and the excitement of this has been overshadowed by the talk of astronomical gas prices and low attendance anticipation. What I feel has been overlooked is the fact that this in no way has changed the way feel about what it is we all have grown to love and live by. Yes it may make things light and yes it may mean it will keep the crowds smaller, but what we all need to remember is that the few that do make this pilgrimage are those that share the same feelings as you and I. We should embrace the brotherhood and sisterhood of this community and fight even harder to assure it does not die.

 I have talked before on this issue and will continue to remind all of you that there are far worse evils in life to worry about. I would like to share something with you all that has been nothing short of inspirational to me personally, and in light of all the overwhelming circumstances makes me remember that there is true love and dedication in our world.

 In the past few years I have become friends with the entire crew that rides and operates the American Motor Drome Wall of Death. For those of you who have visited and experienced this history filled carnival-like act at any of the rallies, you know and understand the true dedication. This year has issued the family of this long time institution nothing short of seemingly impossible odds to deal with. With the passing of one of the true and original daredevils, Sam, we lost not only one of great wall riders in history but the member of a family dedicated to the truest form of preserving what is and always will be the love of motorcycling. I was fortunate to see her last ride in Daytona this year as a guest inside the wall and I have to tell you it was something I will never forget. Sam had overcome her natural human instinct and fear of the same beast that had broken her back a year earlier. She looked past what it was that had put her in a year of recovery, had thrown her off and left her broken. She continued pursuing what it was in life she truly loved and lived for. As I stood and watched her slowly creep up the rickety boards I noticed a small yet growing smirk of content and happiness of someone truly living and loving her life. As I watched, I thought to myself this is what it is all about, and I hope I too can take from that experience and remember the true passion and love she had that day for a motorcycle.
 As you all know we will never see that look on her face again in real life yet only in what we have to remember her by.

Soon to follow Sam was the passing of Criminal, the ticket taker, and as if that weren’t enough, owner and rider Jay Lightnin’ would have to undergo chemotherapy for his battle with cancer that is far from over. This is saddening news and it makes me wonder how something so timeless with such love from individuals that put their lives and well being on the line can possibly continue….yet it lives. I was able to not only see my friends in Hollister, Ca riding and doing the very thing that drives them, but doing it well and to the appreciation of both young and old fans. They have even recruited a young man all of twenty something named Jeremiah to continue the legacy, and trust me it is not for fortune and fame….simply the love. My point to this story is the fact that no matter how bad it may seem in our world today, remember what and why we are all here and that is for the love; remember with time things will get better for us all.

Please visit the American Motor Drome, buy a ticket and see a show, even if you have twenty times in the past. These individuals hopefully will keep you as focused on the big picture as they have me; trust me you will get your money’s worth and hopefully be as inspired as I to see people doing what it is they love in this motorcycle world for pennies on the dollar.  Please try to make it a point and take and give whatever you can to support some of the many deserving charities in Sturgis.  Please enjoy yourselves and have a safe Sturgis 2008 and I wish you all a prosperous 2009. Thank you my friend” Scott Webster Leroy-Thompson

19 Responses to “A Letter From Custom Builder Scott Webster At Leroy-Thompson”

  1. 1 An Actual Customer Jul 30th, 2008 at 10:32 am

    While builders may love their business and the whole riding culture, I wonder when builders are going to step up and admit they are a part of the problem. You can only blame so much on the economy. I am in the midst of building a “custom” bike and it has been the worst experience of my life. I spoke with several builders prior to starting the project to see how much it would cost and when it would be finished. The following is what I found, 1) the majority of bike shops are very disorganized, 2) getting an actual quote to build the thing is impossible, and 3) getting a schedule is an even bigger joke.

    If you guys expect someone to come in and spend $20k why don’t you act like real business owners and get your acts together?

    1) Sit down and order all the parts you need before you start so you don’t wind up starting and stopping every week because you are waiting for some other part to come in. And I am sure everyone is sitting there saying, “who wouldn’t do that?”, trust me plenty of builders don’t.

    2) If there is something “custom” that needs to be made, sit down and put a “real” estimate together. Sorry, this will actually make you accountable for something, and yes heaven forbid if you screw up, you may even lose a little money on that part of the bike. Aand when giving a quote, why dont you actually look up the parts and get a real quote, not shoot from the hip.

    3) Put a schedule for completion together instead of using the same BS excuses that worked when times were busy. Put a real schedule with milestones together so you can actually check yourself. A bike these days shouldn’t take more than 3 months from start to finish regardless of how custom it is.

    And there are several builders out there who tell themselves they provide these things and the customer gets a great service at a great price. Well you all need to look pretty hard at your operations and instead of sitting around twiddling your thumbs while times are slow, revamp what you do to provide a better service to the customer

  2. 2 burnout Jul 30th, 2008 at 10:49 am

    well said. peace

  3. 3 burnout Jul 30th, 2008 at 10:52 am

    my comment is for Scott’s letter. I have no comment on the above response. peace

  4. 4 Jul 30th, 2008 at 11:13 am

    “actual customer”
    I feel your woes but you missed the entire point of the letter, not to mention you have been delt a crap deck of cards on your project with whatever bike shop you have contracted.

    Next time talk to me on a build…we respect our customers and appreciate the heck out of em.

  5. 5 Gar Jul 30th, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    Dear Actual Customer,

    The old saying you get what you pay for stands true here …… 20K won’t get a “Known Builder” out of bed in the morning. Customers need to be as realistic as the customer.

    I have had 4 custom bikes built in the last 8 years. One was built by Jesse James and three were built by Jeff Nicklus. In every case the bikes were constructed to perfection, delivered on budget and delivered on time. No hassles no worries. Naturally I paid way more than 20K but my point is you get what you pay for.

    I will agree with you that 50% or more of the problems in the motorcycle industry is directly related to the fly by night problems you have experienced. With the advent of Biker Build Off everyone who ever thought of building a motorcycle and most every bike shop in America became over night “Master Builders” and had visions of TV stardom in their eyes. They made a few t-shirts, attended a few motorcycle rallys and acted like drugged up assholes and people bought into it. The first sign of a hick-up and quess who faded back into the woodwork and then the customers they aquired became ghosts. So who is to blame? You tell me.

    Gar out …. (and yes I am in Rapid City as I write!)

  6. 6 Gar Jul 30th, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    That would be “Customers need to be as realistic as the builders” whooopppps

  7. 7 An Actual Customer Jul 30th, 2008 at 3:26 pm


    I threw the $20k number out there because in this day and age you can get a nice bobber made for that much. And the guys I have dealt with are somewhat “known”. They may not have had a television show but they also do no have the over head that the Jesse James’, OCC, Billy Lane, etc have either.

    I think one problem is that there are builders who think that when you and others talk about “fly by night” builders, you are talking about someone else when in reality, they are the ones these statements are targeted at and they don’t even know it.

  8. 8 Jul 30th, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Wow, I’m blogging,

    Uhm ….. I again stress that the story was not intended in this manner. It was simply a “remember biking is supposed to be fun and lets try to have some” not a soapbox about the industry in general.

    Actually, I was trying to focus on my pals at the wall, and somehow things went waaaay off that path.

    Just do the guys at the wall a favor and show some love if you stop by the County Line.
    Thanks. Just throwing it out there and again this was meant to be in support of them.

    Oh and I’m not sure if you were referencing me as one of these “targets”. I’m a big boy so feel free to talk to me about this. Thats why I use my real name on these things.

    Sorry I am sorta wondering where how this all went wrong , this is why I don’t blog.

  9. 9 An Actual Customer Jul 30th, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    Sorry didnt mean to steal your topic but I did need to get some frustration out. Having a project go about 4 months longer than it should can do that to you. I just thought it was a decent place to put this because you were talking about being up at 3 am eastern time and then included the state of the economy in it.

    And no that comment wasn’t directed at you.

    I have seen your stuff and it is pretty cool.

    Sorry again about stealing your blog. Maybe some people will read these though and take a good long hard look in the mirror.

  10. 10 Jul 30th, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    actual customer..stop hiding your name..if your going to make statements name some names and use yours! their is alwyas two sides to a story. scott webster uses his, i use mine, what do you have to be afriad of? and you did steal his topic, a heartfelt writ about the economy and the state of the wall…scott gets it do you? or are you buying in for 20k?

  11. 11 Jul 30th, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    Ok Ok all is well lets not get all crazy.
    And for the record that sucks about your build I admit I am not always on time but I for sure try like heck. And if I am behind I the customer and either resolve the situation with a comp or some sort at best a explanation of the situation.

    We are only as good as our customers return or word of mouth.
    With out that as a builder I have nothing, customers are what keep us alive.

    Ok so I even got sidetracked from my topic, but you all have a great point. I am no rockstar I am just a guy who loves to get dirty building stuff, and if it weren’t for good folks appreciating and diggin it I would have to go get a job.I agree I think there are quite a few folks out there that want to ride the fame train and not get there hands dirty al while charging a arm and leg. Actually it ticks me off…but I will save that for another blog …talk about targets I could have a field day with quite a few “celebs” in my line of work. And for the record all the builders listed above are none of them in fact these guys have busted there ass in this industry and I admire there hard work……ie Billy, Jessie ect .These guys paved the way for guys like me and they still get there hands dirty in the shop.

    ok …….and County Line ! Visit my buddies …

  12. 12 An Actual Customer Jul 30th, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    Those are great words Scott and again sorry for sidetracking your letter. It does take some real dedication and a love for what you do to hop in the Motor Dome. If you are in Sutrgis you should check them out. And as Scott said hopefully you will:

    “be as inspired as I to see people doing what it is they love in this motorcycle world for pennies on the dollar.”

  13. 13 Sheridan Jul 30th, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    “We are only as good as our customers return or word of mouth.
    With out that as a builder I have nothing, customers are what keep us alive.”

    I for one know first hand that these words from Scott are not just words, but the truth itself. I recently purchased some parts from Leroy-Thompson, and although I had a slight hiccup with one piece, this was resolved for me immediately and the service I received was second to none, so I would definitely recommend them to anyone. It may not sound like that big a deal, but when you’re located in Australia and ordering parts from the US, good service and backup is a very big deal!!

  14. 14 Nicker Jul 30th, 2008 at 8:46 pm

    Actual –

    “…expect someone to come in and spend $20k why don’t you act like real business owners …”

    “… these days shouldn’t take more than 3 months from start to finish regardless of how custom it is….”

    “…put a “real” estimate together…”

    Well, how about some quick arithmetic then:

    One guy, 3 months of 40 hr weeks.
    What’s that… about 480 hours-a labor…???
    At a fully burdened rate of $50 an hour… what’s that… about $24k …. just in labor.

    If ya want a $20k scooter, le-me suggest ya go build one.


  15. 15 An Actual Customer Jul 30th, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    This is the last comment I will make on this thread out of respect for Scott and what he wants to say.


    You can interpret what I write however you like but here was the reasoning behind what I said,

    “from start to finish”

    By “start”, I mean sit down with a builder and order parts. That would take 1 to 1.5 months to get everything in to start the build. Let’s say this is for a bobber, mock up should take 3 days, assume 5 days for any modifications or custom things you want(tank, exhaust, oil tank, etc.). Then it would take maybe 1 day to break the bike down and send it to paint, powder coat, and chrome. After paint it should take 3 days to put it back together.

    So in all, out of the 3 months you are looking at 12 days worth of labor. So at $50/hour you are looking at a labor cost of $4800.00.(This obviously doesn’t include paint or parts)

    a 1 cycles

    I am a customer, and I am not bashing anyone just giving my account as an actual customer so if you want to listen from someone then great and if you don’t then that is your choice as well. Maybe your shop already does everything that my guy didn’t do. If so great, you’re ahead of the curve.

    And I am not sure what you mean by “buying in for 20k?”

    If you mean buying another motorcycle then I guess I am guilty. I am not sure what you get for $20k, maybe a card into the secret club? Everyone rides for different reasons, but most should ride because they enjoy it. That is what Scott is trying to say in his letter. Do what you enjoy, which for everyone on this site should be riding. And it doesn’t matter if you are a novice or a professional racer.

    Do what makes you happy and enjoy life.

  16. 16 Nicker Jul 31st, 2008 at 12:26 am

    Is-zis representative of today’s “chop customers” and their expectations…..???

    “…mock up should take 3 days, assume 5 days for any modifications or custom things you want(tank, exhaust, oil tank, etc.)….”

    Actual-…… if this is how you view, “Custom Motorcycling”…. Dude don’t know what ta-tell-ya.


  17. 17 Jul 31st, 2008 at 11:23 am

    Rest in Peace Sam and Criminal. We all miss you!

    Ride hard Jeremiah and be safe!

  18. 18 Jul 31st, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    Motorcycle passion is what drives the majority of us in the industry. Yes some care more about money and yes some really don’t have very good buisness sense and don’t have good shops or practices. All I can say is buyer beware. Do some research and be an educated consumer. The problem is TV made everybody and their brother a” master builder”. Well we’ll see how many can survive this townturn in the econmy. As to the true passion of the ride, I agree go to the wall of Death. No matter if you went once twice or100 times. It is soo worth it and to support the people that LIVE this life. Not many could live this way. One last note…Clickster there is a big open void in my heart brother.
    Please ride safe ALL of you!

  19. 19 diesel May 15th, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    actual customer what r u dating this guy? build what some tanks that r pre made? a motor and trans u ordered?drop in … a motified fender u cut a little off ..? what really do u do but put nuts and bolt toghter order a seat and have someone paint it..wow..everthing i see looks like a bike thats been done …..a across of exile and jesse with the copper and bare metal bober old track style .. i think ur a fake and a copy cat…..

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