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Archive for June 19th, 2009

Carl (CJ) Hanlon

Carl (CJ) Hanlon

I’m talking motorcycles not the sought-out customizers that make – “grills” – you know it as mouth bling or Rapper Grillz…i.e. gold teeth!   Sometimes referred to as plates, shines or caps that glitter with diamonds on a person’s upper teeth.

But I’ve digressed… a couple weeks ago I posted an article about Hispanic Trends at H-D and received several comments.  One in particular which was well written and concise came from Carl (CJ) Hanlon of Orlando, FL-based Guilty Customs.  I made a mental note to do more research when I had time on the company and the person behind the custom choppers.

Previously an ex-banker and marketing exec at Disney, CJ spends time these days building affordable custom bikes .  I like their work which is artistic yet not overdone and functional everywhere you look.  CJ doesn’t describe himself as a “master builder” or does he make comparisons with the industry icons, but claims to be just a “Joe builder” with a lot of passion for the industry, a skillful team and a ‘dab’ of talent.

Similar to how music sounds different in everyone’s ears, I’m of the viewpoint that bike style – design, colors and proportions – the overall looks — is a personal matter and is what influenced the custom scene in the first place.  I’m not a fan of $100K+ “theme” bikes from OCC that the corporate world can’t seem to buy enough.  But, good for them as I need something to watch during summer re-runs.  Personally I like old school bobbers that are not overweight or over-hyped, but to each his own.

According to the Motorcycle Industry Council the top 7 commercial bike builders accounted for 91% of all cycles sold in the U.S.  It’s no wonder that today’s custom builders either suffer the fate of a dying breed on one end of the spectrum or go the corporate empire of cookie cutter “choppers” who try and saturate the market on the other end.  Maintaining a profitable middle-ground looks to be a challenge which few seem to achieve.  However, in spite of the economy, Guilty Customs has increased their bike builds.  No assembly line here and the customs are meant to be ridden, not sit in a showroom.

I can only wish for a custom at this point since I’m heavily invested in the Road King, but if and when I make a chopper commit I’ll be considering Guilty Customs.  Keep up the great work CJ.

Photo courtesy of PRWeb and CJ Hanlon.

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