When Dan Cheeseman and Brian Klock started building bikes together, the goal was to produce timeless style with the right stance. Early in his career, Klock was recognized by big names in the industry due to his “exuberance and passion for clean machines” (Kelly). The first bike magazine feature was no exception. The yellow FXR, Klock said, could be any color and still be just as cool.
In the 2001 Hot Bike Magazine feature, Kelly writes about how Klock found the bike:
“He stopped into a local dealership to pick up a bike for some service work when he saw a pretty neglected FXR in the lot. Klock asked the dealership owner how much he wanted for the bike. The owner asked why and Klock told him he had an idea for an FXR-based chopper for a few years, and he figured this bike would be the perfect starting point. The dealer, familiar with Brian’s work, said ‘just build it and bring me the bill.’”
The bulk of the FXR fabrication was done at Klock Werks first unofficial “shop”, John Patton’s home garage, before Klock Werks moved into the 700 sq. ft. garage behind a hair salon in Mitchell, SD. Klock, Chris Weber (Pico’s Garage), Brad Smith (The Factory Match), and Cheeseman stripped the bike, stretched the frame, and added quality components that would sound beautiful, corner and steer easily, and be uniquely timeless. The FXR was finished at the garage on a Saturday morning.
“We worked on it all night to get it done before a poker run that started at noon,” Cheeseman, Klock Werks COO, said. “We had the battery set in. We ran a single throttle cable on it, and the owner wanted stainless lines. Well, if you look in the photo, there is a black throttle cable because when I was installing the cable, which was one of the final pieces, the throttle cable draped onto the positive terminal of the battery and the sleeve melted.”
Klock, President and Visionary of Klock Werks, said the custom bike social group, the Hamsters, used to “hold your hand to the fire” about painted frames. The frame of the yellow FXR is painted, and is a tribute to Donnie Smith, one of Klock’s mentors. The guys had to work with what they had at the time, which was basic colors and no graphics connection.
Still, it turned heads and got the attention of Howard Kelly from Hot Bike Magazine at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, just 4 hours west of Klock Werks home town.
While Brian was ripping down the interstate with the Hamsters headed to Buell, Wyoming, the rest of the Klock Krew stayed at the rally. Weber, an original Klock Werks employee, and Cheeseman, had taken the yellow FXR and another bike and were cruising the scene. They spotted and chatted up Kelly, and the second time the guys met up, the Hot Bike rep mentioned he’d like to see that bike photographed for a magazine.
“Brian didn’t want us to have any features because we were fledglings in a garage,” Cheeseman said with a laugh.
“And, we were plenty busy already,” Klock added.
The guys were already putting up to 20 hours in a day at the shop back in Mitchell. But, Cheeseman saw the opportunity to get some more exposure, and decided to go for it. The guys met up with Kelly and shot the yellow FXR bike for what would be their very first magazine feature, in the May 2001 edition.
“When I got back from the ride, these guys were on cloud nine,” Klock said. “They couldn’t have been happier.”
Sportsters and FXR’s were the early interests of the Klock Krew; in fact, Dan and Brian met because of Dan’s Sportster, his first Harley Davidson, that he tore apart in his bedroom at his parents house when he was 17 years old.
“You still remember all the guys you built for and build with,” Cheeseman said. “Brad Smith, very talented artist, painted all the bikes on this feature photo. He was laying concrete during the day and painting at night. That’s also how we met Chris- he was doing some metal fab out at Smith’s when we brought a bike for paint. We all ended up working together.”
And all four ended up owning their own business in the motorcycle industry. Brad Smith, owner of thefactorymatch.com, still works with Klock Werks, painting the e-coated, stamped steel fenders. He works with dealers all over the US and Canada. Chris Weber owns the custom shop, Pico’s Garage in Sioux Falls, SD. Brian and Dan are celebrating 20 years of business with Klock Werks in 2017.
We all have to start somewhere, and for Klock Werks, it was a yellow FXR dubbed “Definitely Not… a case of mellow yellow” by Hot Bike Magazine back in 2001. If you look closely, you will see a front fender profile on the FXR that remains in the Klock Werks stamped steel fender line-up today. Check back for the next blog in our “Timeless Designs” series where we will talk about “Iris,” Brian’s first award-winning build. There’s a unique story behind this winner! We are excited to share stories of Klock Werks history all year long at getklocked.com as we celebrate 20 years in business.