Hey guys & gals, I’d like to introduce you to a little shop in Georgia called Karnage Kustomz. It’s run by a man named Eric Nemzer and since he left his successful day job to pursue his dream, he’s built a couple of clean cafe machines with plans for much more. He says he wants all of his bikes to be simple.
Eric is kinda new in the biz, but I’ve checked him out thoroughly. He’s talented, skilled, meticulous, and is always striving to make every bike better than it was brand new.
cb360 cafe – left rear
bM: Please tell us a little about yourself and why you’ve decided to start building inexpensive metric customs.
KK: What I’m attempting is somewhat crazy but I think some of your readers will understand. I’m putting my own money up to get started and not a whole lot of it’s left, but I feel in my heart this is what I should be doing. I love to ride and love to create. Sometimes it drives me insane. I’m a typical American that lost a lot in life lately but the lights are back on.
Why inexpensive metric customs? Hopefully we’ll get to sit down for a couple of hours to tell tales of war, but it starts with my wife. I’ve been married two years to one **** of a woman. She’s my biggest support. We’ll be together 11 years total this March. It wasn’t all the best years, but we care and have two children; a mini-me who is six and a little girl named Avarose who is four. S**t! I’m a family man! We recently moved from our home in New Jersey to Georgia. From 1996-2010 I worked at an HVAC (Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning) company and also did a lot of electrical work in houses, plus trouble-shooting, the whole shabang. Whatever was needed, I’d do. Then I became a partner with the company in 2004 and even have the letter on the wall in my garage. That was quite an achievement and I was only 26. I’m a hard worker and I learn fast.
Well, not every chapter has a happy ending and things went sour so I had to figure out what to do for my family. After 14 years I realized working for anybody else again wouldn’t cut it so I started thinking about my skills and realized it was “hands on s**t.” From car stereos and carpentry to sheetrocking and plumbing, I’m a “jack of all trades and master of none” type a guy. Regardless, I wanna call the shots, make a decent living, have time to spend with family and friends, and see the USA. I’d like be like the American Pickers of motorcycles, and find something cross country, make a road trip, looking for sales on the way. In the end, I want to build something and shake the person’s hand that digs it and wants it.
xs500 donor bike
KK: I also want to show the younger generation that you don’t need a lot of money to rock something unique. Street bikes are cool and I rode my buddy’s CBR1000. The front tire comes up in third gear with the flick of a wrist at cruising speed but no can do, boss. I’ll kill myself. Also, these inexpensive metric customs are f***ing awesome. Seriously. Not many people my age know what these bikes are. I don’t remeber thinking, “Oh s**t, check out that old CB750… KZ1000… or XS650!” But if I saw an old Ford, Chevy, or Dodge, I thought, “Wow. I remember those!” Now I’m learning the history of these old motorcycle gems as I come across them. I research the bikes I have to get a feel of what they were at their time, what they were built for and what others did with them. I want to be able to give these bikes another go ’round. The motors on most of them are hard to kill if maintained properly. If you find a ’70’s or ’80’s bike with 15,000 or even 25,000 miles on it, your golden. Try finding a 30 year-old car with those miles. I’ve met some really cool people that I probably never would’ve met without these bikes and now I can see myself doing this in my 70’s and beyond if I’m still in one piece while remaining humble and making an honest living building bikes for the average workin’ man. Build ’em something that isn’t going to break the bank while I meet some great people along the way.
cb360 cafe – left
bM: You recently built a nice 1976 CB360 cafe. What can you tell us about the build and how much you invested in it?
KK: The CB360 cafe was my third bike. It was a thorn in my side and almost knocked all the confidence out of me. The bike’s total investment was $1,000, which included the donor motor that had to be pulled apart three times. After I built it, while testing it out, a spark plug blew out the head. I got another motor and the bike sat all winter because I was building it in my driveway. Finally, I changed the head, fired her up and off she went! I had her for sale and right before the end of the auction on eBay I snapped the kick start. “F**k!” You have to break open the bottom of the motor to change it and my fat fingers don’t belong in a motor. Luckily, with the help of proper manuals, I put it back but the locking mechanism didn’t sit right, and the transmission was not shifting properly and coming out of gear. In the end I got it all together but I’m looking to partner with a proper mechanic here in Georgia. We’re in Dallas, about 30 miles Northwest of downtown Atlanta.
downtown dallas, georgia
KK: The stuff I put on the bike included clubman bars, end mirrors, a new head light, grips, shocks, and a KZ900 tail light. The custom seat on the bike was the rear fairing from the KZ that I cut down the middle, narrowed, and fiberglassed. The paint was also done by me with rattle cans. I took my time and put it on heavy enough and wet sanded the s**t out of it. It’s golden. The bike was also rewired by me. I kept the air filters stock but the side covers where removed. I dig the lines and look of it.
cb360 cafe – right rear
bM: It’s a purty bike, man. When you were a boy, what did you want to be when you grew up?
(Laughs) When I was a boy I wanted to be a bunch of s**t; from a cowboy to a truck driver going cross country. I wanted to be a race car driver, a fisherman, a wrestler, a hitman for the mob, a UFC fighter, a rock star and right after high school I wanted to be a **** star.
bM: I wanted to be a truck driver and a rock star, too. You’ve built and are working on a lot of cafe-style bikes, including a nice Yamaha XS500, but you build bobbers, too. Is it the client who determines what you build, or do you simply let the bike speak for itself and build what it cries out to become?
KK: I’d build something someone wants and give them some pointers or possible cool ideas without steering them from what they want, but the bikes have kinda created themselves over the past few months. Each bike has gone through so many changes with my skills getting better over the last four years, and now I also have the room, the time, and the right tools. I feel lucky.
As I mentioned, everything from Jersey was built in a driveway with limited resources. My second build was an XS400 I did in probably one weekend. I cut the frame, lowered the shocks, set up a solo seat mounted over an aluminum diamond plate seat pan, put on a side-mount license plate bracket, added drag bars with 4″ dogbones, and painted it pumpkin orange with white scallops. The job was mostly bolt-on stuff. Painting the tank and the diamond plate seat pan was the only real fab work, but it looked pretty cool and nothing like my KZ.
xs500 cafe – painted parts to be assembled
KK: The third build was that CB360 cafe which was mostly bolt-on parts except for my custom fiberglass and for a first try, it was easier than I thought it would be and the bike looks classy!
xs500 cafe – right
KK: The fourth bike was an XS500. I knew once I laid eyes on it what it had to be, and it came out great! Again, it was built out in the driveway but caught a lot of attention down here in Georgia so I wanted to work on it some more and make it lighter and faster. I reconfigured the frame to adapt new Yamaha R1 rearsets and I’m waiting for Woodcraft clip-ons. She’s also getting modern street bike controls and in general a lot of cool stuff will be on this bike. That should be done by spring!
xs500 cafe – latest front wheel assembly
KK: Number five is the GS. It’s a slow mover. I want the same look as the XS500 with bold and bright colors like you see on a streetbike, but I want the motor hopped up! I want to bring the younger crowd in. It’s cool when little kids stare in awe on what you’re rocking. It’s like planting seeds!
bM: Muah ha ha ha ha! Can’t wait to see the finished XS500 cafe, man.
KK: My sixth bike is the Suzuki GSF400 Bandit. The frame is going to look sick. I’m powder coating it right now using that new Camaro green. When I first got the donor bike, it sat while I tried to figure out the custom rear bodywork. I had to do it twice. Using fiberglass and trying to get the angle I wanted while making it sturdy didn’t work, so I’m fabricating a fender and a gas tank for the rear. I came up with a fairning that looks like the *** of an exotic sports car! I’m trying to make it a modern day cafe racer.
gs850 cafe – in progress
KK: I have three more waiting to get to, including a Suzuki GS850 and I’ve already started tearing at them. My wife says it seems I like the chaos, but it all helps keep me calm. So to finally answer your question, they kind of build themselves down here!
bM: How long do you usually take to build a bike?
KK: Hmm…. I just picked up a GS450 that I’m shooting to build within 24 hours (real working hours, not done in a day). I have only eight hours into it and 10 bucks over what I paid for it because I’m keeping it real raw and simple. There will be hidden touches throughout the bike. I still have to mount the seat and rear fender, rewire it, and some other **** you never plan on doing. The back half of the frame has been cut up to get the stance and lines I was looking for; something like the XS500 cafe I’m finishing. I would say the average bike takes about a month, all depending on how much I plan on doing to it. Lucky for me there is no set schedule yet. I do what I do when I do it.
bM: Do you have a favorite motor or style that you prefer to work with?
KK: On a motor I like air cooled. They’re simple looking with no radiator to worry about. On bike styles I think each one is cool in its own way. I even have a 1999 Yamaha YZF that I plan on turning into a streetfighter. She’s on the back burner…. I would love to be able to build all sorts of styles. Personally, I like to ride on something more of a chopper. Something heavy looking. Otherwise I look like a gorilla f***ing a banana. Bit I love to whip a cafe racer around. They handle better and stop easier but like I say, to each their own.
bM: Beer: PBR, Corona, Guinnes, or something else?
KK: There are many nights I’ve sold my soul to a bottle of Jack, but nowadays it’s the cheapest s**t in a 30-pack such as Naty Ice or Milwaukee’s Best. I consider them the NicoDerm patch for alcoholics! If i’m on vacation then it’s shots of Patrón and plenty of Corona!
bM: If you could build any bike, what would it be?
KK: F**k…. Trying to finish the XS500, the Bandit, and move forward on the GS850 cafe. I just picked up a GS450 and GS750 last week. That’s a lot for one hombre but it’s fun. I definitely want something evil looking for myself to replace my KZ750 twin. I’ve been treating these bikes like girlfriends. I’d keep them all but the wife would kick me out. Changing them up and making them better keeps s**t spicy, and when they’re sold I can always tell about the one that got away.
bM: Do you have plans to manufacture and sell specific parts for custom metric bobbers, choppers and cafes?
KK: I would love to have products that say Karnage Kustomz but it’s got to be really f***ing cool and different. I’ve got ideas such as tanks and bars and complete bolt-on kits for bobbers and cafes. It would be stuff the average dude can do in a weekend to completely transform his bike.
bM: Ever consider building a tracker? A go anywhere, do anything sort of machine?
KK: I like the tracker style. If I get my hands on what I feel will be a great all terrain killing machine, then absolutely. I’m thinking of a two stroke! It’ll happen…
bM: It always does.
cb360 cafe – front
There you go metric mofos. Eric is a decent photographer and he’s got a new blog you ought to check out at Karnage Kustomz. As always, if you contact him, tell him you read about him on bikerMetric.
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