Got an email from Killman Customs floating around on an island just off the coast of Vancouver. He told me he had a cool story about a pretty girl and a copper Honda Shadow bobber, along with a link back to a video on his build. Sure enough, it was worth asking about.
Ali’s Copper Honda Shadow Bobber by Killman Customs
bikerMetric: Hey man, tell us a little about yourself. Who are ya?
Killman Customs: Batman!
bikerMetric: It’s gonna be one of those interviews, eh?
Killman Customs: Sorry, had to be done! I’m Killian Kopiak, from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. I’m the Evil Overlord at Killman Customs Independent Buildhouse.
bikerMetric: Yup. There is definitely a reason why they keep you on an island. Alright, Mr. Overlord, what makes you the bomb?
Killman Customs: I’m five, like, permanently. Just a huge ******* geek. I draw inspiration from anywhere and everywhere. Comics, movies, music, old biker mags, ****** hotel signs, bad tattoos, whatever works. I’m a firm believer that ego and fear are the dream killers, so I take in all the knowledge I can and then take chances with it.
bikerMetric: Does that kind of play into how you go about your builds?
Killman Customs: When the old biker boys start talking wrenching I STFU and soak it in, then do something as outrageous with it as possible. All the while trying to remind myself that I like the majority of my hide and bones where they are. Doesn’t always take though, gravity can be a real ***.
bikerMetric: What inspired you on this Honda Shadow bobber vt600 build?
Killman Customs: The client. Ali has this funky and edgy style. Sexy and badass as ****, but still distinctly feminine. The build had to stand up and represent that.
bikerMetric: Was there a special look you wanted to go for, as a result of that need?
Killman Customs: It had to be unique and tough, but elegant. I wanted a heavy 50’s style bobber influence, hence the Shinko 777 whitewalls, throwback signals and classic but mismatched white stitched tuck upholstery by La Rosa Design.
bikerMetric: And the raw look?
Killman Customs: The copper came about after the client mentioned she liked bare metal. Turns out copper’s a metal, and we offer polishing services in house, so we went for it. Turned out beautifully.
bikerMetric: So a bike rolled in the shop… and it looked liiiiiike….?
Killman Customs: It was theoretically a roller with a deep and abiding clinical depression.
bikerMetric: A roller with a deep and abiding clinical depression. Right on.
Killman Customs: Yeah. It had been cut on by an ex boyfriend that was long on enthusiasm but short on measuring tape.
bikerMetric: Literally the best answer I’ve gotten from that question, ever.
Killman Customs: I swear I heard it softly crying in the shop at nights.
bikerMetric: Haha, ok so along comes a war amps roller, with clinical depression, probably some deep rooted, psychological issues, with dreams of one day being a proper Honda Shadow bobber. Now what?
Killman Customs: We don’t usually wrench on anything newer than ’85. This came to us via a friend of a friend kinda thing. Ali needed a hand, but had limited funds, so we kicked things around for a bit before finding a way to swing it that would put smiles on everybody’s faces.
bikerMetric: One thing I’ve come across, repeatedly, in talking to so many builders, is that there is a lot of people willing to be generous with their time in the custom motorcycle scene, for people who approach it the right way. Good on you guys.
Killman Customs: She ponied up what cash she could afford, which pretty much covered parts, we made her a beautiful Copper Honda Shadow Bobber and now she lets us show it and comes to events to share some love. So far so awesome!
bikerMetric: That’s a win-win. What was your initial goal with the build?
Killman Customs: It had to be safe and reliable, fun and sexy, but still functional for all kinds of summer adventures and road trips. Had to be both town and highway friendly. Ali is a new rider and this is her first bike. Couldn’t ask for a better platform along those lines than an old Honda Shadow. That factory monoshock leant itself nicely to the illusion of a hardtail and Ali had expressed a liking for several bobbers, so our path seemed pretty straightforward stylistically.
bikerMetric: This all sounds too peachy, something’s wrong here.
Killman Customs: Unfortunately, although we knew it was in rough shape, it managed to exceed expectations.
bikerMetric: Haha, yeah, that sounds more like it.
Killman Customs: That thing had an inveterate and sneaky ambition to suck. A lot of the budget got eaten by straight up make-it-go-vroom type stuff. New brake pads and shoes with a Galfer stainless steel braided line, new DID gold xring chain and JT carbon steel sprockets, new clutch springs and Motion Pro cable, new tires, new ignition, gas cap and steering lock, etc. The list was pretty extensive.
bikerMetric: Beaucoup money for the basics. Bummer. What kind of mods did you do?
Killman Customs: The back end was the key to the whole project. We sealed off the ragged and uneven cuts to the frame and mounted bullet style signals over them to tidy things up, with Zepplin lights up front to complete the look. Re-machining a number of Blue Collar Bobber parts to fit the actual state of the bike took some time and patience and a new metal fender and ***** pad had to be installed to support the weight of a passenger or luggage. We brought in a sissybar from TJ Brutal to help support the load and fabbed up mounts to raise the sissybar so that we had adequate tire clearance from the rear fender.
bikerMetric: I’m feeling a “but wait, there’s more” coming.
Killman Customs: There were other additions, like the iridium flyscreen, wrapping the pipes, the reaper radiator cutout and the slotted heat shield, but the tank and front fender were the crowning touch. After having them plated with raw copper, we cut down a large rough spot that the plating process had left in the front of the tank and painstakingly polished both pieces up to a rosy glow. Lotta love in those.
bikerMetric: Is there one part of this Honda Shadow bobber in particular that makes your jeans get tight?
Killman Customs: That copper bodywork is a real point of pride. It just doesn’t quit. One of my favorite comments from folks is how pics just don’t do the copper justice. I concur with those sentiments in an exuberant and tail thumping fashion. We already have some plans to add some graphics work, but she’s plenty pretty as she sits.
bikerMetric: Was there one part that just killed ya?
Killman Customs: First thing that springs to mind was the spectacularly failed tank liner, but it was really more of a grinding pain in the *** than difficult. The uneven cuts that had been performed on the frame however, left the frame rails too short for any bolt on options. The asymmetrical frame on this model didn’t do us any favors either. It took a lot of work and thought to get everything buttoned up so smoothly. In the end it turned out pretty slick. Really happy with how easy it is to remove the sissybar and fender, or rear wheel independently of one another. We made some good choices along the way design-wise.
bikerMetric: I like the honesty here. These things are never easy. Love the video, too!
Killman Customs: This whole copper Honda Shadow bobber project was new ground, both the actual bike and our approach to the project and reasons for taking it on. A lot of our clients become like family and we keep in touch through the years. Ali turned out to be a welcome new addition to the clan. It’s been a real honor to make that BRAAP dream come true for her and she’s brought a lot of fun and charm to our world, especially on the road. There’s just no substitute for the obvious pride and joy she radiates and it’s contagious. Glad we took the chance and found a way to get the right thing done for her.
bikerMetric: And when it was all said and done, any trips on the copper Honda Shadow bobber??
Killman Customs: Our first roadtrip to an event was pretty rad. We swung by to pick Ali up, and gave her one of our duffle bags full of swag so she’d have some gear to wear to the show, and she just puppydog eyed her ride like it was proposing. Felt pretty alright.
bikerMetric: Sidebar. Random story about you and motorcycles, you have 3 seconds, 2… 1… Go!
Killman Customs: Well there was the time, after talking to an old Honda wrench, that I went out and bought a deep fryer off of Craigslist to remove some fork bushings from a little 80’s Hawk…
bikerMetric: Ok, let’s come back to that some other time. The copper Honda Shadow bobber is done and out. What’s currently in the works or up next?
Killman Customs: Next up, we’ll be turning a beat to **** frankenbike of a ’72 CB750K into a bit of an old school dirtster. I do a lot of travelling to events in the Summer and I need something to haul my 200+ pound behind down a lot of hours of blacktop with plenty of bumpy fields at the end of the road. Already done a lot of the design and sourcing work, so with any luck it should go together pretty smoothly. Anybody else hear laughter and thunder in the distance?
bikerMetric: You BC guys are something else. Speaking of your home province, anybody you wanna say hi to? *passes the mic*
Killman Customs: Yup, my beautiful and talented fiancée, Candice. Without her none of the magic happens, she’s just chock-full of amazing ideas that I get to find ways to execute. Did I mention that she’s a Marine Biologist? Gotta have at least one superhero in the house saving the world.
bikerMetric: Ain’t that sweet? Where can readers find you?
Killman Customs: As far as wrenching, we operate by appointment out of a small shop in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Retail we do live at events in BC and soon, hopefully, the US; as well as from our website and Facebook online stores.
You can reach us by email firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 778-430-4392 , via Facebook (Killman Customs Independent Buildhouse), or you can just check out our website at: http://www.killmancustoms.com/
bikerMetric: Peace out, Batman!
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