My infatuation with motorcycles goes back to my early teens. As a kid, I wasn’t allowed to have one, even after I was old enough to get a license. That didn’t stop me though. My first bike was a 1979 Yamaha IT175 at age 17 with money I earned installing sound systems and alarms in cars. Soon after, I got a 1986 ZX600R, then a 1975 CB550, then a 1981 GS1100. Since then, I have not been without at least one motorcycle.
For the next few years, I purchased and worked on various bikes figuring out things as I went. I would save my money, buy the parts I needed, and then use a neighborhood parking lot to do the maintenance on them. One day, the owner of a nearby independent motorcycle shop approached, said he’d been watching me, was impressed and offered me a job—that was my dream come true and the spark that launched a lifetime of total immersion in motorcycles from recreational riding, to racing, repair, and then to full custom builds.
Working with this man lit a fire under me. It was no longer enough to just learn by doing; it was time to get a real education, so I enrolled in the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute at the age of 19. Studying and applying that knowledge for 2 years, I graduated with honors at the top of my class and became accredited in motorcycle technology, machining and performance. I also underwent Suzuki and Harley-Davidson factory training.
What impressed me the most about Harley-Davidson motorcycles was the awesome torque of the engine and that every part of a Harley is rebuildable. When I was 21, I bought my first Harley—a 1989 FXR.
While working with Harley-Davidson, I completed their PHD training program along with training in fuel injection and engine rebuilding programs. I also studied CNC machine programming, TIG and MIG welding.
In my early twenties, I began to gain a reputation for my attention to detail. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work for a prominent and accomplished Harley customizer who encouraged me to start my own business. The thought was a little scary but also a challenge I couldn’t ignore, so in 1995, with little money and no outside investments, I started Cycledoctor in Costa Mesa, California. We have been in that same location since that day.
Like any good entrepreneur with a lot of passion, but little formal business background, I just jumped in with both arms and legs and began to take whatever work walked in my door. I changed tires, oil and filters. I fixed carburetors; I adjusted chain tensions—anything that people wanted. From that experience, I began to build custom bikes from the ground up.
For the next five years, I went through the age-old process of working long hours, building a support network, sometimes maxing out my credit cards to pay for parts until I was paid, and learning by doing every day. Thankfully, I was located in southern California where the mild weather allowed for year-round riding, and of course, year-round maintenance. Other businesses began to grow in tandem: parts and supplies, painters, chroming, machinists and others. I was part of a new booming industry.
In those early years, I wore many hats. I was the receptionist, the mechanic, the accountant and the advertising manager to name a few. During this time, I also managed to squeeze in a new passion, racing, not only because it was great fun and helped fuel my adrenaline, but because it provided another area to learn about mechanics and performance. In May 1999, I bought a Dynojet Model 250 dynamometer. This incredible technology opened up a whole new world for me to more accurately measure the results of engine building, tuning and performance.
At that point, I was able to achieve maximum state of tune so it was time to go to El Mirage and see what I could do. On July 18th, 1999, I went 149 mph on my ’89 Harley-Davidson FXR 80 cubic inch street bike after tuning the engine and experimenting with different gearing. Then on June 25, 2000, I did 153 mph at the Muroc dry lake bed at Edwards Air Force Base (an unofficial record, 1350 A-PG). I ran that same bike for three seasons without any kinds of failures. This was a testament to the reliable power made with Johnson Engine Technology cylinder head port design, and the potential of a street ridden, efficient breathing Harley-Davidson engine.
Now, with a full machine shop, we are doing more work in-house than ever and my life has changed in other ways as well. I can now spend more time with my family (my wife and four children). The variety of work I do has expanded exponentially, and we have developed an entire community of partners who share my passion and dedication. I am grateful for my family, for my community of partners and for my customers. I am dedicated to you one and all.