Jason Beaver of Clayton knows his way around a motorcycle: the roar of the engine, the kick of the throttle, the thrill of what a well-built bike can do on the open road.
“I’ve been around them since I was a kid,” he said. “I got my first one at 16.”
Since then, Beaver, now 30, figures he’s custom built about 100 bikes from the ground up, and he’s done so with an artistry that’s won international recognition. This Saturday and Sunday, Beaver will join other custom builders at Capital City Bikefest in downtown Raleigh, where he will put some of his motorcycles on display.
Beaver’s custom bikes run the color spectrum: They’re orange, black, blue, red, pink, gold – just about every color and shade imaginable. They’re matte or glossy; some even sparkle. A few have stripes; others have skulls, flames, lightning bolts, wings, even animal prints.
Beaver owns Crazy Beavers Customs, a Selma business that grew from Beaver, his brother, Josh, 26, and their dad working on bikes in their garage. They liked custom bikes but couldn’t afford them, so they decided to build their own. No one at the shop has formal training.
“We just learned along the way,” Beaver said, his hands covered in grease, paint and other marks of his trade. “It was hard, but we’ve got it now, I think. We learn more with each project.”
“It was a lot of trial and error,” Josh said, laughing, his shorts covered in dust from sanding bike parts.
About two years ago, Beaver decided he’d outgrown the home garage and started looking for commercial space. He found it at 3890 Buffalo Road in Selma, where he’s got an office, a garage packed with bikes and equipment, a sanding area and paint room.
Beaver, his brother and fellow enthusiast Neal Mitchell work on bikes separately and as a team. Some of the jobs are small, custom paint, for example. Others create a bike from gathered parts.
“I had a guy who went all over and kept getting turned down,” Beaver said of a past customer. “He eventually got to me, and I told him I’d give it a shot. I’ll try anything once.”
For Beaver, it’s really more art than mechanics, though he’s versed in that too. “I always loved art and design,” he said. “So I do a lot of the paint and airbrush work.”
From contrasting color schemes to intricate design work, Beaver said he has a plan for each bike before he and his teammates start building on its bones.
But visitors to his shop won’t find a written plan or design anywhere.
“It’s all up here,” Beaver said, laughing and pointing to his head. “I just tell the guys my vision, and we try to go from there.”
Their work has earned them any where from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands and has attracted fans and customers from the United States, Canada and as far away as Malaysia.
“I thought it was a joke at first,” Beaver said of the customer from Malaysia, a fan of his work on Facebook who reached out for a custom bike to be built and shipped to his home country. “But it turned out great.”
At Capital City Bikefest, Crazy Beavers Customs will have a chance to show off the team’s handiwork. They’re working on three bikes they hope to have ready in time.
Beaver said they’ve been to the event for the past several years. “It’s a blast, and you’re surrounded by the whole motorcycle community,” he said. “We really look forward to it.”
“Not everyone gets to wake up in the morning and go do something they love,” Beaver said while tinkering with one of his bikes. “I always dreamed about this. I don’t think I ever really thought I’d be here.”
For more information on Crazy Beavers Customs, find them on Facebook or go to crazybeaverscustoms.com.
For more than 30 years, Ray Price Harley-Davidson has served as the center of motorcycle culture in Raleigh, N.C., and among the Southeast’s top motorcycle dealerships. Home to Hall-of-Fame racing legend Ray Price, dealership staff have centuries of combined Harley riding experience to provide award-winning customer service and education programs for beginners-to-expert riders. Ray Price was again named a 2014 Dealernews Top 100 business, as well as a Powersports Business Power 50 Dealer. The team actively supports area charities through a wide range of philanthropy projects. Ray Price Racing won the National Hot Rod Association’s (NHRA) Top Fuel Harley Championship in 2014 and 2015.