09 Harley-Davidson Dyna | Therapy Custom

Building bikes to beat cancer

The instruction manual “How to Build a Custom Dyna” has officially been written. It seems every bike submitted lately has the same cookie-cutter look and style. As we point a finger at all the similar builds being submitted, four are pointed back right at us for continuing to show the same style of bikes. That’s what drew us to this down-and-dirty Dyna from the one-and-only T-Rod’s Speed Shop. With its raw and simplistic approach to the build, it was refreshing to see something different come our way and with an inspiring story to boot.

09 Harley-Davidson Dyna | Therapy Custom

09 Harley-Davidson Dyna | Therapy Custom

Photo: Ed Subias

09 Harley-Davidson Dyna | Therapy Custom

09 Harley-Davidson Dyna | Therapy Custom

Photo: Ed Subias

09 Harley-Davidson Dyna | Therapy Custom

09 Harley-Davidson Dyna | Therapy Custom

Photo: Ed Subias

This bike wasn’t originally started in T-Rod’s shop. It started in a different shop, until the builder became stricken with cancer. “It started out as a project that was half built,” T-Rod explained. “Jeff Bressler had a shop called American Performance. He was diagnosed with stage-four cancer in his blood and had to close down his shop. The only person he trusted to finish the bike was myself. He sent Kevin, the owner of the bike, to my shop as a roller with nothing on it.”

09 Harley-Davidson Dyna | Therapy Custom

09 Harley-Davidson Dyna | Therapy Custom

Photo: Ed Subias

09 Harley-Davidson Dyna | Therapy Custom

09 Harley-Davidson Dyna | Therapy Custom

Photo: Ed Subias

09 Harley-Davidson Dyna | Therapy Custom

09 Harley-Davidson Dyna | Therapy Custom

Photo: Ed Subias

For a lifelong bike builder like Jeff, not being able to finish a build is one of the worst things to happen. T-Rod knew this and even though Jeff couldn’t be present in the day-to-day process, he was very much still part of the build. “I was on the phone with Jeff as I started putting the bike together,” T-Rod said. “Jeff would call me from the chemo chair. Even though he closed his shop, I wanted to make him still part of something. Anything to get his mind off the horrible monster that cancer is and to focus on things he loves. I grabbed his ideas and added my own touch. We wanted to do something that wasn’t too flashy, so all the metal work was brushed metal with a clear to make it look more industrial.”

09 Harley-Davidson Dyna | Therapy Custom

09 Harley-Davidson Dyna | Therapy Custom

Photo: Ed Subias

09 Harley-Davidson Dyna | Therapy Custom

09 Harley-Davidson Dyna | Therapy Custom

Photo: Ed Subias

09 Harley-Davidson Dyna | Therapy Custom

09 Harley-Davidson Dyna | Therapy Custom

Photo: Ed Subias

Creating a panel in just paint can be done with masking off a line. T-Rod showed the right way to create panels, out of metal. “The stock gas tank sides were cut out,” he said. “And hammered and recessed in.” To keep with bare-bones concept, the bike was stripped of all its electronics and taken back to the bare essentials. “I took the whole harness, threw it away, and made a new one,” T-Rod continued. “We ditched the fuel injection and replaced it with a 42mm Mikuni. By not having injection we still wanted performance. Now if we make modifications we don’t have to download a new map. I like to have control, not a computer. It can be done. I’m a minimalist. Even the paint we just did flat-black panels with a little bit of gold pinstripe and brushed look. Paint can take away from the build and turn it into a clown-looking bike. Less is more.”

09 Harley-Davidson Dyna | Therapy Custom

09 Harley-Davidson Dyna | Therapy Custom

Photo: Ed Subias

09 Harley-Davidson Dyna | Therapy Custom

09 Harley-Davidson Dyna | Therapy Custom

Photo: Ed Subias

Normally these type of stories have sad endings but not in this case. “Jeff eventually beat the cancer,” T-Rod shared. “He was still able to help build and be creative during the toughest time. I think Jeff, me, and God had his hand on this one. Builders like us eat, breathe, and sleep bikes. You take that away and you’re giving a death sentence. Thanks to Kevin, the owner of the bike, for letting us do what we need to do and being so understanding. And f—k cancer.”

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