Ken Nagai of Ken’s Factory Nagoya, Japan
First there are the innovators and then there are the imitators, as the saying goes. The part that is missing from that equation are the ones who work on another level without any confines or adherence to the rules. To describe Ken of Ken’s Factory’s style isn’t easy to do. Rather than break the mold, Ken creates a new one where nothing that currently exists even comes close. So when we choose Best Builder for an American V-twin magazine, it has to be pretty spectacular to take home the prize, especially when you’re from Nagoya, Japan.
The bagger industry in 2016 is at the beginning of a crossroad. The Johnny-come-latelies who hitched their wagons to the newest trends are starting to feel the pinch. It’s the tried-and-true builders, where the quality of their work has been proven over again, and they’re not only weathering the storm but also excelling while others are struggling. Dave Dupor from DD Custom Cycles is one such builder. The quality, and frankly the quantity, of his builds speak for themselves and makes Dave an easy pick for Best Bagger Builder for 2016.
Matt Harris of 40 Cal Customs
If you haven’t had a chance to meet Matt Harris or see any of his builds, find him at the next show, introduce yourself, and check out his bikes. When you walk away, you will have met one of the humblest, down-to-earth, genuine, and most importantly talented builders anywhere. He’s not out there looking for fame, glory, or Instagram likes. Matt builds bikes for the love of creating something truly cool, and at the end of the day, he’s our favorite type of builder. If you don’t like Matt Harris as Best Chopper Builder for 2016, you don’t know Matt.
Nick Trask Trask Performance
When you have the word “performance” in the name of your company, you better know something about going fast. When it comes to making big bikes go fast, Nick Trask of Trask Performance is at the top of a short list of builders who chooses function in addition to form. With an entire line of turbo parts and custom-built bikes, Nick is at the forefront of V-twin technology and style. While other builders sometimes build all show and no go, Nick is one of few who does both equally impressively, and that is why he’s our Best Performance Builder for 2016.
Scott Kietzmann Conquest Customs
We met Scott Kietzmann last year during the 2015 Hot Bike Tour atop his blown flat-yellow Victory Hammer. Wait, what? That’s right, Scotty showed up to a knife fight carrying a machete. When the battle was over and the tire smoked cleared, it was Scott who took home the grand champion ring and won the Hot Bike Tour Build-Off. That’s an impressive feat for any builder but an even greater achievement using a Victory as a platform, and that makes him an easy pick for Victory Builder of the Year.
John Shope Dirty Bird Concepts
The best part about John Shope is that he’s not afraid to jump into something new. As Indian Motorcycles continues to develop, release, and evolve its line of motorcycles, the demand for aftermarket products continues to grow. Shope was one of the first to jump into the deep end of the pool with concrete shoes with Indian parts, and they have served him well. In addition, he’s continually pumping out dream machines using the Indian platform that will provide inspiration for future builders and, more importantly, customers. Congrats to John on the 2016 Indian Builder of the Year.