When passion becomes profession: A motorcycle enthusiast and the custom bikes he builds

Dave Mathis attracts attention whenever he goes out.

“People are rolling down their windows, breaking their necks to see it, slowing down, taking pictures,” he says.

Videos by Rare

Videos by Rare

But it’s not Mathis himself that draws a crowd — it’s his custom motorcycle.

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Mathis is the head technician at Hardcore Choppers in Sterling, Va. The team repairs motorcycles, but also builds custom bikes.

“Just the extreme detail that goes into these [custom motorcycles] can get extremely wild,” Mathis says.

For him, working with bikes is a lifelong passion. Mathis got his first motorcycle — a “little Yamaha YZ80” — when he was 6 years old. Growing up, he raced motocross with his brothers. And he was able to parlay that love into a rewarding career.

“The sky is the limit when you are talking about custom motorcycles,” he says. “We’ve built bikes in the hundred-thousand dollar range, but on average, in the 30 and 40 thousand dollar range.” Customers choose everything — “the sheet metal, the color, the motor size, tires, wheels, you name it.”

When he’s not in the shop, Mathis can be found riding that head-turning bike of his own.

“The feeling you get when you’re riding one of these choppers, the power that they have, the open road, the air in your face, it’s just a more free feeling experience than when you’re trapped in your car with the windows up,” he says.

What do you think?

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