Dave Perewitz has to be considered a member of the “old guard” when referring to bike builders. With over 30 years in the custom motorcycle industry, he has watched the trends change and the styles come and go. Through all of these changes he has remained on top of his game. With over 100 magazine covers to his credit and a customer list of celebrities as long as your arm, Dave proves time and time again his design and paint skills are always in big demand. With inductions into two motorcycle halls of fame and being named the 2003 Best Custom Fabricated Bike Builder, Dave shows no sign of slowing down any time soon.
CC: Is there anything new and exciting under construction at Perewitz Cycle Fabrication this summer?
Dave: Well, we’ve always got new and exciting stuff in the works all the time. We’ve got two of Jesse Jurrens’ Legend frame bikes that we’re building, and they’re kind of a challenge because we want to make them look a little different than all the rest of them, so we’re working on those two, and we’ve got some NASCAR stuff. We build a lot of bikes for NASCAR guys. We’re doing one right now for Greg Zipadelli, Tony Stewart’s crew chief, so that’s going to be pretty neat, and actually a new twist is we’re doing some bobbers. I’m building a ’63 pan, an original ’63 pan for my daughter, and she’s going to be riding that this summer. It’s an original ’62 motor, tranny and frame, gas tanks, and then I’m going to put good suspension and good brakes on it, but it will still be kick-start and will be all original.
CC: That leads me into my next question: Do you think that the bobbers are starting to gain in popularity over the big, long billet sleds that everybody’s got now?
Dave: Well, I think that the big advantage to bobbers is you can build them cheap, and that is a big advantage. You know, we’ve been able to build anything…. Our stuff starts at 50 grand, and now with this new bobber trend, I think that we can build a really nice bike for between 25 and 30, you know, a bobber style, which is a market we’ve never been able to be in. So, we might be trying that out.
CC: What does it mean to you to have been inducted in not only the Sturgis Motorcycle Hall of Fame but also the National Motorcycle Museum Hall of Fame?
Dave: Well, being inducted into the two halls of fame is quite an honor. There are not too many guys out there who have both trophies, we’ll just say, and it is a pretty neat thing and it is a lifetime of work.
CC: As long as you’ve been in the business, as many years as you’ve been building, out of the new crop of builders now—the young guns, if you will, who impresses you?
Dave: I would have to say Roland Sands. Roland Sands is an extremely talented kid. He’s real aggressive. He’s right on the cutting edge of what’s happening, and he’s the guy that stands out most in my mind. He not only comes up with all the creative ideas, but the kid has got the background to back it up. He’s an ex-racer. Of course he’s got his performance machine background, and all that means a lot.
CC: Are there any more Biker Build-Offs in your future?
Dave: You never know about that. Discovery keeps telling me that they got one all lined up for me, but you know, I don’t ask any questions, and they don’t tell you much until it’s time.
CC: The last time I was in Sturgis, one of the builders was charging $20 for his autograph. I’ve had many of the builders I’ve talked to, including you, who have signed for free. What do you think about charging for your autograph?
Dave: Well, I would never charge for an autograph. I charge five bucks for posters, but as far as autographs, no, I can’t see charging for autographs.
CC: With Avon making a 360 rear tire now, do you think rear tire widths have reached their maximum, or is the envelope going to be pushed even further?
Dave: I think the envelope is going to be pushed even further, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to do it. I’m stuck pretty much on 300s. Two-fifties are more in line with being practical, if there is such a word, and we’re doing quite a few 300s, but I don’t want to go any bigger than that.
CC: After seeing some of the other builders with their names on everything from slippers to toolboxes to barbecue tool sets, why is it that we haven’t seen Perewitz Cycles jump into the media machine?
Dave: Well, that’s not an easy thing to break into. I’ve got a lot of stuff going on that people haven’t really seen. I’ve licensed my name in quite a few different directions, but it takes a lot to pursue that. The only way the guys you’re referring to can do it successfully is through all the TV coverage.
CC: Is it important to you to keep your name associated within the motorcycle industry instead of slippers or other items such as that?
Dave: Yeah, my name is always going to be associated with the motorcycle industry, no matter what. The motorcycle industry is my life. I do motorcycles 24/7 and that’s it. There’s really not much of my life that’s not associated with motorcycles, so if I can do something outside the industry, that’s great, but I’m always going to be deep in the industry.
CC: Where do you see yourself 20 years from now?
Dave: I see myself doing the same thing but not on quite such a demanding schedule, but I can’t ever see myself retiring. I’m always going to work on motorcycles in one way or another until I can’t do it anymore.
Interview and photos by Loney and