Writer's Ramblings

An Interview with Paul Yaffe

Written by  July 31, 2006

Life is good for Paul Yaffe. Not only does Paul Yaffe Originals (OYO) continue to be on the cutting edge of custom bike design, but the PYO parts catalog is also second only to Arlen Ness in the sheer number of parts and accessories available. When looking over bikes at any custom bike show you may or may not know it, but you are looking at much of PYO’s catalog. Many of the other master builders use PYO parts on their own custom builds. Paul’s original bike-in-a-box chopper kit provided many would-be master builders with the quality kit they needed to build a true custom at a very affordable price.

CC: How was 2005 for Paul Yaffe Originals?
Paul:: 2005 was good. The beginning of the year was strong; we had a real good year, but after Hurricane Katrina things got real soft for awhile for our whole industry. Everybody was complaining about how quiet things were. The shows slowed down; the phones slowed down. We were lucky we had a year and a half of forward-booked business that was able to keep us busy, but a lot of guys were really struggling toward the end of 2005. But it seems to have bounced back real good for 2006.

CC: Your product line is, to say the least, amazing. What new products do you have up your sleeve?
Paul:: We’ve got a lot of new stuff. We have a completely new style of chopper we’re coming out with. It’s much shorter and more compact with a smaller wheel base. We have a new Phantom frame we’re coming out with, a bunch of new tanks, fenders, grips, mirrors, kind of all across the board. We’ve got a bunch of new stuff. It’s all on the web site. We’re kind of holding off on a catalog to see what direction we want to head, but we’re working on the web site right now.

CC: How do you feel when you see your parts used on other builders’ creations?
Paul:: Well, I mean god, it’s a compliment. I think it still gives me a kick out of it. I certainly appreciate them choosing our stuff, and I’m always interested to know how the products are working for them. These shows bring me in touch with a lot of builders too, which is real nice. I get to talk to people and see how things are going. It’s also nice to see the guys are proud to use my products. They want to come up and tell me, “Hey look, I chose your pipes….” That’s a huge compliment too, that guys trust our name and choose our stuff.

CC: Doug Keim told me in a recent interview that you are one of the nicest guys in the business. Is he right?
Paul:: He doesn’t know me.

CC: What are you working on in your shop currently?
Paul:: We just finished the new Supertrapp bike for the 2006-2007 tour. It came out great. We have a contract that we do every year with a fish company. We do a big fish bike every year. It is always a big, huge project for us. Really high dollar involved bikes. We just did this full-body shark bike that’s just crazy. You can see it on the web site. It’s pretty crazy. It should be done in a couple of weeks. I have to have it in Chicago on the 19th of May for this restaurant show. We unveil it every year at their big restaurant, so I’ve only got a couple of weeks to finish it. We’re just busy with customs. It’s funny, it comes in waves. Sometimes we do a lot of simpler bikes, bikes that are raised on our rolling chassis and stuff like that, and then sometimes we do a lot of wild, crazy one-off stuff, and right now it seems like everything in the shop is crazy one-off stuff. So, we have a lot of big, involved projects that are real time consuming. The shop is real challenging right now, a lot of neat, innovative work going on.

CC: Have you seen any trends in the Easyriders Tour this year, anything way different than what you have seen in the last several years?
Paul:: I think your average long bike, you don’t see many builds of that. You see a lot of stuff that is long and low. That’s a big trend right now. Big tires and big horsepower. Then a lot of old school stuff, a lot of bobbers and unique antique stuff. I think right now the industry is kind of sharing both of those looks that are real hot right now, real contemporary low-slung bottom looking bike and then a real old school bobber digger-type thing. I think those are the two big trends in the industry right now.

CC: What are your thoughts on the new EPA regulations that came out in '06?
Paul:: The EPA stuff doesn’t affect me that much. I think it sucks, and I think it can hurt a lot of people. I’m a licensed manufacturer and I do less than 100 bikes per year, so it doesn’t really affect me. I’m under the radar on that one. I think it is unconstitutional, and I think you’re going to see a change, personally. I don’t think it will last.

CC: The series Metric Revolution is coming on TV this fall, the build-off where everybody is using platforms. Do you think that is going to hurt the Motor Company at all?
Paul:: No, I don’t think so at all. I think there is plenty of room out there. I think it’s cool the guys are into metric cruisers are getting into customizing their bikes. I think it will probably raise their passion level for the bikes. Some of the stuff I’ve seen is very cool, and I think the companies that make Honda, Yamaha, etc., are kind of going after that customizing business too. It’s the same as always, just kind of following in the Motor Company’s footsteps.

CC: Are there any build-offs in your future or anything else for Discovery?
Paul:: We just finished a new show with Speed Vision about building Jeff Gordon’s bike. It’s airing right now. It’s on Speed this month. It’s called V-Twin TV; it’s a half hour show about us doing Jeff’s bike, and we’re doing another build-off; June 26 we start, and then we ride to Sturgis. Looking forward to that.

By Loney and
Stephanie Wilcoxson