Writer's Ramblings

Behind the Scenes with Kendall Johnson

Written by  July 31, 2006

For those whose crusade is the search for the ultimate in power from a V-Twin engine, Kendall Johnson must be the Holy Grail. Kendall is a truly gifted builder with a sterling reputation. The designs from Kendall Johnson Customs are always cutting edge, but instead of seeking power from one of the big name engine companies such as S&S, TP Engineering, or Patrick Racing as most builders do, Kendall chooses to build his own engines. The reputation for bulletproof horsepower has helped Kendall not only power his own creations but has also led to him being the engine builder of choice for many other builders.

CC: How was 2005 for Kendall Johnson Customs?
Kendall: It was really good. We were busy, a lot of good ink, a lot of good stuff going on. It’s paying off. It’s keeping us busy in the shop for the most part.

CC: What are you working on in your shop right now? Anything interesting?
Kendall: I’ve got a street chassis design we are finishing up the prototype bike on. I’m doing a bike for Miller Lite and doing a bike for Mac Tools and working on my drag bikes.

CC: have you seen any new trends in the Easyriders Tour this year with the bikes?
Kendall: I think the chopper stuff is probably on the way out; more the Pro Street/bobber stuff is on the way back.

CC: What are your thoughts on the new EPA regulations regarding bikes?
Kendall: We’ve got a manufacturers license so it’s not really affecting us, but it’s hard to say what it will do to the industry. I think it’s going to be a couple of years before it really catches on anyway.

CC: Do you have any thoughts on the new noise regulations that are popping up everywhere in different cities?
Kendall: Those have actually been there forever; it’s just according to how much they’re going to enforce them.

CC: Do you think the custom bike craze is slowing down any at all?
Kendall: No, not really. I think that it may have leveled off because you don’t have but so many people who are going to buy custom bikes. It’s kind of getting back to the way it used to be. A lot of the guys that have them, they’re going to update every couple of years, and we’ll just get back to our steady thing. I think it’s all good still though.

CC: Are there any more Biker Build-offs in your future? Anything on Discovery Channel, or on TV?
Kendall: I don’t want to do anything right now. I just did a motor for Roland for his build-off. I built one for Kim for his build-off, and we’ll kind of support these guys. I may help Billy with a couple of projects, but I don’t want to take on anything on my own. As much stuff as I have going on now, it’s just too much.

CC: How long do you think it will be before Harley will be forced to go with a strictly water-cooled line-up?
Kendall: I don’t know, but I think that would be its demise.

CC: You are widely regarded as the V-Twin builder of choice for horsepower. Will you, or do you now do any work on the V-Rod motor?
Kendall: We’ve done some, but they’re not very cost effective to work on.

CC: The Metric Revolution Series will be coming to television this fall. Do you think people seeing more customized metrics will hurt the motor company at all?
Kendall: I don’t know; I really don’t. It’s hard to say. You’re going to have people take a stand on either side, but I don’t know.

CC: Is bike building still fun?
Kendall: Pretty much. Not quite as fun as drag racing, but it’s still fun.

By Loney and
Stephanie Wilcoxson