Writer's Ramblings

Behind the Scenes with the Detriot Brothers

Written by  May 31, 2007

Dave and James Kaye represent the next generation of custom bike builders. You may know Dave and James better by their business name, Detroit Brothers. Dave’s background is in engineering and industrial design which serves him well in developing cutting-edge bikes and parts. James attended the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit receiving training in sculpture and fine arts. James has worked for Ron Finch and Russell Mitchell of Exile Cycles honing the skills that have made him a master fabricator. Detroit Brothers bikes have an edgy, industrial look that provides a welcome contrast to the multi-colored billet bikes that many shops produce today.

CC: How was 2006 for Detroit Brothers?
Dave: 2006 was a good year. We had our second Biker Build-off for Discovery Channel and we found out we were going to be on the Easyriders Centerfold Tour, which is a great thing to be a part of this whole tour.

CC: Do you think James’ tenure working with Ron Finch and Russ Mitchell influences your style at all?
Dave: In some regard. Ron Fitch is just a consummate artist. Really, in a sense, you couldn’t get any different than the two guys because Ron is all about art. Like his sh*t or not, he has never comprised. He has been doing the same thing, his ideas, since he started. I have so much respect for that. At the same time, I totally respect Russ Mitchell because he is an excellent businessman; he has really made his own style and has really made it mainstream. He’s created his own style and made it work and I have huge respect for that. We’re trying to do the same thing. So, in a sense, having worked with those guys, has influenced us, but our designs are still our own. I think we borrow a little bit from both businesses.

CC: Your bikes all have a kick-ass industrial look to them. Why not go with a multi-colored billet barge like some of the other builders do?
Dave: In my opinion, there are just way too many bikes like that already. We started this company and started building bikes because we thought there needed to be something different. We thought that we needed to do something different, and we did it.

CC: Your custom frames have been getting great reviews. Do you have any new frames in the works?
Dave: We have a few. We did the drop seat thing, which is a classic and we have a gooseneck version of that which is a little bit lower, a little bit longer, and then we have adapted those frames for Sportster engines, Ironheads including the Buell, rubber mount Sportsters, and we’re just about to do one for twin-cams. So really, that drop seat look can be done with just about any drive train, any American V-Twin drive train out there.

CC: In the future will you be developing more custom parts for the retain market?
Dave: We are really heavy into developing custom parts. The bikes are nice, the bikes are fun, everybody wants to build bikes, but the parts are something you’ve gotta do. We’ve just gotta do it to stay in business, so we’re trying to do a lot of that stuff right now. We’ve come out with headlights, triple trees. We’re working on a primary; we’ve got an air cleaner, a lot of different stuff that we’re bringing to market right now; new wheels, stuff like that.

CC: What are you working on in your shop right now?
Dave: Right now we’ve got about five builds, five customer builds. We’ve got an Ironhead build, an Evo Sport build, we’ve got two Big Twin Shovelhead builds, and then we have a big twin-cam build.

CC: Have you seen any trends in the Easyriders Tour this year that you like?
Dave: The old school is really coming in. It’s been on its way, it’s been in the mail, but it’s really, really starting to hit, so half of the bikes over there in Pro Class have got this old school kind of style, and half of them are your billet choppers. What I think is very cool about that is because the old school is coming in more, people are getting used to looking at different sh*t and that makes them accept our different sh*t a little easier. I just think it’s good for the industry as a whole.

CC: Do you think the custom bike craze is slowing down any?
Dave: Not for us. I hear that it is, but we seem to be as busy as ever. I think there’s a lot of guys out there doing the same thing and if you’re making the same thing as the guy down the street from you, then why should a customer come to you? Again, what we do is totally different, so we don’t have that. We’ve never been super busy, but we’re not starving either because people come to use for what we do.

CC: Have you got any more Biker Build-offs in your future?
Dave: The last time the series was cancelled. They cancelled it between our first and second. The show was cancelled but was picked back up, so there’s always the possibility it could come back. It’s a great show and people love it.

Loney and
Stephanie Wilcoxson