A creative after-hours project brought Aspen Motoworx motorcycle owner and mechanic Alex Dicharry to the rarefied Handbuilt Motorcycle Show in Austin, Texas this spring, where his locally-made motorized creation was among just 112 motorcycles. made to measure selected from a field of 4,000 motorcycles worldwide. submissions.
He and his son built the one-of-a-kind motorcycle for three years at the small Motoworx garage near the bottom of Mill Street near the Roaring Fork river, where Dicharry services and customizes bikes for around 1,700 customers between Aspen and Glenwood Springs.
“It meant so much to me to be chosen,” Dicharry said on a recent afternoon in the garage. “And it makes my head spin with visions of what I’m going to build next.”
The Handbuilt Motorcycle Show is a global gathering of motorcycle artisans who have shunned mass-produced machines for their custom labors of motorcycle love, sharing their creations with a daily crowd of 25,000. More of an art exhibit than a biker rally, the event artfully showcases the selected bikes on pedestals in Austin’s Statesman Building and craftsmen like Dicharry give presentations, greet visitors and answer questions about their bikes for five days in April.
Dicharry lost his voice after the first day of uninterrupted conversation, he said.
He compares the painstaking process of making his original bike to the process of relief carving.
“I like to take something and take it all off and find the shape underneath,” he said.
Over the course of three years – he estimates around 300 hours of work “every weekend and late night after work” – the one-of-a-kind bike came together with wheels he built himself and Frankensteinian combinations of snowmobile parts, portions of a KTM dirt bike frame, a front end from a Kawasaki motorcycle and a Honda engine, with foot controls from a Suzuki – components selected or handmade based on performance and aesthetics.
“I’ve raced everything on two wheels for the past 35 years,” Dicharry said. “And by racing it’s kind of turned into taking a motorcycle and really making it an extension of the human body. Something that you can dance with, something that doesn’t necessarily just go on two wheels and to take you from point A to point B.
In Austin, among other automotive artists, Dicharry saw concept creations, bikes made with 3D printed parts, and original visions for every style of bike.
He’s not interested, he said, in making a purely sculptural motorcycle that doesn’t ride. Dicharry wants to be able to ride his creations and has set himself some rough parameters: “I want it to stop. I want it to accelerate really well, I want it to spin, I want it to not just be a distraction between me and the ground.
Dicharry opened the store in Aspen in 2010, after performing private aircraft maintenance in Grand Junction for a time. He owned four motorcycle shops elsewhere in Colorado for more than three decades and didn’t think of opening another until the Great Recession gave him the chance to occupy one of the few industrial commercial spaces in the area. of Aspen.
Working here, he sees a weird and wild assortment of motorcycles from collectors and connoisseurs (“One day it’s a brand new Panigale Ducati, the next it’s two ’68 Triumphs – everything is different and it keeps the brain moving”).
A few years ago, when he first started dreaming of building his own bike from scratch, he didn’t sketch out plans or make a computer model like many custom builders do. It was more improvisation than that.
“I just wanted the bike to handle and breathe fire in a certain way,” he said.
He had experience working with bicycles donated for “restoration modification,” which Dicharry says is mechanical language for work to rebuild a broken-down antique bicycle to something close to its original shape. but using a lot of aftermarket parts” that make it even cooler than it was back then.
This original creation, on the other hand, did not follow any model. He built the wheels from scratch, cut out part of a frame from this old dirtbike, and let his imagination and ingenuity take the lead.
“From there, I put it on the elevator and continued to watch it,” he explained, which began a three-year DIY process. “I planned it aesthetically from there. And then it came to life. »
He was guided largely by ergonomics and aesthetics, he explained, tinkering with finding the right length for the low seat and the right height for the handlebars, working with a silver color scheme. , black, gold and earthy brown so it looks like a pre-war antique but rides like a sports bike. When he and his son finished building it last summer and started it up, Dicharry recalls, they had reason to be proud.
“When we rode it, oh my god, it was by far one of the most fun motorcycles I’ve ever swung a leg on,” Dicharry said. “It’s incredibly noisy. And it’s not fast, but it’s fast.
(Watching Dicharry spin him around the neighborhood — and taking the 20mph speed limit as a lighthearted suggestion — confirmed his high performance and volume and how he literally turns passers-by’s heads.)
Dicharry choked up discussing his pride in having selected the bike for the Austin show, and a wide smile crossed his face as he talked about what he plans to create next in the garage.
“The next build is crazy – it’s going to bring in natural elements, wood,” he said. “I’m going to do this for the rest of my life.”