Interview: Shane Sorensen of Chainsikle

| April 3, 2013 | 0 Comments
Shane Sorensen of Chainsikle

Shane Sorensen of Chainsikle

Off the beaten path is where I found Shane Sorensen of Chainsikle in his newly opened shop. I’d heard about him from my first interviewee when I saw his work on a Harley Sportster Cafe, and then again at AutoRama when checking out his current ride, the ‘Black Envy’.

Shane’s work has shown up on builds by some of the Cafe world’s biggest names like DP Customs, Santiago Chopper, and Loaded Gun Customs just to name a few.  You’d think this would go to somebody’s head, but the guy I met was about as laid back and friendly as they come.

I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I had doing it.


Utah Cafe Racer: Okay man, give me some background info.

Shane Sorensen: Alright, so I’m a Mechanical Engineer by trade, I graduated from the U ( University of Utah ) but I’m from Oregon originally. I worked in the aerospace, aviation, and automotive industry for about 15 years. I started making these ( rear sets ) back in 2003, and I finally got to where I was ready to quit my day job and do this full time.


Rear Set

Rear Set

UCR: You’ve only been doing this recently?

SS:  Well, again I’ve been at this since 2003 but every year it’s been growing.  You know, it’s hard to give up that good salary, but things got to critical mass with me where I wasn’t really doing either very well and so I quit the day job and decided to pursue what really made me happy.

SS:  Things started out pretty lean the first year, and the second year it got better, but this year really seems to be taking off. Still, before I went full time there were a lot of nights and weekends out in the garage.


UCR: So right now are your customers from?

SS: Hardly anyone from Utah, surprisingly enough.  Florida, Texas, Cali, all over the world really.  I get quite a bit from Australia, also from Europe.  A couple here and there going to Singapore and Malaysia, oh and I’ve had quite a few go to Japan.


UCR: And the majority of stuff you are doing is for American made bikes?

SS: I only do stuff for American bikes.  And not just any bikes, but Harleys.  And not all Harleys, just Sportsters. There’s three types or styles right now; Street Trackers, Cafes, and Scramblers which is pretty much a newer thing. So it’s those I cater to and that’s it man.


UCR:  This leads right into my next question;  why this niche?



Triple Clamps

Triple Clamps

SS: It’s plain and simple; I have to like it if I going to make something for it.  The big thing for me is, if someone asks me what I’m doing, I’ve got to be excited about it.  If I’m doing something that I’m not excited about, and I’ve had those jobs, it just doesn’t work.

SS: There are a number of companies out there that make bling, you know?  That’s not where it’s at for me, I don’t make bling.  I’m starting to do triple clamps and clip-ons which are borderline bling, because it really doesn’t add to the performance of the bike. I’ve got that whole engineering thing going on and if it’s not improving the performance then it just doesn’t interest me much. This might be stunting my business growth, but I gotta be true to how I feel.


UCR: I hear you man.  I just watched you open that box of parts you got back from the powder coater, and you totally lit up.  It’s cool to see someone so obviously proud of what they’re creating.

SS: Thanks.


UCR: So something I’ve been wanting to ask is, how do you determine the right foot position when you go to build rear sets?

SS:  Okay, so here’s the story.  There are two types of motorcycles; there is the Euro/Japanese contingency and then there is the American contingency.  Both setups come from riding horses, and it’s the riding position that comes from these.  So, there are two types of saddle; Western and English.  Western, which we have here, is long stirrups with your feet out in front.  English on the other hand is high and cropped like jockeys who race.  This all translated over to motorcycles.

SS: So, the English style is to have your feet under your center of gravity acting like shock absorbers.  You and your motorcycle are like a system.  You want your feet under your center of gravity for maximum performance. So that is why they are where they are. I put them straight underneath you.


UCR:  So what about riders that have short legs vs. long legs?  How do you accommodate these differences?

SS: This really comes down to personal preference and is really subjective.  I know a guy that is 6′ 5″ that rides my sets in the high position, and he folds himself up on them and feels totally comfortable.  I ride the same sets and also in the high position but I’m not nearly that tall.

SS: Some guys have really been concerned about them being too high, so I’ll make a third position for low.  I do quite a bit of custom stuff like that.  This is my advantage really. I’m small enough that people can ask me things like this, or ask for other customization for say, ginormous feet or small feet, and I can make sets that accommodate.  But again, feet underneath you.  You want to be balanced, as if you are riding in an English saddle.


UCR:  Alright, so you’ve just opened up your new location and are now doing this full time.  Where do you see yourself and this business going in the next couple of years?

SS: Well, I definitely want to expand more in my market, continue with developing the triple trees, and there are a couple other products like the crash bars you’ve seen on my bike. There is nothing like that on the market right now, these small crash bars.  The only thing out there are huge ones that wrap around your frame.

SS: I’m also making some super low sets. These still have your feet under you but are positioned like a dirt bike. I really feel the next big thing is going to be Scramblers.  Cafes are really big right now, but guys like me need to constantly be looking forward, and what I see up next are the Scramblers.

SS:  I’d also like to start building for the Kawasaki W800 which is a retro style model.  There is a W650, which is a copy of an old Triumph, and they’ve just come out with the W800 now.  It really is just a standard motorcycle, all metal and no plastic.  It’s bikes like this that I’ll be looking to expand into. Like the Suzuki DR650, which is pretty solid but not really good at anything.  I’ve been thinking about some performance kits or parts for those too.


UCR:  So, you’re not going to stick with only Harleys then?

SS: No, I’m not a die-hard Harley guy.  You know, I’ve had so many Jap bikes and got really frustrated with four cylinders. Now twins though, I definitely like twins.  Two cylinders are the bomb man. They’re natural, you’ve got the torque there.  You’ve got the in-line four bikes, and those scream, but twins man, twins roar.


UCR:  Right on. Okay, so is there anything you want to say that I haven’t covered?

SS:  Definitely. First off, what I feel is most important is performance, function over form.  Seriously,  a Cafe is all about taking a standard motorcycle and making it perform better.  That’s where the looks really come out, is in the performance.  The Cafe isn’t a look.

SS: And you know what, everybody I meet in this industry, everybody is such a bro.  There are just so many totally great guys who are really easy to become friends with right off the bat.  It’s just awesome. I’ve been in corporate America and of course you meet some great people there too, but seriously just about everyone I meet now is just totally cool.

SS:  Oh and one more thing. What I really like about what I’m doing, and this industry specifically, is that we sell cool.  So here, I make a part some dude thinks is cool enough to put on his bike. How cool is that?  And you’re not going to put something that sucks on your bike.  So, that is how I look at this, and I totally love it.

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Website (new site coming soon!):

Location:    3053 S State #4, Salt Lake City, Utah  84115


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