Interview: Seth and Jason ‘Rev’ Clark of Salt City Builds

| June 10, 2013 | 2 Comments
Seth and Jason Clark of Salt  City Builds

Seth and Jason Clark of Salt City Builds

At the heart of everything worth doing will be the ones who weren’t afraid to dive in head first and try something their way.  With motorcycles this might manifest as the guy or gal who just wants to fix something themselves, or maybe they wanna go just a little bit ( or a lot ) faster.  Maybe it’s because of budget constraints, or maybe because they saw something that looked cool as shit and they wanted try doing the same.

I got the chance here recently to sit down and have a beer with a couple guys who are walking this path and taking their passion to the next level. What started as a hobby for them is now blossoming into more than they ever imagined.  I hope you enjoy my interview with Seth and Jason Clark of Salt City Builds.


Utah Cafe Racer: So what’s your experience like right now as garage builders?
Salt City Builds: Lately we’ve been getting blow-back from established companies.  They just seem to hate us and garage shops.  It’s like all they do is talk shit.  We’ll put a picture up on Facebook and they’ll just pick it apart, or we’ll have a friend go over to a shop to pick something up and they’ll get shit.  You’d think it’s be different with motorcycles being such a unifying thing; we’re all on bikes, you know? We want to be friends with these guys, and maybe we’re just too new to all this shit. But most people we run into are just like “fucking go for it man”.  We’re doing things for about a 5th of what established businesses charge, that could be what’s pissing them off.
UCR: laughing – Yeah, that could be it.

rollin

UCR: Have you guys got anything coming up this summer?
SCB: We’re hoping to get a few things organized like more group rides and also swap meets.  The only swap meet we’ve known about is at the V.A., and it was way cool, but it was all Harley riders and parts.  There were definitely some cool bikes there, but no garage builds. We’ve been talking with Rich Page of Widow Maker Cycles about getting something together, and he has a buddy down in Draper that has a parking lot we might be able to use.  We’re focused on garage builders, and of course we’re not going to kick anybody out, but this will be for garage builders to come and hang out and show off what they’ve come up with.
SCB: And you know, if they’re a garage builder, you know they’ve got tons of shit just lying around they want to sell it off. And not shit either, but usable stuff.  This was a problem for us actually the more we got into custom building. We’d just have parts piling up all over the place, so we’d take it all down to Bill’s Boneyard ( see our article ) and just give it to him.  We’d trade with him for some shit, but we like Bill and he has definitely helped us out.  It all comes around eventually.
UCR: Very cool!

at-the-grind

SCB: And this is why we like what you’re doing, you’re building your bike yourself.
UCR: Thanks. Well, I am, but my father is a machinist so I’ve got his experience to rely on and access to practically any tools I need. I’m learning through a lot of hands-on-fix-it-if-you-break-it, and I’m at least now to the point now where when I show up at his shop I’m doing most of the work. I gotta be involved and doing it, otherwise this ain’t any fun.
SCB: Yeah, it’s that itch man. We’ve got friends that we outsource stuff to like for upholstery or painting if it’s a customer’s build, but when it comes to our own bikes we’ve been doing it all ourselves. So, the upholstery might look like shit, or the paint might be a bit off, but there’s no other feeling like knowing you did it yourself.
UCR: laughing – Absolutely!
SCB: We’ve kinda scratched that itch a bit though now, so our next bikes we might have some custom upholstery or paint work done.

bikes

SCB: And so here’s another side to custom bike building. We’ve been doing Cafes, and bobbers, and dirt bikes, and some others now. And for us, we’re not partial to one thing or another because it’s all about the moment. So, if we want to go on long rides, maybe we want a Cafe, or if we’re headed out to the Salt Flats or camping or something we’ll want something specific now because you take a custom bike out and get it all dirty, and screw up the carbs or something, and you’re fucked.
UCR: laughing
SCB: It’s one of the awesome things about Utah, you know, but it also sucks. You can go anywhere here; the mountains, Salt Flats, Moab, wherever, but you need like 3 to 4 different bikes now because you got so much you can do! You could try to do it all with like a dual sport, but you’ll always feel like you’re missing something. And, we’re not about treating our bikes like they are princesses either, but you put so much work into something and you want to ride it for what it was made for.
SCB: But we’ll never be the ones who are buying something that is so pretty it’ll never leave the display trailer and just be for show, that’s just not us. Bikes were meant to be ridden.

all-dressed-up

UCR: So, how long have you guys had your business going?
SCB: About two years now.
UCR: And is that when you really started getting into building for others, or was it before that?
SCB: Well, there was Dave, so about two years ago in April we’d built a bike for Dave. And, we’d never really thought about building bikes, but then people started hitting us up. We’d customized our own bikes, but then when people saw what we’d done people started asking where we got them. And the more people asked about them, the more we started to consider doing it. And then we did a couple, and when people found out it’s like the flood gates opened and we were like, “This is what we want to do forever!“. It is just so fucking cool.

workn

SCB: The first custom bike we built we put so much time and work and headache into it compared to what we made off it, but damn it was fun! We probably pulled three or four all-nighters on it, but it turned out really well and we were really happy with it.
UCR: What was it?
SCB: A 1980 CM450. We picked it up from a guy, got through part of the process and did a leak down test on it and found out all the air was blowing past the rings, so we had to tear it down and broke a head bolt –
UCR: Oh fuck, that is a pain in the ass!
SCB: laughing – yeah, and sure enough whatever could go wrong, did go wrong. So for a first bike it was hell, but it turned out really good. And after that, we were like, “Fuck, bring it on!”.

on-the-lift

SCB: Right now a lot of places are so booked up that they aren’t even taking bikes. When we started out some of these shops started sending us the bikes that nobody wanted to work on, like early ’70s and ’80s, and we’re cool with working on those. But now we’ve got shops sending us like ’02 Shadows, electronic controlled shit and everything..
UCR: You guys are legit now!
SCB: laughing – yeah, and so all these new bikes are coming to us and we’re getting them done in a couple of days where everyone else is taking a couple months. It’s kinda nice that a lot of people don’t know about us right now, with the neighbors and all, we try and keep it to just one bike a day. But, it doesn’t always work out that way.
SCB: If you’d been here three weeks ago we had bikes lined up all the way out to the street. We had bikes everywhere. So, when you called to schedule an interview, that day we’d just got a call saying we had to move everything out or else, so right when you called us we were moving bikes to friends houses.
SCB: Last summer at times we’d have thirty bikes lined up, and you couldn’t even walk through here. People would just call up and ask if we could fix anything and we’d take whatever. This year, we figured it was maybe time to start scheduling stuff.
UCR: laughing
SCB: We’re spending so much time on the phone now, we should probably get a secretary. laughing
SCB: But if someone calls us up and just wants to ask a couple questions, and if there’s some glimmer that they want to try doing it themselves, we’ll tell them, “Hey, keep it at your place and give us a call and we’ll tell you what to do. And if you need my help, one of us will come over and help you out quick”.
UCR: Right on! Well hey, it’s been a pleasure talking with you guys. Thanks for taking the time.
SCB: No problem.  Thanks for stopping by.

on-the-road


salt-city-builds-logo

Facebook:    SaltCityBuilds 

Location:   1356 S. 200 E. Salt Lake City, Utah

Phone:  (801) 810-9794

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2 Comments on "Interview: Seth and Jason ‘Rev’ Clark of Salt City Builds"

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  1. You guys show what biking should be. Use the tools you have to improve what you can afford to own. I’ve worked at big shops for 25 years. Luckily we had great relationships with garage bike shops. We’d be honored to help you carry our multi spark ignitions if you ever have an interest. Good luck gentleman!

  2. Kohle Hansen says:

    You guys are awesome! I cannot wait to actually meet you dudes one of these days. I am new to the entire cafe racer thing, and I could certainly use some direction. If you look on this page, I have the bike “Kohle Hansen’s 1981 Yamaha XS650”. I am sure that you guys have much more knowledge than I do, and whatever you can tell me to help me out would be great! Clearly, I need to get rid of that awful seat/fender, and maybe you guys have some shit lying around? I dunno… Bikes are one of the single most important things in my life, and just being around people that love them as much as I do makes me feel great. I will call you guys soon, and maybe I could bring my little tonner by and see what you think!

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