Custom Builder Spotlight: Rick Bray of RKB Kustom Speed
January 5, 2022
To create the ultimate immersive experience for all levels of bikers, riders and gear heads, High Seas Rally will be cruising with a crew of awesome custom bike builders who will host talks, show off their work around the ship and spark some exciting new entertainment on the cruise. Each month we will throw a spotlight on one of our amazing builders who will bring some of their awesome motorcycles to display on the ship. This month our featured builder is Rick Bray, owner of RKB Kustom Speed out of Lemoore, California.
Rick tells us that fabricating his own custom cars, trucks, hotrods and custom motorcycles has been a lifelong passion of his. It all started 20 years ago, when young Rick found an unusual television documentary on the Discovery Channel called Motorcycle Mania. That particular show has great meaning for me (Dave Nichols, HSR host and contributor) as well. You see, I had the dubious honor of introducing TV producer Hugh King to a maverick bike builder named Jesse James at his Long Beach, California shop. Hugh was looking for a rebellious young builder with lots of attitude for a TV special, and Jesse fit the bill.
The documentary first aired in 2002, showing Jesse shaping and fabricating a slim gas tank for one of his choppers. The effect that show had on young bike builders across the country was profound. One of those builders was Rick Bray. “I didn’t really grow up around motorcycles,” Rick tells us. “I wasn’t allowed to ride when I was younger. I started taking a liking to custom stuff when I was just a kid. When I saw Motorcycle Mania, I knew I had to get involved with the custom motorcycle world.”
“My first custom motorcycle was a six-inch up rigid chopper,” Rick recalls. “It was a big inch Evo that was heavily inspired by Billy Lane.” At the time, Billy was well known for his sleek rigid choppers with names like Miss. Behavin’ and Psychobilly with long springer front ends and crazy hubless rear wheels. Rick loves the look of old school race cars, where you can see all the linkages and mechanical gismos. He is inspired by the gassers of the 1960’s, lowrider cars, and even World War II fighter planes. It’s a design aesthetic he incorporates on many of his spindly choppers.
“I originally got involved in building my own bikes mainly because I had no money,” Rick laughs. “If I wanted something trick, I had to make it myself. To this day, I build my own personal bikes on a tight budget.” A year after Motorcycle Mania hit the airwaves, Rick built his first chopper and then opened his shop in 2009.
Rick started hitting the custom bike show circuit, and his creations started to gather respect from other builders, and motorcycle industry folks alike. Rick’s bike also began to appear in motorcycle magazines. A few highlights include his win at Artistry in Iron in 2013 for a Shovelhead chopper called “Pala Duro,” then another win at the J&P Cycles Ultimate Builder Show in 2014 for a magnificent rigid chopper he called “Solomon’s Special.” That bike also helped him claim the title of Builder of the Year from our friends at Cycle Source Magazine. He followed that up with the Cycle Source Builders in Motion completion, and then went on to create a wild green Shovel called “One Piece at a Time” for the Discovery Channel’s Biker Build-off series, bringing the whole story full circle. Now Rick inspires young builders around the world just as Jesse James did for Rick back in 2002.
“I don’t like to hide my work,” Rick says. “I think less is more in a lot of cases.” His simple and honest build philosophy has served him well. All his custom bikes carry clean and minimalistic lines, yet are completely functional. Now with over 20 years in the custom motorcycle scene, he is ready to show off his stellar work on High Seas Rally.
A firm believer in form and function working together, his show and go choppers will blow your mind. He is constantly pushing the custom envelope with his far out fabricating skills. Rick will bring his motorized masterpieces on board in October and you’ll have to be there to check them out in person.