Deep Six Cycles Article by Wesley Ashley. Photos courtesy of Ross “Dino” Landino
Deep Six Cycles is a small custom shop in Asheville, NC and they specialize in manufacturing custom parts from brass, aluminum and stainless steel. You really have to check out their foot pegs and hand controls, they’re killer! They also fabricate some really cool handlebars. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Tom Bowie the owner, mastermind and head fabricator behind Deep Six. So take a few minutes and check out the interview then got to http://deepsixcycles.blogspot.com/ and buy some of their homegrown, hand built motorcycle parts for your bike or next custom build. Not only will you be buying a great product but also supporting an American small business.
TCR: What’s the story behind Deep Six Cycles? How did you get into building motorcycles and fabricating parts?
Tom: I come from a pretty skilled and enterprising family. It was while working for them that I built the base foundation of most of my skills. We would do everything from building specialty tools to use in the field to fabricating specialized beds for our service trucks and wheelers. The other side of the family where farmers and between both sides some of my earliest memory's involve the smell of metal, wrenching and welding. There were always dirt bikes, three wheeler, mud trucks, or circle track cars around.
I got kind of a late start on two wheels (compared to some) with an old Honda XL175 at 13. I owned a few more dirt bikes on and off over the years. In my early 20's I traded a CR250 for my first street bike and got my bike license that fall. It was all downhill from there! Shortly after that I bought my first Harley. It was an old 70Xlch Chopper that had at least the neck done in 71 and a weld on hard tail. I was hooked! When it burnt a valve I took it as an excuse to re-fabricate and clean up a lot of the half-baked fabrication on it. Every time I would open a magazine it was like hell I could do that... And if I can't by the end I will be able to! You have to be willing to make some scrap when you’re starting out...
It’s funny, looking back on it a lot of my friends started riding around the same time. And we all had these clapped out Jap bikes we would take off on day rides without a second thought! I wouldn't trade that time for anything!
Around 07 I knew what I had to do. I had been all over the country and was stuck back in Maine. It was time to get out for good. After a winter that involved 5' of snow in the front yard and spending all my money on heating oil. I moved to Asheville, NC the spring of 08 on a whim. Got a job on a Long Liner (fishing vessel) and did a couple 3-4 month seasons in the Bearing Sea.
After a month or so back on land I bought a school bus converted it to run on waste vegetable oil and made a trip to Maine to retrieve my tools and buy a few more... I invested all my money in the company and here I am today.
TCR: What can you do at your shop, what services do you offer?
Tom: We specialize in manufacturing custom parts, from Brass, Aluminum, and Stainless Steel. We have a few different lines of Foot Pegs, Hand Grips, Solid Shock Struts and Handle bars. We make one off custom sissy bars, tag mounts, bungs, bushings, frames and frame modifications, and we also do Gas Tank modifications. I tend to gravitate to traditional choppers. So a lot of our builds and parts have kind of a new take with a classic feel. We also offer service work such as tire & oil changes, spring tune ups and other services. We offer a little bit of everything primarily we are a fabrication shop though.
TCR: What does riding a motorcycle mean to you? Why do you ride?
Tom: I think all the old clichés apply. All that crap about feeling free and all that. I dig the fact that I can get around traffic easier and quicker in the city, Riding in a tight pack of close friends on the highway at speed. If I’ve got something bothering me some of the best therapy is putting some miles on out in the country and hitting some nice switch backs. Nothing but the next corner matters during that. And I just really have a hard time being in a car if I don't have to be. I’ve been in the situation where I’ve gotten so lost that I doubled my trip time and rolled into my destination in the middle of the night wet and shivering. It’s just another story and adventure. Ever notice how all of that is amplified when you’re on a custom bike you built? All of it just somehow becomes even more satisfying...
TCR: What’s the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
Tom: The best advice I ever received was never spoken. Just working alongside my family no matter how hard the situation became we would just work harder and figure it out. If someone did it before you then you can do it too. It may take some thought, some studying or some special tools but there's not a whole lot that is impossible. So many people give up on things so easily. You just really have to be determined to put your all in and get from point A to point B.
TCR: What do you want to be remembered for?
Tom: I have never really thought about that. I have awesome friends and family and try to be there for them. So I'm not too worried about all that. They will remember me for who I was. As far as the company goes we ship our parts all over the U.S. and beyond. If we went under tomorrow some of our stuff would still be out there turning up at swap meets 30 years from now. Even if no one ever knows where that part or whatever came from I think that's cool.
TCR: What are you into other than building bikes?
Tom: What?! There are things to like other than motorcycles? Honestly the shop does take up most of my time. A lot of my friends are in bands so going out and seeing them play, camping and just grabbing a beer and catching up with good friends. I don't need a whole lot other than motorcycles.
TCR: Anything else you want to plug? Website, parts, services....etc?
Tom: Yeah be sure to check out our blog and our online shopping cart for the latest projects and products! You can also contact the shop at 828-277-6662. Our address is Deep Six Cycles 12 London Rd Asheville, NC 28803.
I would like to thank Tom for taking the time to do this interview; I know he is a busy man. It amazes me the craftsman that are out there if you just look for them. I run into them all the time while surfing the web or at rallies and rides. These guys are a playing a vital part in bringing back that "Made in America" pride to the good old USA. So the next time you’re looking for that custom part or need something special fabricated look up a homegrown builder or fabricator and support an American craftsman and businessman. Until next time keep on Zemplivin and do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
By: Wesley Ashley
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