The Story Behind Holiday Custom's Badass Made-From-Scratch Motorcycles

The handcrafted Portland rides enjoy a broad (even famous) following.

By Caleb Diehl July 8, 2014

Looking through his parents’ photo albums as a kid, Jared Johnson found a photo of his dad in the driveway of their California home, posing on a Triumph motorcycle. The picture was one of many—Johnson’s dad was always tinkering with a car or bike.

At 13, Johnson followed, taking up welding and building go-carts and furniture. After an amateur snowboarding career in Utah burned out in 2009, he began salvaging and modifying motorcycles. For his first bike, he welded a Honda motor with a gas tank made of sheet metal to a Schwinn Bicycle.

“I like making something out of nothing,” he said. “Something made by hand that you can actually ride.”

He launched a business, Holiday Custom Motorcycles. The first bike he sold was a Yamaha XS650 with a minimalist, swooping design. The venture soon outgrew his small garage, taking over an 1,800-square-foot warehouse in Northeast, with bikes in every corner. Johnson spends six days a week there, and calls it his “living room.” By shopping for old bikes on Craiglist and welding in new parts, he’s sold Holiday bikes to the likes of actor Chris Jacobs and Artic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner.

Johnson describes his design process as a “domino effect.” He starts on a basic idea, and while he’s welding in the first part, inspiration after inspiration pops into his head. For his most-cherished creation, the bike he built for himself, he began with a curvy frame, and later decided to model the exhaust after the same design.

Johnson hopes to branch out into selling customized parts and frames, but for now, he’s in no rush. The bikes he’s proudest of, he says, are the ones that took the most work.

Photographs courtesy Jared Johnson / Holiday Custom Motorcycles

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