“It’s a head turner,” says shop owner Dar Holdsworth. “This is the bike that the others wished they had the balls to ride.”
The shop is a federally licensed manufacturer, listed with both the NADA guide and Kelley Blue Book. This qualification makes their bikes easy to finance and insure, however each bike is hand crafted personally for each customer. The company limits the number of bikes built each year to ensure the highest quality, while also preserving the prestige of ownership.
“We started out with a modest goal to build the above average bike for the average Joe," said Holdsworth. “We have no interest in becoming the biggest or flashiest of bike builders — we simply strive to be the best.”
And this is a claim they can back up — having earned numerous awards and national media attention in recent years. Placing first in the World Championships of bike building (production class) in 2011 and placing in the top five for the last six years; they’ve gained the admiration of their peers.
The shop has won bike build offs and been selected by IronWorks magazine for two consecutive annual features to give away two promotional bikes. Darwin Motorcycles was selected to build the Official Bike of Daytona Bike Week 2011. And, the shop was also selected as a Top 10 production manufacturer in 2008 and awarded "Production Bobber of the Year" for 2009 by Easyriders and V-Twin Magazine.
Creating a custom bike
Calling on Dar’s artistic vision, a top-of-the-line Shoptech E 2 manufacturing system and his team of talented partners and fabricators, Darwin Motorcycles can build the custom production bike of your dreams.
A prospective customer starts the build process by visiting the Darin Motorcycles website for ideas. Choosing from one of seven available models, he or she then consults with Holdsworth to map out the build. Entry level options include the Model 1 or the Digger, for example, or customers can opt for a higher-end model such as Brawler GT or the new EPIC Chopper being built first for Miller Electric Mfg. Co.
From there, an endless variety of bells and whistles can be added to trick out a one-of-a-kind bike. Want a soft tail or hard tail? No problem. A hydraulic front end or springer front end? Your choice! Spoke wheels or billet wheels? Again, it’s up to you!
An impressive list of options are available to choose from during the customization process.
It’s no surprise that building a bike requires a serious amount of welding and fabrication. Dar and his team rely on Miller products, primarily the Dynasty® 200 TIG welder, to get the job done.
Ninety percent of the welding done by fabricators Justin Bailey and Brian Nikkel is completed using the TIG welding process because of the thin metals they are most often working with when building bikes.
“I’ve been asked why I use Miller, and it’s simply this —— Miller is the best,” said Holdsworth. “It’s uncompromising and American made —— and that’s everything we stand for.”
Dar was first exposed to “blue” when working with and studying under friend Sam Wills, owner of Oklahoma City based Racing Innovations. Sam’s shop, which is filled with Miller products from the Syncrowaves to the Dynasty models, has won three World Championships and pumped out top-quality bikes over the last 35+ years.
Having served in the Air Force after high school, Dar returned home from Desert Storm and began working in printing and manufacturing displays for the retail industry. He started and operated a successful Visual/Design business, providing signage displays and fixtures to the retail industry.
But bikes were his real passion.
Dar started hanging out at Racing Innovations, collaborating on bikes and learning as much as he could from Wills. After a few successful builds, he decided to build a bike for his dad. The bike, which was later unveiled at a Thunder Run event organized by Wills, garnered a feature story in Barnett’s Magazine and the phone started ringing. He started a website and the rest is history.
Dar opened Darwin Motorcycles in 2006 and — with the support of his friend Sam, wife Latrisha and young children — now does what he loves full-time. Bikes, Bikes, Bikes!
He has since filled his own shop with a variety of premium Miller products:
How the EPIC Chopper came to be…
Using Miller welding and cutting products for a number of years now, a natural partnership formed between the two organizations.
After meeting years ago during a SEMA show in Las Vegas, Miller Marketing Manager John Swartz and Dar Holdsworth began working together more closely. When the Miller Job Weld Done Giveaway kicked off in 2012, the two organizations knew it was time to create a one-of-a-kind bike together. And what better way to celebrate the build than to give it away to a Miller customer!
John Swartz and Kari Weisshahn recently made the trip from Miller’s headquarters in Appleton, Wis. to Oklahoma City where work began on the EPIC Chopper. Over the course of three days, Sam Wills, Dar Holdsworth and his team were gracious hosts, welcoming the Miller crew to watch the build process from a tacked up frame and fixture to where it is today. Swartz even laid down a few beads.
Want to see the action? Watch the EPIC Chopper fabrication video available in the Basics section of the June 2012 DIY e-newsletter and stay tuned to the Miller YouTube channel and future issues of DIY for progress updates on the build.
This prototype bike will be a blend of the best American components infused with timeliness styling of vintage and modern design. The bike will feature an S&S motor, Bakers Transmission and primary drive, D&D Performance ceramic exhaust, Wilwood Performance Brakes¸ a Racing Innovations/Darwin chassis, custom sheet metal, ISR hand control, signature EPIC wheels, custom lighting and more.
Following the initial prototype build currently in progress, the EPIC Chopper will become a production bike option offered by Darwin Motorcycles.
Want to win this creation? Enter the Miller-hosted Job Weld Done Giveaway once monthly between now and Dec. 31, 2012 for your chance to win the EPIC Chopper and other premium Miller product and prize packages. Product drawings are held once monthly. Grand prize packages will be announced in January 2013. Visit MillerWelds.com/win for more information and to enter the giveaway.
Attending SEMA 2012? Swing past the Miller booth where the finished EPIC Chopper will be unveiled and on display.
Become an Insiders Club member to support our troops and receive exclusive content
Perhaps you’re interested primarily in motorcycles, bobbers and choppers and want more behind the scenes fabrication tips for your ride? For the cost of a visit to your local coffee shop, you can become an Insider with special benefits, and help Dar’s efforts to support our troops in the process.
Become an Insiders Club member to support projects for Dar’s charity of choice – Pros for Vets – and receive Club benefits including a free t-shirt with three-month sign-up, discounts on parts and apparel, weekly product giveaways, videos, how-to tips and more. A portion from each monthly Insiders Club membership supports building and recycling bikes for our deserving veterans.
Through a program Dar created called "Operation Re-Cycle Gratitude," Dar and his team take older bikes, restore or customize it, and then give them away to deserving Veterans. If you have an old bike that you would like to donate to this cause, email Darwin Motorcycles at evolve@DarwinMotorcycles.com.
Each year Dar also builds a bike that is used to raise money to support the troops. In 2011, they built the RLX, a bike honoring Bobby Rahal's storied racing career. The RLX won the World Championships of Custom Bike Building (production class) and was then raffled off, with all proceeds going to support the troops.
Visit DarwinMotorcycles.com for more information on his custom motorcycles, how he gives back, or to become an Insiders Club member.
Want more exclusive welding content? Become a member of the FREE Miller Owners Club, which provides a personalized experience when visiting the website at Owners.MillerWelds.com. Since membership is limited to Miller equipment owners, members have exclusive access to product previews, welding tips and project ideas that support a welder’s ability to do great work.