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Behind the Scenes with Aaron Greene

Written by  August 31, 2006

Aaron Greene is one of the most interesting individuals I have had the pleasure to interview. His quiet demeanor and politeness belies the success he enjoys. Aaron holds multiple U.S. patents and he may be the most intelligent person I know. Speaking to Aaron, one can’t help but feel his passion for motorcycle, and you walk away knowing our sport will be carried on the shoulders of his innovations for many years to come.

CC: How was 2005 for Paramount, Aaron?
Aaron: You know 2005 ended great. 2005 was kind of a weird year I think all the way around for the motorcycle industry. It had its ups and downs and I think it was a place in the marketplace where everything was kind of overwhelmed and flooded. I think that hit a lot of people really weird. As far as for Paramount itself, 2005 went real well for me. Exposure-wise was awesome. I’ve gone around the country a tremendous amount. I got to touch base with all the people out there and show them what bikes we’re doing right now, my philosophy behind some of the bikes and all that interesting stuff that I find in the bikes and how to relay that to the people out there. So, for that realm of 2005, it went really, really well for me. I think industry-wise, 2005 was kind of a funny year.

CC: Is your soft rigid frame doing as well as I know it should be doing?
Aaron: Yes, it is. It’s still not at a point where I’m just selling it to anybody, it’s not a chassis. There are some minor things in the production of the chassis to try to still get it such a price-affordable chassis that it’s something I can push out there to everybody. So right now it’s still one of my little baby projects, so it’s still something that I still limit who I sell it to and how it goes. As far as the enthusiasm towards the chassis, the interest, people call on the chassis every day—it’s insane. Every day everybody wants the chassis, everybody wants to get their hands on it, but I’m the type of guy where I’m kind of meticulous how I release things, who I let use it, how that goes…. Until it’s at a point where it’s something anybody could use, or the process of assembling the suspension, or somebody with a moderate amount of mechanical ability could tackle. Until it’s at that point, I won’t take it where I’m just going to give it to everybody, because it’s still a very, very diverse, very exclusive style chassis. I’m kind of keeping it right there for right now.

CC: At the risk of sounding like Paulie [Teutul], you’re blown bike White Knuckle is sick. What inspired you to build it?
Aaron: My crazy drive for hot rides. I love hot rods. I’ve got a pro street '56 that’s a blown alcohol car, tube chassis all Hillborn injected. I come from cars and building cars, and have been around cars a lot. I’ve been building bikes for a long time now, but I have a huge hot rod background and drive in what I like. What I wanted to do with that bike was really pull something off that I thought no one has done in this industry to date, and that would be to build something that would be the ultimate in pro street style motorcycles that really pushes the edge beyond what we’ve seen in the motorcycle industry. Like the world’s fastest street cars… we’re building something that’s still “streetable” but isn’t full-blown drag race, but is so pushed out there in power and engineering and ingenuity that it really sets a precedent. There have been some cool pro street bikes. I’ve done some cool pro street bikes, but I never felt there was anything that was as Rat Fink, Big Daddy Roth style, just extravagant, mind-blowing visually and technical. A lot of new aspects into the bike that people have never seen, engineering, primary drive system, clutch system… I mean the chassis alone is so far out there compared to what most people see. I wanted to create something that was so overwhelming and it’s been that way very much. I think a lot of people don’t always understand the bike. That bike sometimes goes right past a lot of people. There is so much involved in that bike, but that is what I wanted. I wanted a bike that is built now, and in 20 years from now, no matter what, that bike will still be what it is. It will still be one of the coolest, most radical pro street bikes every produced in the world. The bike has a presence. When you actually get to see the bike in person and you see the work that went into the bike and some of the machine components and stuff, it is something where I builders coming up, and people say, “I don’t know how you did it, man.” It’s one of those bikes that I tried to do to express our talents and our abilities to a point to show people really where we come from, and it’s nice because I’ve been getting the response and respect from every builder. It’s like, “I don’t know if I can step up to that; I don’t know if I can do that.” And that’s kind of what we wanted to achieve.

CC: I saw pictures of Dante trying to weld a banana during the White Knuckle build on your web site. Is this the height of his skill?
Aaron: It was at 3 in the morning that night, that’s for sure! That bike came down to a serious push at the end to get it done for the AMD show and we ran like three days straight assembling that bike at the tail end and made it to the AMD show with four hours to spare. We were sitting there late one night and we’d been snapping pictures and screwing around, and we had this banana and were f*cking around and put it in the vise and it got stuck and pulled it out of the vice and tried to get it so it looks like we were welding on the banana and stuff like that. It was funny; it was all in good humor. I think that is his welding ability right there…

CC: What do you have going on in your shop right now?
Aaron: Right now I’m one hundred percent focused on production on my production bikes. I’m a hundred percent focused on the five models, what I’m going to do in 2007 for the five models, and what I’m trying to do for the public, for the people out there, what I’m trying to give them. That’s a huge focus of mine right now. I do these wild and crazy bikes that are unaffordable, unobtainable bikes that I don’t do for people. There are a lot of bikes I do for myself and out of my head. All that sh*t is out of my head. I don’t take any influence from anyone. But my focus for business is on production motorcycles. My focus is, how do I get everybody out there riding a bike, a bike that used to cost $60,000 to $80,000. How do I get them on these bikes at a reasonable price? So my focus is refining the manufacturing processes, refining building processes, all that to tailor my bikes to get the most custom bike you possibly can at the best price range possible, and now I introduced two new bikes, from $19,500 to $25,000, so now I have $19,500 to $35,000 bikes that are all mine, all my chassis, all my sheet metal, all proprietary bikes that you can’t build out of a catalog because I don’t sell these parts to anybody, but you can go buy my bike and ride it around and enjoy it and have a one-off custom. There might be 40 of each model manufactured. It’s not like there is a crazy amount of each bike. We might build a couple of hundred bikes a year. But in that, you’re getting a hand-made bike that beforehand we could never achieve, and that’s a big deal to me right now. That’s a huge focus of mine in the industry. Let’s get more people out there on these cool bikes. No one can afford a $60,000 or a $70,000 bike. No one can afford a $50,000 bike, so how do I focus on a market, a price for an area that I can help everybody out at. I’m a bike enthusiast. I love riding motorcycles. I love seeing people ride motorcycles. I just want to advance the industry in that realm, and that’s where my focus is right now.

CC: That goes right into my next question. What are your thoughts on the new EPA regulations regarding bikes?
Aaron: You guys haven’t seen the new laws that will come out because we have made some amendments this year to the laws that no one has seen. I know about them because I sit on the Motorcycle Industry Council Board and we pushed real hard for these laws to come through. None of the laws has ever affected me because I have been 50-state compliant. I’m even Cal-Code certified and I have been for a few years, so none of the laws affect me and my business, but the affect a lot of other people. But, being part of the motorcycle industry and part of the Motorcycle Industry Council, we pushed real hard to try to come up with some ways and some avenues for everybody to be able to get through this EPA thing. We’ve come up with them, and you will see those laws, and you will see that written out where everybody will understand what’s going to happen in a much simpler atmosphere than what everybody has read currently to really help things out so that everybody doesn’t maybe have to step up, and everybody just might have to step to buying an EPA approved motor, and then they can build a compliant bike.

CC: There’s a build-off coming on this fall, I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, a series called Metric Revolution. Doug Keim is in it, Mike DuSold, Jaxon Fyffe. Do you think with people seeing more metric customs out there that is going to hurt the V-Twin industry at all?
Aaron: No, I don’t think it will hurt it at all. Here’s the thing: No matter what, the metric customs are still expensive. They cost a lot to build, and the resale established value on the metric isn’t there. So, yes, the enthusiasm for it could be there, and we’ll see a lot of people do that with bikes. But as far as affecting us on the side of building customs or even custom production bikes, it’s not there yet. I don’t know if it will get there. It will take a lot to get it there. It will take tremendous amount of effort from the aftermarket industry and basically focusing on the metric bikes and creating all sorts of new parts. Until all that stuff happens, I don’t see it. The marketplace is full and I see it expanding and there is a huge marketplace there to see parts to those guys, but as far as full complete custom motorcycles, it’s out there, but I don’t see it at a point where it will really affect our industry at all.

By Loney and
Stephanie Wilcoxson