Cover Bike Owners

Interview with Larry Moore of Moore Customs - Wichita, Kansas

March 31, 2010
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The Cycle Connections April cover bike, Rain Maker, is an example of the amazing talent of builder Larry Moore of Moore Customs. I had a chance to interview Larry at Kansas City’s All American Motorcycle Show at World of Wheels.

CC: How long have you been in the bike building business?

Larry: We’ve been building for a few years now. I started out just restoring and refurbishing bikes of my own and then built our first ground-up in 2003. We’ve had a great response to our “Bad Influence” bike that won Best in Show here at the All American Show last year. We also took Best in Show in New Orleans Easyriders Show, Best Chopper in Metzeler, sixth in the Sturgis Rat’s Hole Show. We’ve been really fortunate with the bike. We just kind of accidentally hit on it, I guess. It has no chrome—kind of a hot rod looking bike. We just basically took what we had and worked with it. Chrome costs a lot of money, and it doesn’t always get you there you know. A lot of the custom bikes now are long, stretched out, full of chrome, and have $10,000 paint jobs, but after you get them done, they turn into some kind of garage art. You’ve got too much invested in them to start over and do something else with them, and they end up just sitting. Hopefully, unless someone wants that orange bike really bad, I may in the future go a different direction with it. I’m not in so deep I couldn’t do something else with the bike.

CC: What are you working on now, and what are your plans going forward?

Larry: We’re getting the shop better equipped. We started out with just basic hand tools, but we’re starting to get more equipment. We’re just starting on a Triumph chopper. We have another little hard-tail bike we’re going to equip with an early springer and full fenders to give it a vintage look. As far as the future is concerned, I don’t want it to turn into a 9-to-5, but when I retire shortly, I’m looking forward to doing it full-time, building maybe three full-on customs a year either for myself or somebody else. I’d like to take the bikes around to a few shows before they are sold or turned over to their owners.

CC: Let’s talk about the “Rain Maker” build.
Larry: Doug Jones and my brother who lives not far from me are life-long friends. One day Lonny called me and said, “Come over here and see what Jones bought.” I went right over, and my first comment to Doug was, “You should have taken somebody with you.” He brought it over to my house and by the time we sorted through what we were going to use and what we weren’t we knew we had a build started. We started with the Indian engine and based everything around it. We hunted high and low and found the genuine 1940 Indian tanks that we heavily modified to get them to work for us. We included a lot of little one-off touches like the air cleaner. We had that water-jetted out. All the fasteners that hold the fuel tank are custom made from aluminum with Indian head pennies on them. Roger Attebury and I have known each other since childhood. I can tell him what I want, and if I’m in left field, he can straighten me out and vice versa. Not much gets lost in the translation between us. He runs his own shop and I run mine, but we work together on projects. Roger worked with me a lot on this project. The taillight was a swap meet find. I think it came off a boat, but who knows? Roger built the bezel for it and polished it up. There are a lot of other little hand-made touches like that. The master cylinders are hidden, mounted transverse under the transmission. The front one’s cable-activated to keep that vintage look on the handlebars. Roger turned the brass pegs out for the bike. The copper tank, mounted where the oil tank would traditionally be, holds all the electronics—the coil, the breakers, the switches, and everything, so all of that is hidden. I hand-built the exhaust with the heat shields made of copper. Basically, we built everything but the frame and the front end. The fender struts and rear fender, tank modifications, and handlebars were all done basically from scratch. We didn’t build the frame from scratch, but we cleaned it up quite a bit. I think it came out great! We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on it. We’ve taken it to two shows, and it’s won both times, so we’ll see how it does here in Kansas City.

CC: I understand your brother did the paint.
Larry: Yeah, my brother is in the collision repair business, and he does all my painting. He personally painted this one. Sometimes he has his painter do my work for me. Lonny did the paint and Chad Ward did the copper leaf and the pinstripe. Those two guys have done work on all my bikes so far. In addition to painting for the collision repair, Lonny does a lot of custom paint work on hot rods and bikes. He picked out the color for Rain Maker. I told him I was thinking of something vintage, and he said he had something in mind. This is what he came up with. I said, “That works!”

CC: Lonny said he was going to use that color on his own bike and will have to come up with something different now.
Larry: Yeah, the chopper we’re building now was originally going to use black chrome and olive paint, but I think we’re going to go full bling now. His chopper we’re working on has a 127-inch El Bruto® full polished, JIMS full polished six-speed, 14-over Denver’s Choppers Mondo springer. Hopefully that bike will be done before Sturgis so we can take it the the Metzeler Show and the Rat’s Hole Show.

CC: I understand Doug Jones spent a lot of time in your shop while his bobber was taking shape.
Larry: He has a whole new appreciation now for what it takes to build a bike other than a bike in a box. This is no kit deal. He got to cut his teeth on a lot of hand fabrication. He got to witness it and do some of it himself. We may have started him on a new hobby, too, because he really got into it. He was fun to work with. He was entertainment for us for quite some time. He was the butt of a few jokes from time to time, but we all were. Everybody gets a turn in the barrel in our shop.

CC: Who else should be mentioned?
Larry: I definitely need to talk about my wife, Cris. She’s there for all the builds. She finds everything we need. She’s our internet guru. She’s out there on the lap-top chasing parts, and is all over Wichita getting us what we need so we can go to work when we get to the shop that evening. She makes sure there is food for whoever shows up. She always knows what to do and when. When we’re on the road, she books the rooms. Without her, I’d probably just be tinkering in the garage instead of actually getting something done. She kind of pushes me to the next level. She’s just great!

NOTE: As it turned out, Larry’s Bad Influence bike took Best in Show in the World of Wheels motorcycle class, and Rain Maker won the Bobber Class in the All American Motorcycle Show.

For additional information, you can contact Moore Customs at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and also make sure to check out their Facebook page.

Interview by Stripe

Photo by Michael Blomberg with Main Street Photography (816) 830-6363

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