The Republic of Texas Motorcycle Rally is six months away. How embarrassing would it be if you pulled that bike out a week before the rally to find it doesn’t start? What if your kid, who’s horrible at baseball, threw a fastball and your gas tank caught it? What if your cat had a litter of kittens in the saddle bag? You better get that thing to Southern Metal Choppers, and you better do it now.
From Humble Beginnings
I had a Harley Sportster in the spring of 2003. I was blissfully jamming around town when I got the bright idea to replace the rear shocks with a pair of solid struts. That would lower the rear suspension and give it a cool hot rod look. It would also be a spine-rattling experience.
I inquired about the modification at Central Texas Harley Davidson and the dude who sold me the bike told me about a pair of cousins who just opened a shop in an industrial park near Golfsmith. I cruised over and found Bronson and Jason Willard in a mostly empty shop. They were hurriedly trying to finish the wiring on a stripped down Buell Cyclone. We quickly became friendly and, while I never got those struts made, we had a blast at the ROT Rally together.
Several months later, Jason passed away in a traffic accident and Bronson was left with a decision – continue with Southern Metal Choppers or not? He soldiered on with the support of family and his wife. It paid off in spades. Over the last 10 and a half years, Bronson Willard has been featured over a dozen times in national publications like Hot Bike, Bagger, and American Bagger Magazine.
He’s been commissioned to build two full-size motorcycles by XBOX in order to promote their game, LocoCycle. On top of that, he’s also been a featured builder at the Republic of Texas Motorcycle Rally for five years, sharing the floor with the likes of the Martin Brothers, Stroker’s of Dallas, and Corey and Arlen Ness.
Oh, and the Buell? It’s still around, resting comfortably in a custom-built rigid frame and draped in vivid orange metal flake paint.
An All-Inclusive Shop
Unlike other custom motorcycle shops in town, Southern Metal Choppers offers a full range of services including routine maintenance, inspections, and custom design services for all makes and models of motorcycles. That’s right, American, Japanese, European and all styles of motorcycles are welcome at Southern Metal Choppers.
Motorcyclists call Bronson for everything from changing a tire, to getting insurance claims taken care of, to wild custom body work and paint (expertly applied by painter Kurt Mitchell).
Staying relevant for a decade in an ever-evolving market is no small feat. When Southern Metal Choppers first opened, choppers were experiencing a revival. Everyone wanted one. Only some manufacturers were building them and the Discovery Channel had several programs focused on that style of custom motorcycle.
Bronson understands that trends come and go. He’s adapted his personal style to his customer’s preferences and has created very unique motorcycles. Grounds for Divorce is a modern retelling of the classic chopper theme, while OBMF is an example of the modern trend to go wild with baggers (baggers are large motorcycles with saddle bags and fairings). This last trend is one Bronson jumped on early. He’s also stretched out a few sports bikes and added those wild, fat rear tires.
The Sky is the Limit
When I asked him about his limitations, Bronson had this to say, “The only real limitation is the customer’s budget, and we do what we can to work within the budget.” He told tell me that the bulk of his work these days is doing the quotes. “I create very detailed quotes for my customers. I want them to know exactly what they’re paying for and how much they’re paying. We may not be the cheapest shop in town, but we do quality work, back it up, and our quotes are very accurate.” This, Bronson told me, is a major reason why he’s outlasted the competition.
Knowing how busy Southern Metal Choppers can get, I asked Bronson how soon people should be calling him regarding any work for the ROT Rally this June. “Now,” he said.
If you need to reach Bronson at Southern Metal Choppers, they’re open 10 AM–6 PM, Monday-Saturday at 11116 Middle Fiskville Rd. Ste. E. Here’s the contact info:
What custom work would you like to get done for your bike?