Mark Daley of
Thunder Struck Custom Bikes
By Cindy Quick Wilson
Most of us motorcycle enthusiasts, at one time or another, have thoughts—OK, some of us have serious dreams about building our own custom bike from scratch. With programs like American Chopper and Biker Build-off bringing this process right into our living rooms to further fuel this hunger, those of us inflicted with this dream wonder just what it would feel like to mold that metal or form that tank or modify that frame. We imagine color schemes, implementing our ideas of balance and style, adding those little touches that stamp it as our own. Some of us who take it even further might go on to imagine how it would feel to have some of the most renowned bike builders in the nation admire and compliment our work. After years of hard work and dedication to his craft, Mark Daley, owner of Thunder Struck Custom Bikes in Medford, Oregon, has made those dreams come true.
Mark Daley has steadily and consistently evolved in his passion for creating magnificent motorcycles, even before he started his business in 1995. Some people build motorcycles. Daley creates motorcycles. One of his custom choppers was so elegant he was invited to have it on display in a combination jewelry store/art gallery in Ashland, Oregon. This bike looked as comfortably at home there as any large karat diamond or beautifully crafted piece of sculpture. It’s a machine that gives two impressions simultaneously—one of raw and unconstrained power, the other of being much too elegant to fill with gas and oil. To blend these two diverse impressions is artistic achievement at its finest.
His mother, Mary, tells stories of Daley’s penchant, even as a small boy, for disassembling small household appliances and successfully putting them back together. At the tender age of 5 his mechanical interest blossomed as he spent time in the garage with his dad working on an old panhead. His mechanical aptitude and considerable artistic talent lend themselves well to his passion for building bikes. Daley says that once he gets a picture of a bike in his head that he HAS to build it or it drives him crazy. His vision is always something intricate but with smooth sleek lines; something that says hot rod, but at the same time conveys elegance and grace—with a flow to its design. He has the artistic ability to envision the bike and then incorporate his mechanical know-how to bring the vision to life.
Such was the case with one of his most recent projects, a bike he calls Rage. Rage has caused a sensation in the custom bike building arena. It was Rage that he was invited to display in the jewelry store window, Rage that knocked peoples’ socks off at Street Vibrations in Reno and Rage that won 1st place in the Best Radical class in Portland’s Easyrider Bike Show. Daley’s bikes were exhibited along side some of the most famous builder’s bikes in the country.
His most recent creation has caused quite a stir among national bike builders and custom connoisseurs alike. More than a year ago, he was approached by Bob Crone, owner of Medford’s Tuxedo Junction, about building a custom bike. Bob told Daley, “Hey, this will be my Ferrari; I want it to be hot.” Daley was inspired. “I was ready to change directions and this gave me the perfect opportunity. I wanted to build something really individual, almost like a concept car—something you could put right on the race track.” Heads together, the bike they
|now call Hammer was born.
Easily the most impressive in his collection so far, this bike is a masterpiece of power, precision and machismo. Beauty and beast in one sleek package. This brute needed just the right power to make you believe in the radical body design and Daley chose a brushed-finish 147-inch Twin cam-style billet Engenuity Monster motor with a Typhoon carburetor. To let it roar, he fitted it with a titanium-coated set of exhaust pipes that Daley built himself. Daley also hand-fabricated the handlebars, controls, gauges, pegs—most of what you see on this beautiful machine. One year later, Daley had his show stopper and Bob Crone had his Ferrari bike. Last year, Crone was offered $175,000 by a billionaire from Iceland who saw the bike in a magazine.
Daley’s business has grown consistently over the past several years. He continues to perform customizing, general service and maintenance work for his base clientele, as well as developing several lines of Thunderstruck custom parts. Daley also recently became a “licensed manufacturer” of custom motorcycles. That means no more headaches when it comes to registering one of his custom-built bikes. He is now licensed to assign VIN numbers so DMV registration is no longer the nightmare it can be for other custom owners.
So what’s next for Mark Daley? You may wonder how he could top the bikes he has created in the past few years, but Daley is never at a loss for creativity. Ideas flow faster than he can draw them. He always has a vision or two floating around in that artistic brain of his, and sometimes he can’t rest until he gets the idea down on paper. It won’t be anytime soon that he will struggle for inspiration. The next challenge he would welcome is building a corporate bike; to be commissioned to create a motorcycle for a local, or even not-so-local business. Verizon would have some real possibilities with “Can you hear me now?” How about DOT; “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Junk.” Or Campbell’s Soup; “Zoom, Zoom, Good!” Yes, this could open up some very interesting possibilities!
For more information, visit www.thunderstruckcustombikes.com
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