Home » Featured »Two-Wheel Tuesday » Currently Reading:

Moto-Fied Cycles is Passion Built on Two-Wheels

Robby DeGraff July 12, 2017 Featured, Two-Wheel Tuesday 2 Comments

A chain-link fence slowly creaks open out front of an old industrial building on Milwaukee’s west side. I pull up next to a red Chevy van with black wheels and an LED lightbar on top. Nick Petterson is there, unloading a towering tank filled with argon and C02 for a new MIG welder he just bought.

He leads me back, down a long narrow hallway and around a corner to a big plywood door with a padlock on it. “Supposedly they used to build stock cars here, back in the day,” he told me.

Nick has been anxious to find a home for his growing custom motorcycle repair and fabrication business: Moto-Fied. Business has been booming, jobs are coming in and when that plywood door swung open, my jaw dropped.

It’s inspiring and simply amazing to see someone’s dream take place right in front of you. That’s why my jaw dropped. Nick started tearing apart bikes in his apartment’s tiny, one-car garage. There were parts in corners, stacked on creaky shelves and his prized bike, a custom 1977 KZ650, sat in his living room below the kitchen counter top. The “KZ-X” as Nick refers to it, has been an ongoing project and collaboration of ideas with mentor Jeff Stephens from Godffery’s Garage. It was like his trophy and his eyes lit up whenever he’d talk about or explain what his next modification was.

Nick has been riding all things with an engine his entire life and bought his first motorcycle in 2013. He was hooked. Moto-Fied officially grew its roots in 2016 and with a booming fanbase, collective of loyal customers and his incredibly supportive and patient girlfriend Cyndi, Nick has been able to take Moto-Fied to the next level.

There’s now a real, shop. A shop with stands, a row of motorcycles on one wall, a chalkboard littered with customer orders hanging in the office across from a desk with a computer and printer on it. A vintage Pepsi machine glows below a set of freshly painted, blue window frames. When I visited for the fist time, Nick had three bikes up on stands needing work done. A Yamaha XS500 was in the stages of a full-refinish and mono-shock conversion. Next door was a dusty BWW R100/7, with forks from a Suzuki GSXR1000, was due for a completely new rear end with a single-sided swing arm and mono-shock from an adventure bike.

I asked him about the last bike, a KTM EXC250 which was completely torn apart. “I blew my transmission (racing up at Road America) and only have second gear currently. The plan is to rebuild the trans, powder coat the wheels, re-plate the hardware, powder coat the frame, and ceramic coat the exhaust,” Nick explained. He knew exactly what bike was having what done to it and the entire process behind it.

There was a row of classic Hondas, Yamahas and Kawasakis from the 1970s and 1980s waiting for their turn to be tuned and brought back to full life. A black Honda CB650 from 1981 caught my attention instantly. I’l have the keys to that machine soon, very soon.

Under strings of Edison bulbs strung high in the ceiling, Nick got to work, effortlessly welding together huge pieces of metal that soon will be pieced into a paint box. Sparks flew and I sat, watching him calmly seam together the edges. He was thrilled with his new welder, geeking out. Expert craftsmanship and a wide skillset is evident, everywhere. Nick’s work and knowledge on motorcycles is explosively good. Nick’s eager to share his talent too, as he taught me for a few minutes how to weld and the two different types of welding.

His phone rang and he hopped on a skateboard he found at a flea market for $20 to meet a friend, James, who had just finished repainting and finishing a tank. Nick rolled down the hall and back into the shop with it, crazy excited to attach it to the frame of a  1978 Kawasaki KZ650, soon to be turned into a cafe racer, leaned up near the doorway to the office. The blue and white paint glistened and Nick was in awestruck.

Passion is everywhere in this shop. On the brick walls, in boxes of old parts and spread across the few engine blocks sitting on the floor waiting to be plucked into one of Nick’s next projects. You have to follow your passions, have to. You sometimes need to make sacrifices to follow those passions and turn dreams into realities. That is what Nick does. And whether you ride on two-wheels, four or more- Nick’s story should be an upmost inspiration to you.

Learn more about Nick, Cyndi and Moto-Fied Cycles at www.motofiedcycles.com. Moto-Fied also needs your help! If you’re on Facebook, they’ve entered a stunning photo taken at Badlands National Park, capturing what might be the quintessential photo of open air freedom on two-wheels, into a contest sponsored by a local law firm that specializes in motorcycle injuries and accidents. If they win, Cyndi and Nick will receive a generous amount monetary support to improve their new shop even more. Vote today and every day until the end of July.

[Image © Hooniverse.com/Robby DeGraff]


  • Troggy

    I get that project cars and bikes are built to the taste of the owner/builder, so I restrain myself from commenting negatively when a project machine doesn’t suit my personal taste. I can still respect the professionalism and skills and quality craftsmanship that has gone into the work, but the end appearance is frankly none of my business.
    But it never sits right with me when somebody cuts irreplaceable parts off a classic machine to suit their personal ‘style’. Some of these old bikes may be restorable, or even in fine working order as-is.
    If a bike was an total write-off with next to no hope of finding replacement parts then sure, go nuts with what you have.
    If it’s clean and straight but parts can’t be found then do what you’ve gotta do to keep a bike where it belongs – on the road – for yourself and others to appreciate. It doesn’t matter if the bike doesn’t have the “right” brake pads, the original key or any other small detail is wrong.
    But please, for the love of God, don’t cut up an already rare bike to make a one-off in a way that ensures that it can never again be restored to it’s former glory.

    • dead_elvis, inc.

      While I can understand your sentiment, I don’t see anything in this particular garage too special to cut up, customize heavily, or alter severely & near-permanently. And I say that as an owner of an eternal-project ’76 Yamaha XS500 (one that I’ve been using solely NOS parts on) in the same shade of monkey-shit brown as the monoshock conversion pictured.