Ingenuity and bootstrap capitalism are philosophical bedrocks that have provided a solid foundation for motivated citizens of America's rust belt for centuries. A little over a decade ago the Buckeye State's Tyler Malinky was a brainy high-school grad with a life plan that included giving it to The Man in a way that would stick. Armed with a self-motivated teenager's idealism, some cash and a punk rock streak a mile long, Tyler sat down in a tattoo parlor to get the ink that would ensure his place in the pantheon of entrepreneurs forever. "I figured I could tattoo my hands and that would ensure I do something on my own and not be complacent—no one else would hire me." Today Tyler does what he pleases, and what pleases his customers, at a company called Lowbrow Customs. This is his story.
Business: Lowbrow Customs
Town: Hinckley, Ohio
Coworkers: My brother Kyle, Katy Bear, my wife Larissa and my daughter Darly June
Riding buddies: My friend Greg. We went on EDR III and Gypsy Run 2 together, and ride regularly on-road and off. Greg and of course my brother Kyle. We don't have a big group of guys to ride with; usually I ride solo or with one or two people.
First time on two wheels: I was one of those unfortunate kids who was not allowed to ride go-karts or minibikes due to the high risk of injury, though when I was about 13 I used to go to my friend Gabe's grandparents’ farm in Toledo and ride three-wheelers on the down-low. I got my first motorcycle—a ‘70 Triumph with a '77 Triumph Tiger 750cc and 5-speed in it—when I was 18. My Mom was bummed.
First hand-built motorcycle: I chopped my first Triumph about a year or so after I got it. After learning how to turn a wrench on that first bike, then rebuilding the motor from the sludge trap up, I tore the bike back down and ended up building a gooseneck-framed rigid with a girder front end and forward controls with a foot clutch and hand shift. I would build it differently now, but it was a solid, ground-up build for my first attempt.
Earliest two-wheeled adventure: Building a minibike with my friend Gabe while in middle school. That was my only brush with two-wheeled fun until I was 18, when I got my Triumph.
Most recent two-wheeled adventure: Riding from Murrieta, CA, to Las Vegas with Bill Bryant on a borrowed '07 Sportster. We rode through Joshua tree and across the Mojave Desert and hit plenty of rain and cold weather before arriving at the Vegas DicE party 400 miles later. I think we were the only guys who rode out from California. Some of the coldest riding I have done—which says a lot since I live in Ohio! On the way back through the Cajon pass it snowed like crazy.
Current stable of bikes and projects: A die-hard '74 Honda CB750 chopper I paid 600 bucks for and rode on El Diablo Run in 2008; my 1955 Triumph LSR bike that I took to Bonneville Speed Week in 2010; a 1975 Yamaha XS650 dirt tracker I picked up this past fall but haven't even had time to mess with yet; my trusty 2006 Yamaha YZ250F (I love riding trails it's the best); 1954 Triumph Terrier 150cc pit bike. I’m also currently doing a ground up build on a 1959 Harley-Davidson panhead (my first HD) and a 1960 Triumph drag bike that will end up as a sidecar bike that I am going to race at the Bonneville Salt Flats, and perhaps some local drag strips or the Maxton Mile in North Carolina.
Tool you wish you had but don't: Lincoln Electric Invertec portable TIG welder
Tool you have but wish you didn't: None
Proudest moment: The birth of my daughter. She is the coolest person ever. Following up second would be longer than a moment, but the 8-month all consuming endeavor that was building a bike and then getting to and racing at Bonneville Speed Week.
Darkest secret: None, I keep it real.
Deepest fear: I don't know, I haven't experienced it yet.
Biggest regret: None
Reason for being: Having fun, enjoying life and love. I believe that you only get to go around once, so you have to make it count.
If I lost my right arm: I would get over it.
Thanks: To my wife Larissa for standing by me even though I can be obsessive and overwhelming; to Kyle and Katy for taking care of business and helping make Lowbrow what it is, and to all our customers that help make what I do a passion and not just work.