Spitfire Motorcycles might seem like a new brand, but Paul Cavallo is the man behind it all and he's no stranger to the custom motorcycle game. One look at the bikes in his showroom and Paul's talent and experience becomes obvious. We recently sat down with Paul over fish tacos to learn where he started and where he's heading. This is his story.
I started working on the Spitfire Motorcycles brand and product line in March of 2007, after selling my interest in HBS motorcycle company. I still had a production parts company called American Made that I started in the early '90s. We built all of the billet parts as well as all of the frames and fabricated parts for the production bike companies already, but the days of the billet trailer queen were coming to a close.
In order to get some clarity on what I wanted to do next, I went back to the beginning. My first build was a '76 FXE that I resurrected from dozens of swap meet trips. That one took over a year to build. It's funny how everything comes full circle, because the bikes I was building 20 years ago are exactly what everyone wants to build today. It's a hell of a lot easier to pull off an early "Frankenstien" parts bike now that we have Ebay. In the old days we had to search through the Recycler, then wait a month for the next swap meet to see if someone was parting with a left side flywheel for a late '60s pan. It pretty much sucked to do it that way.
I was working at my dad's machine shop at that time, so I made most of the stuff I couldn't find. Limited funds and lack of access to the parts I needed are why I started American Made. While I was doing my thing the aftermarket "clone" motorcycle OEM's started popping up. They began devouring entire warehouses of aftermarket V-Twin parts. This presented an opportunity that had never existed in the V-Twin world before. Hundreds of "Manufacturers" appeared out of nowhere in the late '90s, turning the once cool magazines into parts catalogs. By 2008 it was over. We had ten good years of growth, then the V-Twin behemoth walked right off a cliff.
I was lucky enough to see the end coming, and had already started to change my focus from shiny billet to industrial-age design. The idea was simply function, structure, and symmetry. My goal is always to make parts that look as if they are an organic part of the original design, not an afterthought. We currently build a wide range of parts, but when asked to choose a favorite, I always claim the Girder as the crown jewel. It's just a very cool, very functional, and probably too reasonably priced front end. Our pipes have become very popular as well. The High-N-Tight pipes and Corsair pipes are selling world wide, and we are releasing the High N Tight Big Twin pipes, 2-into-1 Blaster pipe, and 2-into-1 Lakester pipe this spring. The Dark Side control line is about to get a new set of matching hand controls, with the same master cylinder styling and round reservoir. Customers have been asking for them for a while now, and they should be on our website this April.
My personal bike is a '78 shovelhead in an early Denver's chassis. I like old shovels, because the parts are readily available, and they are easy to maintain. It's fun to hot rod a big-inch Evo, but I'll probably be riding this old 93 inch shovel 10 years from now. Of all the bikes I've built over the years I would say Rollin' Bones has to be my favorite. It's a '51 Pan drivetrain that STD made some amazing one-off engine parts for, in a handmade chassis that I pulled off in five weeks. I built Bones for the Artistry show in Vegas, which is why I had to get it done so quickly. This bike may have been a bit too outside the box for everyone who is still trying to hang onto the bobber/tracker/traditional trend that's been going on for several years now, so I understand it's not for everyone. I was very proud of the finished product, and even more so when we fired her off for the first time.
We are very excited to announce that we will be opening the Spitfire showroom to the public this spring, and that we will be hosting another summer bash. We had nearly 600 people show up for the last one, so I'm looking forward to another successful event. The Spitfire company store is a great place to pick up riding essentials, catalog parts, as well as the full line of Biltwell helmets & accessories.
I get a lot of emails from people who want to do what I do, and the best advise I can give to anyone is this. If you do what you love, you will never fail. Just don't quit your day job, cause there's no million-dollar TV deal coming your way.
You can check out Spitfire's website here.