Rough Crafts' Brass Racer


Winston Yeh is a bike builder and college-educated industrial designer who cut his teeth in the American chopper scene during an apprenticeship at Roland Sands Design. Today Winston builds mild to wild customs for fans of his retro-inspired aesthetic throughout Europe and Asia. Winston built this Brass Racer Sporty in his Rough Crafts studio several years ago, and the bike helped the Taiwan citizen gain notoriety in chopper media throughout Asia.




Rough Crafts and its founder are proof that "builders without borders" has become the rule in today's scene, not the exception. Go anywhere on the planet and chances are you'll see the handiwork of a young gun with a grinder and a dream plying his craft on some vintange iron. Harley-Davidson deserves some of the credit for why this might be so. The comparative ease of customizing these iconic motorcycles seems to spur the imagination of every new two-wheeled freedom seeker who joins the fray. Combine this with the MoCo's own glacial pace on technical innovation and you can see why the barrier to entry in today's chopper scene is so low. If it feels like everyone IS building custom motorcycles, it's because practically everyone CAN. Old chopperheads love to wax nostalgic about "the real guys" who popularized the scene in Harley's pre-AMF glory days. I personally don't scrutinize young bloods like Winston with the same juandiced eye as the sages of yore.

Call me insouciant or merely unwashed, but I think youthful exuberance and naivete are sometimes a good thing. Winston Yeh's chopper style clearly reflects what I see as an appreciation for "old school" (whatever that means), without being slavishly dedicated to period correctness. Remember—it's a late-model Sportster. If you're under 30, bikes like Winston's were designed and engineered in the only period you might relate to. I understand period correctness in the context of building and judging concourse-quality show bikes, but if you're rebuilding a shovelhead for weekend blasts to dive bars and rockabilly barber shops, does it matter if your Wassell tank was dented by a key grip in Steve McQueen's trailer on the set of "Bullitt?" Respect for pedigree and antiquity are admirable—in modernation.

What many curmudgeons in today's game seem unwilling to realize is Winston Yeh and thousands of young garage builders like him are just having a good time. These bikeriders mean no disrespect to the people and practices that came before them, but neither are they obligated to sanctify them. As in politics and religion, a little tolerance goes a long way. Think about that before you flame someone on a message for putting dirt-bike shocks on a Duo-Glide.

See more of Winston's work here and here.

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Commented on 6-8-2011 At 05:34 am

rad fucken bike.

Commented on 6-8-2011 At 07:23 am

Very nice build, and very well said. What shocks are those? They really make that bike a chopper even with the swingarm..

Commented on 6-8-2011 At 07:28 am

Sick ass bike. I only had to google three words and im a better man for it now. Thanks for a good prespective on a very well executed bike.

Commented on 6-8-2011 At 07:46 am

I can dig it.

Commented on 6-8-2011 At 08:10 am

Hell yeah!
inspired and well executed!

Commented on 6-8-2011 At 08:18 am

No contact information? how do we get ahold of him, his store has no cart and the site has no email!!!!

Commented on 6-8-2011 At 08:45 am

Nice work! Check out some of the other bikes he has built at the link for the website. Beautiful machines!

Commented on 6-8-2011 At 09:36 am

Awesome build(s)! Good write-up too, I think you described the new "youthful exuberence" to building down to the 'T'.

Commented on 6-8-2011 At 10:24 am

ive seen his work on a xl exclusive forum and gotta say what a true artisan, im more than impressed and he makes it look so damn easy! congrats on a perfect bike in the eyes of a youthful exuberant bike putter togetherer

Commented on 6-8-2011 At 10:27 am

i wonder if i can get away with that turn signal location in NY..............???

Commented on 6-8-2011 At 10:31 am

tattoo2303 - I'm going to look into the signals as well, I like a lot. Ditto on the contact info, I'd love to shoot him an email, maybe even snag a shirt. Anyone?

Commented on 6-8-2011 At 11:15 am

Two links shown are the only contact info I have for this guy. Sorry--you'll have to dig around.

Commented on 6-8-2011 At 11:17 am

Looks killer,some real nice subtle touches!!

Commented on 6-8-2011 At 11:23 am

Nice clean bike. Period.

Did we just get lectured?

Commented on 6-8-2011 At 01:48 pm

Awesome bike, dig it. So simple with very few changes, but a vast improvement over a stock Sporty. Bravo McGoo on the write up as well. I think you nailed it too. Us younger, late model Sporty guys dig the old iron and "proper choppers" but we don't always see the need for the worship of period correctness. Hell, we just want to ride!

Those Biltwell guys always just seem to "get it."

Commented on 6-8-2011 At 01:59 pm

Teetotaller is rocking one of this dude's seats on his bike and is doing some other business with Winston too. I zapped Tee a message about contact info. Hopefully he'll post it up here soon.

Commented on 6-8-2011 At 02:02 pm

Solid dude with a great design aesthetic.... and not a half bad graffiti artist, too.
I'm sporting his solo seat on my XL1200X. Fuckin' love it.

Commented on 6-8-2011 At 02:03 pm

Commented on 6-8-2011 At 02:46 pm

great write up

Commented on 6-8-2011 At 03:01 pm

that bikes just fucking right hands down.

Commented on 6-8-2011 At 03:50 pm

Great bike and a great review. Always cool getting turned on to new shit.

Commented on 6-8-2011 At 03:54 pm

"These bikeriders mean no disrespect to the people and practices that came before them, but neither are they obligated to sanctify them."...

amen brother.

Commented on 6-8-2011 At 04:37 pm

wicked cool sporty. i really dig those shocks.

Commented on 6-8-2011 At 11:36 pm

1+ for Taiwan!

Commented on 6-9-2011 At 08:35 am

Awesome build, custom touch without going overboard

Commented on 6-10-2011 At 03:48 pm

The thing has a very classy, very classic vibe to it. Like a Vincent or or a Commando or something. Unusual to see it in any contemporary bike.

Commented on 6-10-2011 At 03:49 pm

The thing has a very classy, very classic vibe to it. Like a Vincent or or a Commando or something. Unusual to see it in any contemporary bike.

Commented on 8-19-2011 At 02:00 pm

Wow I'm impressed. Love how the front and rear suspension tie in together.

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