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Final Post

In the coming weeks I'll be periodically  posting via a new blog at, so for my final post here it will be somewhat of a catharsis. I've disabled the comments for several reasons, that may be discerned if you make it through the post.

Social media is a very powerful tool. This blog has been a catalyst to a lot of great opportunities and I've met some amazing people. The consistency of posting hasn't been easy. Being diligent is hard when you have a family, run a business and work a regular job. But one of the biggest challenges with this form of media is attempting to put forward your authentic self. When I decided to do a blog, that idea of conveying what all this motorcycle stuff meant to me was always in the forefront. Family, riding, discovery, friends. Nothing about me has ever been fashionable or trendy. My trepidation of even having a blog, was lightened knowing that for a broke motorcycle builder, the web is the cheapest, fastest, and easiest from of promotion. In fact, most of the time it's the only form.

The general public can often perceive an artist's promotion as a largely narcissistic and egotistical endeavor. Sometimes it is, sometimes that's all there is to sell. But here is where the dichotomy and difficulty comes when "selling" one's art, or self.

What are you selling? Right away, I rejected that question.  Just the question alone implies a somewhat grotesque thought.  I don't want to sell anything. Sales people are the best liars and have to be so diplomatic that they will sacrifice their own dignity.  I am absolutely horrible at both. So for me, I just "promoted" what I loved and the following basic philosophy :

"Motorcycling, and building motorcycles are a vehicle to bridge gaps, bring people together, create life long bonds, bring us inarticulable experiences, and generally maximize every aspect of the human experience."

From a business standpoint, my so called marketing campaign, would never rival the typical bad boy, half naked girl themes that liter the media, but that's fine. I felt that if some how I could make enough money just to pay for the privilege of building and riding, for me, that was more than a success. Breaking even is making it in the custom bike game.

When I decided to put my work "out" there and to see if there was a place for me in regards to making income, all of these things I speak of where at the forefront.

How does one, be authentic, share joy for his craft and at the same time promote his work? I don't really know. So, I just did what I felt at the moment. Just like the first bike I built, things were a little clumsy going in, then, you find your groove. I've always approached everything in life that way. Just jump in, and figure it out. The only failure is not jumping in.  Overall the results have been very positive, and I wouldn't know of any other way to do it. I am eternally grateful to my clients, customers, supporters, and sponsors. My life is better because of motorcycles.

But there is also the other end.

A lot of users have no other purpose with social media than to project some image of themselves that isn't really them. Narcissism has become acceptable and the norm. While, social media is full of very valuable information, it is also a sea of individuals promoting nothing more than their own identity crisis. While image masturbation is harmless it's the companies that feed those people that are partly responsible for the pernicious mainstreaming of a subculture. These companies are without questions cashing in. It's capitalism at it's best. What once was counter cultural is now mainstream fashion. Flannels, beards, neck tattoos, etc. The fashion cliches now are no different than the fashion cliches of the 80s and 90s bike scene. Just different images. The skull in a head dress has replaced the skull in a do-rag. It's nothing new.

For me personally, wading through that world becomes very difficult when you see people you've known over the years change before your very eyes, literally in a matter of months. I've lost count of the number of young guys come through my shop and want to learn or need help. That genuine enthusiasm is beautiful and the teacher in me gives all I can. What saddens, or sours me, is to see those same people get sucked in to the world of superficial fashion and trends and lose sight of what really matters. Yes, some will wake up once they get older, and others will just move on, but one can't help but feel a bit disappointed. It's a natural reaction of human empathy.

Let me be clear, the fact that younger riders are jumping in on the chopper scene isn't what bothers me, it's the segregation of the scene and the clan like behavior that saddens me. Maybe that's just a generational thing.  Guys like myself got in to old crusty bikes in part to rebel against the trends of our time, like bad leather jackets, flame do-rags and the general faux biker attitude that was being sold, not to mention the sky high prices for bikes. In the early beginnings of this "chopper" Renaissance, it was exciting to finally go to shows that had bikes "WE" liked, or to go to events and meet others that loved what you loved. There was a very positive energy that permeated the air, it was a great time. I would say the air of a growing scene was starting to build, especially in LA, around 2003-2006 or so.

No matter how you phrase the wording, once you mention "today's generation" you sound old. I'm ok with that. One thing I can say with confidence is that today's generation seems to think that earning something is as easy as changing your clothes and posting a picture on the net. When speaking specifically to the "chopper" scene, today there seems to be an overwhelming sense that owning an old panhead or knucklehead chopper is a fashion accessory, a very expensive one at that. I still can't afford a knucklehead.

While some of the above may be perceived as bitter, it isn't at all. If some find something via a trend, then fall in love with it, then that is fantastic. How many rock bands came from watching the Beatles on Ed Sullivan? A LOT. The complete lack of humility and just being humble is absent in the newcomers. Value, integrity and character have to be developed and earned. The age of social media, especially Instagram, has really distorted everything so badly. It would seem that IG has become the main launching board for identity. People are connecting because of a "look" and not for substance. It's just not healthy. Our collective identity is being pounded, stomped on, watered down, and generally made a mockery of.

I'm horrible at diplomacy for the sake of money or business. I can't fake anything, it just makes my skin crawl. I was once described by a friend as "prickly personality", I'll live with that.  Ever since a young age I've had an innate sense of justice, especially for good hard working people. My wife says I should have been a lawyer. It makes me sick when I see people, especially poor, or helpless people, taken advantage of, or fed lies. I want to pull the truth out from behind the curtain. Of course, that comes with consequences like anything else. I have no problem sleeping at night.

Over recent years, I've learned a lot about social media, and a lot about myself. At some point, no matter how hard your work to put forth a good foot and present your authentic self,  social media will always offer up the bottom barrel haters and general ugliness. It's part of the web. What some don't realize is, most small time guys like myself do ALL of our own press and promotion. We can't afford to hire a team of people. We have no filter between us and our customers or followers. Most of the time, that is a great thing, but sometimes, when that dark part of the web sneaks in, it's a real bummer.

When I first got in to the visual effects business I was naive to think that every person I would work with was the creme of the crop, and every person was just as excited and open as I was. The culture of the vfx and animation business was something that soured me. It was difficult to come to terms with a massive pool of talent that had no sense of community.

That sense of community is such a huge part of why I love motorcycles. If that goes away, I don't know what would come of it.  Thankfully, the motorcycling community at large is strong, but I think the internet and IG especially has fractured it. As a business tool its all power, as a community tool it is incredibly fragile and prone to pitfalls. At the end of the day, IG as a social tool is equivalent to the high school locker room. It started out strong, but has devolved in to wedgies, peeing in the shampoo, and ben gay in the shorts.

Not everyone will like this post or agree with it, and that doesn't bother me one bit. For me, motorcylces has been about being your authentic self, and that's all I can be. I don't know how to be anything else. If you think different, then you don't know me, nor do I care.

I will hang on as long as I can and wade through to crud just to get to all the good stuff. Because the truth is, it's still mostly good stuff.

So, what does this all mean? Change. Blogs as a major communicative tool are coming to a slow end, and IG will soon follow. Maybe we can all go back to talking on the phone, or better, face to face. I hope so.

The timing of The Analog Run for Cro Customs is perfect. It celebrates everything I started Cro Customs for nearly 15 years ago.

"Motorcycling, and building motorcycles are a vehicle to bridge gaps, bring people together, create life long bonds, bring us inarticulable experiences, and generally maximize every aspect of the human experience."

Caleb "cro" Owens  June 6 2015

NEW!!! Narrow Speedsters

The new addition to the line of Cro Bars, "Narrow Speedsters". These feature a modified Cro's Nest clamp to allow bars to extrude from top of rear springer legs, instead of the side like stock speedster bars.
These are hand made to order. Stock configurations feature a 70* bend with a 5" pullback from center and 4.5" rise from clamp base. If you'd like a custom configuration, please email for details.
All Cro Bars are made with 1" x .120 wall DOM tubing.
Each set is stamped and numbered.
All Cro Bars are guaranteed as long as you own your bike. If you are unhappy with them for any reason, send them back and I'll make you a new set, or refund you in full.
They are not cheap, handmade quality takes time, and they will last a life time.

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