Dar Holdsworth may not be a household name in celebrity magazines or have his own reality show like some notorious stars of the custom bike-building world. But open the page of virtually any motorcycle magazine in the country, and you’ll see high praise for Holdsworth and his company, Darwin Motorcycles of Oklahoma City.
Darwin Motorcycles has snagged such honors as “Official Bike of Daytona Bike Week 2011” (featured on the cover of American Iron Magazine), and has cut a swath through the World Championship of Custom Bike Building for the past several years.
In 2011, Darwin Motorcycles captured top honors with a very special bike.
“We have partnered with Rahal Letterman Racing (now Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing) and Pros 4 Vets to build a world-class American muscle bike, the RLX, that celebrates the accomplishments of Bobby Rahal and complements his race team, co-owned by David Letterman,” Holdsworth says. “This bike won the World Championships of Custom Bike Building (production class), and is now being raffled to support our troops.”
A custom bike is nothing but a dream for many people – but Holdsworth is in the business of making that dream come true. While Darwin Motorcycles has created customized bikes for such celebrity customers as Rahal and country singer Toby Keith, his company’s real mission is to provide “the above average bike for the average Joe.”
In fact, this desire to serve the common man was the genesis of Darwin Motorcycles.
“Building bikes was a hobby of mine that I turned into a business in 2006. I built a great bike for my dad, who could not afford a cool custom bike, and thought during the process that there are more people out there like him.”
Darwin Motorcycles specializes in “bobbers” – motorcycles that are relieved of excess weight by the removal of certain parts – and the more well-known “chopper,” often a built-from-scratch motorcycle. While bike builders throughout the United States provide customized bobbers and choppers for the public every day, Holdsworth has a good idea why customers from around the nation cruise to his shop in Oklahoma City.
“Our bikes are a simple statement of industrial elegance and performance,” he says. “Anyone can keep bolting on chrome. The challenge is to design a bike that is timeless, combined with outstanding performance. We don’t follow the trends or fads.
“Since 2006, we have continued to refine our bikes and use only the best components,” Holdsworth continues. “Our bikes are more American made than are many other ‘American’ motorcycle companies. We are extremely proud of that.”
It’s not only the quality of the product that makes Darwin Motorcycles stand out among the competition; it’s also the price. In keeping with the business’s goal to ensure ordinary people have access to extraordinary rides, Darwin Motorcycles is a federally licensed manufacturer, which, according to Holdsworth, allows customers to more easily finance and insure bikes.
Darwin Motorcycles customer Curt Dye, who purchased his custom bobber from Holdsworth in 2006, says there are multiple elements that make the company special. Among them are the numerous choices Holdsworth offers to create an entirely singular bike, and of course, their affordability.
“Most motorcycles like Kawasakis or Harley Davidsons have only a few options,” he says. “The model you buy on floor is what you get. There are probably 500 bikes out there identical to yours. With Dar’s, it’s a completely unique bike. And you get a customized bike without the customized price. If you go to a typical customized bike dealer where they build it for you, you’ll pay $50,000 and up. At Dar’s, you’re getting a custom bike for a stock price – that’s the bottom line. And because he has so many options, you get a bike that fits you.”
For Holdsworth, bringing custom bikes to life for those who could not normally afford them is his passion. In addition to the fulfillment of running his own company and getting to spend plenty of time with his family, his favorite part of his business is turning customers’ fantasies into reality.
“There is great satisfaction in designing something that people go crazy for,” he says. “I love to design each new customer’s bike with them, then bring it to life from raw materials. And when the customer sees it for the first time, it’s priceless.”
Biker culture in Oklahoma might not be as ubiquitous as it is in California, but Darwin Motorcycles is not the only bastion of hard-core enthusiasts in the state either. In a state represented more by moody Food Network judges and off-kilter noodlers on TV, Brad Mathison and Rex Brown have made a name for themselves as creators of Two Wheel Oklahoma.
The two Tulsans, with the help of Retro Spec Films, have brought Two Wheel Oklahoma to state and regional audiences, initially through paid cable and then through OETA. Today the weekly half-hour show can be seen in Oklahoma and neighboring states.
Two Wheel Oklahoma follows the hosts as they set out to document the scenic highways in and around Oklahoma. What better way to do it, the motorcycle and automotive enthusiasts thought, than on a two-wheeler. That’s exactly what they do, accentuating the unique, unusual and colorful. The destinations might be a historic site, a winery, a town in itself or just a scenic stretch of highway. It could be a weekly bike night or a greasy spoon.
Regardless of specific destination, though, for Mathison and Brown, it’s often more about the trip. Or, as they claim themselves on their website, “the best way to get there may not be the shortest.”
Visit www.twowheelok.com for more information.