Jun 5, 2012


Photo credit, Courtney Halowall 
Fame at any level is often difficult for an individual to handle. In this community we often see it go to people's heads. They forget who they are, where they came from, and why the started doing what they do. The little guy that emails the shop with a question isn't worth their time and God forbid you actually call them. The love of the machine is replaced with the love of money.

Duane Ballard apparently didn't get that memo. He's a down to earth guy who absolutely loves his family and his craft. He's willing to help anyone with and question and sure to meet whatever needs you might have. If your not sure exactly who Duane is, check out his web page with a quickness.

A couple weeks ago Duane and his wife Lisa were kind enough to do interview and send us some killer photographs. Here's what DB had to say.

Why work in leather? What makes this material so special to you?

I've worked with it for so long I don't like working with much else. I've tried other things but nothing else comes close to the quality of leather. I use the same materials they make horse saddles out of. You don't see those being made out of vinyl and they are abused constantly. With a minimal amount of upkeep, leather lasts forever.

Do you still work in other materials?

No. I've done two vinyl seats in the past 10-11 years for people that REALLY were set on it. I don't like working with it.

It seems like every job is different, be it a leather solo seat, a tool bag, or a king queen set up. Does this make your job more difficult, or do you enjoy the variety?

I like the variety. That's why I started doing wallets, belts, wall panels, etc. after years of just motorcycle seats and bags. It makes it more interesting and a bigger challenge. No two projects are alike.

What is your favorite part of the process? Doing the preliminary art work with the client? Or getting to building the project?

I like building. Carving the design into the leather and making the product. The preliminary artwork is just a necessary thing that has to be done to get me to that point.

Is it as satisfying now as it was when you first made that wallet for your grandfather?

It was pretty cool. He thought it was neat as hell and had it for the rest of his life. I would have never guessed I'd still be making them though. I wish I had that one.

Tell us some more about the bikes you've built and your love of CB750's.

The first complete build I did was my white/green bike "Funkenstein". It's based off an AEE frame and a 1972 Honda CB750 motor. The motor has had a ton of high performance work done to it so it's a blast to ride. The front end is a Durfee girder. I'm a fan of stopping, so it has good disk brakes front and rear. I've lost the rear brake twice and it sure was nice having that front one out there. The Pink Taco bike came about because I always wanted to see if I could build a bike like that and actually use it as a rider. I put a few thousand miles on it during the time I had it and it never missed a beat. With the frame being basically uni-body like construction it was a VERY stiff ride. The most I put on it in a day is a few hundred miles and when it was over you knew you went on a ride. My white bike is the complete opposite.

Any new projects you're wrenching on?

I was lucky to have some great companies come on board when I was doing the pink bike. I've had a bunch of them and some new ones interested in me doing a new bike so a KZ is next. I'll be working with Spitfire Motorcycles, Wiseco Pistons, Wire Plus, House of Kolor, Biltwell, of course, and a few others.

We're all about doing your own thing, "Gettin' Lost." Whatever that might be. What is your "lost highway" and what vehicle takes you there?

It's usually the white bike. I have a 1985 V65 Sabre for long trips but nothing is like riding the white bike. It doesn't matter where you go it's always fun on that one.

Anyone you'd like to thank for helping you get to where you are now?

My wife Lisa and kids Ashlee and Wayne. My mother for showing me how to do this stuff and always being behind it. My father for his love of motorcycles. Also, all the shops and builders that have been kind enough to choose me for when they want custom leatherwork done. Word of mouth and loyal customers has kept it going.

And lastly, what is (and how) is the best way for someone to contact you about some killer custom work?


I can't thank you guys enough, for doing this article with us, for the insight, for everything. I hope you and your family have many more wonderful years of continued success. You deserve it.

1 comment:

  1. I know I said it a few times today but THANK YOU.