Meet Kip: Our Coast to Coast Chrome Consultant
As a dual resident of Milwaukee and California, our Chrome Consultant David Kipperman sees a lot of customized Harleys – from the waters of Lake Michigan to the shores of the Pacific. A visual thinker with a background in the photography biz, we sat down to ask him a few questions about chrome, customs and the contrast between the two coasts he calls home.
Do you notice a difference in the style of Milwaukee bikes versus bikes in California?
Since the riding season is all year long in California, their bikes are often their primary form of transportation – so I see a lot more customization out there. In Milwaukee, you see more big cruisers and baggers, whereas in California they like the smaller bikes, Softail and Dynas, mainly due to the traffic issues. You can’t get baggers through LA that easily since traffic can be slow and you do a lot of sitting in the sun.
When do people come to you for customization – right after the sale?
Probably 90% of the customers order some sort of customization right at the point of purchase. A lot of those come back later to add on something else that they discover they want. I tell a lot of people, “Ride the bike with what we’ve done so far and see if you want to go further with it.”
How much of the customization you do is for style and how much is for function?
I would say about 75% style and 25% function. Of course a lot of the functional add-ons are adding style too. Basically, I just ask what kind of riding they do and whether they are doing it for looks or function. For a lot of people, it’s a combination of both – looks and function.
Have you noticed any trends with customization?
The LED headlamps have been popular because being seen is always a big thing. Retro is really big. Blacking out a bike is real popular. People seem to want a bike to look old or they want to look monotone it seems. The denim paint colors are very popular as well– people like the vintage look that they have.
Can you black out everything on a bike?
Yep. If they don’t make it blacked out already, we can paint it.
Has anyone asked you to do something you would advise against?
I’ve had people ask me to lower a bike that’s already been lowered, which I won’t do. There are certain products we just won’t sell if we know it’s going to cause problems for the bike. We won’t sell something just to sell it. We help our customers make an informed decision so in the end they’ll be happy with it.
What would your personal, ultimate, customized Harley look like?
I’ve got two that I would get in a heartbeat. I would get a RoadGlide and totally black it out. And then I would also get a Sportster Forty-Eight and turn it into a little rat-rod where you take almost everything off of the bike – the fenders, the blinkers, everything –and basically turn it into two wheels and a motor.
Do you have a favorite ride?
Highway 60 and then up the Mississippi on the great River Road – that’s my favorite ride in Wisconsin. My favorite ride anywhere in the United States, so far, is the Blue Ridge parkway through the Appalachians.
What brought you to The House?
I’ve been into bikes since I was eight years old and have two Harleys currently. Much of my life was spent as owner of a photography studio. When I sold my business, I thought retiring relatively young would be a good thing – but I’m the kind of person who has to stay busy. I’m here because I want to be and I think that helps me do a better job.
Have you been dreaming up ideas for your next custom job? Kip can help personalize a bike that fits your lifestyle for function or for show.