Mike McFadden, chief, cook and bottle washer, of M&M Customs motorcycle fabrication shop has paved his way to success one customized bike at a time. Operating under the mantra “go with your gut,” McFadden has a track record that proves his gut is a force to be reckoned with.
McFadden is climbing the ranks and is making a name for himself amongst an elite group of award-winning bike designers. His list of sponsors include Continental Tires, DEI Performance Products, and Lucas Oils, and his mammoth awards collection highlights include “Best Custom” from Cafe Barber Vintage Days, Japanese Cafe, and People’s Choice Mid-Ohio Vintage Days; “Best in Show” from The Big Kahuna Café Racer Magazine Show; and a 1st from the 2016 Easy Riders Specialty Class.
“I tell customers that I can build them a work of art, but what I do best is build bikes that can be both ridden and admired,” McFadden said. “My work is for those who cannot or do not have the skills or the time to make a bike of their dreams.”
M&M Customs is what McFadden calls “a boutique shop” – it is small in its output (5 to 15 bikes a year) but large in craftsmanship and results. “I keep the number of bikes I produce low; I want to submerge myself in the process.” From fabrication to paint, all work is done in house with McFadden’s undivided attention and skill set.
“I have more than 30 years of experience and I know what it takes to build something unique and keeping the number of projects small allows me to concentrate on each bike.” McFadden’s standard order of operations is frequent communication with customers – as the build progresses he sends photos and updates. “I want to give them the attention that they, and the bike, deserves.”
What fuels him is the feeling of appreciation that comes from others who have followed along the project’s journey. “My biggest source of pride is my paintwork.” McFadden suffers from the challenges of color blindness and as he tells it, this plays a “big mind game” on his self-confidence. “When someone praises my color choices and my work it definitely makes me smile.”
This success story has chapters that date back to McFadden’s childhood. His love of customization started with his Schwinn bicycle. “I would swap out the forks from other bikes and literally ‘force’ them to fit with the use of a hammer and a bit of elbow grease!” In time, he refined his methods at a local vocational school and in working for several top shops in the area.
It was tremendous loss that taught McFadden many life lessons and spurred him to pursue his passion. In his early 20s, both his best friend and his mother passed away from cancer. “My mom instilled in me the confidence to try anything and not to be afraid to fail.”
In 2003, the Discovery Channel aired its series “American Chopper” and it was then that McFadden had his “ah ha” moment. “I realized that I could do the same things the ‘big guys’ were doing on the show but without all the fancy and expensive equipment.”
Fast forward to present day and you’ll find McFadden and his M&M Customs continue to outdo themselves. With each new build, his motorcycle fabrication work — and his reputation — pick up steam. In recent months his exposure has grown to include features in magazines including Easy Riders, Ink & Iron, Lowside, and Bike EXIF, as well as features on industry websites Cyril Huze Post, The Bike Shed, and multiple guest appearances on national TV’s “PowerNation.” Beyond all the fanfare, McFadden explains, “what I love best is showing what can be done with normal everyday tools and drive.”
When asked where his personal preference and passion lies, McFadden will turn the conversation to old Japanese bikes. “The old Japanese bikes are bullet proof and have a lot of character left in them,” he explains. “To me, Harley Davidson bikes are like the main interstate – everyone is traveling it. Old Japanese bikes are like the old highway – it still gets you to your destination but on a different path, it may not be the easiest route but it will get you to the same place in the end.”
We at Workshop Hero save our Workshop Hero Nation ACE designation for those who are experts in their craft – they work hard, pursue greatness and live by the mindset “love what you do, do what you love.” Mike McFadden, you fit the bill and you are formally welcomed as the newest Workshop Hero Nation ACE.