“If you don’t have haters I guess you’re doing something wrong,” laughed Clay Krick.
Tenacity, creativity, and a little bit of mystery had Krick earning this year’s prestigious Biltwell People’s Champ Award. The kustom motorcycle competition is a parallel event to Born Free and shares the same competitive process. All prospective entrants must complete an essay statement of intent carefully detailing their build, adhering to strict deadlines, and finally, required social media posts highlighting their progress. Finalists event host event founders as they fly out to meet builders to personally attest that completed bikes are in running and in rideable condition! Many show bikes can be deemed ‘all show, no go’ but Krick’s tenacity ultimately paid off despite the entire process causing ‘a shit ton of stress.’
Krick utilized his eccentric approach and strong work ethic to complete Loose Goose, a 1976 CB750 chopper featuring a killer kustom front end over 6 ft. in length! Complimented by a wild rainbow paint job courtesy of Depth of Image, Loose Goose proudly captures the ‘cycledelic’ ‘70s chopper image while elevating the subculture with its unique front end and built-from-scratch DIY ethos.
“I like to push myself by doing something different. You really don’t see a lot of Honda chopper builds. When I was flipping through classic chopper mags I would see a lot of different makes being customized into choppers, it didn’t matter what the engine was. I believe the ‘70s was the height of choppers because a lot of ‘50s and ‘60s choppers still had stock tanks, and bars. Things slowly evolved to what we saw in the ‘70s with chopped frames, custom pipes and bars, and really wild, detailed paint. People took all the previous knowledge and worked to evolve choppers. I had never done a Honda build and their motors were really impressive, they made a lot of positive contributions to the world of motorcycles,” said Krick.
Utilizing mystery, Krick offered little insight into his ongoing build, as opposed to other entrants that posted several detailed, mock-up photos. With over 180 entries and only 24 applicants picked, Biltwell People’s Champ facilitated tough competition that could make the most experienced builder nervous. The initial entry photo was simply Krick standing alongside his ultra-long kustom front end.
“I was confident I could do it but many people think a year deadline is generous; It’s not! There are so many factors that come into play that can really derail everything. Many people had frames, wheels, and whatever, but all I had was the kustom, handmade front end to post, according to the event guidelines. People saw this long front end that with a wheel was taller than me and I’m six foot! People probably thought ‘holy shit, what is this kid thinking?’ I was keeping up with what others were doing and I saw one Japanese bike and one Brit bike and thought how easily we could’ve been eliminated,” recalled Krick.
Despite his tenacity and confidence, Krick did experience a number of setbacks that nearly derailed his project. With the ambitious goal of competing against more experienced builders and working on the lone Japanese bike entry, Krick remained focused despite experiencing health issues due to stress.
“To stay on task and organized I would work to complete one big project a week and post, according to the guidelines. Well, as bad luck would have it, I ran into some trouble when it came to chroming. After prepping, I had sent one shop the measurements of everything and the front end. I was making 90-minute drives back and forth with the parts before work, and once I arrived at the shop, I was told the tanks weren’t big enough to complete the job! There I was with a stomach ulcer and making all these trips before work to make deadline, and only then was I told they couldn’t do it!”
For Krick, it looked as if he would be disqualified for missing deadlines, but his luck changed when the shop owner said if Krick was willing to leave his parts, he would have his friend take a look and determine if the job could be completed.
“It really was a setback because there I was making all these drives only to finally be told it couldn’t be completed despite me giving all the measurements. It was nerve-wracking leaving all my parts at the shop for someone I didn’t know to come by and see if it could even be done. Everything eventually worked out, always pays to be lucky,” laughed Krick.
Krick’s venture into welding and wrenching was built on tenacity and not luck. He recalled not fitting in during his high school years and though his father initially introduced him to the world of welding, Krick didn’t consider building a career in metalworking. He was interested in cars and knew how to maintain them, but he wasn’t in the mindset of building a career in automotive repair.
“I was into muscle cars and some hot rods, but I didn’t really discover and fall in love with motorcycles until I was 17. My friend introduced me to choppers and I really had no idea how far back they went! I l loved researching as much as I could and learning about kustom kulture. I felt a connection to it because here were all these people being creative and making unique things that just didn’t fit in. I related to that,” laughed Krick.
Krick’s father demanded that he learn a trade, but Krick wasn’t sure what he wanted to study. Eventually enrolling in vocational tech, Krick felt he was lucky to have an insightful welding teacher that brought a unique energy to the classroom.
“I really am thankful for the experience. My teacher was new and not much older than us and he was passionate about cars like me. He simply said if I was willing to put the work in that he would show me everything he could. He showed me just how many things in the world required welding, so I was happy to know that the trade could provide me a lot of opportunities. I felt the class came as advertised and without that experience, I wouldn’t be where I am today. It was the best choice I ever made,” said Krick.
Not only did Krick successfully complete an ambitious build with Loose Goose, but as a young builder, he eclipsed stiff competition to earn such a prestigious award.
“I’m so proud to have won, it really is an honor. The build was done with just basic tools on-hand, no fancy machinery or CAD. I feel people can be deterred from entering such contests because they believe they have to own all this expensive machinery and that is simply not true. You can get caught up with others being critical and saying an idea won’t work and that can be intimidating,” said Krick.
Asked if he has any advice for aspiring builders, Krick simply stated, “Keep focused on your goal because, in the end, it’s your bike done your way and you should be proud. You may be in a contest with guidelines, but you’re ultimately building for yourself and you have to give yourself that shot. I did!”
Krick plans on entering more competitions, but he would not offer any initial ideas of what lies ahead.
“Keeping things a mystery worked well for me, that’s how I played it before. On the way back from Biltwell I was already going over some plans in my head. You don’t want to reveal too much,” laughed Krick.
As Biltwell People’s Champ winner, Krick is automatically entered in the next Born Free event. With his tenacity, creativity, and mystery, GNARLY is confident we’ll be seeing more of Krick’s builds.
The “Loose Goose” feature first appeared in Gnarly Magazine print issue #17. Order your copy below…