J&P Cycle’s Ultimate Builder US Championship winner builds family values and show-stopping bikes.
By Tyler Ludlow, Shop photos by Harleigh Cupp, “Seven” bike photography by Michael Allen
For the winners, The J&P Cycle’s Ultimate Builder Championship has been well known to come with a certain set of… side effects. When builders win this event, they are instantly in-demand: the bikes, the parts, and most importantly, their time. Jeremy Cupp, the winner of the 2016 J&P Cycle’s Ultimate Builder Championship, refers to it as the “Michael Jordan Effect”.
Ever since his J&P Cycles Ultimate Builder win in 2012, LC Fabrications custom part line has been flourishing. “There are highs and lows, but you can see the spikes whenever we take home an award… Every day you think about the customer, your new builds and growing your craft, and the overall business. The thing is… you never stop thinking about your home and family… the reason you are doing any of it.”
Jeremy Cupp is the definition of humble. Few builders are as grounded in their priorities. His 70-80 hour work week encompasses managing and operating his father’s machine shop, creating his retail parts “after hours”, and maintaining his shop at LC Fabrications. After all this, Jeremy is defined by himself and others as a “family man”.
On school nights, after dinner is cleared away, those LC Fab parts that are such demand are carefully packaged and prepared for shipment by the entire Cupp household. This little assembly line is created right on the kitchen table, at their Shenandoah valley home. It is the best time for Jeremy, J&P Cycle’s “King of the Builders”, to talk with his clan about their day.
“Work isn’t really work if you can make it fun,” Cupp reflected. “The goal was operating my own business, and didn’t like the fact that I had to be away. My dad was often away from home, operating gas lines, so I know the challenge. You have to make money, but my ultimate goal is to spend time together in the same place.”
The dedication does not end there. Lindsay Cupp, Jeremy’s wife, is helping out with the polishing work in the shop. His oldest daughter, Harleigh, is proficient in product and motorsport photography from her years as the shop’s in house photographer. Emmy is the lead parts and milling gal. Greg, his youngest, is still studying which instrument in the LC Fabrications orchestra he will soon play. For the Cupps, building motorcycle and family values are one in the same.
“This all used to be basically a hobby. I rode a [Yamaha] XS400 for years and dreamed of buying a Harley Davidson, and had plans to buy a brand new Sportster. Ended up meeting my wife, and when she was pregnant, the new Sportster was not happening. We named her Harleigh, so I got what I wanted.”
“I wanted to name our son Davidson, but Lindsay was not going for it,” Cupp chuckled.
Sunday is reserved for family time. Through hiking, and mountain biking, Jeremy reckons that the kids have more than covered their stretch of the mountains.
“We’re not much of a “TV” family.”
Cupp has artfully managed this challenge, and keeping up with the demand of a spotlight motorcycle builder. LC Fabrications new home is a few miles away from his family home and only two miles from his day job at the machine shop. His expansion into this old movie theatre, which once delivered acts such as Gene Autry, Minnie Pearl, and Little Jimmy Dickens, incorporates the charm of Grottoes, VA that the Cupps have fallen in love with. The move took place in the middle of building Seven, the bike that brought home 2016 J&P Cycles Ultimate Builder Championship “King of The Builders” Award. From conception to an engine roar, it took about two years. The bike is LC Fabrication’s seventh custom build.
“The initial impact is the engine. The real old school guys scratch their head. That’s the biggest draw. George [from Chaos Cycles and the New York round of the J&P Cycles Ultimate Builder Winner] said ‘It’s the perfect balance of modern technologies and age old techniques’” said Cupp.
This is an understatement for a speedway bike that looks like it’s from the early days of NASA. The bike was inspired from the look of the 1934 Harley Davidson CAC, a 500cc single-cyclinder flat track racer. The 2001 500cc Buell Blast engine has been fitted with Ducati 750 SS heads, which sit 180 degrees backwards from their stock location. The Buell transmission was cut out
so the engine could be sat vertically in the frame. The original cams were remade to work as a series of idlers. The 21” rear wheel receives two Jaybrake calipers, each with their own master cylinder, using both the hand and foot levers. Throw in a pre-1959 Triumph transmission, and custom springer front end, and you have a piece of artwork that defines retro-futurism. Even the saddle is hand-sewn by Cupp himself.
“The rear legs of the springer are from a 32mm Showa, and act as dampeners only… I wanted a springer that could ride as good as it looks. We like to ride fast here in the mountains.”
Some show-class builder bikes never get miles into the triple digits, and see more carpet than asphalt. When asked about the practicality of riding his frankenstein invention, Cupp was surprisingly all business.
“I could never build a useless motorcycle.”
No matter what your style, however, every Ultimate Builder Champion has had a similar outlook on their completed product.
“Most people don’t finish a bike. It’s the fine details, the fit and finish. Once it comes back from paint and powder, they throw it together and take off down the road. I still have a month’s worth of work at that point”
This will certainly not be the last we hear of the Cupp Family, LC Fabrications, and their success at the J&P Cycle’s Ultimate Builder Event.
“The thing that drew me to the [J&P Cycles Ultimate Builder] Championship was it was about the builds, the engines, and the attention to detail. The focus wasn’t on $8,000 paint jobs and flashy lights. It was just… classier. Alice Cooper sold a lot of records, but that doesn’t mean he was a great musician, you know?”
Long live the King.