This year, Star Motorcycles recognized McFadden as one the ten best custom bike builders in the U.S. That’s quite an accomplishment considering McFadden just opened his own shop, M&M Customs, in 2009 in the garage next to his house. Since that time, he’s picked up a host of sponsorships from companies such as Continental Tires, Joker Machine, Metal Rescue, CobraUSA, Pitbull Stands, DEI, PPG Paints, Hagon Shocks, and Invader Wheels.
But this is no overnight success story. McFadden has 30 years of experience building and customizing, dating all the way back to tricking out his Schwinn bicycle as a kid. In the early days, that meant swapping out forks from other bikes and forcing them on with brute force and a hammer! As soon as he was old enough, he sharpened those skills by taking classes at the vocational school, learning the skills of repairing, painting, and design. After graduation, he put those skills to use in several of the top shops around town. Fast forward to 2003. Mike had a revelation when the “chopper craze” hit the Discovery channel; he could do the very same things those “big guys” were doing on TV without all the fancy, high-dollar equipment. That’s what sparked McFadden to start his own builds, eventually opening M&M Customs in 2009.
Now with a successful shop of his own, McFadden is truly living a lifelong dream. “I build bikes in my shop not to be art pieces,” Mike says, “but to be ridden and admired by those who do not have the skills or time to make the bike of their dreams.”
One of M&Ms first creations was a bike dubbed “Menace to Society.” It started as a 1972 CB500 that Mike bought for $200. McFadden explains, “With that bike, I decided to build a bike that was a vision in my head of a Café Racer that could have been ridden by Marlon Brando or Steve McQueen. The reason I use these old bikes is the fact that they are so plentiful in barns and sheds throughout the area.”
When the finished bike was unveiled, it immediately received a lot of attention and became a great introduction for McFadden’s work. Over 100 websites have featured “Menace to Society,” or used its image to drive traffic to their sites. It was also featured in Lowside Magazine. With all that exposure, McFadden’s name was officially “out there.”
The next build was a 1973 CB350, which ended up being an award-winning bike, earning M&M even more notoriety. The interesting thing is that the owner, Scott Rice, never intended to enter the bike into the competition because, as McFadden explains, “We just built it to give Scott something to ride around on.” To enjoy his new ride, Rice drove the bike to an AMA Race in Alabama where Café Racer TV was coincidentally holding the “Big Kahuna Bike Show.” When the producers saw Scott’s bike, they asked him to enter it into the show. Scott obliged, and a few hours later, the bike won “Best in Show” and was featured in Café Racer Magazine. Most of the bikes in that show were valued in the $20,000 range or higher. Rice bought his bike for $500 and with McFadden’s help, invested $1,200 in the customization. Following that success, Rice decided to enter the bike in the Vintage Weekend show at Barber Motorsports, where the bike added “Best Garage Built Café” to its accolades.
Word was spreading and Yamaha took notice, sending Mike a 1980 XS650 to customize. When he began, Mike intended for the bike to just be something to drive around town. “Well, scratch that!” McFadden said, “This bike has been from New York, to Daytona Bike Week, to Seattle, and Long Beach, California.” That’s partly because the Yamaha rep was sending pictures of the bike to VPs at Yamaha, who in turn asked Mike to bring “The Salt Shaker” (as he named the bike) to the Indianapolis MotoGP Race to display in the hospitality tent. The bike turned lots of heads and was a huge hit with the crowd. After that weekend, McFadden was asked to loan the bike to Yamaha for the International Motorcycle Shows tour. Soon after, the bike was also chosen to take part in the AMD Invitational Show to compete against some of the top bikes in the country. (It also represented the U.S.A. in the world championships.) Over 80 custom bikes were invited to this prestigious competition, and Mike finished in the top 8. Mike proudly noted that “Most of the bikes in that class are valued above $80,000. But I built the Salt Shaker for $3,900.”
This past summer, Mike was invited by Yamaha’s Star Motorcycle division to be a part of a build-off between the top ten builders in the country. The task was to use the newest Star model, the “Bolt,” as a platform. For the competition, Mike was given money, a brand new bike still in the crate, and eight weeks to build. Each builder shared pictures of the process to show what could be done using the Bolt as a platform. Star Motorcycles held an online voting contest, and McFadden’s bike rose to second place at one point. When it was all said and done, Mike’s bike won third place in the build-off, and is currently on tour around the U.S. with Yamaha’s Star Motorcycles.
Based on the incredible success of the past four years, it’s hard to imagine what the future may hold for M&M Customs. Whatever it is, you can be sure it will be a fun ride! To keep up with the latest builds, follow competitions, and see plenty of pictures and videos, “like” M&M Customs on Facebook or visit www.mmcustoms.net.