Note - please see the bottom of the post for Photo Credits.
We've known Rob Chappell of Origin8or for awhile now from seeing his bikes at shows and we had his custom Rebel he put together for Honda in the window a couple of years ago. Pre-2nd lockdown we thought it would be cool to spin by his shop to do a Shop Visit and capture some shots of his enviable work space. Recently Rob has been joined by his friend Adrian Taljaard which helps Origin8or get these customs out the door a little quicker. Thanks to Rob and Adrian for letting us spin by and check out the shop and shoot the shit. I followed up with Rob to ask some questions about his work space and his introduction to motorcycles. To check out his builds you can visit his site, his Instagram or check out his featured bikes on Pipeburn or BikeExif.
How long have you been working in this space?
I have been working in the current shop for 3 years, but for 12 years before it was built I worked out of my single car garage attached to my home.
What is the best upgrade to space you’ve made?
Since the shop is fairly new I made sure to cover off most of the items I would need including proper wiring for all of my equipment and an amazing shop heater and shelving though this summer's best upgrade was the addition of a stand alone A/C unit. Ha!
What’s one thing you couldn’t do without in your shop?
Obviously tools LOL. But most likely I'd say my tig welder. I can always replace a lift, or certain tools or tables but I wouldn't be able to do a lot of what I do in the shop without the welder.
One thing you wish your shop had?
At this stage I'm pretty well equipped so I would say more space. I wish I had designed in more space to store items when we are braking down a bike, as it stands now we pick a corner and throw the parts there until we need them. I gotta get a better system for that.
What is your background and introduction to motorcycles?
Motorcycles started very young on dirt bikes as our family had a trailer we went to most weekends and the bikes were stored up there my brother and I ride every chance we could get. As a teenager I went to a high school that offered a shop program and I took automotive, machine shop, welding and architecture for all 4 years there. When I lived at home our entire family was into old cars and with the help of my father I built a 1969 Olds 442 as my daily driver when I turned 16. That summer I also got my first street bike at a local flea market - a 1982 Suzuki GS400S - I fixed that up and used it all summer and sold it for a profit at the end. That was when I figured out I could get better and newer bikes by buying older ones, fixing and flipping them. I did it with dirt bikes, street bikes and cars. When I finally moved out on my own and bought my first home at 21 a single car garage would fit one car, or at least 5 bikes so I stuck with bikes.
How long have you been working on motorcycles and how long have you been building customs for people?
I've been modifying shit from the time I was a kid, be it a BMX bike or my skateboard, I can't leave anything alone. Motorcycles - Pretty much since I was 16. I always modified my own bikes and sold them at the end of the season. I didn't get too attached to them as I already found the thrill was in the build for me and once that was done I was wondering "what's next?" So my side hustle was always, fix it up and sell it. Around 2007 people started seeing more of my builds online and I got a few requests to take someone else's bike for a change, fix it up and give it back. I guess that's how it took off.
Do you have a motorcycle you built and sold but wish you still had in your stable as a personal ride.
Funny enough only one (so far) and that was my 2000 Honda RC51. That bike was modded so heavily, full HRC rad kit, custom electronics, race bodywork, SP2 swingarm, full Arrow exhaust. It was basically a race bike with a headlight cut into the fairing. I built it for track days, but when I wanted to buy some new equipment for the shop I had to let it go.
You've done a handful of Honda CB750's, Triumphs. Is there bike out there that you haven't used as a base for one of your customs that you would like to?
At this point the only arena I haven't gotten into is building some American Iron. Hell, I don't even know if I have enough imperial wrenches!! I've been speaking with a guy from Toronto recently who has a Knucklehead that needs some work. It's spread across his garage right now so if he pulls the trigger and commits to something that would be my first Harley build. We'll see.
In the past I'm sure building bikes has sometimes revolved around deadlines for motorcycle shows. Do you work better with a deadline or has it helped to have some of the pressure off?
There have been a couple shows where I literally worked until 2am each night to try and make the deadline. It's tough when you're not doing this full-time, the hours disappear really quickly. After those two incidents I decided I didn't need that stress, so for the most part when I take on a build we discuss a rough timeline, 3-4 months or so, and we proceed based on that timeline. I've been fortunate that the past 2 years I've been joined by my friend Adrian so we manage to get things done much quicker now. To date I've only blown one deadline - this summer, and due to Covid shutting everything down. Fortunately my customers are really cool and understanding especially when it comes to things outside my control. But lets be honest, for most people a custom bike is a luxury and waiting a few more weeks for something to be exactly the way they want it is a price most are willing to pay.
Photo Credits: '69 Triumph Bonnie Board Tracker by Benn Quinn / Shop photos by Sid Tangerine / BATL Triumph T120R by Benn Quinn / GSXR1100 V2 from www.origin8or.com / 1968 Triumph T120R No. 26 by Ben Quinn / 1974 CB750 No. 25 by Joe Cantin