Top trends and gear talk from JS Customs
Jason Schoonmaker’s JS Customs has been customizing and repairing motorcycles since 2008. In 2019, the shop moved out of Schoonmaker’s garage to their present location in western Lycoming County at 221 Seminary Street in Jersey Shore.
While they see their fair share of Harleys, JS Customs also customizes Victory and Indian. In addition, the shop does basic maintenance on Suzuki, Honda and Kawasaki. Thanks to the spring riding season and the pandemic, they have been busy keeping up with customers, which have increased due to bikers returning to the road and new ones joining them.
We asked Schoonmaker what trends and gear will be driving bikers this year.
RIDE: What are some quick and
inexpensive ways to customize for spring?
SCHOONMAKER: There are as many upgrades as one could possibly imagine. A new exhaust from Vance & Hines, Bassani, or MagnaFlow for better flow and tone, a new seat from Saddlemen or LePera for long distance comfort, or an audio upgrade from Hogtunes or J&M for the larger touring models. The possibilities are nearly limitless.
Dealing with companies like Drag Specialties, a national distributor for many of the major aftermarket companies, allows me to offer so many possibilities to my customers for maintenance and customization. I’m also a direct dealer for many brands, some of which offer “try-it-before-you-buy-it” programs, such as Klockwerks for their Flare windshields and Saddlemen for any of their seats.
RIDE: What are some new trends in customization?
SCHOONMAKER: Trends typically begin to take root on the west coast of the U.S. If you look at what was happening out there in the custom world 2-3 years ago, that’s what’s happening here now. And what is popular out there now will be the new thing here later this year and into next.
The big trends making their way here now are performance engine and suspension upgrades across all models and stylistic upgrades, like T-bar style handlebar setups on touring bikes such as the Road Glide and Street Glide.
While “big wheel baggers” were THE thing a few years ago, the trend is more toward performance now. Wheels are getting smaller rather than larger to reduce unsprung weight. Brake rotors are getting bigger for more stopping power. Suspension upgrades are providing more comfort and better control. The introduction of the King of the Baggers racing series and Bagger Racing League have provided an avenue for companies to showcase their products that are focused on all out speed, handling, and performance and can be seen in action.
Harley-Davidson has been taking note of what the aftermarket is offering and what customers are asking for. This has been made clear recently by the introduction of some new models for 2022. The Sportster S has a new high revving Revolution engine that boasts big power numbers. The ST models of the Road Glide and Street Glide are made for handling with big inch engines and suspension upgrades from the factory. The Lowrider S is strictly a performance cruiser, sharing the same 117 cubic inch engine as the ST touring models. The Lowrider ST dons the same running gear but also aesthetically brings back cues from the FXRT touring/cruiser model, which many argue is the best performing motorcycle the company ever produced.
Another trend that is not really new, but is increasing in popularity, is the class of adventure touring bikes with Harley-Davidson introducing the Pan America last year to wild popularity. The market has been there for years with bikes such as the BMW GS-series cycles but has really taken the spotlight with this new offering.
RIDE: How busy have you been?
SCHOONMAKER: I would say that the uptick heading toward spring is average if not a little bit above. I am coming off of one of the busiest winter seasons I’ve ever had, though. By the end of February, I am typically booked out 4-6 weeks until late in the fall, although the last couple of years have been busier than ever. I do my best to get customers in and out as quickly and efficiently as possible. Parts availability has definitely been one of the biggest challenges I’ve had to face, but that is not only in this market as everyone seems to be affected by supply shortages.
I think Covid restrictions really caused an increase in my business when the pandemic first started. People were out of work but able to collect unemployment and bored! After all, a motorcycle really is the perfect way to socially distance yourself! So, there was definitely a notable increase in repairs and customization at that time, and I believe it caused some people who hadn’t ridden in some time, or ever, to buy a bike or to dig theirs out and remember why they used to love it so much.
RIDE: What inspires you about your job?
SCHOONMAKER: Motorcycling is a part of who I am rather than just something I do. It is a deep passion for me and I have a certain skill set for mechanical work.
I enjoy seeing someone ride the cycle that has been sitting in their garage for years that may have belonged to a beloved family member and I was able to play a part in bringing it back to life.
I enjoy seeing people see their dreams come to life in front of them when we sit down and discuss ideas for what they want their ride to look like and then putting a plan in place to make that happen.
For people who are truly passionate about motorcycling, their cycle becomes an extension of their personality, sometimes all at once and sometimes over a period of time as finances allow. It’s pretty cool to be a part of making that happen.
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