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Binford in Biker Build-Off
Paul Binford and his crew stand in front of a set of custom-built motorcycles that have won the shop numerous awards. Pictured, from left, are Shop Manager Paul Binford Jr., Chief Painter Rico Saldana, Head Technician Tyler Shackley and Binford. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL

Paul Binford builds bikes. 

Bright ones. Ones with flashy paint jobs and bright chrome and custom machine work. Two-wheeled monsters that couldn’t be categorized as anything less than a moving work of art. 

And now the entire world will get the chance to see just how talented this 19-year veteran of the world of customized Harley Davidson motorcycles actually is. 

On Wednesday Binford and his crew of three went about business as usual in the small, cramped quarters of his North Main Street building. They cut steel and they ground aluminum and they laid out the template of a build that is as startling as it is enticing. 

But they did it all with a Discovery Channel camera crew filming their every move.

For the next five weeks Binford Custom Cycles will be one of three West Coast outfits featured on the channel’s popular “Biker Build-Off” series that pits creative motorcycle minds from all over the country against one another in a race to create something that will have to appeal as much to the hardcore enthusiast as it does the casual observer. 

It has to be eye-catching. It has to have bravado. 

While the specs of what Binford is building for the show can’t be disclosed – one of the other shops, TPJ Customs, is located in Lodi – he has declared that it will be “the baddest bike on the planet” when it’s all said and done. 

Those are big words coming from a guy who once built a motorcycle specifically to race through the Bonneville Salt Flats and took home a prestigious award chosen by the Harley heirs themselves at the Sturgis Rally in North Dakota. They definitely carry weight. 

They also carry a large helping of humility. 

“I’m at a point in my career, after 19-years, where I’m just happy that they picked me to be a part of this,” he said. “There chose three shops on the West Coast and we were one of them. We got the call about a week ago and have been going through all of the legal stuff ever since. 

“And now they’re in town and they’re set up and we’re going.”

Binford opened the custom bike business in Manteca 15 years ago, and weathered the economic downturn by also serving as an everyday maintenance and parts facility as well. While other outfits came into town and folded up shop – “I’ve seen them come and I’ve seen them go” – Binford was able to rely on the full-service aspect of the business to keep the doors open. 

Even with a set of high-definition Discovery Channel cameras and a crew sitting in the room behind him, Binford says that the success that he’s had as a custom builder hasn’t overshadowed the fact that he’s still just a regular guy – not a rock star or a celebrity or anything else that somebody might associate with the lives led by reality TV bike builders. 

“It’s a great feeling knowing that you’re going to get that recognition, but I still work and live in Manteca – it’s a small town where I hang out in the taverns and like to go home at the end of the day and play with my dogs,” he said. “That’s far, far away from the movie star thing. I’m blessed that we’ve just been able to run away with this thing.”

Binford will be periodically filmed by production crews over the course of the next five weeks. A final unveiling show will allow viewers to cast their live votes and determine who the winner of the show will actually be. 

“We bit off a big, big bone here,” he said. “We’ve got our work cut out for us.”