Take a look at this bike. I have never seen anything like it, at any bike show, anywhere. Having seen this bike in person, I can tell you that the pictures do it no justice. Its an unbelievable work of art, with so many examples of one off engineering and special touches that you will be taking notes and looking at every little detail for hours.
Introducing Nehmesis, multi award winning custom Road Star built and engineered by Sam Nehme and crew at BMS Choppers. The Clinic's members will be interviewing Sam and his crew over the next week or so in our forum. We are going to find out what makes this crew tick, and maybe get some ideas for projects of our own. Stay tuned to our forum for more details on how you can participate and what other custom builders have signed on for this new series.
I recently had the opportunity to be very close to BMS on a business trip and decided to take the time to check them out for myself. It was a day filled with so many surprises that I didn't want to leave when the time came. So to give everyone a proper introduction to this crew of over the top builders, read along and learn what I found out when I payed them a visit. I can tell you right now they are not who you think they are. And after my visit to their shop I lost my objectivity. So this isn't an objective news article. I am going to try really hard not to sound like a pre-teen girl talking about her favorite boy band rock star.
I have been a fan of Sam's work for many years now. He built a black Road Star a few years ago that I still want to find a way to replicate on my next build. It was clean, a little understated (thats how I like them) and one of the finest looking Road Star choppers I have ever seen. Here it is with new owner sitting on it:
Nikki on her new Bike
After wrapping up my work for the day, I took out my google map with directions to BMS Choppers and headed out. They are in a little more rural area of Broward County not too far from Miami, FL. Google maps are usually pretty reliable, but in this case they were not. I landed on a small side street in front of what looked like a little office building with a fenced in parking lot. And no one was there.
Ok google blew it but I had to be close, so started driving up and down the adjacent streets trying to find BMS. I was looking for a custom chopper shop, so was checking all the dusty corners and small facilities that looked like they might be a chopper shop. I finally gave up and called Bruce Noble (nobull60 in our forum, who works for BMS and was waiting for me there) to ask for directions. The only place I could find to pull over was a very large Motor Cycle dealership (one of the super stores we all go to from time to time) called Broward Motor Sports.
After getting Bruce on the phone and telling him where I was, I heard a chuckle on the other end of the line. He proceeded to tell me that I was in the right place and to come on in. I Made a mental note at this point, my experience with dealers who build customs has been relatively limited as its not really a good profit center and most dealers don't really want to take on the headache. At this point I was expecting to find out Sam was a partner in some small venture with a mega dealer. I was really hoping this was going to get better.
Walking in I saw this was not only a Yamaha dealer, but also SeeDoo, Suzuki, Honda, Kawasaki, Polaris and more. Great. I am walking into a Mega Dealer, not a custom bike builder. I enjoy these places as much as the next guy, but that wasn't what I was there for. I was just going to have to trust Bruce on this one and hope something cool was close by.
The showroom was everything I would expect from a Mega Dealer, expansive and loaded with all types of bikes ready for anyone to take home. Fortunately I spied what looked like a pretty decent accessories shop to my left. That looked promising. Bruce was there at the door to greet me and we spent a few moments making introductions and engaging in small talk. I was scanning the show room for anything promising I could find.
Then came surprise #1. Bruce knew I was huge fan of the black chopper in the pic above. It just so happened that the owner had recently left it with BMS on consignment and it was there on the showroom floor. Now the trip was worth it, I was going to get to really look this bike over in person. So poured over it for a little while asking Bruce tons of questions about the various parts they used and how they got that huge rear tire on the back.
As we were talking I was continuing to scan the showroom for more treats. I noticed a roped off area to the right, behind all the showroom bikes. Having seen pictures of some of Sam's over the top customs, I recognized one of them sitting there. It was a V-Star called Sinistar that had really made a splash in custom circuits when He built it. So at least one over the top custom was there, and I could see a couple of others I did not recognize that looked pretty tantalizing. They did not have radiators so good chance they might be Road Stars. Things were looking up.
Since Bruce knew I was going to want to really go over the customs, we decided to take a tour of the facility first. I had asked for a tour of any shop they had where they might be building custom bikes. Bruce was kind enough to take me there via the accessories shop (the only way to get there from the showroom). From the front door the accessories department looked interesting. As we walked into it I realized that a very large part of that area is obstructed from view as you walk into the showroom. Suprise #2: The accessories department was huge. It was one of the largest ones I have ever seen. I knew I would have time later to peruse the displays, so made a note to spend some time there before leaving.
Knowing that most dealers carry the stuff they sell a lot of, but not a lot of the harder to find custom pieces, I asked if I could take a peek into the stockroom. You can learn a lot about a dealer from their stockrooms and I figured this would be illuminating at the very least. Hopefully I would find a few things in there that would be hard to find elsewhere and then would know who to call when I needed them. That led to surprise #3. The stock room was huge! And not just the type of stuff you expect to find in a bike dealers stock room. Everywhere I turned there where shelves of custom after market parts going off farther than I could see. Bruce got a kick out of my little expressions of elation with each find: Thunder bike parts (in stock!), custom BMS fat bobber fenders, fat tire swingarms, radical bars, pipes, a great complement of Baron's parts etc... I stopped taking notes at one point because there was just too much to track. Then came surprise #4: This was the "little" warehouse. They had another facility near by where they kept their overstock and internet sales stock. And it was even bigger. They didn't have room for it all here, so BMS leased a separate warehouse to keep it in.
So this was getting pretty interesting, customs in the showroom, one of the largest accessory departments I have seen, and lots and lots of stock on hard to find custom parts. So far so good. I decided to find out a little more about the ownership and management as we headed back to the fabrication shop. I knew Sam was relatively young, and I remember reading once that he had not gone to college (certainly not required for a custom builder) so really wanted to know more about his part in all this.
Bruce told me that Sam got his start in the world of motorsports while he was in high school. He got a job with a local dealer cleaning up around the dealership and helping out where ever he could. Within a few years he had worked his way up to being the general manager of the dealership. That was pretty impressive. But there was more. which led to suprise #5: In time, Sam got wind of a local dealership that was in trouble and managed to find a way to buy it. This was the mega store I was standing in, although it was not a mega store when he bought it. It became one under his leadership and guidance. While this was interesting, it tended to point more toward Sam's business prowess than his custom bike building skills. In fact it was getting harder to see him in that light now. It is my understanding that as of this writing Sam now owns three dealerships. So clearly he is on his way up in this industry. How could a guy like that have any time for, or real interest in custom bikes?
We finally got to the fabrication shop. At this point I would have been happy to see a metal brake and some welding torches. But was really expecting a bolt on shop. And not a real big one either. This was a very busy dealership so this couldn't be a real big part of their interests. I was wrong. Really wrong. Time for surprise #6: The custom fabrication area was the size I would expect for a dedicated, busy, very popular chopper fabrication shop. And it had all the tools I would expect to see in a truly custom fabrication facility. The welding equipment, the metal brakes, bandsaws, expansive work areas and body tools you would expect to see some place like West Coast Choppers. Off to one side, I found a working (and clearly very often used) english wheel. This was the place I was hoping to find, but I still can't believe it is here in this big mega dealer. Bruce and I were talking about some of the parts they create there and going over some of the work in progress when he pointed to a large well windowed room off to one side and proceeded to take me into it.
Which became surprise #7: BMS has a full precision tool facility loaded with precision tools and machines of all kinds. This wasn't just a mill and a lathe but a room completely filled with various types of precision machines. And it wasn't a little room. Between the fabrication shop and this precision machine collection, I was starting to wonder if there was anything they could not make. I was very impressed and there was still more to come.
One of my friends asked me to inquire about a really nice Roadliner Sam built. Its an exceptional piece of work.
BB's favorite Roadliner
As luck would have it, this bike was also in the shop. They were in the middle of doing more work to it to make it even better. Bruce took me over to take a quick look at it. Which led to suprise #8: BMS doesn't just have a touch up paint booth like most dealers, but a dedicated paint department with a full sized paint booth large enough to get a small vehicle into. Most custom shops I have been to (but not all) send their more customized paint jobs out to dedicated paint shops. I have seen the kind of paint Sam puts on his bikes, so was fully expecting to find out he used an outside painter (ala Orange County Choppers). But he doesn't. It all gets done there in his paint facility. These guys are soup to nuts, they do it all. And they do it in house!
After getting the chance to take the seat for a moment on the Roadliner (whoever said custom bikes had to be uncomfortable), we headed back to the showroom to take a closer look at the show bikes. Earlier I had learned that Sam was not at the shop, as he had some family commitments he needed to attend to. Also, Nehmesis was not there because Sam decided to ride it. That was really interesting. He built a bike to ride himself, not just to show.
When we got back to the showroom, Nehmesis was there. I was blown away. This bike (and Sinistar too) are hard to believe. Even when you are looking right at them they just look too good to be true. The paint details alone can keep you busy for hours. Every time I looked away, and then back again I saw more custom parts and treatments. It was unreal. While I was checking them out, blowing Bruce away asking questions about everything I saw, Sam came over to introduce himself. He saw me pouring all over them and wanted to see if I had any questions. I did. We talked for a good twenty to thirty minutes while he explained to me a lot of the more custom elements.
Sam knew every nut and bolt, every custom piece, every roadblock they hit and how they solved a host of engineering problems. He was a great guy, very approachable and very easy to talk to. He doesn't really fit the picture I have in my brain of a typical dealership owner, looks more like a bike guy. The conversation we had confirmed he's a bike guy. He's not just selling them, he loves them. It his passion in life.
I was impressed with his perfectionist attitude, and his sense of detail. There are no bad views you can get of his bikes, everything from every angle looks great and is filled with little details that will keep you busy figuring them all out. Sam is the fusion of artist and engineer we all wish we could be.
After leaving BMS, I spent a little while reviewing the things I learned. I was expecting to find a metric version of West Coast Choppers. Instead I found a large Mega motorsports dealer with all the things I had hoped to find embedded into it. They are not just a chopper shop, they are one stop for everything you could possibly want from OEM to the wildest custom fabrication you could ever hope for. It was a good trip and I am really glad I had the time to stop by. The final bonus was Sam himself. I could have been talking to any of the guys here in our forum, he's a bike guy from top to bottom and enjoys those conversations as much as we do. I am hoping to find a reason to get back to FL again sometime soon to spend a little more time at BMS.
BMS has raised the bar in custom bike circles. Folks like Jesse James and Paul Sr aren't even in the same league. And BMS builds Metrics, not Harley Davidson clones. Score that as a major hit for the metric riders everywhere. You can build serious customs from metric platforms and they proved it.
So in review I would have to say it was one of my best days ever. And I got to talk one on one with a guy who is probably the finest bike fabricator building custom bikes right now. I wish everyone here could have been there.
So now its time to re-announce surprise #9. Sam and his guys have agreed to be interviewed by the members of the clinic. You can ask them anything you want to, they do it all (not just the over the top customs). Need some friendly advice on your next mod? Nows your chance to ask the best and get the benefit of their experience, knowledge and skills.
Stay tuned, and keep an eye on the forum.