Custom American Made Performance
What began as a hobby and a love for motorcycles has turned into an industry leading company specializing in performance parts for Harley Davidson motorcycles. Paul Wideman worked as a mechanic in a local shop and built a frame-jig at home and was soon turning out his own custom frames. That quickly became a full-time gig and Paul’s Bare Knuckle Choppers company was building not only Chopper frames but other heavy fabricated metal parts such as fenders, springer front ends and complete Chopper builds. Somewhere around 2015 Bare Knuckle switched from fabricated parts to doing more and more machined upgrade parts.
Fast forward to 2020 and Paul Wideman’s Bare Knuckle Performance company provides American made, high quality parts for the performance Harley Davidson enthusiast. Many of these parts are ingenious problem solvers for common aliments in FXR, Dyna and Touring models along with outright performance upgrades. “We try to really make an improvement on the bike- not just make something because it looks cool,” Paul says.
While still building the occasional Chopper, the main focus is the parts business and some of their best-selling items are kits like their FXR axle adjuster or their sealed bearing conversion for FXR swing-arms. When asked where a Dyna or FXR owner should start with performance upgrades, Paul says, “suspension is a good place to start and we have a cool front-end kit that’s a great alternative to going the whole inverted fork route. From there a good set of rear shocks, then brakes and for carbureted bikes we have bolt-on Lectron carb kits” he added.
Continental, the perfect tyre for their creations
Paul says his first experience with Continental motorcycle tires was a set of TKC70/TKC70 Rocks on his BMW 1250 GSA, “I was blown away by the amazing grip on the street once they were scrubbed in and that break-in was fast. For a tire designed to be used off-road it’s an amazing tire on the street,” Paul added. When asked about the Conti Tour for Harley Davidson motorcycles, Paul relates “CW (Paul’s employee) and I were out ridding our FXRs when we got caught in a huge down pour and we were both shocked by the way the Tour performed in the wet. Dry weather, wet weather, handling, mileage- there are no disappointments with the Conti Tour. Over the years I’ve ridden on pretty much every tire brand there is and I’m sticking with Continental.”
As a renowned custom bike builder and die-hard chopper fan, Paul thinks the “Performance Bagger” trend “will just get bigger and bigger”. It just makes sense to have a comfortable bike that you can still ride 2-up on but can also get the job done when you want to hit the back roads hard with your buddies. The Industry needs to be aware of the electric motorcycle– tomorrow’s custom builders and tuners will likely be scientists and engineers tuning electric bikes,” according to Paul.
If you’ve been to Sturgis, Tennessee Music and Motorcycles, Mama Tried or other big-name shows or rallies, you’ve no doubt seen a Bare Knuckle creation. Paul’s bikes are instantly recognizable for their hard-edged, serious performance looks while remaining true to the Chopper genre.
The future looks bright for Bare Knuckle Performance as they continue to innovate and set trends, not follow them. Paul’s son Sam has joined the company and provides input from a youthful prospective and will carry on the Bare Knuckle way.