When it comes to the history of West Coast bike builders Ron Simms stands among the greats. He was building custom bikes for sports stars and movie stars long before it was popular on the Discovery Channel and people like Jesse James owe him a lot and they are not shy about saying so.
Ron is not a guy who likes interviews or bragging about himself and you’re not likely to see him on any chopper show or Biker Build-Off, but it’s not because they don’t ask. It’s just not his style. He would rather talk about surfing or something unrelated to motorcycles and after 45 years in the business he can do what he likes. So how did I get these few questions answered? Well because I’m a young guy into this shit and not anything else. In fact he told me no a couple of times, or to be exact I believe it was, “ask someone else.”
SFCI- How did you get started building bikes?
RS- It’s been around me my whole life. My family had bikes; dirt bikes and Harleys. It was just what we did. Motorcycles were part of the family experience.
What was the first bike you built?
Sportster 62xlch. Back in those days if you wanted something custom you had to do it yourself from the frame up.
When did you open Simms motorcycles?
Opened the doors in 1973 but we really started the business in 1970. I had been building engines and custom tanks for Arlen Ness and others before that.
What advise would you give up and coming builders if any?
Do it because you love it. A lot of people try and make it in this business and few survive .