Local motorcycle designer creates artworks of steel

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Can a motorcycle also be a piece of art? We’ll meet a motorcycle builder who designs bikes – and for him it’s more than just a hobby, it’s a passion.

TED SIMONS: CAN A MOTORCYCLE BE A PIECE OF ART? THAT'S CERTAINLY THE CASE FOR ONE MOTORCYCLE DESIGNER. PHOTOGRAPHER ROB MCJANNET AND PRODUCER AMANDA MASON, GIVE US AN INSIDE LOOK INTO THESE ART-WORKS OF STEEL.

VIDEO: THIS ISN'T JUST AN ORDINARY RIDE. RYAN JOHNSON IS RIDING HIS OWN WORK OF ART. A STEEL CREATION 15 YEARS IN THE MAKING. BEFORE DESIGNING MOTORCYCLES, JOHNSON STARTED OUT BUILDING AND DESIGNING CARS AND TRUCKS WHICH BEGAN THE DAY HE BOUGHT A ‘68 MUSTANG.

RYAN JOHNSON: SO, I BOUGHT THIS BIKE AND IT WAS GREAT. IT WAS AMAZING. TWO WEEKS LATER, I TOOK IT ALL APART BECAUSE I DIDN'T DO IT. I COMPLETELY REDID THE WHOLE BIKE AND CHANGED THE LOOK OF THE BIKE AND THAT SPIRALED FROM THERE AND I BOUGHT ANOTHER ONE AND ANOTHER ONE. I WOULD JUST KEEP BUILDING A BIKE FOR MYSELF AND SOMEBODY CAME ALONG AND HAD TO HAVE IT. SO IT IS KIND OF WHERE IT STARTED.

VIDEO: THERE IS A REASON WHY JOHNSON'S MOTORCYCLE HAVE WON AWARDS. JOHNSON LIVES HIS DESIGNS, EVERY INCH, AND EVERY DETAIL. HIS FRIENDS WOULD TELL YOU IT’S AN OBSESSION AND HE ADMITS HE THINKS ABOUT BIKES UNTIL THEY ARE FINISHED WHICH IN SOME CASES IS LONGER THAN A YEAR.

RYAN JOHNSON: THE DESIGN PART OF IT WILL BE IN MY HEAD AND I WON'T STOP THINKING ABOUT IT. EVERY NIGHT I WILL GO TO SLEEP AND THAT IS WHAT I AM THINKING ABOUT. WITH MOTORCYCLES, AND I THINK AS THIS GOES FOR A LOT OF BUILDERS. YOU ARE UP UNTIL 3:00 IN THE MORNING WORKING ON IT ‘BECAUSE YOU DON’T WANT TO STOP DOING WHAT YOU’RE DOING. BUILDING IT FOR ME IS MORE FUN THAN ACTUALLY RIDING IT.

VIDEO: THESE BIKES ARE NOT CREATED JUST FOR LOOKS. THEY ARE CAREFULLY BUILT FOR FUN AND SAFETY. JOHNSON ONCE BOUGHT A SHOW BIKE AND AFTER A LONG RIDE GONE WRONG HE REALIZED THE BIKE WAS UNSAFE AND DANGEROUS. SO HE IS COMMITTED TO CREATING RELIABLE, UNIQUE WORKS OF ART.

RYAN JOHNSON: THAT BIKE I BUILT SPECIFICALLY FOR SPEED AND FUN TO RIDE AND EVERY LITTLE BIT OF THAT WAS OKAY IT HAS TO BE SAFE, IT HAS TO BE THIS, BECAUSE I AM GOING TO BE ON IT. EVERY BIKE I HAVE EVER BUILT HAS BEEN THAT WAY. BUT I CAN TELL YOU EVEN IF I WAS BUILDING IT FOR SOMEONE ELSE OR JUST TO SELL, IT WOULD BE BUILT FOR SAFETY.

VIDEO: CREATING ONE OF THESE MASTERPIECES TAKES A COMMUNITY OF TRUSTED BUILDERS, DESIGNERS, PAINTERS AND WELDERS.

RYAN JOHNSON: SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO LET THE PAINTER, IF YOU TRUST THE PAINTER, YOU GOT TO LET HIM GO WITH IT A LITTLE BIT. AND YOU TRUST IN GUYS LIKE THAT AND YOU ARE NOT GOING TO GO IN YOUR GARAGE AND MAKE FIBERGLASS PARTS YOURSELF LIKE A PROFESSIONAL GUY THAT TURNS OUT TEN OF THESE KITS A WEEK. YOU ARE NOT GOING TO DO WHAT THEY CAN DO. SO YOU HAVE TO RELY ON THEM. SO I AM STUBBORN BUT I’VE ALSO LEARNED TO RELY ON PEOPLE WHO CAN GET THE JOB DONE FOR YOU.

VIDEO: PART OF THE JOY DESIGNING IS WHEN OTHERS ENJOY YOUR WORK.

RYAN JOHNSON: IT MAKES ME HAPPY TO SEE THESE GUYS EXCITED. SOME OF THEM TRY TO HIDE FROM THEIR WIVES HOW MUCH THEY ARE SPENDING ON IT BUT OTHER THAN THAT THEY ARE HAPPY.

VIDEO: BUT WATCHING THAT BIKE DRIVE AWAY CAN BE TOUGH.

RYAN JOHNSON: EVERY SINGLE BIKE I’VE HAD, IT HURTS A LITTLE LETTING IT GO.

VIDEO: JOHNSON’S SUCCESS LARGELY COMES FROM HIS CURIOSITY AND DRIVE TO UNDERSTAND HOW THINGS REALLY WORK. IT’S A LESSON HE HOPES HIS KIDS LEARN.

RYAN JOHNSON: I THINK IF I NEVER BOUGHT MY '68 MUSTANG AND HAD IT TORN APART IN MY PARENTS’ GARAGE, I THINK EVERYTHING I LEARNED FROM THAT '68 MUSTANG UP UNTIL THIS BIKE HAS HELPED ME BE SUCCESSFUL.

VIDEO: SUCCESSFUL AT 60 MILES AN HOUR ON A PIECE OF STEEL, FIBERGLASS, AND RUBBER ON AN OPEN ROAD.

AND FRIDAY ON ARIZONA HORIZON IT’S THE JOURNALIST’S ROUNDTABLE. WE WILL PREVIEW THE PRESIDENT'S SCHEDULED APPEARANCE SET FOR NEXT WEEK IN PHOENIX AND THE CORPORATION COMISSION APPROVES AND E-P-S RATE HIKE. THOSE STORIES AND MORE ON THE JOURNALIST’S ROUNDTABLE. THAT’S IT FOR NOW, I AM TED SIMONS AND THANK YOU FOR JOINING US. YOU HAVE A GREAT EVENING.

ARIZONA "HORIZON" IS MADE POSSIBLE BY CONTRIBUTIONS FROM THE FRIENDS OF ARIZONA PBS, MEMBERS OF YOUR PBS STATION. THANK YOU.

Ryan Johnson, Builder at ACE Motorsports Custom Cycles

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