The bikes at SSK are all American-made and Jason uses only American parts with just a few exceptions, such as his Dunlop (France) and Metzeler (Germany) tires. Jason also likes to use and support local businesses as much as possible, which is why his custom seats come from Buffalo's Anaghe Inc. on Bailey Avenue and his painting is all done at Air-FX in Lancaster. Already own a bike? No problem. SSK also customizes, repaints and restores bikes. Need just one part, like a shiny new engine or helmet? You're in luck. Jason's shop also offers apparel, custom helmets, accessories and parts such as wheels, lights, mirrors, frames, engines and shocks.
More importantly, SSK is also actively involved in the Buffalo community. "If more companies got involved in the community, things wouldn't be so bad," Jason says. "We try to do whatever we can to reach out and play a part." That's why SSK bikes have been raffled off to support the Red Cross and Make-A-Wish. A new line of limited edition Divas for a Cure Untouchable Bobbers are also currently being sold as part of a Breast Cancer Motorcycle Fundraising campaign. Only 20 bikes - painted a glossy black with a pink ribbon and the option of adding a survival date - will be sold, with $1,500 of each sale donated to breast cancer research. That's a total of $30,000 in donations right there! This summer, Jason is also raffling off "The Hitman," a base model bobber, to benefit the Buffalo Dream Center. The drawing will be held July 31 at Rumble in the City, a South Side Kustoms event held at the Central Terminal that features a Rock-A-Billy band, Kustom Kulture, BBQ, Henna tattoos and fun for the whole family. Next year, Jason will raffle off yet another bike to benefit the Variety Club. Every December SSK also hosts a Christmas party at Recckio's in South Buffalo, where toys are collected and then donated to Toys for Tots.
South Side, which opened in November, got its start back in 2005 out of Jason's house. He grew up with a love of hot rods and cars, which came from his dad, and then got into bikes. Jason went to school to get his welding certification - along with his wife, Charyn, who also works at the shop - and then worked for a local hog shop until he decided he wanted to go into business for himself. Jason loves building and designing bikes, but what he is most proud of is the way he has been able to help others by doing what he loves. The South Side owner told me that his proudest moment was when his first bike was raffled off for charity. The winner was a big man with a family of three kids who never would've been able to afford the bike on his own. "Seeing that man break down and cry just made it all worth it," he says.
So what's next for South Side Kustoms? A few things. Jason is currently looking to branch into hot rods and cars as well. When I asked him why, his answer was simple. "'Cuz cars and bikes go hand in hand." Jason also plans to open a branch in Canada this fall before going global. Oh, and let's not forget about South Side Kustoms' Grand Opening celebration, set to take place June 5th at the shop. The event will boast a car and motorcycle show, live entertainment provided by Rock-A-Billy band Blue Rocket Trio, hot dogs and drinks. Feel free to bring the kids too! Jason is all about creating a family-friendly atmosphere, which is why you won't find apparel with inappropriate or offensive sayings at South Side. "We have a different ethic around here," the owner says. His own kids - Caleb, 11, and Arian, 7 - are often at the shop and SSK events, and they were actually there playing video games when I dropped by to talk to Jason. If you ask me, I'd say South Side Kustoms is pretty custom-made itself!
Wanna know more? Check out www.south-side-kustoms.com or read Jason's blog. The shop is also on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.
Closed Sunday & Monday
South Side Kustoms
596 Michigan Avenue (corner of Michigan and Sycamore)
Buffalo NY 14203