When it comes to the Greasy Dozen Builder Collective, you never know what you'll see. The range of makes, models, and even styles is so broad, when selecting builders each year we look for things you don't always see and DJ Snyder's submission was exactly that! DJ submitted a 2006 Katana into our chopper category and as soon as we saw his submission we were sold. Reading that line you might be scratching your head and thinking a Katana.. a chopper?.. how is this going to play out. We can assure you that DJ built an absolute beast of a chopper! We're used to seeing 60s, 70s and 80s platforms turned into choppers, so when we saw a 2006 sport bike submission with the plan to turn it into a chopper it really had us wanting to see the end result. We always question what will happen with the 90s/00's sport bikes, will they be used for custom platforms or will they die in a junk yard? DJ may have struck gold with this chopper build and we may start seeing more 90's and 00's choppers coming to light. Without further ado, let's dive into this interview and learn more about his build.
What’s your name and where are you from?
My Name is DJ Snyder, I grew up in Pagosa Springs, Colorado but currently reside in Phoenix, AZ.
Give us the backstory on how you got into motorcycles and how long you’ve been building for.
I got into motorcycles at 19 when I first moved to AZ. As a kid, I was never allowed to ride anything with two wheels. The second I had enough cash I bought a 1992 Katana 600. I've been toying with bikes for a little over 10 years now.
Take us back to the day you found out you were selected as a builder for this year's GD, what was going through your mind?
We were sitting on a beach, partying in Mexico when I found out I was selected, and I couldn't believe it. We were just starting to save and plan for our wedding. Initially, I was nervous to break it to my lady that I was selected due to the timeframe and funds, but she was totally supportive. The second our vacation ended, we started tearing into it.
Tell us about the starting platform for your build (year, make, model)
So this bike started its life as a 2006 Suzuki Katana. Originally, I envisioned building a Bandit 1200, but I found a Katana for sale in Tucson. My best friend and I drove down to buy it and I decided to ride it back home instead, let it have one last ride in its street bike form.
What was the inspiration for the build?
I always have loved the 70's style, long fork, small wheeled bikes. I’ve seen photos of my childhood best friend’s grandpa who had an old badass panhead and I knew one day I would build my own version of that bike.
Have you named the bike? If so, how did you arrive at that name?
WILD CARD BITCHES. It's from a scene in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. My lady and friends always tell me that I'm the wild card of our group. And since the bike is crazy long, the handling is insane, foot clutch and no front brakes, we decided that this bike is the true wild card of our group now, hence the name, Wild Card.
Were there any favorable moments during the build process?
My most favorable moment during the build was making the fake oil tank to hide all the electronics in. It looks cool and is accessible, unlike all my other bikes. So roadside fixes should be much easier now!
We know building a motorcycle can be challenging and everyone runs into a set back at some point. Did you have any notable setbacks that you were able to overcome?
2020, what hasn't been a set back? I definitely went through a handful during this build. In February, the USPS somehow lost my 5 foot tall springer in the mail and it was MIA for almost 2 weeks. In March, my dad, who was more like my best friend, passed away which turned everything in my life upside down. I decided that I wasn't going to try and finish this bike at all, but I knew he would have wanted to see me finish it, so I finished it. Lastly, in May, I crashed my flat track bike and caught the chain with my finger on the way down, ended up having to get my first knuckle of my middle finger amputated. Overall, this was an insanely challenging time in my life and building process.
Throughout the build process we tend to learn new things whether it's a skill, knowledge or even something about ourselves. What are some things you’ve learned throughout building this bike?
I normally build all my own stuff anyways, but this time I really wanted it all to be the best it could be. This time I wanted it to be more "break down" friendly. I wanted the harness to be extremely clean and simple. I wanted to make sure I wasn't going to be snapping sissy bar mounts anymore. I really went above and beyond and put all my effort into making it the best I could.
Paint tends to be one of the first things that draws people in and then they start looking at all the other details in the build, who did your paint and what made you go with the color scheme?
My best friend Max (@blackanchorpaintworks on instagram) painted this bike. We've talked paint on this bike for almost 2 years. We wanted a really tough looking paint scheme since it was so long. I really wanted 90s colors, so pink and blue were the choices. The only thing I told him I wanted for sure were flames and stripping. I gave him complete freedom to do what he wanted and he knocked it out of the park.
Now that the build is wrapped up, what’s your plan? (Catching up on sleep?, ripping it around the countryside?)
I really want to stack miles up on this, maybe build a 1200 engine for it soon. And just ride it all over the Southwest.
Any plans for a new build?
I just sold my Triumph scrambler that I built a year ago, so I could start building a Modern Triumph to compete in the mint 400 and other various offroad/ hooligan enduro things you shouldn't do on a 500lb bike. Keep an eye out, this should be a fun one!
They say “It takes a village” who would you like to thank?
Firstly, my Fiancee, Kalie. 2020 hasn't been easy to me or us at all, but she has always been there to keep me going, and is always super supportive of my wild ideas. My dad, Dan, for joking with me that I would never be able to turn this bike, but was always happily showing it off to everyone. My best friends Max, Cass, Brad, and Jeff. They all helped with body work, painting, building, drinking all of my beer, and encouraged me to finish this crazy bike at a weird moment in my life. All the Phoenix local shops that helped with answering questions and thinking this was a crazy idea. Of course Greasy Dozen, for giving me the opportunity to finish this build. And all the sponsors that graciously gave me 90% of the parts I needed to actually finish this bike.
Lastly, where can people find you (Social media)?
@notdjsnyder on instagram
D.j. Snyder on Facebook
Photos by Shelby McQueen Photography + Ashley Orozco