It was a warm summer day in the countryside outside Toronto when two-year-old Adam Gaspic was propped on the tank of his mechanic and DIY dad’s three-wheeled ATV and taken for his first ride.
Some 30 years later, Adam can be found in an old industrial section of low-slung buildings in North Hollywood, California, creating custom bikes of nearly every make and model.
Over the past four years he’s been developing a name for himself in the US as Gasser Customs, a moniker that comes from a nickname some friends back in Canada saddled him with when he was younger thanks to his surname.
“I was building bikes in Toronto and becoming pretty well known, but the weather there isn’t ideal for riding or building. Try doing a test run of a new build when it’s below zero outside!” he says.
So realising that California had the weather, the culture and the attitude that were ideal for custom bike building, Adam made his way to Los Angeles.
Southern California isn’t exactly lacking in custom bike builders, or people who think they are – throw a wrench any direction and you’re bound to hit one – so what makes Adam stand out?
You break it, you fix it
“I’ve been working on my own bikes since I was five or six – even when I was racing motocross as a teen in Canada. My dad said ‘you break it, you fix it’. I also worked for 12 years as a licensed auto technician. And I pay attention. I watch what the manufacturers come out with and I see which bikes start becoming more popular at the different hang-outs and group rides.”
There’s also an attention to detail in the way a bike functions that rolls out of the Gasser Customs garage. Adam works to get it right before his customers can ever get it wrong.
“I won’t let a bike out of the shop until I’ve had a ride on it. The customer knows that when the bike is finished we’re still going to put a couple of hundred miles on it to make sure it’s running exactly the way it needs to. One of the things I learned in the automobile business is you’ve got to get it right the first time. If you don’t, you’ll end up fixing your mistakes for free.”
Design and reliability
When you walk into Gasser Customs, you’ll also notice something else that’s different from other builders. There’s no preferred bike or model, although Adam does admit to a fondness for Triumphs due to their ‘design and reliability’ which he says just want to make him smile.
While Adam started out working on a lot of older Japanese bikes, any given day could now see him working on a slightly used Bonneville… or anything out of the diverse Hinckley stable.
Craftsmanship and attention to detail
“When I first started building bikes back in Canada, a good friend of mine pulled up to my shop on a Thruxton. I took it for a ride and came back with a big grin. That was my first introduction to Triumphs and I’ve appreciated their craftsmanship and attention to detail ever since,” he says.
That appreciation now extends beyond the custom build to a line of exhaust and triple trees (clamps) he has designed specifically for Bonnevilles. He sells the parts online and their worldwide sales now make up a significant amount of his business.
Between working on an average of 50 bikes a year, plus the custom parts business, you’d think Adam would have a sizeable crew. But size is relative if you know how to work smart. And in the case of Gasser Customs, the work is all done by Adam, Lisa, who also serves as the company CFO, and two part-time builders.
While Adam says this is fine for now, at some point he’d like to add more help so he can have time to build the occasional custom kicking around in his brain. He’s also working on bringing six or seven new parts to market.
Until then, there’s always the next build and for Adam and Gasser Customs, that could be any kind of bike… but let’s hope it’s a Triumph.