It’s no different at the Lake of the Ozarks, one of the up-and-coming destinations for motorcycle enthusiasts. Several road trips, charity rides, poker runs and camping trips are planned every year at the Lake. In fact, the Lake was home to a huge Lake of the Ozarks Bikefest last September, and a repeat is planned this year as well. Hundreds of “bikers” will show off their machines in a variety of events.

The complexion of the industry is changing as well. According to the Motorcycle Industry Council, the occupations of owners have changed to reflect the gentrification of cycling. In 1985, 23.2 percent of owners were laborers or semi-skilled. That was down to 6.9 percent in 2003. In 1985, 19 percent of bike owners were professionals. That number was up to 31.2 percent in 2003.

As the demographics have changed, so has the makeup of the motorcycles. Stock bikes are still available from Harley Davidson, Victory, Yamaha, Honda and others, but a trend — especially locally it seems is to have a motorcycle custom made or “tricked out” by adding custom features to a stock bike.

One of the best-known custom builders in the Lake area is J.D. Kudart who owns Custom Motorcycle Creations on The Strip in Lake Ozark. As a native of Iowa, he has been involved with motorcycles most of his life. While he owned Edgewater Motel on The Strip and Mike Finks, he still dabbled in building motorcycles.

His interest and talent pushed him into the business full time in the mid-1990s and he opened his shop in 2000. His work has won him several awards at various bike shows and “biker build-offs, including Choppers for Children, a fund raising event in 2006. His work has been featured in Easy Rider, V-Twin, Full Throttle and Wide Open magazines.

“I can take a brand-name bike and do what the customer wants, but I really enjoy building from the ground up, the frame-up stuff,” he said. He custom designs his motorcycles based on what the client wants. They give him a vision, and he runs with it.

“I can visualize their bike as they’re talking to me,” he explained. His forté is pro-street models, choppers, trikes and baggers. Through the first three quarters of 2008, a survey conducted by the Motorcycle Industry Council found a 29 percent increase in the percentage of female owners, compared to 2003. That last survey found that 9.6 percent of owners were women. Over the first nine months of 2008, the number had grown to 12.4 percent.

Sheri Brown and Kathy Brooks, both business co-owners with their husbands, reflect that trend. Brown’s “trike” is a good example of how a stock Harley Davidson can be customized and converted into a street machine worthy of any rally, street meet or show.

Brown, of Osage Beach, started with a 2005 Harley Davidson Deluxe ordered from Springfield, Ill., after a trip to Sturgis, S.D., in 2004. She added a DFT (Darn Fine Trike) conversion kit. Kudart fabricated the body and he and Chuck, who converts bikes to trikes as a hobby, put it all together. The kit converts a standard two-wheel motorcycle into a three-wheeler.

By the time Sheri took her inaugural ride to Sturgis, S.D., in 2001, she, Kudart and her husband Chuck had all been involved in the transformation.

Features of the DFT kit include an independent suspension which isn’t typical of most trikes. It’s also narrower which makes it easier to trailer. The independent suspension was designed after a Porsche car and prevents the trike from leaving the ground as it takes the corners. Brown has been biking since 1999 and triking since 2001. She wasn’t a fan of riding motorcycles early in her riding career because of the safety issue. After she rode a friend’s trike in 2001, she got hooked.

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