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Dave's "Black Cadillac" motorcycle is on display at the Iron Horse Hotel.

In Marketplace

Cook is working on a motorized three wheeler with customized everything.

In Marketplace

Cook's "Nickel Bike" took fourth place at the AMD World Championship.

In Marketplace

Cook's infamous couch is battered but still in workable condition.

Cook customizes traditional motorcycle concepts

On the East Side, Dave Cook is known as the couch guy. Pretty soon, he'll be known as the love seat guy, too.

But more than the local celebrity for plush seats on wheels, he's known outside Milwaukee as one of the most highly regarded custom motorcycle builders in the world.

Owner of Cook Custom's Choppers, Dave Cook has been motorizing bikes and random objects alike since he was a kid. Little did he know, all those years of play in the garage would eventually lead to the job of his dreams.

After years of working for local car dealerships and then in auto sales for himself, Cook put everything into starting a bike shop of his own. Today, nearly seven years after Cook Custom Choppers opened, Cook has been graced with several levels of acclaim and the shop is busier than ever.

"I had everything you could want in terms of material things but I wasn't satisfied. A friend told me to do what I love, so I sold everything and I've never regretted it," Cook says.

Among more serious work, Cook's latest project is a motorized, street-legal love seat. The love seat is still in the conceptual phase but Cook estimates it will travel 55 miles per hour and be equipped with tail lights, headlights and turn signals.

"Well, the couch was kind of destroyed last year. So, we've started on the love seat and we're going to haul it out to Sturgis (S.D.) and tool around out there," Cook says.

Don't be deceived, this is serious work.

Cook has also undertaken the creation of a motorized three wheeler. Designing the entire frame and all three wheels by hand, Cook believes this could be one of his greatest accomplishments.

"At Sturgis, people will be way more interested in this than my bike. They love it because it's different. People are kind of sick of motorcycles," Cook says.

If people are sick of bikes, you wouldn't know it by the amount of work going on in Cook's shop.

In the last two years, Cook's bikes were seen on the cover of American Iron and Cycle Source Magazines. He's been the subject of the Discovery Channel show "Sturgis Motorcycle Mania" and his work has been complimented by chop shop icons across the country.

"I'm into the board track style; simple, clean, bare minimal and it just so happens that seems to be the trend right now. I do what I love. Even if everyone goes back to fat tires, I won't do it. I don't follow the trends," he says.

In both 2007 and '08, Cook took fourth place in the freestyle class at the AMD World Championships. The highest placing American bike, Cook's 2008 "Nickel Bike" was designed, manufactured and plated by hand.

And still, Cook finds time to motorize living room furniture.

"The couch and the love seat are just for a good time. I love motorizing anything I can think of and it's perfect to run around the East Side during the summer months," Cook explains.

This year, Cook plans to take both the love seat and an entry level bike to the AMD World Championship.

"The bike I'm working on for Sturgis this year uses an imported engine. Normally motorcycle cylinders run left to right but I've completely modified it to run front to back. It's really involved; looks almost like an old Henderson now," Cook says.

Competitions aren't the only place you can grab a glimpse of Cook's style. When it came to final touches on the Iron Horse Hotel, Cook's work was one of the first places the biker-inspired hotel looked.

Cook's custom-designed and built motorcycle is currently on display there on a platform that, according to the hotel's Brigette Breitenbach, will host rotating art.

Referring to his East Side shop and home as an "urban recluse," Cook seems set on staying in Milwaukee.

"There's obviously more work down south where the riding season is longer but all my family and friends are here. I like ice fishing and snowmobiling. I like the variety," Cook explains.

This weekend, head south to Chicago to see Cook and Cook Custom's Choppers at the 25th annual Chicago Motorcycle Show and Parts Expo.


Championspub | Jan. 30, 2009 at 6:35 a.m. (report)

I love his bikes, but nothing makes me smile more than the couch/love seat driving down Bartlett Ave!! Keep up the great bikes!

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