The Makers Behind Buscadero Motorcycles
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A Passion for the Craft
Parker and Mike are the father and son team behind Buscadero Motorcycles, a small but frisky motorcycle company based out of Utah. Their specialty is pit bikes with vintage flair, pint-sized motorcycles built for full-sized adults that look like they rolled off the assembly line in the 70s. Their recipe for building vintage looking bikes combined with modern technology is the perfect blend of fun, practical and approachable throttle therapy.
Beyond the Maker
This series from KÜHL goes beyond getting to know an artist's work and inspiration. We dive deeper into their origin stories and struggles to learn how they cope with failure, critics, and success, yet still find time to do the things they love. Born in the mountains, raised in the workshop—these are their stories.
Small Bikes. Bigger Smiles.
The experts say there’s no replacement for displacement. There’s a good chance those experts have never had to pull over on the trail to catch their breath because they were laughing so hard. Meet the pit bike.
Pit bikes are lightweight, easy to ride motorcycles that are about half the size of full-sized motorcycles. They are the perfect intro to riding for newbies and seasoned veterans alike looking for the thrill without the consequences. Go ahead, pin the throttle, try a wheelie, take that jump, rail that berm; it’s just a minibike.
Mike, co-owner of Buscadero Motorcycles, found minibikes at a young age on the coast of Africa in the 1970’s. His dad was working on smallpox vaccinations for the WHO and CDC in Nigeria. The military would issue minibikes to move him and his equipment into the bush, but they would rather use the ¾ ton Dodge trucks. Mike took the responsibility to make sure someone used these little machines. He rode the wheels off of them, going through several bikes during his stay while he explored the local area.
He eventually ended up back in Pleasant Grove, Utah with a small 100CC dirt bike. The exhaust note from that bike was the soundtrack to his childhood and Mike and his friends found each and every dirt trail they could explore.
He eventually found motocross racing, where 2-strokes dominated the scene. Mike loved 4-strokes and decided to build himself a 4-stroke race bike. Although he wasn’t the most serious racer on the track, he always had the biggest smile. None of that has changed.
He eventually got married in his twenties and it wasn’t long before Parker, his first son, was following his dad on a dirt bike.
Parker got his first dirt bike when he was three years old. He rode this bike to the bone. Motorcycles became a fundamental part of the family. Whether they were camping or going to the family cabin, you could always hear the thump of an engine. Besides just riding them, throughout Parker’s childhood there was always a bike (or bikes) being repaired or tinkered on in the family garage.
Vintage Bike Syndrome
Parker’s core memories are wrapped around motorcycles and the great times, smiles and scars that came from riding them. He started racing when he was nine years old, but it wasn’t until 2018 that he fell in love with racing vintage motorcycles.
Parker and his dad started buying old racing machines, fixing them up, and taking them to the track. These old thumpers always drew a crowd. But it came with a cost; these bikes were difficult to maintain and parts were getting harder to find.
In an effort to blend vintage looks with the modern convenience of disc brakes, electric start, and proper suspension, they went to the drawing board. It began with converting full-size bikes with modern components – a common approach for bike builders worldwide. It worked, but it was still an old bike at heart. They wanted to bring these bikes to other people but scaling this type of business model would be labor intensive and expensive.
Shortly after, they found GPX Moto. Also based in Utah, they pioneered the world of pit bikes for adults. Though the bikes are small, they’re built for full-sized adults with proper suspension, wide foot pegs, comfortable seats, disc brakes and more.
They ordered fifty naked bikes and built them in Mike’s garage. Modifying one bike is hard, fifty elevates the stakes even more. Getting the correct parts, the right gas tank and the perfect paint for all the bikes proved difficult.
It’s the details that matter but it’s also the details that make you go grey, keep you up at night and make you ask yourself at 1:00 am in the garage, “Is this a good idea?” Their goal was to find a formula to build them efficiently.
They persevered; the first fifty bikes were sold in a few months. They credit being lucky to have had some great customers support their brand from the beginning, but you can’t ignore the duo’s vision and grit that made these bikes so much more than just another minibike. They landed on the perfect blend of retro-styling and modern performance. Their audience recognized this immediately and wanted a piece of the adrenaline and giggles.
It Takes a Village
Before Parker was running Buscadero Motorcycles, he built a small leather business, Stock and Barrel Co., from the ground up. Creating a grassroots brand through storytelling via social media gave him the framework and courage to do the same for Buscadero.
He built a YouTube channel where he found a tribe of like-minded people who valued his craft, his business, his ethos and intentions. His audience watched his kids grow up. He didn’t just share the highs, but also the lows and vulnerability of running a small business. Parker recognized the importance of not just selling a product, but building a community. He took this same approach with Buscadero.
The motorcycles speak for themselves, but the unique look, brand cohesion and authenticity that Parker has created commands your attention and makes you want a piece of the fun.
Around the Bend
Buscadero isn’t just another logo on a bike. They don’t want to be the next Husqvarna. They want to make fun, reliable, great looking and affordable bikes that everyone can enjoy. Faster and bigger is not in their business plan.
With Mike at the work bench tinkering, welding and spinning wrenches; Parker at the helm creating a brand vision, voice and story – the father and son team don’t show any signs of slowing down. The family dynamic of running a business together keeps them together.
They’ve been doing a version of this their entire lives – dreaming, scheming, building, laughing and riding. Buscadero is the same song, just a different dance. There’s nothing else they’d rather be doing.
They want to keep their bike offerings simple, which isn’t always easy. Maybe an electric line-up will be in their future. They hope to add racks and accessories for their bikes one day.
Their customers are their top priority. They admit that sometimes they go too far above and beyond to make sure everyone is happy but that’s their goal. They’re having a good time running a family business. The minute it sucks, they’ll walk away.
Based on the laughter, excitement and energy in their voices while we spoke, it doesn’t look like that’ll happen anytime soon.