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Family Tradition and Youngblood Kustomz

As a builder, Steve admits he prefers motorcycles to hot rods in his shop.

Text and Photos by Tyler Ludlow
6/10/2014


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I hear bikers say they grew up riding, or riding has been in their family for generations. It is something to be proud of, and arguably more sincere than a recipe book, or a fishing spot. Those motorcycles carry memories and family legacy, not just the rider.  With a name like Youngblood Kustomz, you can almost expect a deep lineage in the motorcycle shop, but it’s hard to top Steven Youngblood’s roots in the motorcycle community.
 
 
Steven was three years old when he received his first motorcycle, but those were not his first rides. Steven’s father was able to harness his car seat to the back of his Harley before he was able to walk, a tradition that continued with his brother and sister. Shortly after Steven received a Yamaha PW50 dirtbike, his father lost the lawn. 
 
 
 
His uncle owned a motorcycle shop. It mostly serviced Harley-Davidsons. Steven spent nights after school and lots of weekends helping around the shop. Eventually, he wanted to learn to paint parts. Those lessons became the seedlings of Youngblood Kustomz.
 
 
Steve started painting old fenders and tanks, but quickly moved on to painting anything lying around, while working on his dirt bikes. He worked through high school at the shop, and decided to move on to trade school for body work. It was around this time, at age 19, when Steve found his first ground-up build.
 
 
“It was sitting out in the back of a farmer’s yard, and there were two of them,” Steve recalled. “They were both Harley Sprints, from the AMF period. I know some people go back and forth if those were truly Harleys.  They were covered in straw, mud, and mold. One was a basket case and one was a complete bike. The guy said I could have one if I could find something useful to do with it. It took me two days of scrubbing to find out what I actually had.”
 
 
What he had was a bike with pitted chrome, a salvageable electric system, and a project requiring attention for every part.
 
“I had found some information online to help me work. It was my first time sandblasting anything, and I just had one of those cheap cyclone blasters from Home Depot. Once I had accounted for all the chassis parts, I started taking apart the engine.”
 
After polishing the cases and many hours of work reassembling, he had a something to ride-- wearing orange and black Prismatic paint.
 
 
He began taking on more motorcycle side projects for painting under his own name and went to mechanical school. Fourteen years later, Youngblood Kustomz is a thriving business in Buford, Georgia. The philosophy of the company is simple:
“I wanted to give customers something back I would be proud of and they would be happy with,” said Steve.
 
 
 
As a builder, Steve admits he prefers motorcycles to hot rods in his shop for practical reasons. 
 
“I do about 80% bikes. Right now I have a ’67 Chevy Z10 frame-up. Hot rods have more parts, and I would rather have more bikes, because my shop is not very big. Even if it was bigger I would fill it one way or another,” Steve confessed. His garage is located a stone’s throw away from his house. Plans for expansion are not far off, because Steve is constantly looking for new projects.
 
 
 
“I like OEM factory parts for the fit and finish, definitely. For bike builds though, I like to find different things to make parts out of. It keeps people interested. I look at eBay, and check out other bike shop’s scrape part bins.”
 
 
This is an understatement. For a KZ400 bobber, Steve used a utility spotlight with a converted breather cover for the headlight. His other builds are riddled with conversions.  Youngblood Kustomz also makes use of the surrounding countryside as well.
 
 
 
“I know everyone around here; my family has been here for years, it helps in looking for parts.”
 
 
 
Old sprockets were made into pegs, and an old tractor fuel filter was fashioned into a brake light. Old metal filing cabinet and ammo boxes have been machined into saddle bags. In an effort to keep the found parts “functional," Steve once used a defused grenade as a kicker pedal.
 
 
“I paint everything and anything. I’m bad about bartering and trading work, so I can have something new to paint.  I’ve painted just about everything in my shop.”
 
 
 
Steve prepped and sprayed bowling pins and lawnmowers. Most metal that comes down his path leaves baptized in Youngblood designs. So what was the wildest thing Steve ever painted.
 
 
“Have you ever painted something really crazy, like, I dunno, an airplane or something like that?” I inquired. Steve silently pondered for a second.
 
“Yeah,” he replied.
 
“Yeah what?” I said, confused.
 
“Yeah, I’ve painted an airplane.” 
 
 
 
Steve told me the story of the stunt propeller-driven airplane he painted after receiving a call out of the blue one day.  He had to make sure each coat of paint on the wings were exactly the same on each side so the plane could perform the twists and turns that it was designed for. The slightest imbalance could affect the handling. I guess when you paint anything and everything as a gun-for-hire, stunt planes are just part of the portfolio.
 
 
 
“The guy performed for crowds at airfield shows. He would do crazy shit like stream toilet paper into the prop so it shreds over the crowd like confetti. He wanted an intricate paint job. He had LEDs.  There was some serious money in the plane,” Steve remembered. The owner of the plane was adamant about getting Steve into the cock pit for a ride.
 
 
“The first couple flips and turns were cool, but after that I said he had better knock it off, or else the inside may get ruined,” Steve added with a laugh. It sounded like Steve was a once-in-a-lifetime client. 
 
 
 
The ride is far from over for Youngblood Kustomz, though. Stay updated with Steve and his latest projects by liking Youngblood Kustomz’s Facebook page.
Youngblood Kustomz Facebook page
Youngblood Kustomz Facebook page

 
 
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