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Thunderstruck Custom Bike’s Overkill

Mark Daley won the 2012 Bikernet Editor’s Choice Award at the Vegas Artistry in Iron

By Bandit with photos by the Thunderstruck team

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I met Mark Daley during my Easyriders years, at a show. He was obviously a very talented young builder with an artistic eye and amazing fabrication capabilities. It was a pleasure to run into him at the 2012 Las Vegas Bike Fest Artistry in Iron show. Times have changed and the dragon slayer-styled chopper doesn’t draw the attention it once did. The crazy-looking vintage bobber has snatched spectator attention from the angular high-tech chopper of ten years ago.

At the Artistry in Iron competition at Vegas Bike Fest where he won the Bikernet Editor's Choice award.
At the Artistry in Iron competition at Vegas Bike Fest where he won the Bikernet Editor's Choice award.

At 6 foot 5 inches, I can’t ride some little mid-control cute flat track scooter, but they do draw your attention. But there’s a side of me seemingly determined to witness wild choppers rule the world once more. They represent all the biker strength and machismo on the planet. So when I saw this tough-looking bastard sizzling on the carpeted concrete next to a Kiwi Mike Vintage Indian with a jab at Harley-Davidson, I was intrigued. It was surrounded with dinky flat trackers, old school frisco’d chops, and bobbers, as if it was the chromed galaxy security guard wielding a massive silver sword from the 14th century.

I had to recognize the chopper gods, the craftsmanship and the tribute to the chopper’s final era, until it returns to rule the earth once more. It was terrific to make Mark’s acquaintance again. As it turns out, we share some history. I may have known his dad, Pat Daley, in the ‘70s on the streets of the San Fernando Valley, during a time when strolling into a saloon didn’t mean you’d leave standing.

His dad ran the streets with the clubs, and ultimately didn’t make it out of one of the Valley bars. Mark’s mom witnessed the twinkle in Mark’s eyes as he watched SFV choppers rumble in and out of the family Canoga Park driveway. She had enough of the whiskey and meth-soaked, cracked asphalt streets of Los Angeles. She packed up Mark and drove to Medford, Oregon.

“She probably saved my life,” Mark said. 

In 1995, Mark opened his, 2500 square foot shop in Medford and offered Harley maintenance to local riders, but he contained something extra, the fire to build choppers, and he couldn’t stop. With limited equipment, including an overhead belt-driven lathe from the ‘40s, he went to work fixing bikes and building choppers.

A couple of years ago, he displayed one of his creations at a Portland Easyriders show, and a potential customer, John Geer, approached him about building his dream bike, something flowing and tight, without bling, and little flash. Mark has an uncanny formula for building bikes. He doesn’t commission concept drawings, like we do with new projects.

“I draw components rarely,” Mark said.

He starts with a set of wheels, in this case Ego Tripp Ruelers. “I set them up on a lift,” Mark said, “and I leave them for days, while I visualize each element of the build.”

He didn’t go to schools for fabrication like Wyo Tech, or the MMI. “I just started beating on metal," Mark said. "I’m sure, with the proper training, the process would be quicker.” John brought him the Rolling Thunder Softail frame and Mark went to work.

Over his 17 years in business, Mark acquired planishing hammers, English wheels, numerous ironworker tools, shot bags, and a Bridgeport Mill. He set up the stretched frame, figured out the front end, and whether he would build forks or purchase something. In this case, a Mean Street springer fit the formula perfectly. From that point, he could set the ride and the platform. “The seat section of a Softail frame is the toughest element to allow suspension travel. I use Legend Air so I can drop the bike for shows.”

Mark’s abilities with sheet metal are amazing, and each element is hand-formed, such as the gas tanks, which must be mimicked from side to side. “I try to work the metal so very little body filler is needed,” Mark said. He has been invited to the Vegas Artistry in Iron five times, and this time won the Bikernet Editor’s Choice award. In 2009, he won the prestigious Artistry in Iron award, but compliments from other builders move him more than trophies and awards.

Mark worked in a 3D element into his fender design and the air dam oil tank, oil cooler form on the down tubes of the frame. Many of the 3D elements included multiple pieces cut, shaped, and welded into place. The air dam took four or five pieces to form the shape, the oil tank, and the oil cooler, plus they afford air circulation to the engine.

He was disturbed by the space above the engine, so he developed the intake runners to the massive Dellorto Carburetor, and then handmade velocity stacks. Under the seat, he made another shapely piece out of 16-gauge steel to form an electrical compartment housing the coils, battery, and circuit breakers. He replaced the backbone of the frame to allow the structural shape he needed for the dual tanks to form-fit with the frame. And he shaped recessed panels around the seat area to contour the seat.

“My customer just let me roll with it,” Mark said. This bike looks just as good from underneath as on top. Mark doesn’t stop with the obvious, but follows his design elements through to every element of the bike.

In addition to the baked-on ceramic coatings, he used heat wrap on the pipes and tunnel rams to add texture to the finish. “I don’t name a bike before I start, but wait to see what floats to the surface during the build,” Mark said. And Overkill was the operative word ultimately.

Recently, after a televised build-off, a Bikernet reader complained about builders who don’t handle engine work. Mark builds his own engines and transmissions, and offers rebuilding services to his customers.

When Mark returned to Medford after Bike Fest Las Vegas and the Artistry in Iron, we worked with him on the photography for this feature. At this time of the year, the annual 18 inches of rainfall takes place, and we had to wait for a clear day to roll Overkill into the light for the final shots. Fortunately, Mark collected numerous shots of the bike being built, so you have a mixed bag of shots, but it’s worth it to see both the build and the final product.

You get to witness Mark’s level of craftsmanship, his attention to detail, and his design and fabrication capabilities. But we’re not going to stop here. He built a bike a couple of years ago, which inspired John to approach Mark about this project. Fortunately, Mark has copious shots of that build, and sometime in the next couple of months, we will show you how Mark designed, fabricated and built this machine, on Bikernet. Hang on!


Owner: John Geer
Bike name: Overkill
City/state: Medford, Oregon
Builder: Mark Daley
Company Info: Thunderstruck Custom Bikes, Inc.
Address: 3670 Dodson Rd, Medford, OR
Phone: 541-779-0340
Web site:
Fabrication: Mark Daley, Thunderstruck Custom Bikes
Welding: Mark Daley
Machining: Mark Daley


Year: New
Make: S&S
Model: Super Sidewinder
Displacement: 124-cubic-inch
Builder: Mark Daley
Cases: S&S
Case finish: Flat black ceramic coating
Bore: 4 1/8-inch
Pistons: S&S
Barrel finish: Flat titanium ceramic coating
Lower end: S&S
Stroke: 4 5/8 inch
Rods: S&S
Heads: S&S
Head finish: Flat Titan7ium ceramic coating
Valves and springs: S&S
Pushrods: S&S

Cams: S&S
Lifters: S&S
Carburetion: Dellorto
Air cleaner: Mark Daley, hand made intake and velocity stacks
Exhaust: Mark Daley
Mufflers: none


Year: new
Makes: Baker
Gear configuration: Torque Box

Primary: Thunderstruck Custom Bikes
Final Drive: Tsubaki chain


Year: 2012
Builder: Rolling Thunder/Thunderstruck
Style or model: Softail configuration
Stretch: 5 inches out, and 5 inches up
Rake: 45 degrees
Modifications: Plenty

Front End

Make: Mean Street
Model: Springer
Mods: Black and Titanium Ceramic Coatings

Sheet Metal

Tanks: Mark Daley Thunderstruck Custom Bikes

Fenders: Mark Daley
Panels: 411 sheet metal panels with metal molding by Mark Daley
Oil tank: Mark Daley


Sheet metal: Bobby Star Auto Body
Molding: Bobby Star
Base coat: PPG
Graphics: None

Special effects: Two Tone flat gun metal and silver with gloss clear coat
Pinstriping: None



Make: Ego Tripp
Size: 21 by 3.5
Brake calipers: Hawg Halter
Brake rotors: Ego Tripp Rueler
Tire: Metzeler 120/70/21


Make: Ego Tripp Rueler
Size: 17 by 12
Brake calipers: Hawg Halter
Brake rotors: Ego Tripp Rueler
Sprocket: Ego Tripp
Tire: Avon Venom 330/30/VR17


Foot controls: Accutronix
Finish: Ceramic black and gun metal two tone
Master cylinder: Accutronix
Brake lines: nylon

Handlebar controls: Joker Machine
Finish: Ceramic black and gun metal two tone
Clutch cable: none
Shifting: Jockey shift
Kickstand: Two of them


Ignition: Compu-Fire
Ignition switch: Toggle with a push button
Coils: Compu-Fire
Regulator: Compu-Fire
Charging: Compu-Fire/Spyke
Starter: Compu-Fire/Spyke
Wiring: Mark Daley Thunderstruck Custom Bikes
Harness: Mark Daley
Headlight: Arlen Ness
Taillight: Drag
Battery: Harley-Davidson

What’s Left

Seat: Bitchin Seat Company
Mirrors: none
Gas caps: Drag
Handlebars: Mark Daley Thunderstruck Custom Bikes
Grips: Accutronix
Pegs: Accutronix
Oil Filter: Pro-Flow
Oil lines: Stainless hard lines
Fuel lines: Stainless hard lines
Throttle: Joker Machine
Throttle cables: Custom made by Thunderstruck
Fasteners: Chrome

Specialty items: Custom built intake with a Dellorto carb from a car, with custom built velocity stacks, custom built oil tank it front air dam. All hand made sheet metal, fender, gas tank, body barts all fabricated to blend together. Custom dual exhaust, by Mark Daley. Dual belt drive, with custom jockey shift hand made skull shift knob.

Credits: Special thanks to Jesse Ruiz at Legendary Coatings, Rich at Bitchin Seats, and Star Auto Body for all their hard work.



Click on the image for more info.
Click on the image for more info.

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