By Justin James
With the current state of the world, it was hard to envision how the 2020 Blue Collar Build Off would turn out. It is difficult enough to build a bike in only thirty days under a budget constraint of only $1,500 without the world being shut down. Despite the added challenges brought on by Covid-19 this year, the build teams all somehow managed to kick it up a notch and produce the best work this competition has seen in the four years it has been going. At final judging, the team that made the biggest statement was the Dysfunctional Veterans/Mad Hatter Performance Crew, last year’s defending champions. I was able to lock down Geoffrey Morgan, owner of Mad Hatter Performance for a few questions about his little shop that has been dominating the Blue Collar Build Off.
JJ: Describe Mad Hatter Performance and the type of craziness that rolls out of the shop.
MHP: MHP is a full-service fabrication shop in Saint Robert, Missouri. We do metal artwork, customs cars, bikes, trucks, race cars, tractors, trikes and anything else that needs taken from sucky stock to crazy and wild.
JJ: Coming off back-to-back BCBO championships, it is safe to say the Dysfunctional Veterans team knows the ropes of the competition. What would you say is the most challenging part of building a bike on a $1,500 budget in only thirty days?
MHP: We know how to win. We live the KISS theory and we know that time management is the hardest part of the build-off. You need to have the right team members. They need to know their roles and they need to be able to handle issues quickly and proficiently. Most importantly, they need to know the vision and desired outcome of the build. We have that in our team and that is why we have come out on top two years in a row.
JJ: Many builders out there tend to stay within a certain style or build around the same platform over and over. That is not the case with Mad Hatter now, is it? Word has it you may have an upcoming build based off a Kawasaki Ninja powertrain. I have also heard you will be coming back to the BCBO next year to try and three-peat your championship. Can you give us a little teaser on that?
MHP: We have our own style. We will take things we like from different styles or blend styles and incorporate it into our bikes. We are capable of building anything and we never do the same bike twice. A teaser… BCBO 2021 will see the Dysfunctional Veterans/Mad Hatter Performance team again. We are going for a three-peat and our fourth time being on the podium. 2018 was 2nd in H-D, 2019 was 1st in H-D, Best of Show, 2020 was 1st in H-D, Best of Show and Builders’ Choice. We are tossing around a Kawasaki-based build that is nothing at all like what you have seen us build before. Our team has owned the Harley class, winning everything there is to win, and have nothing left to prove. Time to turn the page and dominate the non-Harley class as well.
JJ: Are there any upcoming shows, rallies, or events where MHP’s work can be viewed?
MHP: MHP bikes will be at rallies in MO and in surrounding states. This Covid-19 mess has a bunch of events canceled and/or rescheduled. We do know we will be at Summerfest in Rolla, MO in June, and Street Vibrations in Reno, NV in September. We don’t just build polished bikes that get pushed around for shows. You will most likely see our bikes riding in poker runs, charity runs and at rallies, being ridden and enjoyed.
JJ: Aside from Justin James (haha), who is your favorite person in the custom bike game, past and present?
MHP: Indian Larry is a builder I looked up to. I like his demeanor and his outlook on life. Live, take risks and enjoy it. Closely following him is Billy Lane. I feel Billy is humble and down to earth. He has a keen eye for choppers and things that are different.
JJ: You know I like to cause a little ruckus, so let me ask a question aimed at doing just that. If you could challenge any of the big-name builders to a build off, BCBO or wide-open showdown, who would they be?
MHP: Who would I call out and for what? My pocketbook says stay away from an open build, but I feel my team and our bikes would stand toe to toe with anyone’s builds and beat some. I would call out Billy Lane for a BCBO. I feel he is probably the only well-known builder who could complete a build like this within budget and really understand the mission. I do not think any of the others could even fathom a budget build like this or complete it. It is harder than you think… oh wait, you have found that out two years in a row, Ha!!! MHP is a one-man show until build-off time when my team is here. I do not have the corporate sponsors, a huge shop or deep pockets but, I feel my bikes are as good if not better than many I have seen from the “famous” guys. I am not knocking them, but my bikes are meant to ride and draw attention. They are not meant to be placed in a showroom, ride in trailers or take three hours to get ready for a ride. MHP bikes are built to hop on, ride and be enjoyed.
As you can see, the Mad Hatter Performance crew can knock out an impressive bike for $1,500 in thirty days. What is even more impressive is the fact that Geoffrey also had his hand in this year’s 3rd place bike. Geoffrey invited Brian Patrick of the Illinois Tall Boys team to come down to his shop so Brian would have some help and be able to compete this year. The photos do not do either of these bikes justice. I hope you all get the chance to see them in person. If you come across Mad Hatter Performance at a show or rally walk up and say Hi. Geoffrey would be more than happy to let you check out his bikes, take pictures or even sit on them.
Tinker, Shred, Destroy, Repeat
-Justin James (follow more of my Tinker shenanigans on Instagram @justinjamesmoto)
Photo Credit: Michael Hernandez