Victory Rider Blog: Scott Kietzmann & Conquest Customs Named Top Custom Builder For 2015
Scott Kietzmann’s interest in all things mechanical can be traced in progressive, linear fashion. He went from playing with Legos to building bicycles to manufacturing custom car wheels to creating custom motorcycles.
And his motorcycle customizing – or “tuning,” as he calls it – has progressed from simply being creative to being a successful business to his being named Grand Champion of the 2015 Hot Bike Invitational Bike Build-off.
Considering the impressive, ongoing success being achieved by Scott personally and by his business, Conquest Customs, the Victory Riders Blog is naming him 2015 Victory Custom Builder of the Year.
Except he doesn’t “customize” bikes, remember?
“In the auto industry, customizing is when you build it once and go on to something else,” he said. “I’m not really a customizer, I’m more of a tuner like a Saleen or a Roush,” who tune stylish, high-performance cars.
“I do the same thing over and over again with slight variations, but it’s always the same core theme, and I put my flavor into it,” Scott said from his shop in Boca Raton, Florida. “My flavor is consistent, and we play with what the customer wants. In doing so, we have refined the hell out of it. [A Conquest-tuned bike] is a bike you can ride and own and not worry about the bike’s reliability.”
What’s the Conquest tuning style? American Muscle Cars.
“I’m a car guy that builds motorcycles,” Scott said. “I come out of the automotive industry. My bikes are very automotive-inspired. If you want to describe my style, it’s automotive.”
From 4 Wheels to 2 Wheels
In the early 2000s, Scott was general manager of a highly successful custom car-wheel manufacturer, and he enjoyed tuning cars in his free time. But after 20 years of tuning cars, he got hooked on riding motorcycles. A Suzuki GSX-R750 gave him short-term shots of adrenaline, but a longer trip out West showed him the greater appeal of the open road.
“In 2004, I rode from Denver to the Grand Canyon and it changed my life,” he recalled. “All of a sudden I realized what motorcycling was all about. It’s about being with your buddy, the camaraderie, seeing things, the smells – not just the 45 minutes of adrenaline rush.
“Literally, when I got home from that trip, I sold my [sport] bike and started looking for a V-twin cruiser. It had to be an American bike.”
In 2005 he took delivery of the first black Victory Hammer in Florida, and late that year he bought a yellow Hammer that he planned to tune. Just looking at the stock yellow bike, he was inspired by legendary Chrysler muscle cars and he could picture the custom bike it would become.
“I completely envisioned the finished bike, except the color,” he recalled. “It was going to have flat black sheet metal with a gloss black chassis. I stared at it to figure out what I was going to do and realized the yellow was really awesome. It just went ‘click: Super Bee.’ From that point forward, it was all automotive-flavored motorcycles.”
His wife, however, simply saw the parts of a brand new, completely disassembled motorcycle spread across the garage floor. “My wife would come into the garage, look at it, shake her head, and say, ‘It has 4 miles on it,’” Scott laughed.
‘See a Need, Fill a Need’
Trouble was, custom shops at the time were building choppers, and they had no interest in working on his Hammer.
“I couldn’t find anyone to customize a Victory. It was very difficult in 2005. There weren’t a lot of choices available,” he said. “The bottom line is: See a need, fill a need. Literally, that’s how it started for me. I realized it was a business endeavor worth investing my time in. The idea was to build parts and turn it into a business.”
He left the wheel business and started Conquest Custom. Conquest parts enhance a Victory motorcycle’s performance and give the bike a clean, high-performance, muscle car look. They don’t simply cover mechanical elements with custom sheet metal and chrome.
“I like working with as much of the original DNA of the motorcycle as I can. The original DNA is why it’s so robust,” Scott said. “The engine fins make the engine look like an engine. I don’t want the engine to look pimped out and be all shiny and chrome. I want that muscle car image when I look at my bike, from the fins to the high-tech suspensions, bold muscle car colors, rim designs, headers, header wrap, MSD coils, and Aeroquip oil lines.”
Visit the Conquest Customs website (http://conquestcustoms.com) and you’ll see distinctive Conquest-tuned Victory models, including American Muscle Series (AMS) bikes such as the legendary Super Bee, Cobra, GT350H, BOSS, GT, and more. Each one has Victory DNA, muscle car styling cues, and Conquest Custom components. And each is highly rideable. These aren’t trailer queens like some custom bikes.
Marv’s bike was featured in the Victory display at Sturgis in August, and in September, Scott rode and displayed Super Bee on the Hot Bike [magazine] Tour. Super Bee received the most votes at three of five tour stops, and it got the most votes overall, earning Scott the title of Grand Champion. He is automatically entered in next year’s Hot Bike Tour, and he’s already working on his entry: Cuda, which will evoke the image of a Plymouth Barracuda muscle car.
“Cuda is the perfect example of form following function,” he said. “It’s the uber-evolution of the bike. It all be an AMS bike. It uses the backbone, power plant and electronics of a Cross Country.”
He said Cuda will be on display at Daytona Bike Week in March 2016.
Scott and Conquest Customs are rolling along with impressive momentum. There’s no doubt 2016 will be another great year for Conquest, and for Victory riders who love the powerful styling of a Conquest-tuned bike.