David Irving builds custom motorcycle parts, and at 24, he’s already made a name for himself across the United States. Not only has he appeared on the Discovery Channel multiple times, but he also worked on most of the bikes to appear on the hit cable motorcycle construction show, “American Chopper.”
Most of the time, the chassis were built here in Oklahoma then shipped to New York for the show, but once the network flew him and his team in for a week so he could build a motorcycle frame “in-house” for an episode.
“I was the lead chassis builder and fabricator, but it was definitely a team effort,” Irving said.
He's also an avid inventor with a revolutionary new patent-pending specialty tool for Harley Davidson, which is set to be unveiled next year.
“I’m always inventing stuff,” he said. “I’ve got three other inventions that I am planning to get patented.”
In February, Irving’s debut creation, a valve spring compressor, will be introduced at an “industry-only” trade show in Cincinnati, Ohio.
“It allows you to do a job that normally would take you eight or nine hours in a fraction of the time,” Irving said, concerning the invention.
Though Irving might not look like your typical biker, if you look carefully at Irving’s right hand, you’ll notice his index finger is missing above the first knuckle. The injury is the result of an accident in 2005, when a machine caught the digit and refused to let go, but he doesn’t regret the amputation. In fact, he’s grateful for it and shares the story.
Just five months after their wedding, Irving’s wife, Hannah, mysteriously collapsed after an ordinary night out. Paralyzed on one side of her body Hannah and David contacted the best neurosurgeons in the country, but none of them would operate. The problem was that her rare condition had basically caused a stroke in her neck, and the only way doctors could get to the trouble spot would be to cut through her spinal cord, specifically the region that controls involuntary functions like breathing. Any operation to fix the problem would likely render her a quadriplegic, on a respirator for the rest of her life.
Their options were limited and hope appeared dim at best, but thanks to Irving’s nub and the sick leave and worker’s compensation it earned him, he was able to be by her side for every minute of those troubling months. If not for the missing finger, he would have been absent from work and without income to support his family.
The money also bought them a plane ticket to Stanford University, where a doctor agreed to perform the Cyberknife treatment for free, using a specialized method that would allow him to access her malady without disturbing the fragile nerves around it. The procedure was a success and they returned to Oklahoma just in time for him to return to work, as if the entire thing had been planned. Today, Hannah is back to normal, helping David run his business and finishing a degree in English at UCO.
The business they started together about two years ago is Irving Customs, Inc., where they offer custom motorcycle parts and services, allowing David to do what he loves—fabricate sheet metal parts by hand using a sandbag and a hammer for motorcycles and hot rods. A couple of well-known parts are his oil and gas tanks, some crafted in the shape of biking icons like the Iron Cross or Ace of Spades. The couple first operated out of their garage, then moved to a more permanent space about a year and a half ago.
Irving also started Nub Tools to help sell his inventions, named in honor of the providential stump finger that helped make the very difficult time in their lives much easier.
But one of the things Irving is most excited about is his upcoming line of Invader motorcycle wheels, which will make him one of only three companies in the nation that make them. Invaders are specialty wheels that became popular in the ‘70s, with five spokes made of square tubing, turned on edge like a diamond.
“I’ll offer nostalgic Invader-style wheels, but I’ll also have the designs that are specific to my company. I’m taking it back to the old school and making them out of steel—by hand,” Irving said. “It kind of gives it more of a personal touch and that personality of a handmade item, not some mass produced-machined part.” He says they’ll be more affordable than the standard aluminum wheels that come off of an assembly line.
Aside from all the excitement surrounding his new inventions and Invader wheels, Irving’s just happy to be able to do what he loves, with Hannah healthy and right there beside him.