Clyde James Cycles
4201 Stanley Keller Road
Haltom City 76117
Clyde James calls his custom-made bicycles “moving art.”
The 32-year-old entrepreneur owns Clyde James Cycles, a namesake full-service bicycle shop in Haltom City. James, a self-taught builder, creates some of the most innovative styles of pedal bikes and trikes to date – all designed from an artistic perspective. Not your grandfather’s two-wheeled machines, they are turning heads in and out of the bicycle cruising scene.
Handmade for anyone of any age, the one-of-a-kind bicycles are right out of James’ wheelhouse and feature a variety of styles, including choppers, lowriders, rat rods, beach cruisers, stretched cruisers and drift trikes. Some designs blend wood and metal. Bright hues of lime green, turquoise and orange pop against the whitewall tires. Adults take a seat on one and feel like a kid again.
“It’s all about making my brand. It’s creating unique designs that no one else is doing. It’s outside the box. These are not one-size-fits-all bicycles. These are bicycles for different types of people,” James said.
“You can’t go out and buy what I create. Each one has to be made. There’s an artistic process to it. It’s got to flow but it’s got to move. It’s moving art, that’s what it is. That’s what makes this exciting.”
In addition to the made-to-order bikes and custom fabrication, Clyde James Cycles sells parts and accessories as well as repairing and restoreing old and vintage bicycles.
“We’ve had customers bring in their bikes that they’ve had since they were kids – brands that aren’t even made anymore – and have restored them to look like new again. Customers love that,” James said. “When I opened the doors here I only had two bicycles. I went from those two to what I have now. It’s been a blessing.”
James started his bicycle shop four years ago thanks to a 1969 Cadillac Coupe de Ville. He grew up in Haltom City and attended Haltom High School but dropped out and took a job framing houses and commercial buildings for a local company. When the housing market slumped in 2007-2008, James found work at a custom frame shop for cars and trucks.
“That’s where I took my knowledge of framing wood and turned that into fabricating metal,” he said. “I taught myself what I needed to know. It’s definitely been a learning process. In business you need to have a lot of book smarts, but a lot of street smarts and common sense are what get you by on a day-to-day basis.”
When the owner of that shop moved to California, he offered James a job there.
“I didn’t want to move to California. I was already building bicycles and decided to open my shop,” James said.
James had spent almost two years restoring and customizing the ’69 Coupe de Ville, “putting a lot of cool stuff into it,” he said. He sold the car for $6,000 to bankroll his business.
“I really loved the car but I knew if I wanted to get my business going that I had to sacrifice something. Because I put in all my labor and all my time it ended up being like a savings account for me. Instead of putting money in the bank I put it in the car,” he said.
“I really needed to leap forward with that first step. I made the right decision to sell that car to help me get started. Everybody says, ‘Oh, I wish I had my own business.’ What you don’t hear them saying is, ‘I’m willing to sacrifice everything to make things happen.’ It’s never going to happen if you don’t step up and make the sacrifice,” he said.
James said his first year in business was tough but word-of-mouth advertising continues to keep the venture rolling forward. James sells his custom creations on eBay and a recently completed website. He also generates sales and awareness via social media.
“We’ve done better and better over the years and have added new inventory, which is key to future success,” he said. “Faith is part of my success. I feel like I can do this. In business if you make one wrong decision it’s over. One misstep can possibly end a business. My faith has been key every day to helping me make the best decisions and stay in business.”
For now, Clyde James Cycles is a one-man operation. James estimates he puts in 70 to 100 hours a week to run the business. He says his shop stands apart from the competition because of the customer service and quality he puts into each custom design, repair or restoration. Every custom bike comes with a title and a serial number, another way he says he shows his creativity and attention to the customer.
“My customer service is No. 1,” he said. “My custom designs that I build are different from what other builders are doing. The overall creativity that we put into it is key.”
James also gives back to the community. He collects toys and raises awareness for local charities and has built and donated custom bicycles to the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, Cook Children’s Hospital and for foster children. He’s been working on a special design for a customer with cerebral palsy.
“You can make a difference for somebody else. That’s worth so much more than making money,” he said.
“It’s the passion that keeps it going,” James continued. “When you have the passion and are excited about what you’re doing, then you can make it past those times when your body is so worn out that you don’t want to do it anymore. That’s what keeps me going. I’m so passionate about the design process, the artistic side of it. That keeps me excited. It’s not just about the money. You have to have a passion for it too. Without passion the money will fizzle out.”