OCEAN CITY – Gear heads might feel like they know Vinnie DiMartino and Cody Connelly from watching them on reality television, but they will be in the flesh in Ocean City next weekend and they are bringing one of their new custom bikes with them.
Bikers and motorcycle enthusiasts will be in for the thrill of thrills next weekend during Delmarva Bike Week as two of the biggest names in custom bike building will be setting up shop at Hooters in north Ocean City on 123rd Street, Thursday through Saturday, starting at 11 a.m., signing autographs and unveiling their V-Force Customs Geese Chasers Boomer 1 Bike to the public.
DiMartino and Connelly were part of the team at Orange County Choppers (OCC) who skyrocketed to international fame with the hit reality series “American Chopper” on the Discovery Channel, before suddenly leaving the show in 2007.
Although the Teutul family (Paul Sr., Paulie Jr., and Mikey), were the main characters of the show, and provided the majority of the voyeuristic drama that hooked viewers on a weekly basis, it was DiMartino who might have gotten the most out of the show, at least from a reputation point of view, as his fabrication work was considered to be not only exceptional but also cutting edge.
Fans of the show were shocked when he abruptly left the OCC family for undisclosed reasons, but soon after, DiMartino, now 36, opened a shop on his own, creating V-Force Customs along with then 20-year-old Cody Connelly, who also wanted to break free from the Teutul regime.
“I am a motorhead,” says DiMartino via phone interview. “I like the mechanics of making things and I have always just enjoyed being in the shop. Being there at the explosion of popularity of custom bike building was an unbelievable experience, and though I realize that I’m able to do what I do now because I was a part of that, I’m even happier just being able to be in my own shop and go home to my family.”
Now Connelly and DiMartino have several custom bikes of their own under their belts and they are touring the mid-Atlantic region unveiling the latest bike they were commissioned to build for Bob Young, owner of Geese Chasers, LLC, a company dedicated to controlling Canadian Geese populations by the use of Border Collies.
The bike cost somewhere in the range of $100,000 and although DiMartino says that every custom bike is special and different in its own way, he doesn’t consider himself an artist.
“I guess parts of the process are a bit artistic, but most of it is mechanical and there’s only so much you can do with the parts,” he said. “I’ve never considered myself to be an artist, but I guess if you really look at what we’re doing, I can see why people may call it art.”
Thousands of spectators are expected at Hooters at the highly anticipated annual event, and DiMartino is excited to be able to be a part of it.
“What was good about being on the show is that we became known for what we do as builders, not so much for who we became as ‘characters on a TV show’ and that’s why getting to meet some of the fans and people who appreciate our work is so rewarding for us,” said DiMartino. “I think people are going to be blown away when they see this bike. It doesn’t just look good, it’s totally rideable, and believe me, it’s a great ride.”
Now, Connelly and DiMartino work in their own shop, comprised of only a mere handful of people, but they have all the equipment needed to build the bikes from the ground up. In addition, they only work on several bikes per year, putting all their efforts into making quality bikes, not quantity bikes.
“It’s really hard to make a good living building custom bikes, and after the boom hit, there was suddenly five bike builders in a five-block radius,” he said. “But this explosion in popularity is very similar to what is was like in the early 1900’s when there were like 100 manufacturers of bikes, and only the best ones ended up lasting.”
With that said, DiMartino may find himself diving back into the reality television medium that granted him a sort of quasi-celebrity in the first place.
“We are talking about doing a V-Force Customs reality series, because it would be kind of silly not to pursue an offer like that,” he said. “Probably sooner than later too, but as with anything, we’ll see what happens.”
DiMartino accomplished something in reality television that seems to be a rarity and that is he left on his own terms with his integrity and his ideals intact, and his experience granted him vast possibilities for a future in the profession.
“There seems to be a trend leading back to building bikes creatively, and dealing with people on a very personal level, and I think where V-Force Customs is headed fits right into that trend,” said DiMartino.
DiMartino is looking forward to partaking in one activity in Ocean City that might catch a few gear heads off guard.
“I know it’s ironic because we build these huge and expensive bikes, but I’m really looking forward to cruising down Coastal Highway on a scooter later on in the evening after all is said and done,” he said.