THUNDER CYCLE DESIGN : CUSTOM CHOPPERS & BIKES : FT. LAUDERDALE, FL
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You have undoubtedly seen Trotta's custom choppers on the Discovery Channel's Biker Build-Off series or maybe caught them in person on the Hard Rock Custom Bikes Tour. His designs are so distinctive that the National Geographic Channel is planning to explore them. When a photographer puts a bikini-clad woman in the saddle of one of these bikes, a funny thing occurs: Your eyes go to the bike first and then to the woman. Then, your sight gets blurry and you can't tell the difference between the woman and the bike. "I always design my bikes with a waistline as it is," Trotta says. "And then the fat tire in the back becomes the big butt."

Thunder Cycle Design's new $2 million, 30,000-square-foot location at 550 W. Sunrise Blvd., in Fort Lauderdale. With a half-dozen bikes always sunbathing out front, the dealership is impossible to miss.

"The place has become like a tourist attraction," says Nick Ayala, the head of the custom parts department. "People from Canada, South America, Europe, they just want to say they've been here."

Trotta exhibits all the traits of an artist. He often wakes up in the middle of the night to sketch out a new form. He stares into the deep metal flake of a gas tank as if it were an abyss. His creative confidence can easily be mistaken for conceit. Trotta has built hundreds of bikes. His name has been plastered all over TV and in bike magazines, and he has made the kind of money that goes with such popularity. But he never forgets the fact that his name is on every piece of machinery that rolls out of his shop. Nearly everything that goes into designing and building the bikes is done on-site, including making all the parts.

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