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Queens Village shop revs up custom bikes

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Tom Kranz, owner of KFK Cycles in Queens Village, learned a lesson many years ago that would define the rest of his life. In 1965, at age 14, his future opened up like a carburetor with the flash of a green light at a drag strip.

“My father was a steam fitter, and he taught me how to weld when I was 14 years old,” Kranz said. “It got me where I am today.”

Kranz stands in an enviable position. He owns and operates a thriving business that specializes in his greatest passion: customized Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

As a teenager, Kranz built mini-bikes and rode them around the streets of the Bellerose neighborhood where he grew up. In 1977, after working for three years as a truck mechanic, the graduate of Thomas Edison High School opened his motorcycle shop at 211-19 Jamaica Ave.

“It started out as a hobby, and then I said, ‘I like doing this stuff so much, I’m going to make a career out of it.’ And I’m still here after 25 years.”

KFK Cycles alters, modifies, customizes and repairs about 400 bikes each year. Kranz sells a full line of accessories for the motorcycle enthusiast. The shop, which works strictly on Harley-Davidsons, caters to a discerning clientele.

“This place isn’t all glitz and glamour. It’s more hardcore,” said head mechanic Richie Rey. “People come here for cams, carburetors, performance stuff. A lot of the other Harley places are spotlessly clean, but we concentrate on repair and custom stuff. We do more motor work than anything. We’re performance-oriented.”

KFK Cycles attracts loyal customers. Steve Moss, 42, of Howard Beach, has brought five or six Harleys to the shop for repairs and alterations in the past 25 years. Moss, who rides a 2002 Harley soft tail standard, had two of his former bikes built at KFK according to his own specifications.

“They do great work, and you get everything on time. When it’s done, it’s done right,” Moss said. “I just call up, drop my bike off, and get a call back when it’s finished. It’s pretty simple. No hassles.”

Kranz and Rey live their work.

The owner’s first bike, a Harley Sportster with an XL engine in a 1946 Indian frame, sits in storage. Kranz’s current ride, a 1956 Harley converted into a soft tail he built himself, carried him to Florida for Biketoberfest two weeks ago. His favorite annual vacation involves a pilgrimage to Daytona Beach in March for Race Week.

“I’ve gone every year since 1972,” Kranz said. “I haven’t missed a trip yet.”

Rey, also a Bellerose native, customized his own 1998 Harley FX Super Glide — a bike that hits a top speed of 128 miles per hour in drag races at tracks in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Florida.

“I built it from the ground up,” Rey said. “I bought the wheels, bought the frame, built the motor, built the transmission. There is not one nut or bolt on there that I haven’t touched. And it’s street legal.”

KFK Cycles stands behind its work. Whether a customer needs a minor repair or a major overhaul, a new frame or an old helmet, Kranz ensures the quality of all products and services.

“I like giving everybody a fair deal,” he said. “We’ve got a good reputation. We do excellent engine work and repairs, and we stand behind our parts, our labor, everything.”

The basement work area shines with chrome and metal. In the shop’s back room, a dozen Harleys await service. Special orders, completed on short notice when necessary, distinguish KFK Cycles from its competition.

“If you’re a week away from a bike trip and you have a problem, they’ll get the work done for you,” Moss said. “If you can’t get it done here, you can’t get it done.”

Reach reporter Joe Whalen by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 7:25 pm, October 10, 2011
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Reader feedback

Little Mike from QV says:
Blah! Blah! Blah! Kranz was into cars. Never seen him on a mini bike. The bikers hung out across the street from the car chumps in Q.V!
May 27, 2013, 9:05 pm
Tony didominico from College point says:
Been using JFK cycles for decades, Tommy us 1 smooth dude that knows his trade like a master, p/s I also enjoy the interior decor!!!
May 5, 2014, 11:28 am

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