I’ll never forget the first time I saw Rev and Sethis Clark. I was at the 2014 Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride in Salt Lake City. Everyone dressed in the finest attire, preppy and dapper with their sparkling clean bikes, when the Clarks rolled up on their ratty choppers – all beards and greasy hair. They stole the show, demanding the attention of the crowd. I couldn’t look away. I was like, “Damn, I want to hang out with those dudes.” It reminded me of the Z-Boys when they first showed up to the skateboarding competitions in the 70’s. They came to dominate the scene and set the attitude that would create the culture.
Photo: Daniel Nguyen
Jason “Rev” and Sethis Clark humbly present themselves as a couple of simple mechanics who unintentionally stumbled into the industry, but to the rest of the world they are the front-runners of the vast Utah motorcycle empire. Salt Lake City hosts one of the largest, most influential, and organized motorcycle communities in the world and it seems that every rider, builder, shop, and enthusiast in Utah is connected to Salt City Builds in some way or another. Anyone who gets a bike in Utah quickly learns that Salt City Builds is the central hub to hear about group rides, barbecues, campouts, bikes shows, and community events.
I once referred to Rev as the ‘Godfather’ of the Salt Lake City riding scene, but he looked at me and told me to never call him that again. However, it’s not an outrageous nickname to propose for a man with dozens of misfits lurking around his shop, looking up to him as the leader of their “moto fam.” Understanding his distaste for the nickname, the brothers are regarded with such prestige by reputation that you might feel intimidated upon introduction, but you would quickly feel right at home with their laid back, friendly demeanor. Visitors are often greeted with a hug and a cold beer; not exactly the notoriety often associated with bikers.
Rev and Seth grew up in a family of five kids twenty minutes north of Salt Lake City. They have always been really close being only 18 months apart in age, doing everything together. Their Dad got them into dirt bikes in their teen years, though Seth was more into the culture taking interest in motors while working at an auto parts store which later turned him onto flipping cars until realizing his passion for two wheels. In 2009, Rev and Seth made New Year’s resolutions to buy road bikes. When they got their bikes, they started chopping them apart and wrenching on them in their garage. Rev’s first build was a cafe racer named, “Renegade Thundersmoke.” Seth’s first bike was a chopper dubbed, “Boob.”
They didn’t go to school for mechanics, but were self-taught by reading a lot and watching videos. It is plain to see that they possess natural instincts for creative design when fabricating beautiful works of art in the form of sculptures with motors and tires. After a while, their new found fun saw the Clark’s friends all buying bikes after them. Soon they were taking on new build projects and within a couple years decided they needed a bigger boat, because their little hobby outgrew their garage. They faced eviction for banging on metal late into the night so Rev and Seth quit their jobs to embark on a new adventure – to birth a custom motorcycle shop known as Salt City Builds that would grow to set trends worldwide.
In 2013, Rev and Seth fell in love with the first garage space they looked at on West Temple. They purchased the building and licensed their business. Business has been steady and their garage is full of bikes under construction as well as hosting “Fuzzy Nates Barber Shop” in the front lobby, keeping all the young stylish riders looking dapper before they ride out on their new builds.
Most businesses view their competition as, well, competition. However, the Clarks not only promote other local motorcycle shops, but often refer customers to them. I brought my new Harley Sportster to them last spring for a mod makeover, but they told me that Rick over at Dirty Rat Motocyco could get what I wanted done better and quicker than they could. Rev said there is enough business to go around in Salt Lake City, so he would prefer to view it as a community rather than competing for business. If he feels that another shop specializes in something a customer wants done, he has no problem referring them elsewhere. They will also outsource certain parts of a build, such as bringing in Eli Scarbeary to design and upholster seats, or Trent Sanders for custom metalwork.
The Clarks love to work on a variety of bikes, but one of the reasons for their rapid success is that they were the only shop in town willing to work on old Japanese bikes. With the popularity of Café Racers and the resurgence of people wanting to restore vintage bikes and Choppers, Salt City Builds filled a niche at the right place, at the right time. With a high standard for quality work, their reputation spread rapidly through word of mouth.
Another big component that contributed to the Clark’s success was a large social media following. Rev was one of the first followers of the page, “Cafe Racers of Instagram,” and they developed a respect for one another. This turned into a beneficial relationship where Rev had a page with a massive following sharing photos of the stylish builds coming out of the SCB shop. Later meeting Aaron Brimhall, who started shooting photos of them. No one really knows Aaron Brimhall, so that didn’t help their following at all (extreme sarcasm). The first several shoots by Aaron brought a lot of attention to Salt City Builds.
Photos: Aaron Brimhall
They went on to collaborate with a lot of influential photographers such as Kaycee Landsaw, Tyson Call, and many others. As they keep building rad bikes, people keep sharing photos of them.
Photo: Kaycee Landsaw
Salt City Builds wants to continue building a variety of rad bikes that inspire them. They are currently most excited about building functional bikes built to explore Utah’s gnarly terrain. Some of their favorite builds include:
Salt City Builds was invited to come out and showcase a build at the Handbuilt Motorcycle Show in Austin Texas. This was their first major show and they were able to connect with a lot of influential people in the national moto scene. Rev met his buddy from Cafe Racers of Instagram and many others that he had been networking with for a long time. They showed their build, “The Officer” in the show. The Officer was built for a customer as a collaborative effort. Trent Sanders of Lekka Cycles built the tank and Ian Halcott built the seat. They look forward to going back to Handbuilt every year.
Rev is the type of person who gets a vision and has the innovation and resourcefulness to see it through until it’s realized. While enjoying a beer discussing all of the talent in Utah in the moto scene and how it is a shame that there was no venue to showcase all the local art being created, The Salty Bike Revival was created, to host a custom build motorcycle show displaying the craftsmanship of local builders and artists. Rev and Juan had previously collaborated on the execution of the infamous motorcycle campout, Motos in Moab which has become a legendary event in it’s own right and already provided proof that the Rev and Juan partnership formula was a recipe for success.
The Salty Bike Revival did not disappoint. They filled several rooms of a large warehouse at a venue called “The Fallout” with custom bike builds and art. Artists live painted customized helmets and tanks, photographers displayed large photo prints from Utah’s legendary photographers. Big companies sponsored the event with merchandise whilst local bands came out and turned it into a big party. They hoped for 2,000 people to attend, but ended up with over 10,000 people.
As if they weren’t busy enough, the Salt City Builds guys have also partnered with Jessica Haggett, founder of The Litas, to host a monthly group ride called Sunday Mass. Rev and Jessica realized that there were people with bikes who didn’t have a lot of friends to ride with, so they met that need by hosting the event one Sunday a month, followed by a barbecue at the shop.
Personally, all of my friendships that I’ve formed in the scene has been a result of group events out of Salt City Builds. So, I would sincerely like to thank Rev and Seth for their massive influence in creating the community in Salt Lake City.