You pretty well know you’re living the dream, as the phrase goes, when you
find yourself on the cover of a national magazine.
That is true for a Chesterton business which is featured on the front of
this month’s “American Bagger,” a well-known publication among motorcycle
enthusiasts in the U.S.
It’s not the cover of Time Magazine, but for shop owner Lance “Curly”
Waugaman it might as well be.
Waugaman has been a hands-on grease monkey ever since he was a kid in Lake
Station working on builds for motorcycles and muscle cars. His passion for
the industry came from his late father Ralph and growing up around cars and
Harley-Davidson’s in their garage.
Waugaman worked as a millwright for U.S. Steel for 11 years until he got the
encouragement from his wife Lisa to pursue his passion as a business.
“I never could let anything alone when it came to working on bikes so I
said, ‘Let’s open a shop!’” he said.
Curly’s Custom Cycles debuted at 1720 Wood Street in Chesterton in 2008 and
has slowly built a word-of-mouth buzz from displaying their custom bike
builds at high-profile shows and events such as Ohio Bike Week in Sandusky,
Daytona Bike Week, and Sturgis Bike Week in South Dakota. Their reputation
is quickly gaining momentum.
The business has won numerous Best in Show awards and will have been
featured in 10 different magazine publications by the end of this year with
the first in 2011. In addition to gracing the cover of American Bagger,
Curly’s was featured prominently in October’s issue of Region Rides as well
as appearances in Road Iron and Urban Bagger, bringing some notice to
Despite all the recognition, Waugaman remains humble, attributing the
success to his customers, who often become friends, and a small team of five
employees. The shop believes in treating customers fairly and taking good
care of their equipment, Waugaman said.
By practicing better customer service and building up a name, Curly’s
general manager Rob Bartley said the shop is seeing increasingly more
clientele from out-of-state, even from as far away as Alabama. About a third
of the build work that Curly’s does is from non-local customers. Many come
from areas around Chicago and often stop in Chesterton or Porter restaurants
and stores, giving the local economy a lift.
When asked further what makes Curly’s a cut above other bike shops, Waugaman
and Bartley both said they believe it’s because they are a full-service
“one-stop shop,” offering more than custom paint jobs, fabrications and
builds. They also handle the basics Š oil changes, tire changes, motor work,
part replacements and tune-ups.
Shopping at Curly’s is handy for riders since it is an authorized dealer
with most major part companies in the industry.
“There’s no job too small or too big for us to do. We have a crew to do both
sides of the business,” Bartley said.
“People don’t have to go to six different stops. They can just come here and
get all they need done in one trip,” Waugaman added.
Curly’s newest enterprise is the online store at