A motorcycle builder, leather craftsman, metalsmith, knife maker and inventor, Paul Cox is, above all, an artist…
Born at a very young age in Richmond, Virginia, Paul always had an interest in creating and building. Raised by nomadic circus folk between the city environment of Richmond, the rural country side of Colonial Beach, and the barren expanses of Antarctica, he was exposed to the contrasting experiences they all offered. In the open fields along the Potomac river in Colonial Beach, Paul had the chance to create two, three and four wheeled contraptions to ride along the dirt roads and wooded trails. Bicycles and soapbox cars soon gave way to mini-bikes, go-carts, dirt bikes, and eventually motorcycles. Often inspired by whatever materials he could find, he experimented with boats and hang gliders, knife making and leather craft.
A pivotal moment in Paul’s childhood was a trip to the Virginia State Fair in 1976. There was a battered old motorcycle attraction called the “Wall of Death.” This was where guys rode their greasy, smoking Harleys and Indians round and round inside the walls of a big wooden track, defying gravity. The whole thing shook and shuttered as these daredevils blazed around inside the rickety 20ft. barrel, and visitors watched from up on the catwalk. He was hooked for life.
Paul’s Dad, being a hot-rodder too, fueled the fire inside Paul by taking him to custom car shows in the 60’s and 70’s and sharing some of his own creations that they could enjoy together. Frequent trips to the Colonial Beach drag strip would also help solidify a lifelong desire for horsepower and mechanical art and design.
Life back in Richmond brought with it more intensity, a faster pace and more artistic opportunity. With a primary focus on art in high school, Paul went to Virginia Commonwealth University, to study painting, sculpture, and illustration. Upon graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1989, he moved to New York City in search of inspiration, experience and an outlet for his creativity. After working briefly in the advertising world, Paul realized that it wasn’t for him, and started restoring antiques on the street, painting and creating odd and surreal objects from found materials. He began showing his paintings and other creations in some downtown galleries and art spaces.
Motorcycles figured heavily again into these early years in NYC and Paul rode and built Yamahas, Triumphs and Harleys. Working from his apartment, on the Lower East Side, he built choppers, made parts and created custom leather saddles for other bikers in the city.
Paul soon discovered a bike shop called Sixth Street Specials in the East Village. This is where he found an outlet for his mechanical skills and the inspiration he craved. The shop was infamous for gritty, British and American race bikes and customs built for the streets and back alleys of Manhattan. Much time was spent in the dark basement of this shop, wading through decades of parts, looking for the pieces for his projects. A lot of amazing contraptions, and many good times, were born there.
Sixth Street Specials was also where Paul would meet his long time friend and mentor, Indian Larry. Larry had a reputation as a great engine builder and mechanical artist, but Paul was also drawn to the intensity of his personality. Paul was interested in learning about everything the Universe had to offer, and so was Larry. The journey continued.
Around 1992, Paul hooked up with a new shop called Psycho Cycles, where he was hired as a mechanic and fabricator while renting a space in the basement to run his growing leather business. Larry continued to figure heavily into his creative direction and life in general. Paul’s interest in blacksmithing and welding was reinforced by Larry’s background in metal forging, gunsmithing and ornamental ironwork, and they worked closely together at Psycho Cycles, day and night, creating and experimenting. The Psycho crew went on to create an NYC chopper style that would become a trademark for many years to come.
In 2000, Paul joined Larry and several other talented friends, to form Gasoline Alley in Brooklyn NY. After Larry’s passing in 2004, the shop was renamed Indian Larry Legacy. As a partner in Indian Larry Legacy, Paul focused primarily on building complete motorcycles, but continued his leather work and other creative pursuits. An inventor at heart, mechanical innovation and design became his priority and the bikes built in the years that followed became even more intricately crafted and unique.
In 2007, realizing he didn’t want to be restricted to just one artistic discipline, Paul decided to expand his company to Paul Cox Industries. A one-man operation, his new shop now offers a more intimate look into the life of a true artist and inventor. Functionality, balance and detail continue to be the foundation for all his creations. Paul passionately explores techniques in metalworking, engine building, leather and knife making, with these specialties often fusing to create remarkable, one of a kind motorcycles.