My name is Curtis Miller. I'm the chief cook and bottle washer here at Ardent. I design the bikes and build them entirely myself. When you buy a bike from me, my hands have touched every single aspect of it.
My background is not in motorcycles or mechanics or metal work. I was trained as an artist. I've been a painter, and a photographer, a cabinet maker and a computer animator. Probably the biggest thread through my creative life has been the love of making things. I've made a classical guitar, electric guitars, a wooden kayak and many fiberglass gliders.
I didn't grow up riding motorcycles either. In fact I never rode a bike until 2012. At 56 years of age, I finally got the bug and bought my first bike. I'd watched all the motorcycle and car building shows for years, but I'd never really thought about riding a bike. But then I did. And the rest is history.
I loved it. I mean really loved it. I put thousands of miles on my first bike, a Sportster. By the fall of that year, I knew I needed a bigger bike. I bought a Softail and put thousands and thousands of miles on that bike. Up to that point I never even did so much as change the oil on my bikes. I took them to the dealership and paid the outrageous sums asked for the most basic service.
Over time I got more interested in motorcycles as an art form. I got interested in photographing them and did some of that. I got the book from the famous Art of the Motorcycle exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum. I got excited about photographing motorcycles. Here are a couple of my motorcycle photographs:
Finally, I began thinking about how I might customize my own bikes. And so it began. I got the service manual for my Softail and started by doing a basic 10,000 mile service. It went just fine, so I thought I would start customizing. I did a substantial customization of the Softail. I changed just about every part on the bike that could be unbolted. I dismantled and painted the entire bike. I even did a little bit of metal work, making a seat pan for the springer seat I added.
Before long I had customized my fiance's bike and then bought another Sportster and customized that. But that wasn't enough. I wanted to build a bike from scratch. At this point I began taking classes in the motorcycle program at a local community college. I wound up taking the entire basic program which included four semesters of mechanics work plus welding and machining. I added a metal shaping class because it was perfect for what I wanted to do. I wound up taking and passing my state licensing exam. I'm actually a certified motorcycle mechanic now. I had worked on and dismantled and understood every single system on a motorcycle. I was ready to build my own bike.
I built a frame jig, bought a pipe bender, a small mill and a lathe and I had everything I needed to build. I set out to build an old style springer hard tail. I built the entire bike from frame to tank. I bought a used engine and wired the entire bike myself. I even fabricated the springer from scratch. It took a long time, but I finished the bike.
Unfortunately, I didn't really like the hard tail or the springer front end. Just too primitive. So I took the entire bike apart and started building the bike you see in these pages, the Cafe Sportster. It turned out wonderfully. I love the look of it. I love riding it. And it drew a crowd everywhere I went. Literally. People surrounded me at gas stations and restaurants and on street corners. I knew I had something and I wanted to do more. So I started Ardent Motorcycles. I'm working on my second prototype bike right now and eager to begin building bikes for customers. Maybe you'd like to be one? Contact me, and we can start the process.