A Visit With Nelson Citta

I met Nelson at the 11th Annual Riding Into History in St Augustine while shooting a couple of his amazing rides he brought by. I loved what I saw and so did the judges giving him a best in class award for the show, to top it off he mentioned that I should stop by sometime as he had a few more and some cold beer out in his garage in Alachua.

This weekend my family was out of town and although I had some projects hanging in the winds I felt a creative break would be beneficial in the long run so I dropped Nelson a line asking if I could stop by for a bit. He graciously said yes and I really had no idea what to expect as I pulled down the dirt road to a modest country residence on a scorching hot Florida afternoon.

On a side acre of his property he had converted the old horse stable into his shop, a very typical plain jane building you would expect to see around here, in my wildest dreams I could not have imagined what was behind those four walls. I am not sure how long it tool to put together the tools, pictures, parts and thoughts into this amazing bike haven in the middle of nowhere. Hopefully the few pics I got will do it some justice!

How long have you been building bikes?

I started building bikes (actually helping) in 1968

Are there any builders that had or have an influence on your work?

My influences have been through exposure, I cannot say that any one builder had more than another.  Every day is another day in "school".

What is the most rewarding part of a project for you?

The most reward is the creative exercise, every project has its challenges, I love to do different things every time, the other joy is when I first start a fresh engine build.

I now you already run a successful business and do this on the side as a hobby but do you do custom ground up builds for customers? If yes could someone reading this contact you for some custom work or a build?

I am very selective about who comes to my private shop, I am not interested in working for someone else so I can do what I want when I want. I still help others when I can though, I will NOT accept payment... I want to keep this fun.

I know from talking to you have had a very diverse career, could you share with the readers some of your background?

HA, yes, my background is very diverse, it would take too long to cover it, I feel blessed to have done all I have through life, I sometimes feel like. I have lived more than any 10 normal people...HA!
(I will say, the few things I know are that Nelson is running a company on the cutting edge of some amazing technology holding numerous patents, he served as a Navy Diver, is an accomplished Sky Diver hosting sky dive parties on his homestead and also was a member of the world record holding Cave Diving TEAM.)

I know you gave me the details of your current build and of course I did not write anything down or remember it, could you outline some of main the parts you are using again? 

It has a 1938 knuck motor in a 1930 VL frame, I hand made everything. Notice the skinny ass and straight one piece kicker arm? I heated and hand hammered it to give more leg room. The aluminum tanks are hand hammered and I used a 1936 ford spare tire cover chopped for a rear fender. The mid controls are hand made and the oil bag was fabbed using a crashed '53 bag skin.  What a cluster...  I also added a .50 caliber machine gun casing for a handle on the shifter, it came from my son's Coast Guard Cutter and the front end is off a 1938 BSA army bike.

Nelson mentioned the bike should be done in about 3 months and invited me back to get a few pics, I can't wait!

Here is a link to the too few shots I got, spent to much time telling war stories and such! The images of the second bike under construction are another side project a 1939 U model flathead.