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The owners and operators of XPO Streetfighter, Inc., based on Long Island, N.Y. From left, AJ Fulgado, Dean Harris and Frank Ford.  (Photo by Rob Doyle and Bucky Edgerton)

 

By ROB DOYLE
MotoSavvy LTD.

In today’s highly competitive global marketplace, there are not many products being made in the U.S.A. And it’s especially rare to find real hand-built fabrication of any sort. However, look closely and you’ll find there are still good, hands-on creative individuals working on their own American dream. A case in point is a custom motorcycle manufacturer called XPO Streetfighter, Inc., based on Long Island, N.Y., owned and operated by AJ Fulgado and his two associates, Frank Ford and Dean Harris. AJ and Frank are cousins and of Filipino decent and proud of their heritage, while Dean is Filipino by association. According to AJ, the three have been friends since early high school. They are proud young Americans who are very much working to live their dream of building a successful company.

The Filipino community is a close-knit group. They represent a high ratio of doctors, lawyers, professors, business owners and entrepreneurs. For example, AJ’s father, Ding, is a retired ER surgeon, and his mother, Menchee, is a college professor at St. John’s University. AJ is also an alumnus of St. John’s University.

Furthermore, of his four siblings, brothers Leonard and PJ are audio engineer and nursing school student, respectively; while one of his sisters, Mia, is a lawyer, and the other, Joy, a graphic designer.

When AJ’s parents first heard of his plans for a business of a “different” sort, they were not pleased. However, AJ, Frank and Dean moved forward with their dream. With their hard work and dedication they have had recent success and even AJ’s parents are now smiling.

XPO Streetfighter has recently won design awards at the annual Bike Week event at Daytona Beach, Florida. The bikes have been featured at the Wheelz exhibit, at the Columbus College of Art and Design in Ohio, for Streetfighter representation, plus additional acclaim on Criss Angel’s Mind Freak TV show and have received other accolades in the past few years as well.

AJ is clear that this is an official business, a company, complete with an executive summary and a business plan focused on success. According to him, they’re not just a motorcycle shop, or a few guys building bikes out of a garage just for fun. He admits they enjoy what they do, yet they’re an official custom motorcycle company — a brand, complete with an online store (www.xpostreetfighter.com) that sells after-market parts for Streetfighters and Cafe Fighters — the latter a term coined by AJ himself that he has trademarked along with the term “Nakkid” bikes. Additionally, they sell their own XPO clothing and selected riding gear from around the world, i.e., helmets, gloves and body armor that complement the Streetfighter riding lifestyle. AJ’s sister, Joy, is also involved in the company; she designs much of the XPO Streetfighter brand apparel and clothing, which is another successful branch of the business.


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Filipino-American AJ Fulgado.  (Photo by Rob Doyle and Bucky Edgerton)

 

A Streetfighter motorcycle is basically a sportbike motorcycle that has the fairing (the plastic body work) and a variety of other parts removed, while adding specialized performance and ergonomic features for its own unique purpose. Streetfighters are in some ways similar to the old Cafe Racers of decades ago. Not so much in form or purpose, but rather for their unique style and culture of a select group; and created as a variation of something that the factory built.

XPO Streetfighter’s most current bike build is one that will be featured on TV, on the Discovery HD Theater Channel, for a show called “Cafe Racer,” to be aired Wednesdays, Dec. 1, 8 and 15 (www.caferacertv.com). The concept of this XPO Streetfighter custom build is the unique feature of the retro cafe design juxtaposed with a modern engine, suspension, wavy-rotor brakes and contemporary calipers. AJ says, “This bike will perform far-and-above the cafe bikes of decades ago.” The average production time, from start to finish, for a one-off motorcycle such as this one, is about six to eight weeks. Yet the plan is to take orders for similar bikes, with possible minor variations for a customer’s personalized look, which can be sold for roughly $20,000 to $25,000 — a price not much higher than a high-end factory built motorcycle. Typically, some bikes are one-of-kind, or just a few will be made, yet if and when a bike attracts major customer interest, there could be no limit on the number of units built.

Many celebrities such as George Clooney who ride motorcycles are attracted to custom made bikes. The problem with some custom bikes is their reliability, or lack of it. For example, you can find photos on the Internet of Brad Pitt stranded on some other fabricator’s, not so reliable, custom motorcycle. However, according to XPO Streetfighter, they can provide their customers with the custom look they want, and have the reliability of a Honda. After all, many of their custom bikes are based on Honda motorcycle platforms, e.g., the aforementioned “Cafe Fighter ™” motorcycle to be featured on TV, uses a Honda 919 engine and frame.

 

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Frank Ford (l.) and AJ Fulgado at work.  (Photo by Rob Doyle and Bucky Edgerton)

 

With their current spotlight on TV, and with business growing, XPO Streetfighter is apparently on the right path. However, just a couple of years ago, life wasn’t so good for AJ. He was sidelined in 2008 when he was diagnosed with Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT), a dangerous health disorder where blood clots form in the deep veins. He had blood clots throughout half of his body; in both his legs up to his pelvis. He went through months of hospitalization, numerous medical procedures and rigorous physical therapy to work his way back to good health. All the while he conducted his custom motorcycle business via phone, fax and laptop from his bedside.

AJ credits his recovery to the staff at Long Island Jewish Hospital, and in particular his dedicated vascular surgeon Dr. Chang — who is now the known authority on DVT. Today AJ is a vegetarian, runs a minimum of two miles a day, never smokes, and rarely drinks alcohol. AJ says his recovery and the survival of the XPO company are also testament to the support of his close-knit group of family and friends — the strength of support from his Filipino community. He’s also certain his Filipino heritage and innate will power helped carry him through. Look at the Filipino boxer, Manny Pacquiao, arguably the greatest boxer in the world today, pound-for-pound, and able to defeat opponents bigger in size and weight through sheer will power and superior speed.
AJ proudly states, “The XPO Streetfighter philosophy is to remove the non-essentials of a motorcycle and bring back the bare essentials, the focus on heart and soul — engine and frame, while keeping in mind design and performance upgrades without compromising reliability.” Apparently, it’s a good philosophy for life as well.

Perhaps next they’ll build a custom Streetfighter to commemorate Manny Pacquiao’s most recent victory over his larger opponent, Antonio Margarito. Or maybe Pacquiao could be the next celebrity customer in search of a custom bike; the Streetfighter and the Boxer, they’re both about heart and soul.

 

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AJ Fulgado, left, being filmed for a show called “Cafe Racer” on the Discovery HD Theater Channel. It will be aired Wednesdays, Dec. 1, 8 and 15.  (Photo by Rob Doyle and Bucky Edgerton)

 

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The Fulgado family. From left, Mia, PJ, Menchee, AJ, Ding, Leonard and Joy.  (Photo by Rob Doyle and Bucky Edgerton)