More than just a guy with an idea, David Pribula & Custom Dynamics leaned into quality and let innovation Take them to the top of the harley davidson Headlight aftermarket.
The Harley Davidson aftermarket is marked by riders who know an opportunity when they see it. And David Pribula, founder and CEO of Custom Dynamics, is no different. Since starting the company in 2002, David Pribula has seen opportunities to make motorcycle lighting concepts affordable, easy to install, and built to last.
David’s the kind of story any entrepreneur would raise a glass to. An electrical engineer who got his wind therapy on the country roads of North Carolina, David attended enough rallies to become seized with the idea of selling bike products online. So, in 2002, armed only with an idea and a manual for building early Y2K websites, David launched his company.
He filled his first order on Christmas Eve of that same year. And Custom Dynamics was off and running.
It wasn’t long before the orders started coming in. David quickly brought on two more people to help, and shortly after, David moved the business out of his home to a larger location in Wake Forest.
Today, the Youngsville, North Carolina company houses 35 employees who design, assemble and package products bearing the company name. Their online offerings include headlamps, auxiliary passing lamps, taillights, front and rear directionals, and accent lighting.
For six years running, Custom Dynamics has had a product named to the Powersport Business Nifty 50—a designation given to innovative products that drive dealer profitability.
But the Custom Dynamics we know today? That chapter began, innocently enough, with a product whose wires were too short.
It All Began with Accent Lighting
Ironically, it wasn’t for want of a night-piercing, ditch-to-ditch-illuminating headlamp that got David Pribula into Harley lighting.
It was accent lighting. And the frustrations that came with them.
Back then, accent lighting was a difficult-to-install ribbon of pod lights. Time-consuming with wires too short to even reach the battery, often requiring fuses and switches to be sourced from local hardware stores.
Those ill-designed pod light strings were a nonstarter for the average rider. But David saw an opportunity.
He began building accent lighting kits of his own—complete kits designed specifically for the bikes he and his friends rode. Wires were extended to reach the battery, and any installation pieces needed to finish the project were included.
That dual functionality–thoughtful design and ease of installation– is still the driving force behind new product designs at Custom Dynamics. And if you want to see where that first encounter with accent lighting has taken things, read our Featured First Look at the ProGlow™ Plug & Play Accent Lighting system. Want a quick taste? Check out the demo below.
From Distributor to Manufacturer, from Retail to Warehouse
In 2009, Custom Dynamics turned the corner. They acquired the assets of New York-based Street Magic™ and No Magic Neon™ and became their own manufacturer of LED turn signals, taillights and electrical modules.
More changes would follow. In 2010, David teamed up with DRAG Specialties to expand the company catalog. And in time, Custom Dynamics left their Wake Forest retail location and moved into the 22,000 square foot Youngsville facility it now calls home.
Since the company’s inception, the Harley Davidson headlight (or any LED lights for Harley) has seen technology change, and improve.
The Custom Dynamics product line has likewise evolved, using more advanced optics and quality components. More recently, they’ve begun expanding fitments for the Indian line of motorcycles, and in 2022 they launched their SXS™ Off-Road Color-Changing LED Rock Lights for SXS, ATV & UTV.
Growth has been steady, and incremental over the past twenty years, and it’s been guided by a simple but vital entrepreneurial principal…
Built to Last Means Built with Quality
Building a great product, and having the assets to do it, is only part of the equation. From the company’s inception. David, and the people who work for him, knew that it’s attention to the customer experience, and the standards of excellence every product must meet, that have pushed the company into their third decade in business.
It’s building a well-designed, innovative product, giving the rider everything they need to get it on their bike, out of the garage, and onto the road. It’s building a product that lasts, a product that keeps the rider safe, and seen.
The Custom Dynamics quality formula is simple: Exacting standards of assembly + the best components found anywhere in the world.
Built in America & Sourced from Around the World
Consumer law says that to be called ‘Made in the USA’, “all or virtually all” the product has been made in America. That is, all significant parts, processing and labor that go into the product must be of U.S. origin.
So, apart from their ProBEAM™ Headlamps and Passing Lamps, the remainder of the Custom Dynamics line is not ‘American Made’.
- Electrical modules like their Load-Balancing Smart Triple Play™ Signal Stablilizer™ are made in Costa Rica.
- LED products like their ProBEAM™ FRONT 1157 AMBER/WHITE BULLET RINGZ™ are now being made in Vietnam.
- And their ProBEAST™ Air Horn is made in Italy.
The Custom Dynamics ProBEAM Headlamp
That bit of disclosure aside, few products—especially those requiring technological innovation—will get the ‘Made in the USA’ tag. But Harley riders are smart, and they know this. Which is why they lean on the quality standards Custom Dynamics has spent twenty years building for themselves.
Smart Collaboration Creates Smart Products
An intelligent builder of tech-based aftermarket products will partner with quality suppliers.
The same holds true for product development.
In 2016, J.W. Speaker introduced the first dynamically adaptive motorcycle headlight. So, when David and his company decided to get into the premium headlamp market, they took a trip north to Germantown, Wisconsin, to see what makes J.W. Speaker the innovator they are.
The Custom Dynamics folks were impressed with what they learned. Their company and J.W. Speaker shared common values—an emphasis on quality components, and obviously, advanced lighting technologies.
The relationship made sense to both companies. And today, Custom Dynamics incorporates J.W. Speaker proprietary technology into several their headlamps, including their best-selling ProBEAM® 7″ LED Headlamp and the ProBEAM™ Adaptive Headlamp.
The Custom Dynamics ProBEAM Adaptive Headlight for Harley
Challenges Then are Challenges Now
Small companies like David’s make for inspiring stories, but surviving in the challenging aftermarket of Harley Davidson LED headlights, taillights, directionals and accent lighting isn’t easy.
Staying current in a rapidly changing market takes constant effort by both the design and marketing arms of the company.
There’s The Motor Company itself, who adds new bikes and drops others as it tries to solve for who their next generation of riders will be. New models mean new product fitments, and new compatibilities to wrestle with. And when Harley discontinues bikes (See Harley Dyna, Softail Slim, Softail Deluxe, Heritage Classic 107…), there’s inventory that goes wanting for demand.
There’s also competitive product releases and customization trends that need to be assessed– what new products will meet the demand, which ones will fill the voids in the market.
Case in point is accent lighting. Once thought to be a gimmick by Harley OGs, avoided by others because the only options were junk bought on Amazon, that ship now sails under a different banner. It’s now as much a safety factor as an opportunity to style out. And Custom Dynamics has put their own signature of quality on accent lighting by releasing the aforementioned ProGlow Accent Lighting system.
Sometimes being different is less important than simply doing it better.
Being Different by Being Better at the Basics
David Pribula isn’t all that different from other aftermarket entrepreneurs. Small companies like Custom Dynamics are often founded by riders who had a vision of how things could be done better.
Many of these stories, like Custom Dynamics, became successful, and lasted.
But many of them went away. And there’s the rub.
It’s especially hard in the hyper-competitive Harley Davidson headlight aftermarket. So, how did they do it?
- Using only the highest-grade materials.
- Meticulous attention to details.
Starting a new product, from concept to completion, involves a ton of effort. You need to confirm fit, function and finish. And even after a new product is brought to market– if you do it the Custom Dynamics way– EVERY unit needs to pass an integrity check before being sent on its way.
Custom Dynamics knows they’re not the cheapest option on the market, but they pride themselves on the fact that what they ship lasts.
In fact, they’re so confident in design, materials and the details that get checked off in the process, that they’re willing to put a lifetime warranty on everything they sell.
And I can say from personal experience that every issue and every question a rider may have–with any product sold– is processed easily, efficiently, at no additional cost to the rider, by knowledgeable support people.
The Secret Sauce? Brand Loyalty
Ask any group of riders what their favorite pipes are and you’ll hear a dozen different names. Poll the same riders about what’s lighting the road ahead of them (and keeping distracted drivers off their ass) and Custom Dynamics is overwhelmingly most-mentioned. ProBEAM™, TruBEAM™ and Custom Dynamics White Halo™ headlamps were all top-10 finishers in our August Rider’s Choice survey.
To their credit, David Pribula and his company are keenly aware that they’re where they are today because of that loyalty. In the lighting arena, that’s not easily done, given the competition and the proliferation of inexpensive lighting found elsewhere.
Custom Dynamics knows they’re only as good as the next light that leaves Youngsville, and that being here five or ten years from now means continuing to take care of the people who ultimately manage the growth of the brand.
The guy who’s putting his third Custom Dynamics accessory on his bike. That girl who’s sharing pics of her plug & play accent lights on social media. That rider who’s creating YouTube videos that compare the ProBEAM™ with the Harley Daymaker™ headlight.
Quality of design and assembly? Check. Lifetime warranty? Yup. But the real reason for that kind of loyalty?
Seeing, and being seen. Feeling safe, knowing you’re riding with lighting from a company you can point to on the map, peopled by individuals who give a damn.
That’s successful branding, and it begins with people who are smart enough to know who turns their lights on each day.
THe Wrap on Custom Dynamics
Take an online stroll through Revzilla.com, Dennis Kirk & J & P Cycles, you’ll find more than a handful of small companies selling fine gear. Companies started by people like David Pribula. Smart, talented guys. People with a vision and an eye on innovation.
But not all of them will last. Custom Dynamics has, and my money says they’ll continue to do so.
Because they kick out an excellent product that’s priced fairly and competitively, one you can get your hands on within days, instead of months.
Because they have the smarts to adapt quickly to rapid changes in technology.
Because they pivot quickly to the fickle demands of an ever-diversifying rider base.
Because they have the common sense (and ethics) to partner with great suppliers and innovative tech partners.
All the above, plus an unerring eye on delivering quality, and standing behind it. It’s the American way of doing things, and it works every time it’s tried.
Want more about Custom Dynamics? Check this post on the ProGlow Lighting system. It’s the perfect culmination of how David Pribula got started with this whole Harley lighting thing to begin with.
Be well! And Ride Safely!
About the Author
Jim Smurawa is a full-time blogger and enthusiast of all things that require him to get off his ass. Jim loves bikes, so much so that he sold his 2019 Street Glide to study advanced blogging and digital communications so he could write full time about the Harley Life. He looks forward to getting back on a bike of his own, and he’s currently deciding on whether he should get a Softail, an Ultra or another Street Glide, since he’s owned one of each in the past.