An Aggressive Chopper from Roll On Cycle Words by Kurt Diserio — Photos by Alexa Diserio In the matter of choosing between style and functionality, there’s a sweet spot when piecing together a chopper. Performance often takes a backseat with most builds, but sometimes it’s the driving force of inspiration. The thought of cruising through the twists and turns of rural Pennsylvania backroads on a muscular chopper with a snappy engine sounds like the ideal way to clear your thoughts in these weird times. Maybe that’s what was running through the mind of Roll On Cycle’s Zack Williams when he crafted the Evo Power chopper seen here. You might remember previous features in our publication about Roll On Cycle and Zack’s brother, Phil Williams, whose paint business goes by the name of Bridge City Paint. Their shop is located in Oakdale, only a short drive west of the city. The bike was finished just in time for this past year’s Glory Daze motorcycle show with the perfect balance between modern and traditional style. We were fortunate enough to meet up with Zack and talk about how this bike took shape. How would you label the bike?Zack Williams: I bought the frame this year, so I guess it’s technically a 2021 chopper. Although, a lot of the components are going back to the early 2000s. The wheels and motor are from the 90s. What got the ball rolling with the build?ZW: A customer built a bike and had this big motor built that blew up on him. At the time, he didn’t want to wait to have it fixed, so he just bought another motor. It was sitting at our shop for almost twenty years. I’ve always been looking at it and liked it since it was a unique Evo. I kind of based the bike off of that motor. Then, slowly but surely, I refurbished it and started gathering the pieces. What are the details on this Evo?ZW: It’s an S&S 113” engine. The big feature piece, as far as I’m concerned, is that it uses the shovelhead style Axtell big bore cylinders. They’re not aluminum, which is what a typical Evo cylinder is made from. Instead, they’re made out of cast iron. The STD heads were originally dual plug heads, but I’m only running a single plug setup. You might see in some of the photos, but I put my compression release where the other spark plugs should be to eliminate some clutter. The transmission is a standard Harley-Davidson 5-speed. Nothing too crazy with that. I’m anxious to get it broken in. From the feel of it, it’s going to rip. Where did the build go from there?ZW: The next big step was the wheels. I looked for a really long time to try and find these. They’re CCI wheels sold by Custom Chrome, a big parts distributor that’s been around since the 70s. The frame was made by Flyrite Choppers in San Francisco. It’s 2-up, 0-out, with a 29-degree rake. I made the foot controls, footpeg, and brake assembly. The front end uses 39mm Narrow Glide triple trees with 41mm FL tubes that I machined down to fit. I made the custom tail light assembly that was integrated into a shortened Gasbox rear fender. I also made the seat pan and had it upholstered. We wanted a deep seat with a high back on it so you weren’t going anywhere if you got on it. We made the custom exhaust, and my buddy Alex Volkman welded it up for me. I wanted to use a Supertrapp muffler because that’s what I had on my first dirtbike. Did Phil do the paintwork?ZW: Yes, my brother, Phil Williams, painted the tank and fenders. I wanted something simple with a bit of a pop to it. The idea was to put a 1980s ski jacket stripe on it. What was the inspiration for the bike?ZW: I guess the big inspiration for building this was just growing up in the shop in that time era. This is what people were building in the late 90s–big motored bikes with all the billet. It kind of faded out for a while after that. When did you get it finished?ZW: I got the frame around February 2021 and the wheels a month or so later. It stayed in limbo for a bit. Pretty much everything you see was done over the summer after we were invited to Glory Daze in September. I was unprepared but had to start making final decisions. We got a lot of work done in a very short amount of time. Phil painted it the Wednesday before the show at midnight. It has an aggressive stance and looks like a blast to ride. Is that something you were aiming for from the start?ZW: I prefer everything I build to be rideable and functional. I had been thinking about this Evo for quite a while. For two years I was figuring out the details. Usually, when I end up doing a bike, it’s because I came across something or randomly fell into it. With this, everything started with the engine. I put a lot of thought into the components I wanted, and I wasn’t going to move forward until I had this or that. Anything else you want to say about it?ZW: I’d just like to thank everyone that helped me because I honestly couldn’t do this on my own. Even without the time crunch, it takes a village in my opinion. It’s hard to do everything on your own. So, thanks to my brother, Phil, my other brother, Rob, my Dad, Buck, and my two buddies, Josh and Darren, who were there for long hours cleaning aluminum and doing a lot of the stuff we didn’t have time to do. Featured in Issue 11 S&S EVO Chopper Built by ZACK WILLIAMSROLL ON CYCLE Zack instagram | Roll On instagram Words by KURT DISERIO Photos by ALEXA DISERIO
First Time's a Charm Words by Kurt Diserio — Photos by Alexa Diserio If you go grab issue Number 007 off of your bookshelf or workbench, you’ll see the incredible Chromophobia shovelhead gracing the front cover. That particular chopper was done by painter Tyler Elliott of TE Customs, who just happens to also be the builder behind the classy ironhead you see here. This was his first bike build and the one that ultimately opened the door for him into custom motorcycles. For those that read the shovelhead feature, you’ll recall that Tyler’s father, John Elliott, used to ride, race, and build old Harleys back in the day. John and his buddies would often drag race their daily riders and go camping with them in the same weekend. Sounds like a blast, right? One of those friends of John’s owned and raced this ironhead before it ended up with Tyler years later after he started showing more interest in two wheels. We met up with the two of them in downtown Carnegie to chat about the chopper and its interesting history. Before we get into the depths of this Sportster build, what do you like most about it as a whole?Tyler Elliott: This was my first bike build ever. I really like how it runs and handles, and as much as people rip on Harley ironheads, they run like crazy. It has instant power, especially because it’s stroked. You could dog on it in fourth gear, but if you get on the throttle, the power is there immediately. I also just really like how it feels when you ride it. It wasn’t like this at first, but it evolved into a more comfortable setup. I changed the bars, seat, pegs, and gearing for more of a highway feel. It’s a workhorse bike that you can still rip around on. How did you end up with it?TE: The bike came from a friend of my dad’s back in the day. They rode together in the 1970s through the early 80s. It was basically stock looking back then, but the motor was built and stroked. They used to race them on the streets. My dad, John, had a 1964 Harley Sportster set up like this bike is now, but back then, this ironhead had a swingarm frame. I got it for a good deal right as I was getting into bikes. It was running but needed a lot of work. What parts of the bike were from the original compared to the work you’ve done since?TE: The engine is basically the same way it was back then but has since been rebuilt. It’s a 74 cubic inch engine with a 4-5/8 inch flywheel and had the old-style stroker plates on it when I got it. The 1973 models originally had a right-side shifter, but I converted it over using 1975 parts. In ‘75 and ‘76 they basically made a bolt-on piece as a quick fix for apparent legal reasons. The crazy linkage system just bolted on, but they later changed the case after that. It originally had a swingarm with a Chapman Racing top front frame section. That was done to give the frame more height for a stroker and lighten it up for racing. It’s extended up and out two inches with the stock rake and used the whole rear of the stock frame. I put a Santee hard tail unit on the back and blended it all together. The neck area had ugly plates on it, so I cleaned that up but kept the basic shape of the frame. That’s the original fuel tank and front end, which is a ‘78 dual-disc front end. The rear fender used to be the stock front fender, and it only had a single seat. I built the sissy bar, exhaust pipes, handlebars, and chain tensioner. I also relocated the front brake reservoir underneath the front of the motor so there’s nothing on the bars. The oil tank is actually a cut-up panhead horseshoe tank from my Dad that I found in the attic. What other parts should be mentioned?TE: My buddy in Delaware, Josh Littleton from Classic Canvas, made the seat for me. I made the base and he did the foam work and covered it. It’s pretty neat how it clips down through the frame. Right on the back of the sissy bar there’s a little clip mechanism that attaches to the back of the seat bar. You unpin the bottom to release the back and it flips right off. GMS Racing Engines did the machine work on the motor, and we assembled it. I did the paintwork back when I had just opened my shop. It’s probably one of the first, more radical paint jobs I did. That’s 24k spun gold candy flake striping. In addition to your father’s history with choppers, was painting part of what got you into them? TE: Yeah, I was painting cars for a while and wanted to try something new. Plus, it just seemed like all of my friends were getting bikes. They were mostly into street bikes, but I figured it’d be cool to have a chopper at the time because I didn’t know anyone who had them. I used to look through my dad’s old motorcycle magazines and seeing the work he did with choppers really grabbed my interest. Time period to build?TE: I think this took me about a year and a half. It was right when I opened my shop in 2008 or 2009. I kind of had an idea of what I wanted and didn’t go too radical with it because I was still learning. It was cheap, easy, and great to learn on. My dad knew a lot about bikes, so he taught me the ins and outs of everything. It didn’t even look like this when I first built it. It had drag bars and no sissy bar or anything. As far as bikes you ride, is this your daily?TE: This is the one I ride all of the time. It’s basically my daily rider. Any plans for bikes in the future?TE: I do have some frames, parts, and titles. I just have to think of what I want to do and which style. We’ll see. Featured in Issue 11 1973 HARLEY-DAVIDSON SPORTSTER XL Built by TYLER ELLIOTTTE CUSTOMS www.tecustoms.com instagram Words by KURT DISERIO Photos by ALEXA DISERIO
The Art of Noah Emhurt Words + Photos by Noah Emhurt My work seems to be a culmination of my life and surroundings. I pull from the culture of living in major cities from Tokyo to New York to Los Angeles and now Pittsburgh, where I currently reside. Having earned a degree in fine art, I utilize that with my spirit as a rebellious youth who constantly painted on bedroom walls and spray painted on the streets of my hometown. As far as the actual process, I often start with a background full of “experiments” or a chosen image. I’m constantly searching for new looks and ways of applying paint. If it doesn’t work, it’s painted over and replaced. It’s a constant process of failures. After all, painting is basic math: addition and subtraction. Juxtaposition has always been at the forefront of my work. It’s as if there’s an internal struggle of letting things be wild while at the same time balancing it with a pleasant appeal. Initially, I try to keep things as chaotic as possible. I “bury myself”. From there, I hope to make sense of it all, digging myself out with each subsequent layer. I’m definitely into the imagery of the piece. This seems to be a driving force for me. Finding the next, best image to explore. It’s as if the iconography of the artwork is the core belief. Here is the time I pull from all sources in order to find the right image. Everything available to me becomes fair game when choosing. What I had in mind when making these prints... My youth when youth was enough. Skipping school to learn more about life. Hands covered in the blood and guts from a motorcycle. Thinking about that next tattoo and where you’re going to get the money from. Drinking beer behind Mom’s back. Smoking glorious cigarette after glorious cigarette. Bedroom walls completely covered in the greatest artwork the world will never see. Outlier, 2021 - ink on paper Helmet Head, 2021 - ink on paper Hellion, 2021 - ink on paper Fatboy, 2021 - ink on paper Leathers, 2021 - ink on paper Cafe, 2021 - ink on paper Featured in Issue 11 NOAH EMHURT www.emhurt.com instagram.com/noahemhurt Words + Photos by NOAH EMHURT
An Evo Chopper Emerges from the Shadows Words by Kurt Diserio — Photos by Alexa Diserio Something tells me that the life of Logan Allison is much more interesting than anything a quick chat about a custom chopper can deliver. As someone who has traveled around the country, living in different places and getting by in whatever way he could, it only felt appropriate that he’d build a bike as tough as his 1998 Harley-Davidson Evo. Eventually, after numerous motorcycles and all of the exhausting work needed to keep them running, Allison made the jump into a personal project that had been sitting in a storage bin in the back of his head for a little too long. Piece by piece it started to come together, rightfully taking its place on the floor of Glory Daze this past September. Alexa and I met up with him at the Allegheny Cemetery this winter to get the lowdown on the bike and how he came to call Pittsburgh home. Did you want to jump into the story of your past and how you ended up here? Logan Allison: I moved to Pittsburgh about ten years ago and had a bunch of buddies that rode motorcycles, so I started riding, too. At first, I just started customizing shitty Sportsters and never really did a nice build. I didn’t even plan to do this build well, but I just kept getting a nice part here and there. It snowballed from that point. I kept getting the parts and pieces and figured I’d do the bike justice with a full-on makeover. I inherited this bike from my dad. When he passed it along, the only thing he made me promise is that I never sold it. The bike was a total dad chopper that was almost impossible to ride. Basically, the drivetrain and frame are the only things I kept. I stripped it down and completely rebuilt it from there. The process was slow, but after about four years of collecting parts, I finally got the kick-in-the-ass this year to finish it. The motor had been sitting for four years, so I crossed my fingers when I fired it up. I have a little more tuning to do with the carburetor, but otherwise, It’s treated me really well so far. Knock on wood. There are a few things I have in the works to help make it pop more. It’s a never-ending project. Was this your first Evo, and could you run through the bike?LA: Yeah, my first Big Twin. It’s a Paughco frame with a 1998 80-inch big twin Evo motor. For the drivetrain, I’m using an Ultima 6-speed transmission and an Ultima open primary. The 39mm front end is 2-over. Josh Howells at Uptahn Metalworks did the custom exhaust and a lot of other fab work to get things to fit right. He was a big help, and I couldn’t have done it without him. Lunation Leathers made the sissy bar cover. It’s hard to give somebody an image of something you have in your head that you want them to make. She hadn’t done anything like this before, and it’s nothing I’ve ever seen. To have her listen to everything I said and knock it out of the park was a huge relief. The same goes for Tyler Elliott of TE Customs who killed it on the paint. I just handed the pieces over and gave him my idea. It was nice to see his eyes light up and get excited about something other than typical pinstriping work. He handpainted all of it. Where did you live before moving to Pittsburgh?LA: I traveled around for years before I settled in Pittsburgh. Basically, I didn’t live anywhere for more than a couple of months for nearly seven years. I was a commercial fisherman in Alaska for a while, but I got tired of not having somewhere to lay my head. So, I ended up here. What are you doing now that you’ve settled here?LA: I work crazy hours in the art department on set decorating for TV shows and movies. The intense hours come with big gaps between jobs, so when I get free time I’m either in the shop working on motorcycles or out ice fishing, fly fishing, or hunting. I try to be outside and on the road as much as I can. Was there something about motorcycles that drew you to them?LA: I’ve always worked with my hands, so it made sense that I got into motorcycles. It was always second nature to me. I enjoy just being able to piece everything together. They’re like a big puzzle where you get to see your vision come together in the end. It looks super comfortable as something to rip around town. Was that what you were aiming for?LA: I’ve always liked this stance. It was exactly what I was going for. I didn’t want to delete my front brake, especially with these Pittsburgh hills. Riding and putting on some miles is more important to me than building them. Did you do any fun trips during the pandemic?LA: Typically, we’re super busy with work, but everything got locked down. I had time in the summer, so I jumped on my FXR, threw my fly rod on the back, and road up to Vermont and Maine. From there, I went down to the FXR jam in Maggie Valley, North Carolina with my flyrod and just fished and camped along the way. You don’t need much. Any plans for next year?LA: I definitely want to make it to Apocalypse Run in the upper peninsula of Michigan. That’s a nice little trip and has always been a great time. I have a bunch of friends in Detroit, and I’ll usually link up with those guys, spend the night, then head up the rest of the way. Featured in Issue 11 1998 Harley-Davidson Evo Built by LOGAN ALLISON instagram Words by KURT DISERIO Photos by ALEXA DISERIO
A Classic Triumph Gets its Time to Shine Words by Kurt Diserio — Photos by Alexa Diserio Sometimes fate has your back and offers you an opportunity you didn’t plan for. Sometimes that opportunity looks like a rusty old box of parts and a whole lot of work. The Triumph project you see here was born from a situation like this. Pittsburgh’s Jeff Wichman stumbled onto the beginnings of this 1952 Pre-Unit when his friend decided to sell all of his belongings and travel the world indefinitely. After endless research and some challenges along the way, Wichman was able to bring new life to a motorcycle that had been sitting in pieces for quite some time. The combination of problem-solving and creative thinking is a skill that needs to be exercised from time to time, and what better test than a classic Triumph? I talked with the builder about the process and story behind the bike. Where did this motorcycle build start?Jeff Wichman: I originally got the bike from a friend of mine. He and his wife wanted to travel to Venezuela on motorcycles, so they bought a pair of Suzuki DR650 street and trail bikes. He was selling all of his stuff so they didn’t have to move it. To get some extra money for the trip, he asked if I wanted to buy an old Triumph that was sitting in their basement for twenty-five years or so. They had this frame, the engine, and some odds and ends. I cobbled the parts together and built this bike out of those pieces. Very interesting backstory. Was the couple able to do the trip?JW: They rode from Pittsburgh to Venezuela and back. After that, they went from here to the Arctic Circle and back, all around the continent of Africa, and now they’re living in Slovenia. What was the timeline and how did the build process go?JW: I got it done in early 2020. Triumphs are difficult to build because anything you need takes four weeks to get, so you almost have to build two bikes at once in order to occupy your mind. This probably took a year and a half to finish. It was really a big research project for me after getting a box of parts and not knowing where everything goes. As far as the process, it was a rusty mess at the start. I got three big Rubbermaid totes and the frame. The engine was stuck, so I had to beat the pistons out of it. There’s a guy down off of Route 79 with a shop called JRD Cycles who sells a lot of old Triumph parts. I had him do the engine and transmission work. He has a history of racing flat track, so when he puts something together, it’s correct. Wicked Stitch in Sewickley did the seat. For the paint, Lucky Strike Designs did the tank, and Palermo Auto Body painted the frame and some small pieces. It was nice to meet local guys who would help me out. One neat part that can get overlooked is the billet aluminum rear fender mount that’s hidden under the frame. I fabbed up an idea, and a local machinist did that and the little spring mounts for me. Did you have a past with motorcycles that led you in this direction?JW: I’ve been into motorcycle racing and used to race carts and the GNCC series. I raced SuperMoto for a little bit, too. I got hurt a lot, so I started doing this as a side project. I’d love to build hot rods, but the garage is too small. Motorcycles fit the space well, so I figured I’d try it when this just kind of fell into my lap. Was there anything interesting you learned during the build?JW: One cool part about this was when I was rifling through the parts and found old receipts from 1970. The guy I bought it from had originally purchased it from a widow, and the man that passed away was in the process of building an Easyrider style chopper years ago. Unfortunately, he must have passed away before he could finish it. I’m still finding receipts from Butler Cycle for things like $1.50 cables. Some of the parts on this were from this original owner, like the clutch cover and exhaust pipes. It was pretty cool to find the old receipts, especially when you can’t even get a candy bar for the price he was getting some parts for back then. Were there any challenges worth mentioning?JW: I had to make the front headlight mount about five times until I got what I wanted. I also had to make the rear fender brackets a couple of times. I don’t have the fancy equipment, so I constructed the mount for the speedometer using straight stock that was twisted for rigidity. It’s like that on all of the mounts, just pieces of straight stock that I twisted and bent into place. Really, all I had was a MIG welder, a grinder, and a drill. Any plans for another Triumph build?JW: I have another Pre-Unit but with a swingarm frame. I’ll probably make it a slightly more modern street tracker look that I could use as a daily rider – a different style than this. At least that’s the idea. I think eventually I’d like to build my own frame, but I’m not to that point just yet. Featured in Issue 11 1952 Triumph Pre-Unit 650 Built by JEFF WICHMAN Words by KURT DISERIO Photos by ALEXA DISERIO
A Menacing S&S Panhead Words by Kurt Diserio — Photos by Alexa Diserio Some people just have a passion for doing things the hard way. Depending on your perspective, the challenge of learning new skills and techniques can either be overwhelming or rewarding. Our brains operate around efficiency, and it takes a great deal of willpower to dig deeper. Compared to days of the past, modern culture celebrates shortcuts as a way to get more done in less time, often sacrificing authenticity and the benefits of experience. There were no shortcuts on the custom panhead chopper built by Brian Deltorre of Irwin, Pennsylvania. It was something that I would see progress photos of from time to time, and in each instance, I’d notice more handmade details that caught my eye. I also recognized an obsession with the technical side of motorcycles and how things worked. Every inch of this build demands your attention. The more you look, the more you’ll appreciate the craftsmanship and dedication put into a project that Deltorre carefully constructed in his own time. How did this build come about?Brian Deltorre: I used to work together with my buddy, Steve Simqu. (You might recall Simqu’s Yamaha XS650 from issue Number 002). At the time, I was thinking about building a Triumph bobber. I showed him some pictures of different Triumphs I had saved, but he talked me into building a Yamaha XS instead. I ended up picking one up and started making a bobber out of it. I was in my thirties with little free time, so it ended up on the backburner. One day, my wife encouraged me to finish the bike, so I got to work and completed it in time to display at World of Wheels that year. At the show, a guy named Tony had a really nice bagger set up next to me and came over to ask who did the welding on my Yamaha. He needed some welding done for a project of his own, so we started bouncing ideas and skills off of each other. Tony mentioned, “When we’re done with this, why don’t we each build a bike for ourselves?” I told him to not pay me for the welding work I was doing then, but rather just pay for my materials on the bike build. We ended up getting roughly twenty-five feet of tubing and some prints before making a frame jig. We altered the prints to suit us, with this frame being 4-up and 2-out. All together we made three frames, two were mine, one was his. He went one direction with his build, and I went another with mine, chipping away at it a day or two a week. So the frame is completely custom?BD: Yeah, it started as twenty feet of tubing. Tony bought a tubing bender, and we made the frame jig and some patterns that worked. The frame was the first piece I made for this bike, with the wheels being next. Was this a few years ago?BD: I’d say we probably started this in late 2017. Then two kids later, I finished it. I see quite a lot of handmade parts. What else would you like to point out?BD: The only Harley part on the bike is the headlight, and it’s from a Softail Blackline. I tried to make as many parts myself as possible and hide as many bolts as I could. I made the handlebars, pipes, and oil tank. The back fender was bought but reshaped. The exhaust started as six feet of tubing and consisted of thirty-three pieces. When I was building my XS 650, everyone had a telescopic front end, so I put a girder front end on that to be different. For this bike, I wanted to do something I haven’t seen in a while, so instead of a regular springer, I made an inverted style. It works exactly the same as a normal springer front end, but all of the action takes place down low. For the gas tank, I bought a huge six-gallon chopper tank that I cut up and reshaped for the look I wanted. I removed pieces of it, added pieces to it, and changed the radius on the bottom. The oil tank has the same radius as the gas tank. Is there a particular reason you went with the S&S engine?BD: Panheads were always my favorite motors. I looked into getting an original but really wanted to hammer on this thing and avoid as many issues as possible. After some research, I ended up with the S&S P93 engine with a Baker 4-speed transmission. It just made sense. They’re bulletproof. What kind of clutch are you using?BD: It’s an internal twist clutch I picked up from Exile Cycles. This isn’t an ordinary 1970s style transmission. It’s a Baker to start, but I had it made with the 1990s ball and ramp style clutch actuator. Traditionally, the older style had an arm that came out of the top of the transmission, and when you squeezed your lever, the cable would pull the arm toward you. With this style, the cable goes into the transmission, so when you pull the cable, it moves that ramp with a simple twist action. It’s exactly the same as the internal throttle but twists the opposite direction for the clutch. Any other parts or pieces you’d like to mention?BD: Phil Williams of Bridge City Paint did the paintwork. I couldn’t decide on a color at first, but at the last minute, I chose red. When I went to Phil, I told him I’d like the tank to be symmetrical without being completely symmetrical. He knew exactly what I meant and did a great job. The underneath of the tank looks just as good as the top. I’m using a fixed axle. So, instead of having the axle go through the frame and using a nut on one side, I built the nut into the frame. You screw the long axle and threads into the right side of the frame and use a set screw to lock it in. Is there anyone else you’d like to shout out for helping with the build?BD: Along with those previously mentioned, Steve Simqu helped out a lot with this bike. We’d work on stuff in the evening until about 9pm, then go out to the local bar for a couple of beers. We’d get some good ideas while having those beers, then forget them by the morning. How does it ride, and are you happy with how it turned out?BD: I’ve only gone to a couple of places with it so far. It goes in a perfectly straight line if I let go of the handlebars, so I’m happy about that. I’ll take it out sometimes when I get home from work, but I’m still giving it some shakedown miles for the time being. I’m glad that I was able to build a lot of it myself. It typically costs more money to make your own parts because you have to make stuff to make stuff, but I’m proud that I was able to create so much on my own. Featured in Issue 11 CUSTOM S&S PANHEAD CHOPPER Built by BRIAN DELTORRE instagram | youtube Words by KURT DISERIO Photos by ALEXA DISERIO
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