Creating an Identity Words by Kurt Diserio — Photos by Alexa Diserio Again and again, the Harley Sportster proves itself to be one of the most versatile and customizable motorcycles out there. It’s the most popular base model for bikes throughout our publication, so much so that we have to set a limit per issue. For someone as tall as Pittsburgh’s Ed Jankoski, the smaller Sportster model wouldn’t seem like the right fit for his chopper build. That is until you sit on the bike. It has been set up and lengthened by Uptahn Metalworks for Jankoski’s size and feels quite the opposite of what you might expect. We talked with him about the build, the motorcycle community, and his wild trip to Maine this past summer. Your chopper build is fairly new. What led you to pick up a Sportster and eventually decide to transform it into what it is now?Ed Jankoski: When I bought this Sportster, the former owner had it set up as a bobber with a few odds and ends to set it apart from stock. At the time, I was more concerned with just riding and saving the money needed to chop it. Oddly enough, the build actually came to light after I was laid off from my job in July 2019. I decided to cash out what little bit of retirement I had and moved forward. From there, Uptahn Metalworks (Josh Howells and Andy Mak) and I just started spitballing ideas. By that time, I was around the chopper scene pretty heavy and was set on building my own. Plus, being a big guy, chopping the frame to make it longer felt like a no brainer. My main goal was to have a badass bike that fit me well. Was there anything that pushed you into getting into motorcycles or choppers in particular?EJ: I was into bikes growing up but always had something else taking up my time. In 2018, I moved in with my longtime friend from the BMX scene, Andy Mak, then later reconnected with Josh “Deuce” Howells, another BMX kid who was into motorcycles. It was like a high school reunion that I was stoked to be a part of again. It didn’t take long for me to jump back in and buy a bike after being part of that crew. Life has a weird way of happening and reconnecting you with certain people. The stuff I’ve learned from those guys and everyone else at our garage is something I feel very lucky for. What parts or pieces do you feel stand out?EJ: The paint is usually what people talk about when they see the bike for the first time. I met Tyler Elliott of TE Customs at an event last year, and we became buds. He’s another former BMX guy, which brings everything full circle. I wanted gold incorporated, and he comes back with gold foil mixed with candy paint. I was absolutely blown away with what Tyler did. He even painted a tiny gold turd on my rear fender because a lot of people call me Turd thanks to my Instagram handle. Aside from the paint, the bike has a ton of cool features that usually take a few looks to notice. The guys at Uptahn Metalworks and I really gave it our all on this bike, and I’m thankful for it, even my kickstand that’s shaped like a dick with 666 machined into it. There is a connection motorcyclists have that can sometimes be hard to understand from the outside. How would you describe it?EJ: As cliché as it is to say, it’s best described as one big family. At the end of the day, we all share the same passion. To me, it doesn’t matter what you ride or build. I came into the scene barely able to change a battery, but having the opportunity to learn is something I will forever appreciate. People are always evolving and willing to help out, which is great to see. Some tend to think that we only like or ride with people who have Harleys or choppers, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I love seeing builds and bikes of all kinds. It’s awesome to see someone’s finished project riding down the road or how much attention they get when pulling up to an event for the first time. It says a lot about the scene when people immediately start talking about your bike or welcome you in like you’ve been friends for years. You’ve done some long rides this year. What has been your most memorable?EJ: Just like everyone else, most of our plans were put on hold due to Covid, which was a huge bummer. A few buddies and I still managed to ride up to Maine at the end of August for the Deadbeat Retreat. We decided to take all back roads to really take in all the scenes. It took us over two days to ride from Pittsburgh to Maine, but the riding was the best I’ve ever been a part of. We cruised through the Catskill Mountains in New York, which was beautiful, but riding through the mountains in Vermont was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever done in my life. We did have our fair share of issues, though. The first night, we rode right into a flash flood/tornado right at the New York border. The rain was so bad that it fried my coil, and I had to ride eight miles in first gear through washed-out roads and massive thunderstorms. Thankfully, Deuce packed an extra coil and saved my trip. We ended up in Maine that Friday night around 11pm and were welcomed by everyone. The thunderstorms continued while we were there, but everyone still had a good time. The guys from Deadbeat Customs and our local friends Matt and Genevieve were so great to us. Riding over 700 miles on a chopper was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but I’ll never forget it. We met some really cool people and plan to make that ride again. From your perspective, do you see the motorcycle community changing or growing?EJ: I’d say both. Social media is a cool thing to have. Everyone hates on it, but you can click a hashtag and see what people are building or riding all over the world. People are getting inspiration from everywhere, which is turning into some really cool bikes. Our generation is doing a great job of showing support, and I’m glad to be a part of it. If someone wanted to get into bikes, do you have any advice based on your experiences?EJ: Just go for it. There’s no better feeling than riding with your friends. This scene has taken me to places that I could never have imagined. I’ll forever be grateful for the friends I’ve made thanks to motorcycles. Featured in Issue 009 1995 HARLEY-DAVIDSON SPORTSTER XL1200 Built by ED JANKOSKIUPTAHN METALWORKS instagram Words by KURT DISERIO Photos by ALEXA DISERIO
Long Ain't Wrong Words by Kurt Diserio — Photos by Alexa Diserio In our rapidly changing world, it might shock some to know that it’s somehow still legal to roll down a highway on a motorcycle this intense. What you’re looking at is an extended 1949 Harley-Davidson FL chopper from Tony Provenzano, a personal friend of ours who builds bikes under the name Choppers to the Grave. During the weekly grind, Provenzano keeps busy at Dark Horse Tattoo, his studio in Wheeling, West Virginia. On off days, he spends his time working on chopper projects and navigating his panhead around the Ohio Valley. You’ve had quite a number of motorcycles, including the shovelhead chopper from our first issue. What inspired you to do such an unconventional ride this time around?Tony Provenzano: I thought that the shovelhead I had back then was an unconventional ride until we all rode out to the Bull Pen bar for Pittsburgh Moto’s Outpost RideOut in 2018. That’s where I met Angelo Palmieri, the legend who created that stupid long ass front end. My bike at the time was twenty-over, but when sitting next to his bike, it looked like a stock Harley. I knew I needed that shit. Describe for those who haven’t ridden a long chopper what it’s like navigating our area.TP: It’s hard to explain what it’s like riding such a sketchy chopper other than it just being such a cool feeling. Maneuvering something this long makes riding a normal motorcycle feel like driving a car—it’s just boring. It can be bittersweet, though. I enjoy riding it, but the bike is borderline stressful. You constantly have to be aware of your surroundings, and anyone who rides knows how fast something can happen. This isn’t something you can really whip around. Riding on the Pennsylvania and West Virginia back roads is pretty intense on a regular bike, so having a forty-six over front end took some getting used to. What are some of the key parts of the bike you’d like to mention?TP: As mentioned earlier, Angelo Palmieri of Nickel City Metal Works made the front end. I constructed the seat with a 16-gauge sheet of steel, a yoga mat for the foam, and brown faux fur. Some other pieces are the custom copper-nickel oil lines, mini floorboards, high mids by Maindrive Cycle, and ripple tail light from Prism Supply. Do you feel having a creative craft like tattooing has aided your interest in building choppers?TP: Yes, but not just tattooing—any form of art. I have always been obsessed with starting from scratch and seeing things come together. When I’m looking at a custom bike, all of my attention goes to the stance, the shape of the bike, how clean the lines are, and how the builder made each part fit together. Everything needs to flow. Being a tattoo artist, I have spent years obsessing over how a tattoo fits on the person, making sure that it goes with the flow of their body shape. I use the same method when I put a bike together. It’s very important to me how each piece fits with the next. Bad placement can ruin a perfectly good tattoo, and the same goes for a bike. I have so many cool parts that I wanted to use on this bike, but they just wouldn’t work. It only takes one piece that doesn’t fit right to make a bike tacky as fuck. With this build, less is more. Any good stories you’ve had involving this latest panhead build?TP: Definitely the trip to Buffalo, New York. After months of bugging the shit out of Angelo, I finally talked him into it. The deal we made was that if I bought his front end, he would cut and rake my frame. My buddy, Shelton, and I loaded up my parts and made a little weekend trip. We showed up Friday night and caught up over beers. On Saturday, we busted ass cutting the frame, had many more beers, then met “the big deal” Jake Mahoney. Apparently, he knew his shit and helped by drinking beers and pointing his finger at things he would or wouldn’t do. Once the frame was finished, they took us out in Buffalo. The city is crazy. We went into one bar and people were buying us drinks and singing Country Roads. In the next bar, we just tried not to get stabbed. They eventually took us to a strip club where we met a stunning young lady named Satan, who was a sweetheart. After that, we hit a few more bars. I think we had about two hours of sleep that weekend, but it was worth it to hang out with Satan and have the frame finished. Who would you like to thank or shoutout for helping make this happen?TP: Obviously, if it wasn’t for Angelo Palmieri, this bike wouldn’t exist. He built the ridiculous front end. I still don’t know how I talked him into selling it to me. Ryan Rodriguez killed the paint job. Richard Adams helped a ton. If it wasn’t for him, I would probably still be working on it. Featured in Issue 009 1949 HARLEY-DAVIDSON FL Built by TONY PROVENZANO CHOPPERS TO THE GRAVE Tony instagram | CTTG instagram Words by KURT DISERIO Photos by ALEXA DISERIO
Overcoming the Odds Words by Kurt Diserio — Photos by Alexa Diserio Having eight-thousand pounds of steel crush your legs is something that would almost certainly stop the average biker from ever ripping down the highway on a chopper again. As gruesome as you can imagine, this happened to local rider Shawn Holbrook a couple of years ago. The news of the incident scared the hell out of his friends and sent waves of concern through the local motorcycle community. Don’t worry, there’s good news. Through surgeries, therapy, and determination, Shawn is now walking again and even finished building the menacing shovelhead chopper you’re looking at right now. Can you explain what happened with the accident?Shawn Holbrook: The shortest way to describe it is that I was working at this fabrication shop and an inexperienced apprentice was operating a crane. There was a pile of four 2,000 pound I-beams that he tipped over on top of me that crushed my legs from the knees down. I got very lucky because there were two 4x4 blocks of wood where I was standing that stopped them from completely chopping my legs off. How long did it set you back?SH: I was in the hospital and nursing home for forty-five days and couldn’t walk for three months. It’s going on two years now. I’m still doing physical therapy and have two herniated discs, so I’ve only been able to ride my bike a few times since. In fact, I was right in the middle of building this when it happened, so I had to finish it with two leg braces and a walking cane. What’s it like riding this thing through the streets of Pittsburgh?SH: It’s basically a fucking nightmare. For one, it’s a ninety-six inch motor with a foot clutch. The handlebars are roughly ten inches wide. Whenever I ride with other people, I usually try to tell someone that if we have to stop on a hill, bump your front tire up against my rear so I can use your brakes. How did you originally get into bikes and where did you find this shovelhead?SH: I lived in Pittsburgh for a few years but went home to where I grew up in Huntington, West Virginia, where my mom convinced me to get a motorcycle. She said, “Why get a car, just get a motorcycle.” So, I found a Honda Shadow 750 that I later hard tailed with the help of others. That was my first chopper. Then I started trading bikes, eventually picking up an ironhead before getting this shovelhead from Shaun Kostek in New Kensington years ago. It was my first shovelhead and the same roller I’m using now. I had never kickstarted a bike before, let alone rode a foot clutch. As you can imagine, it took me forever to get it home. What’s all involved with the motor?SH: It’s almost entirely S&S at this point—a ninety-six-inch stroker motor with ported and polished heads that’s in the neighborhood of one-hundred horsepower. The transmission has an Andrews gear set and main shaft. I’m using a Cycle Electric generator. Basically, the only OEM Harley part left is the transmission case. As far as the rest of the build, what other work was involved?SH: The tank was painted by a buddy of mine in California, Taylor Crawford. I made the exhaust and molded the frame and fender with metal and lots of grinding and blending. When I was working at Roll On Cycle, Phil painted the frame and fender, and someone else there did the bondo work. Love Ear Art in Japan made the custom gas cap. Renegar in Las Vegas made the twisted chrome shift arm and had a glassblower make the knob for it.The trees were machined by a guy in Italy. I think they were originally from an XS650, so there was an issue with the riser spacing. I used handlebars from Detroit Moto that I cut and narrowed to fit. The fork tubes and lowers were a mix of Kayaba and Showa, so they had to be massaged together to work. I made my own rebound springs and fork stops, so now it functions as a decent front end. Are there any fun stories since you’ve started riding again?SH: When I was riding with some friends this year, one of the nuts came off a plug wire. It started running on one cylinder before dying off. Nick Miller conveniently had a bread tie with the little metal wire in it. That held it down and was conductive. It fired up and made it home, but I forgot about it when I was later riding through the Southside during the recent protests. The cops were blocking off all of the alleyways, and my bike died after I couldn’t get out. Eventually, I lifted my seat and realized the nut that was holding down my negative terminal had broken off. Then I remembered the bread tie, so I broke half of it off to wrap around my ground wire. It somehow fired right up. That little bread tie wire saved me both times. Featured in Issue 008 S&S / HARLEY-DAVIDSON SHOVELHEAD Built by SHAWN HOLBROOK instagram Words by KURT DISERIO Photos by ALEXA DISERIO
Capturing the Essence of Motorcycles Words by Kurt Diserio — Photos by Alexa Diserio There’s something captivating about artistic works that illuminate fine details using only a constrained amount of resources. Built around the subject of motorcycles and the people who ride them, Allison Lear created Outlander Art Co. as a platform for her wood art. It’s easy to imagine one of her pieces hanging on a wall in your home or office—a visually pleasing representation of our passion for two wheels. Sometimes we need a physical reminder that no matter how trying life can be, throwing a leg over a motorcycle allows us a temporary escape. How would you describe the process behind your wood art?Allison Lear: Each piece that I paint is thought out to create something that’s both visually interesting and well composed. I usually try to steer clear of painting the entire body of the rider and keep my focus on the details in the motorcycle. The organic folds in the leather and denim of the riders clothing are definitely fun to paint, and I feel like it adds a warm, soft balance to the rigid, industrial nature of the motorcycle. I start out by sanding and staining the wood. I’ve gone through a lot of different stain colors and finally landed on what I feel works best. I’ll draw out the motorcycle on the piece of wood before painting. I use black acrylic paint and treat it like watercolor to create different shades of grey. It took a lot of patience and I’ve messed up plenty of pieces, but I finally think I’ve got the hang of it. After the painting is finished, I’ll make a slim wooden frame and paint it black to tie it all together. What initially sparked your interest in working with wood?AL: I started working with wood many years ago and have always enjoyed working with my hands and building small pieces of furniture. Wood is such a unique and versatile material, and every single piece is different. To me, a lot of wood grain patterns look like artwork in and of itself. It wasn’t until high school that I actually tried my hand at painting on wood. My senior project took up about half of the year and was done on a 4’x8’ sheet of maple plywood. That’s when I fell in love with it and haven’t painted on much of anything else since. What has been the inspiration to use motorcycles as the main subject of your work?AL: My dad was the first in our family to get a motorcycle. He has been riding for many years now. One year for Father’s Day, I wanted to do something special for him, so I painted him a picture of Otto Walker on his 1920’s Harley-Davidson BoardTracker racing at Beverly’s Speedway. This was the first time I tried painting a motorcycle, and I was really pleased with how it turned out. Using motorcycles as the main source of my work makes the entire process from start to finish so fun since it’s a subject that I’m truly passionate about. Has moving to Pittsburgh impacted your creativity?AL: I’ve been making trips to Pittsburgh for a few years now, and I fell in love with the city after only a few short visits. I solidified my decision to move here after Glory Daze. I was able to meet and network with a lot of really amazing and creative people. Being in a place and surrounding yourself with others who share your interests definitely made me more motivated to be creative. I will say, moving here amidst a global pandemic has made things a little more difficult, but I’m so excited to see absolutely everything Pittsburgh has to offer once things settle down and hopefully normalize. This city is full of life, and I know that moving here was absolutely the right decision for what I’m doing with my artwork and the direction I see myself taking. Now that your art has gained some momentum, do you feel a connection with the motorcycle industry?AL: I really do feel a connection with the industry. It’s been great seeing where this has taken me so far, and I hope the connection I feel now grows as I continue establishing and progressing with Outlander. I’ve had a vendor booth setup at a handful of motorcycle shows and ended up running into many of the same people and motorcycle vendors that I initially met at Glory Daze. The motorcycle community is a tight-knit group full of sincere and heartfelt people, and it’s been really great connecting with them. Where would you like to see Outlander Art Co. down the road?AL: I’d love to go and be a part of more motorcycle shows throughout the country. I want to network and meet more people who share similar life passions as I do. Commission work is also something I want to delve into a little more. People feel connected to what’s pertinent in their own life. Doing custom, one-of-a-kind pieces for people that’d cherish the work for many years to come is a direction I definitely plan on working towards. If someone wanted to purchase or commission a piece, how would they go about that?AL: My artwork is available to purchase through my website www.outlanderart.co. For commission work, contacting me through email (email@example.com) is the easiest way to get the process started. For Pittsburgh locals, I’d be available to meet in person to get an idea of what they’re looking for, sorting out and discussing details, etc. Featured in Issue 008 OUTLANDER ART CO. ALLISON LEAR www.outlanderart.co instagram.com/outlanderartco Words by KURT DISERIO Photos by ALEXA DISERIO
Bringing an Idea to Life Words by Kurt Diserio — Photos by Alexa Diserio There’s no place like home. That phrase resonates deeply with those who had to move away from Western Pennsylvania. Spending time in another city or country opens up an interesting perspective of where you were born and brings light to memories that were previously buried in your subconscious. Visiting home is something typically reserved for holidays or special occasions, but for Vincent Mikolay, returning to his hometown of Butler was necessary when the pandemic arrived earlier this year. As someone who lived in over thirty different places, Mikolay still calls the Pittsburgh area home. He traveled all around the world throughout his adult life but eventually moved from Hong Kong to New York where he got a gig in real estate. It was there that the story of his 1991 BMW R100RT began. Maybe it’s his German heritage or an appreciation for their vehicles, but the idea of building a custom BMW cafe racer was something that he consistently wanted to try. The base look was a great starting point for modifications, especially with the single-side swingarm setup. “I fell in love with the old BMWs that were being redesigned as these modern cafe racers,” he explained. “I saw a bunch of them from Arjan Van Den Boom out of The Netherlands, and I just got hooked.” Mikolay had just finished up a 2009 Triumph Bonneville before finding an R100 on eBay. The bike didn’t sell on the auction, but he was able to contact the seller and have it shipped from Wisconsin to New York, where it sat in a friend’s garage for almost a year. With little time to focus, he started to call around to local builders, but no shops wanted to touch it. Eventually, Mikolay was pointed in the direction of a new shop in Wallkill, New York called Speakeasy Motors that was operated by Evan Favaro, a former apprentice of the Teutuls. “I told Evan about the project and my vision for the bike, but I also recognized that I needed to give him creative freedom to do what he’s going to do,” Mikolay mentioned. “The deal was that I would lay out what I require of the bike, and he would have the liberty to add any design modifications that would make it special. At the core, I wanted a clean and modern cafe look that was true to the heritage of the bike.” With that, work commenced. Favaro wanted to enter the bike into numerous motorcycle shows, starting with the New York International Motorcycle Show that was only a couple of months away. With little time, the build had to happen quickly. The one big concept he wanted to work into the bike was an exhaust system that came out of the rear tail. The pipes were custom designed to make sure the system fit with the clean aesthetic. To complement the classic look, they went with slim profile tires, a two-tone paint theme, and clip-on handlebars to get a little more height. Another important piece that Mikolay enjoyed about the build was the Motogadget Bluetooth feature. A key isn’t even needed when it’s fully charged. The Motogadget phone app connects with the bike, the lights ping within five feet, and it can start with a simple tap on his phone or a click of the ignition. In addition, there are three buttons on the panel that are completely customizable, including an alarm system. Favaro saved the big reveal for the New York IMS show at the Javits Center, where Mikolay said that he was blown away by the bike. “It feels like me—a reflection of my being and character in a motorcycle. It was simple with clean, tight lines and a touch of technology. The bike is unique enough that people are going to ask questions and get some stares. He hit the design specs perfectly.” Mikolay had to leave town before the event wrapped up, but over the next three months, the bike traveled around the country to a handful of shows, taking first place in all of them. Once the pandemic hit, he returned home to Butler, where he finally got the BMW shipped in April. It was the first time he was able to ride it, which only added to his love of the motorcycle. Most enthusiasts would have a hard time waiting so long to throw a leg over a bike that was built around a set of personal principles and ideas, but the anticipation makes it even more enjoyable. While it’s hard to say where Vincent Mikolay will end up or what adventures are to come, much like his sentiment for his hometown, this BMW R100 and the story behind it will always be a part of his life. Since writing this article we have learned of the passing of Evan Favaro’s father. Vincent and the team at Pittsburgh Moto wish to send our heartfelt condolences. Featured in Issue 008 1991 BMW R100RT Owned by VINCENT MIKOLAY instagram Built by SPEAKEASY MOTORS www.speakeasymotors.com facebook | instagram Words by KURT DISERIO Photos by ALEXA DISERIO
A Work of Intricate Mechanics & Creativity Words by Kurt Diserio — Photos by Alexa Diserio There’s something about steampunk design that seems to fit well with Pittsburgh’s history. The retro-futuristic industrial style was glorified during the twentieth century through science fiction and fantasy and often represented with the likes of gears, brass, and Victorian-era influences. Although the stories were typically set in the wild west, the gritty mechanical theme just feels like a possible parallel universe of the Steel City. While it’s not powered by steam, the ironhead chopper from tattoo artist, Ray Morrow, was originally born from an idea for the ignition but snowballed out of control into what you see now. Morrow explained, “I had the thought of doing a skeleton key ignition motorcycle but became obsessed with it. After building the mechanism, I started acquiring stuff from there, and the steampunk theme just sort of happened. I saw the hand-built bikes from guys like Indian Larry or Billy Lane and wanted to take that route with something between the old digger look and a chopper. It had to be stretched and low, so I modified the frame to get that long look.” Morrow worked on motorcycles before this build, but it was the first undertaking of this magnitude. With a background in airbrushing and tattooing, he got into bikes as an alternative creative outlet and eventually started making bike parts for other people. “I can’t tell if it’s a compulsion or what. I just get these ideas stuck in my head, and they bug the shit out of me until I do it,” he said. “I feel like every bike I’ve owned is completely different from the last, but this was fun because there were a lot of different challenges involved.” All of the work was done in his garage with a timeline of roughly four years on and off due to many problems along the way. The bent frame was the biggest issue, causing almost a year-long setback. At that time, Morrow ripped the whole bike apart and started over from scratch, deciding to change up a number of things, including double twisted down tubes, a custom oil tank, and an abundance of other parts and pieces too long to list here. The impressive paint and etching were done by Morrow, while TE Customs did the pinstriping. Hellbent Creations made some leather pieces, including the seat and leather straps on the oil tank. The shifter mechanism, forward controls, and oil tank holder came from Mike Chapel, who also helped with the engine. Morrow mentioned that his favorite part of the build was seeing the finished chopper. “That feeling you get when you’ve had a vision and obsessed over it—putting in all that time and effort to see it finally come to life. There’s nothing that compares to working that hard towards a goal and accomplishing it. You get a little bit closer with every part you make and then sit back and get to see the completed project. It makes all of those late nights that I bled all over my garage or screamed at the wall worth it. There’s nothing quite like that feeling of satisfaction.” Featured in Issue 008 1975 HARLEY-DAVIDSON SPORTSTER XL1000 Built by RAY MORROW instagram Words by KURT DISERIO Photos by ALEXA DISERIO
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