A person’s path into building motorcycles can typically be traced back to their creative roots. Some of the most impressive bike builds come from those who dove deep into a craft and then merged that passion with their interest in these two-wheeled troublemakers. In Raymond Karhut’s case, his love of painting and desire for learning new techniques were the perfect fit for jumping head-first into constructing a classic ironhead chopper. We spoke with him about his 1985 Harley-Davidson XLH, the process behind the build, and his path from a tattoo apprenticeship to custom chopper paint.
After the roller coaster of uncertainty we’ve been dealing with for a few years, anything that happened pre-pandemic now seems like the distant past. Things have changed quite drastically since our first annual Summer RideOut in 2018, but one thing remains certain–if the weather cooperates, you can always expect a good turnout at a motorcycle gathering.
Those who love vintage cars, motorcycles, and street racing look forward to July in the Steel City. It’s tough to describe an event like the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix to someone who hasn’t yet experienced it, but every year, an overwhelming number of cars, both classic and new, swarm the city for the nation’s largest vintage street race. Spanning ten days, the event includes parties, parades, car shows, and a motorsports race through the streets of Schenley Park.
A motorcycle is oftentimes a representation of its builder.While it might look simple from one perspective, this 1968 Triumph Bonneville has a uniqueness far beyond its straightforward appearance. Originally a barn find, the bike began its transformation with the goal of becoming a salt flat racer until the pandemic altered those plans and shifted the direction to what you see here. The builder, Jessika Janene, also went through quite a change during this time period, beginning a transgender journey that would completely reshape her life in many ways.
There’s something to be said about the power of a moment. It has always fascinated me how certain events could essentially become checkpoints throughout life, impacting the psyche so intensely that they shift a person’s perspective or spark an interest in a new creative craft. The good vibes that radiate throughout Glory Daze are an example of this force and a representation of the motorcycle community as a whole. It’s rare to find such an odd mix of contrasting personalities all together in one place. The combination of a magical venue, loads of art, and a shared passion for two wheels creates a moment where people can be as free and authentically weird as they want, all while soaking in inspiration from custom motorcycle builds.
The annual Trippy Ten is a psychedelic-themed helmet art exhibit I created to show appreciation for painters working in the motorsports industry. Every year, event partner Bell Helmets provides a lid to ten selected artists to paint however they choose. The finished helmets are then displayed at the Glory Daze Motorcycle Show in Pittsburgh, PA, before being returned to each painter after the event. This year, the artists were able to choose between the Bell Bullitt and Eliminator models.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.