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Love Shack Sportster

  • Motorcycles
  •  | 
Going the Distance
Words by Kurt Diserio — Photos by Alexa Diserio
Deep inside of us, there’s a joy that comes from doing something the hard way. For most folks, choppers aren’t typically the first choice of motorcycle for road trips. For others, the challenge of taking such an impractical machine the distance is the rush we need to feel alive.
Nate Puleo has racked up the miles on “Ol’ Drippy”, his 1992 Sportster XL1200. The chopper has been through a lot of changes over the past year and a half, most notably a major engine upgrade that bumped up the horsepower to performance level. We caught up with Nate to chat about the bike, his garage shop, and traveling around the country on two wheels.
First things first, tell me about this engine.
Nate Puleo: After watching some videos with my shop partner, Rob, it just so happens that one of the fastest people in the world on Harleys lives only an hour or so outside of Pittsburgh. So I took my engine to Greg Dahl at GMS Racing Engines for more power. They did a heavy port and polish on the heads, competition valves, .030” over bore, Andrews P Cams, Barnett clutch, and more. I needed better fuel flow for this engine, so I went with a big bore Super E carburetor. It’s fucking fast and loud.
Harley-Davidson Sportster Chopper Custom Motorcycle Pittsburgh
Where did the Sportster come from and what work has been done?
NP: This is actually my first Harley. When I first got the bike almost two years ago, it had a stock front end, different headlight, bars, and more. It was originally built by Tyler Morrow, who did the frame, tins, seat, and exhaust. At the time, I was living down south and stopped at a friend’s shop in Birmingham, Alabama who had a 6-over front end just chilling there. He wanted a shorter front, so we swapped them out. I added different bars, headlight, brake calipers, and a new coil and ignition. The charging system went out, so I had to rebuild that.
Tell me about Love Shack Cycles and how your shop got started?
NP: I met Rob Hawk a couple of years ago. He’s a master fabricator, and both of us were into bikes and death metal. We were always hanging out and wanted to get a shop together. So when I was in the process of buying a house that had a garage and needed a roommate, I thought who better than Rob. We were able to start Love Shack Cycles this past May. We’ve had a lot of Sportsters come through and hope to get more into machining parts and pieces this coming year.
You travel a lot on this bike. What are some of your recent trips and what preparations do you take?
NP: I’ve always wanted to travel long distance on a chopper but never had one until recently. I lived in Louisiana for a period of time and would ride around the swamps. I made a trip to Austin, Texas, and South Florida. After moving back to Pittsburgh, I did the Lowbrow Getdown and rode to Fuel Cleveland. About three weeks after getting the engine back from GMS, I left for a trip to Maine for the Deadbeat Retreat. It was about 1,200 miles up and 800 miles back to Pittsburgh because I took a weird route through the Adirondack Mountains on the way there. To prepare for the trip, I put on new tires and made sure most of my pack was just parts and tools. I had a top end gasket kit, ignition, different coil, regulator, extra oil, piston, chain links, and more. For peace of mind, everything was pretty new before heading out.
Harley-Davidson Sportster Chopper Custom Motorcycle Pittsburgh
What fueled your love for motorcycle travel?
NP: I used to hop trains, so this is like the same feeling. It was very freeing and nobody telling me what to do. We would drink a lot and just have a good time traveling across the country to see bands and hang with friends. I got to see most of the United States and Mexico that way. Not too many people can say that. There’s places trains go that nobody else goes. It was beautiful.
Any upcoming travel plans?
NP: I’m doing the Blue Ride Stakeout next year, and definitely plan on going back to Maine again. Then after getting back I’d like to head out west. The plan is to stop at Pittsburgh after Maine for a week of repairs and preparation, then head down through Tennessee and Kansas before making my way through New Mexico, Arizona, and the up the west coast. If it’s not too cold, I’d like to ride back home through Canada.
Harley-Davidson Sportster Chopper Custom Motorcycle Pittsburgh
Harley-Davidson Sportster Chopper Custom Motorcycle Pittsburgh
Harley-Davidson Sportster Chopper Custom Motorcycle Pittsburgh
Harley-Davidson Sportster Chopper Custom Motorcycle Pittsburgh
Harley-Davidson Sportster Chopper Custom Motorcycle Pittsburgh
Harley-Davidson Sportster Chopper Custom Motorcycle Pittsburgh
  • Featured in Issue 007
  • 1992 HARLEY-DAVIDSON SPORTSTER XL1200
  • Built by NATE PULEO
    LOVE SHACK CYCLES
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  • Words by KURT DISERIO
  • Photos by ALEXA DISERIO
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