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The Curse

  • Motorcycles
  •  | 
First-Time Sportster Chopper
Words by Kurt Diserio — Photos by Alexa Diserio
Every community has its local motocross racers. They’re the ones who spend most of their time in the garage preparing their bike for the weekend. It might seem a little weird to our peers to disappear on Saturday and Sundays, but this way of life was all that many of us knew growing up.
When I used to manage a small motorsports shop over a decade ago, we would often do what we could for these local racers. The Sportster seen here belongs to Heath Hildreth, one of the kids who would frequent our store with his father, Joe. Heath grew up ripping two-stroke dirtbikes around the motocross tracks in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and beyond. He now keeps that spirit alive with his first custom chopper.
How did you first get into motorcycles and choppers in particular?
Heath Hildreth: My love for two wheels is what ultimately got me into choppers. Some of my earliest memories came from being on a bike. I had my first motocross race when I was four years old. My first time riding a Harley was when I rode a borrowed Sportster bobber to the Outpost RideOut in Avella, Pennsylvania a couple of years ago. When I got home later that night, I immediately started searching for a bike online. Six days later, I found a 1995 Sportster 883 through a friend and brought it home. It was a swingarm Sporty with some aftermarket parts. After a couple of motor rebuilds, it now has a 1200cc conversion kit.
Harley-Davidson Sportster Chopper Pittsburgh Motorcycle
Explain the build process. How long did it take and who helped?
HH: After buying the Sportster, I rode it how it was for the summer and fall of 2018. I knew I wanted to make the bike my own but wasn’t quite sure where to start or exactly what I wanted to do. So, after stripping everything from the bike, I never thought I would see it go back together. My first purchase was the Voodoo Vintage hardtail kit. Once the frame was finished, the bike didn’t leave Tony Provenzano’s garage until it was done. It took nine months from the time we pulled the motor until my first ride on it. I was able to ride it for a few months up until Glory Daze last year when I had an oil problem and blew the motor up. Josh Howells of Uptahn Metalworks got the motor fixed up and running again, so I was able to ride again this year.
Would you consider the bike finished or do you have further plans?
HH: I would say the build process is still going on. I plan on cleaning up all of the stuff that was done the first time around in order to simply get it working. Big thanks to Uptahn Metalworks for keeping the bike rolling, as well as Tony and the rest of the Choppers to the Grave crew who helped me out.
Why don’t you have a kickstand?
HH: There’s not really a significant reason. The bike didn’t have a kickstand when it was finished, and now it’s just a thing. It makes it feel like a dirtbike, pulling into gas stations or bars and finding something to lean it on. It makes things both fun and hard.
Harley-Davidson Sportster Chopper Pittsburgh Motorcycle
Harley-Davidson Sportster Chopper Pittsburgh Motorcycle
Do you prefer any particular local roads or areas to ride?
HH: I’ve ridden it around the city a few times, but it’s tough because of all the red lights. There’s always so much going on. Splitting lanes through the tunnels is fun. I prefer the backroads but nowhere specific. I really don’t care where I’m going as long as I get to ride the bike.
Any crazy stories?
HH: I was in a hit and run where I had to chase a lady down. I was sitting at a red light on the chopper in first gear with the clutch in, then Boom! A woman hit me in her car from behind. Her car was sitting on top of my rear wheel, so luckily the bike stayed upright. My first reaction was to get it out from under the car. I told her to pull over, but she started saying she had to go pick someone up and sped off. So, I had to run her down on the bike for a couple of miles, pounding on her car and screaming at her to pull over. When she finally went into a parking lot, I leaned my bike on a dumpster, but she immediately tried to take off again. I waved down another biker, and he came to help stop her. The cops eventually got there but didn’t do anything about it, even though she admitted to hitting me. Luckily, my bike was alright with basically no damage. If she would have been in a truck or a higher vehicle, she would have hit my sissy bar, and it might have really fucked me up.
You and your dad spent a lot of time together around bikes. Does he still ride?
HH: Yeah, he got a Harley Night Train this year. It’s been fun riding with him, considering he was always there at the gates helping with everything when I used to race motocross. He’s about to buy another Harley, probably a Street Glide or something more comfortable this time around. The plan for next year is to get a trailer so we can take a long trip somewhere together.
Harley-Davidson Sportster Chopper Pittsburgh Motorcycle
Harley-Davidson Sportster Chopper Pittsburgh
Harley-Davidson Sportster Chopper Pittsburgh Motorcycle
Harley-Davidson Sportster Chopper Pittsburgh Motorcycle
Harley-Davidson Sportster Chopper Pittsburgh Motorcycle
Harley-Davidson Sportster Chopper Pittsburgh Motorcycle
Harley-Davidson Sportster Chopper Pittsburgh Motorcycle
Harley-Davidson Sportster Chopper Pittsburgh Motorcycle
Harley-Davidson Sportster Chopper Pittsburgh Motorcycle
  • Featured in Issue 009
  • 1995 HARLEY-DAVIDSON SPORTSTER XL1200
  • Built by HEATH HILDRETH
    TONY PROVENZANO
    UPTAHN METALWORKS
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  • Words by KURT DISERIO
  • Photos by ALEXA DISERIO
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