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Uptahn Metalworks

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Specializing in Custom Choppers
Words by Kurt Diserio — Photos by Erin Fitzgerald & Kati Zmenkowski
If you happen to have a copy of issue Number 004, you might connect the dots. Josh Howells had a feature in that issue of his shovelhead chopper that has since been given a facelift. He’s also started a shop on Forbes Avenue with friend Andy Mak called Uptahn Metalworks, where the two have been turning out custom fabrication work, choppers, and more. I asked Josh some questions about the shop, their projects, and the local community.
When and why did the shop get started?
Josh Howells: The shop officially opened about six months ago. We had a space that we shared to work on our own projects and did a little here and there for people. We always talked about having a professional shop one day, so when we moved into this new bigger, better space we said this is it. We gave it a shot, and here we are.
How has each of your backgrounds contributed to the work coming out of the shop?
JH: We have been friends for the last twenty years and everything has always been two wheels with us. whether it had a motor or not. Our ability to tear a bike apart and put it back together in a way that is rad as fuck comes from our background in metal work and love for two wheels. With Andy being a machinist and myself being a welder, there’s nothing that we can’t make.
What was your goal when you got things rolling and has that changed as work has picked up?
JH: Our goal was to build a really rad company and do what we love. To make custom parts that are one-off and parts that we could reproduce to sell. To basically have a shop that caters to other builders who don’t have access to certain welding or machining abilities to further their projects. I assumed that eventually with time I’d be doing only custom chop builds. Now that things have picked up, the full builds are rolling in faster than I thought.
Uptahn Metalworks Chopper Motorcycle Pittsburgh
Photo: Erin Fitzgerald
Uptahn Metalworks Chopper Motorcycle Pittsburgh
Photo: Erin Fitzgerald
Have you noticed a bump in custom motorcycle interest around Pittsburgh recently, and do you feel it’s on the upswing?
JH: Hell yeah, brother. Live to ride, ride to live. In the last few years, I’ve noticed more people on motorcycles in general. Over the last few months since we opened the shop I’ve been in contact with a lot of people that show interest in making that two-wheel machine something of their own. I do feel it’s on the upswing, especially with everything you’re doing in the Greater Pittsburgh area with the custom bike scene.
What projects do you take on at the shop?
JH: I got hardtails coming aht my ass. Making handlebars, sissy bars, fender and frame mounts, etc. Because we offer more than just motorcycle work, we do get a bit of handrails, stairs, gates, and so on. We don’t turn the work away—we love working with and making anything metal. Obviously, my favorite is the full builds with artistic freedom, so keep ‘em coming.
Why do you think classic motorcycles and the chopper subculture, in particular, continue to hold the interest of so many people?
JH: Because simplicity is beauty. Also, going fast on something most people think is a sketchy death trap will never go out of style. Making something that is cool to you has no right or wrong, especially with choppers. The smooth lines that are created and the wow factor will keep chops around forever.
Where would you like the shop to be in five, ten years?
JH: Hopefully, in five years we’re still open! We’d like to be manufacturing and distributing custom parts and keep them full builds coming. Andy and I would eventually love to help expand the Pittsburgh motorcycle and chopper community once things slow down and we get more settled in.
Uptahn Metalworks Chopper Motorcycle Pittsburgh
Photo: Kati Zmenkowski
Uptahn Metalworks Chopper Motorcycle Pittsburgh
Photo: Erin Fitzgerald
Uptahn Metalworks Chopper Motorcycle Pittsburgh
Photo: Kati Zmenkowski
Uptahn Metalworks Chopper Motorcycle Pittsburgh
Photo: Erin Fitzgerald
Uptahn Metalworks Chopper Motorcycle Pittsburgh
Photo: Kati Zmenkowski
  • Featured in Issue 006
  • UPTAHN METALWORKS
  • JOSH HOWELLS & ANDY MAK
  • 2125 FORBES AVENUE
    PITTSBURGH, PA 15219
  • instagram
  • Words by KURT DISERIO
  • Photos by ERIN FITZGERALD
    KATI ZMENKOWSKI
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