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Uptahn Sporty

  • Motorcycles
  •  | 
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.
Harley-Davidson Sportster Chopper Motorcycle Pittsburgh Uptahn Metalworks
Harley-Davidson Sportster Chopper Motorcycle Pittsburgh Uptahn Metalworks
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.
Harley-Davidson Sportster Chopper Motorcycle Pittsburgh Uptahn Metalworks
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.
Harley-Davidson Sportster Chopper Motorcycle Pittsburgh Uptahn Metalworks
Harley-Davidson Sportster Chopper Motorcycle Pittsburgh Uptahn Metalworks
Harley-Davidson Sportster Chopper Motorcycle Pittsburgh Uptahn Metalworks
Harley-Davidson Sportster Chopper Motorcycle Pittsburgh Uptahn Metalworks
Harley-Davidson Sportster Chopper Motorcycle Pittsburgh Uptahn Metalworks
Harley-Davidson Sportster Chopper Motorcycle Pittsburgh Uptahn Metalworks
Harley-Davidson Sportster Chopper Motorcycle Pittsburgh Uptahn Metalworks
Harley-Davidson Sportster Chopper Motorcycle Pittsburgh Uptahn Metalworks
Harley-Davidson Sportster Chopper Motorcycle Pittsburgh Uptahn Metalworks
Harley-Davidson Sportster Chopper Motorcycle Pittsburgh Uptahn Metalworks
Harley-Davidson Sportster Chopper Motorcycle Pittsburgh Uptahn Metalworks
Harley-Davidson Sportster Chopper Motorcycle Pittsburgh Uptahn Metalworks
Harley-Davidson Sportster Chopper Motorcycle Pittsburgh Uptahn Metalworks
  • Featured in Issue 009
  • 1995 HARLEY-DAVIDSON SPORTSTER XL1200
  • Built by ED JANKOSKI
    UPTAHN METALWORKS
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  • Words by KURT DISERIO
  • Photos by ALEXA DISERIO
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