Often referred to as one of the most outlandish forms of motorsports, vintage motorcycle sidecar racing exists today as a close-knit community of dedicated enthusiasts. The thrill of a two-person team throttling around the track on a heavily modified machine keeps the spirit of vintage racing alive in more ways than one. Just one look at these rigs excites even the most seasoned motorcyclist.
The frantic pitter-patter of squirrel paws foraging through the dry fall leaves occupies my very first thought as I awake to my uncommon surroundings. The damp morning dew still holds the calming scent of last night’s campfire. I roll over in the coziness and perceived security of my tent, briefly relishing in the idea of waking with no schedule, no alarm clock, and no Zoom meetings.
In our rapidly changing world, it might shock some to know that it’s somehow still legal to roll down a highway on a motorcycle this intense. What you’re looking at is an extended 1949 Harley-Davidson FL chopper from Tony Provenzano, a personal friend of ours who builds bikes under the name Choppers to the Grave.
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.
Having eight-thousand pounds of steel crush your legs is something that would almost certainly stop the average biker from ever ripping down the highway on a chopper again. As gruesome as you can imagine, this happened to local rider Shawn Holbrook a couple of years ago. The news of the incident scared the hell out of his friends and sent waves of concern through the local motorcycle community. Don’t worry, there’s good news.
There’s something captivating about artistic works that illuminate fine details using only a constrained amount of resources. Built around the subject of motorcycles and the people who ride them, Allison Lear created Outlander Art Co. as a platform for her wood art. It’s easy to imagine one of her pieces hanging on a wall in your home or office—a visually pleasing representation of our passion for two wheels. Sometimes we need a physical reminder that no matter how trying life can be, throwing a leg over a motorcycle allows us a temporary escape.
There’s no place like home. That phrase resonates deeply with those who had to move away from Western Pennsylvania. Spending time in another city or country opens up an interesting perspective of where you were born and brings light to memories that were previously buried in your subconscious.
There’s something about steampunk design that seems to fit well with Pittsburgh’s history. The retro-futuristic industrial style was glorified during the twentieth century through science fiction and fantasy and often represented with the likes of gears, brass, and Victorian-era influences. Although the stories were typically set in the wild west, the gritty mechanical theme just feels like a possible parallel universe of the Steel City.
There are certain motorcycles that everyone just seems to love. This is one of them. Nick Miller’s 1955 panhead was built to characterize a specific period of choppers built in the 1960s. It’s the type of bike that people can see themselves riding. There’s nothing overly flashy about it. No wild paint or crazy weld work.
There’s a feeling of comfort and trust that comes with developing a good relationship with a local hands-on motorcycle shop. Being able to walk in and talk directly to a crew about what you’re needing done is something you can’t find too often these days. This type of service still exists at places like Roll On Cycle in Oakdale, Pennsylvania.
The garage is where many of us spend our free time. It’s important to have a space that allows us to be creative and try new things. The thought of working with motorcycles day and night might seem exhausting to some, but for gearheads, the chase of speed and precision is all part of the fun. This idea resonates with our contributing writer, Ryan Zapko. As a pilot and someone who has been flying since age seventeen, it only makes sense that wrenching on motorcycles would be the perfect thrill outside of the cockpit.
Spending your entire life around cars and motorcycles isn’t a bad way to live, especially when you pick up the intricate craft of custom painting. We talked with Phil Williams of Roll On Cycle about his technique and path to becoming a full-time painter. His operation goes by the name of Bridge City Paint and is now housed within the same shop that his family has run for decades.