Things are always interesting with Sean Shaffer or “Peep” as his friends call him. I knew Sean had this bike for some time, but it wasn’t ready to ride until this year. Now he’s out on it all of the time, riding it wherever he can. You might have even seen it parked outside of the Fuel Cleveland show in late July where he impressively kick started the beast by hand before losing his oil cap down a storm drain. He had to be lowered into the hole upside down to get it back.
Without visiting the place and seeing it with your own eyes, there is no way to accurately explain Cycle Warehouse in Butler, Pennsylvania. No matter how over-the-top I make it sound, you will still be blown away by the sea of parts and history throughout the five floors of the 85,000 square foot building. Whatever part you need is probably there somewhere.
One day before leaving on an epic chopper road trip around the country last year, Tyler Valentik was kind enough to meet up at South Park’s county park for a feature on his 1998 Harley-Davidson Sportster, a motorcycle that he originally purchased for a measly five hundred dollars. As you can easily tell from the photos, the bike didn’t stop there.
In September of 2018, I had worked out what it would take to start an annual custom and vintage motorcycle show in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After running around the city trying to find a venue, I landed on the only option that would work—Carrie Blast Furnaces. The national historic landmark was originally built in 1907 and is known primarily for its pre-World War II iron-making technology. Towering ninety-two feet over the nearby Monongahela River, the location was perfect for a motorcycle show. It was gritty, rough, and had a lot of character. The history of the site paired up well with vintage bikes and the theme I was going for. Plus, it was the only spot I found that had enough parking and indoor space to easily fit over 100 bikes. It took quite a lot of work by the folks at Rivers of Steel to get the site to pass occupancy inspection, but after the permit was granted in late April of 2019, the show was officially set for Saturday, September 21.
Fuel Cleveland returned again this year at a new venue, The Madison, on Payne Avenue. The invitational custom motorcycle show is presented by Lowbrow Customs, The Gasbox, and Forever the Chaos Life. The weekend kicked off with a wild pre-party at Saucy Brew Works. Saturday's show got rolling around noon but was instantly packed with bikes from the start, filling the surrounding streets and parking areas.
When building a motorcycle, inspiration often comes from the legends of the past. Every period had its style, and every builder tried to create something original. The hot rod era was a time with some big personalities in custom culture—names like Ed Roth, Von Dutch, and Dean Moon to name a few. The art created by these individuals resonated in motorcycle builders like Indian Larry, who would in turn inspire the blockhead chopper you see here by Travis Dittman of Oil City, Pennsylvania.
Time is a tricky subject. No matter the preparation, the weight of time will often sneak up on us without warning. The less we have, the more important this measurement of moments becomes. Time can also alter the value of an object over an extended period, sometimes even in sentimental ways.
There seems to be a commonality throughout issue Number 005, in that most of the stories involve a father’s passion for motorcycles being passed down, inspiring the bikes that are shown within these pages. This feature about Joe and Adam Pratt (father and son, respectively) isn’t much different, but let’s double up this time around with two different bikes from two different manufacturers—Harley and Triumph.
Steel City Mods vs Rockers is now in its ninth year and set up in new digs! The event moved to Zone 28 in Harmarville to better accommodate the masses. The night before the event, a group ride was held on the historic Route 66 highway. The ride was led by Ton Up Pittsburgh’s Tom Fury and boasted over forty riders.
For those of us old enough to recall his athletic exceptionalism, Bo Jackson remains the only person to achieve “dual sport” All-Star status in both professional baseball and professional football. We remember his uncanny ability because the idea of dominating multiple and often unrelated skillsets is such an incredible rarity.
I often get asked questions from folks wanting to get into motorcycles. They’re mostly just basic inquiries about which starter bike might be right for them or simply tips on riding in the city. You know what nobody ever tells them though? Motorcycles will absolutely humiliate you. Motorcycles will cause you great stress.