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.
There’s some pretty cool shit happening in neighboring city, Wheeling, West Virginia. Along with a handful of great spots to eat, there’s a growing creative community. Earlier this year, Alexa and I were part of a motorsports art show called Cold Start. The event took place at Clientele Art Studio on January 19 and featured work from Pittsburgh Moto, photography from Drift Pizza Media, a chopper built by Tony Provenzano, and a drift car by Nick Perricellia.
Why the hell do people love vintage choppers so much? They’re absurd and don’t typically handle well. They’re not safe and rough on long rides. Plus, it seems that everyone that has one is constantly fixing it. For the next 385 words, I’ll attempt to provide a few reasons by using Josh Howells’ 1976 Harley-Davidson FXE chopper as an example.
I’ve always been a gearhead, grew up with a wrench in my hands. My father taught me everything I know about anything mechanical. He and I restored, rebuilt, and wrenched on several of his cars, out of necessity vs. hobby. Our bond was wrenching and gasoline.