The humor expressed in emcee Dumptruck’s “It’s a Girls Bike” t-shirt was not lost on the crowd at the Sportster Showdown. Being a “Girl’s Bike” was once the Sportster’s stigma.
These days though, Sporty’s are gettting their due respect. It’s the weapon of choice for crews like Rusty Butcher and Suicide Machine Co., wheelie demons who love to rip up berms, launch off jumps, and sling ‘em sideways on dirt tracks. It’s the platform of choice for reputable builders like Pat Patterson of LedSledCustoms and Nash Motorcycle Co. Sportsters are a hot commodity now because there’s few limitations with what you can do with it.
This was evident at the first-ever Sportster Showdown held at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip. Forty motorcycles came out to compete for one of the cool trophies LedSled’s Patterson created out of bottles of PBR. Sportsters came choppered, scrambled, cafed, trackered, and choloed. Some had even been converted to tourers. And that’s the beauty of the platform. The only limit is imagination.
Riding off with the 40 oz. “Best of Show” trophy was Chop-Machine Motorcycle’s Mike Schrickel for “White Chocolate,” an ultra-clean chopper that started out as a 1997 Sportster Custom.
“I’m a big fan of flow on a motorcycle,” said Schrickel.
“White Chocolate” features a custom frame he designed that was built by his buds at LedSled. Set at 6” up and 3” out, the fork with the ribbed lowers sports a 38-degree rake. The frame is made from 1” tubing because Schrickel likes that “old school look.” LedSled’s influence extends elsewhere as well, from the wheels to oil bag, which Schickel modified. With a rigid rear and drop seat, the chop does indeed have a sweet flow, from its raked-out front to its sissy bar.
Other winners include Andy Casey of Watertown, South Dakota, who won “Best Dirtster” for his 2002 883R he turned into a fire road ripper. Casey gave his Sporster some off-road chops because “there’s more enduros where he lives than street bikes.”
Mike Blank of Hysham, Montana, earned “Best Café” for his 1978 AMF Ironhead. Blank worked hard to get it “as close to showroom as you can possibly get,” his Sportster featuring matching numbers and case halves.
Ryan Doll from Austin, Texas, rode away with the trophy for “Best Tracker.” With a Supertrapp exhaust, piggyback rear shocks, raised-up mid-controls and handguards, Doll’s 1996 Custom is primed for flat track action.
The fifth and final award for “Best Chopper,” well, remains anonymous. The owner couldn’t be found, leaving his tidy little T-barred Ironhead with the purple argyle peanut tank to fend for itself. Would have liked to have seen the owner’s face when they came back and found a trophy sitting next to it.
Sportsters. They’ve come a long ways. Nowadays it’s cool to ride a “Girl’s Bike.”