1998 Buell Thunderbolt Chopper | Overt Ops

Fast and Evil, Yes. Stealthy? Not So Much.

When Pat Patterson was asked whether or not he’d do anything different with this bike if he had a do-over, he had but one simple answer, “Nothing. Every bike we build for a customer, if an idea pops up, we don’t hold back. I can’t say we’ve built a bike a yet that when it’s over, I can’t say, ‘It’s not done.’”

Pro shops are plenty motivated to do great work as it is, but there’s always a little extra incentive when you create a chopper for a US Army sniper. There is something about giving back to someone who has devoted his life to serving our country. And, there’s the motivation of never, ever wanting to piss off someone who can turn a watermelon into a pink mist from more than a mile away, but I digress.

Kris March was the Army sniper and Pat Patterson at LedSled Customs was the moto architect who took on the job of creating a fast-as-hell chop job. Mr. March spied some of the projects on the LedSled website and got inspired by LedSled’s “Qualifier” bike. “He’s like a lot of dudes who just call us,” Pat says. “They’ll see something on the site and want something a little different.” Kris also loosened the LedSled reins to build something unique just for him. Provided, of course, that it was hard-charging and aggressive on the street.

Pat’s shop specializes in Buell- and Sportster-powered custom iron. Lean and mean wasn’t going to be a problem. Mr. Patterson is a self-taught professional who made his fame and fortune (sort of) in the garage. He makes his own frames, controls, fenders, and sheetmetal all in-house, along with doing his own bodywork and paint.

Kris demanded his bike have a hardcore motor and got just that from a ’98 Buell Thunderbolt 1200. Unlike a high-displacement aftermarket Big Twin, Buell mills go for cheap. Pat keeps a full stable of them and Sportster motors in his garage for projects like this. LedSled bent the exhaust tubing that hugs the barrels then ends in fishtails at the cam chest. Doing so killed a few birds with two pipes. The short exhaust not only gives the motor a sense of compactness, it’s also a way to keep weight down (shorter pipes, less metal). It also makes for an uncluttered view of the rear wheel on that side of the bike. Pat’s shop also fabricated the svelte air cleaner that’s just big enough to do the job.

As cool as the motor configuration is, what Pat really loved about this project was the overall look of the bike. “I like the stance; the bars, the colors. The way the silver and black go together is really nice. It’s just got kind of a badass aura sitting there.” Kris March’s chopper gets its villainous looks from the rigid frame Pat made for it as much as the evil black-and-silver paint. LedSled cut and welded a chassis raked 40 degrees and stretched 6 inches up and out to set the tone, but it’s the handlebars that set off the profile in its own right. Pat had some wishbone bars sitting around in the shop’s back yard, waiting patiently for the day to mate with the right project. “People can get a lot of those parts from us. We build parts for garage builders—the cats building cool bikes on their own. That’s our bolt-on jockey kit on Kris’s chopper. Since I work on or with these parts all day long, it’s hard for me to say a project is super custom. But it is.”

Pat may be used to the rigors of creating a hot chopper, yet time constraints can give even the most seasoned veteran wrench fits. Face it, three months is forever when you’re a kid waiting for Christmas morning. It’s a lot tighter when you’re turning tubing and sheetmetal into a finished motorcycle. When you’re the one making something for service personnel waiting to be deployed, such as in Kris’s case, giving them as much time to enjoy something they love before heading off to war is a wonderful aspiration.

When Kris finally got his finished chopper, needless to say he was plenty happy. He must have been—Pat is still around at least. Pat Patterson and LedSled gave life to the fast, evil chopper Kris always dreamed of, with just enough time for him to break it in before deployment. We hope he enjoyed the hell out of it.

Specifications

General  
Owner Kris March
Shop  LedSled Customs
Shop Phone (937) 879-4645
Website ledsledcustoms.com
Year/Make/Model 1998 Buell Thunderbolt
Fabrication LedSled Customs (LSC)
Build Time Three months
   
Engine  
Year/Type/Size 1998 Buell Thunderbolt 1200 cc
Builder LSC
Cases Buell
Cylinders Buell
Heads Buell
Rocker Boxes Buell
Cams Andrews
Throttle Body CV
Air Cleaner LSC
Exhaust LSC
   
Transmission  
Year/Type 1998 Buell five-speed
Gears Buell
Clutch Buell
Primary Drive Buell
   
Frame  
Year/Type 2012 LSC rigid
Rake/Stretch 40 degrees, 6 inches up and out
   
Suspension  
Frontend  H-D
Shocks N/A
Swingarm N/A
   
Wheels, Tires, and Brakes  
Front  
Builder/Size Ride Wright 21x2.15-inch
Tire/Size Avon 80/90
Calipers None
Rotors  None
Rear  
Builder/Size Ride Wright 18x8.5-inch
Tire/Size  Avon 250
Caliper H-D
Rotor H-D
Pulley LSC chain conversion kit
   
Finish/Paint  
Manufacturer Dupont
Colors Silver Flake and Black
Paint/Graphics LSC
Plating/Polishing None
Powdercoating LSC
   
Accessories  
Front Fender None
Rear Fender LSC
Gas Tank None
Dash None
Gauges None
Handlebars LSC
Grips LSC
Mirrors None
Hand Controls None
Foot Controls LSC
Floorboards LSC
Headlight LSC
Taillight LSC
Turn Signals None
License Mount LSC
Seat LSC
Stereo None
Amplifier None
Speakers None
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