Delores and Franklin | Custom Harley-Davidson Sportsters

The Bonnie and Clyde of Sportsters

1985 Harley-Davidson Ironhead Sportster and 1983 Harley-Davidson Sportster

1985 Harley-Davidson Ironhead Sportster and 1983 Harley-Davidson Sportster

Photo: Peter Linney

Ride the Hot Bike Tour and you'll see the crossover between streetbike stunt riding and custom iron up close and personal. If you couldn't make it, Michael Rickman has you covered with these two feature bikes. A veteran street hooligan with a decade of stunting at shows, competitions, on the street, and in parking lots all over the place, he's logged his share of cockpit time on two wheels. He's also the guy who built Delores and Franklin here—’83 and ’85 Ironhead Sportsters transformed into two sweet chop jobs. They marked the end of one era and the start of Michael's next.

Michael Rickman and Jamie Thissen

Michael Rickman and Jamie Thissen

Photo: Peter Linney

Unless you're a glacier or a volcano, 10 years is a long time to do anything. Michael hit the decade mark as a street stunter and that was enough. He'd taken that ride as far as he wanted to go. Michael wasn't alone because a few of his good buddies left that life too. Kendall Thompson was among them. He found a little treasure cache in his grandpa's garage—dad's original ’72 kicker Ironhead. “He told me he was gonna rebuild it and that I could probably find one cheap as well,” Michael recalls. “Then we could ride together again. This was in 2010. I found my ’83 on Craigslist then bought it for $1,900.”
Naturally, the bike was in the pristine condition we've all come to know and expect from buying used scoots online for cheap. By that I mean it was great for holding dozens of Easter eggs. You know, a basket case. At least it started. “With the help of my son Deaven and my girlfriend Jamie, I chopped, customized, and finally finished it up,” Michael says.

1983 Harley-Davidson Sportster

1983 Harley-Davidson Sportster

Photo: Peter Linney

We're talking about a lot of help here. The bike started, but it only ran in the most basic sense. Its motor had parts, and when you hit the kickstarter, they moved together, making noise and, theoretically, motion. Transforming it back into an Ironhead motor someone might actually want in a chopper took thorough degreasing and rebuilding.

Paint/Graphics by Joel England

Paint/Graphics by Joel England

Photo: Peter Linney

Michael Rickman

Michael Rickman

Photo: Peter Linney

1983 Harley-Davidson Sportster

1983 Harley-Davidson Sportster

Photo: Peter Linney

1983 Harley-Davidson Ironhead Sportster

1983 Harley-Davidson Ironhead Sportster

Photo: Peter Linney

1983 Harley-Davidson Ironhead Sportster

1983 Harley-Davidson Ironhead Sportster

Photo: Peter Linney

1983 Harley-Davidson Ironhead Sportster

1983 Harley-Davidson Ironhead Sportster

Photo: Peter Linney

Michael Rickman and Jamie Thissen

Michael Rickman and Jamie Thissen

Photo: Peter Linney

Michael Rickman and Jamie Thissen

Michael Rickman and Jamie Thissen

Photo: Peter Linney

Specifications
General
Owner Michael Rickman
Year/Make/Model 1983/Harley-Davidson/Sportster|
Fabrication Slim Fab |
Build Time A long time
Engine
Year/Type/Size ’83/H-D/Ironhead Sportster
Builder Michael Rickman
Cases H-D
Cylinders H-D |
Heads Sporty Parts
Rocker Boxes H-D
Cams P Cams
Throttle Body H-D
Exhaust Slim Fab
Air Cleaner Benchmark
Transmission |
Year/Type ’83/Andrews
Gears 4-speed
Clutch Barnett Scorpion
Primary Drive H-D
Frame
Year/Type ’99/H-D and Michael Rickman|
Rake/Stretch Stock/None
Suspension
Front End H-D 39mm Narrow Glide
Length 28 in.
Rear Burly Slammer Shocks
Wheels, Tires, and Brakes
Front
Builder/Size Sum Rims, Buchannan spokes 21 x 1.85 in. |
Tire/Size Avon Speedmaster 21 x 1.85 in.|
Calipers None
Rotors None
Rear
Builder/Size Sun rims 16 x 4 in.
Tire/Size Avon 16 x 4 in.
Caliper V-Twin Manufacturing
Rotor V-Twin Manufacturing
Pulley 48-tooth with chain final drive|
Finish/Paint
Colors House of Kolor silver mega flake under Sun Burst
Paint/Graphics Joel England |
Accessories |
Rear Fender H-D
Gas Tank Throttle Addiction
Handlebars Slim Fab |
Grips Avon
Mirrors Not so much
Hand Controls H-D
Foot Controls H-D|
Footpegs CCI
Headlight 5-in. Bates
Taillight After Hours Choppers
Seat Biltwell
1985 Harley-Davidson Ironhead Sportster

1985 Harley-Davidson Ironhead Sportster

Photo: Peter Linney

Franklin wasn't any better off to start either. It was rough shape, needing serious love to coax it back to rideable. The ’85 XL was also a perfect opportunity, according to Michael: “My son Deaven and I made it our first bike build together. He was 14 years old. We tore it down and started customizing it with a lot of help from friends and family.” That was more than five years back. Now, they ride them together or, as seen here, Michael's lady Jamie rides it. “I'm in the process of finishing my third Ironhead now,” he says. “Kendall, Deaven, Jamie, and I all ride and have a blast together. We go to campouts, all the Born-Free shows, Hippy Killer, and many more events. I live for building, riding, and hanging out with my friends, sons, and girlfriend.”

1985 Harley-Davidson Ironhead 1000cc

1985 Harley-Davidson Ironhead 1000cc

Photo: Peter Linney

1985 Harley-Davidson Ironhead 1000cc

1985 Harley-Davidson Ironhead 1000cc

Photo: Peter Linney

Paint/Graphics by Joel England

Paint/Graphics by Joel England

Photo: Peter Linney

1985 Harley-Davidson Ironhead 1000cc

1985 Harley-Davidson Ironhead 1000cc

Photo: Peter Linney

1985 Harley-Davidson Ironhead Sportster

1985 Harley-Davidson Ironhead Sportster

Photo: Peter Linney

Jamie Thissen

Jamie Thissen

Photo: Peter Linney

Specifications
General
Owner Jamie Thissen
Year/Make/Model 1985/H-D/Ironhead Sportster|
Fabrication Slim Fab and Michael Rickman
Build Time Quite some time
Engine
Year/Type/Size ’85/H-D Ironhead/1000cc
Builder Michael Rickman
Cases H-D
Cylinders H-D
Heads Boar's Nest
Rocker Boxes H-D
Cams Q Cams
Throttle Body H-D with S&S Super E Carb
Exhaust Slim Fab
Air Cleaner Spitfire aluminum swirl
Transmission
Year/Type ’85/H-D Ironhead
Gears 4-speed
Clutch H-D
Primary Drive H-D |
Frame
Year/Type ’85/H-D Sportster |
Rake/Stretch Stock/None
Suspension |
Frontend H-D 39mm Narrow Glide
Wheels, Tires, and Brakes
Front
Builder/Size V-Twin Manufacturing 21 x 2 in. |
Tire/Size Avon 21 x 2 in.
Calipers Performance Machine 4-piston
Rotors Custom Chrome
Rear
Builder/Size V-Twin Manufacturing 16 x 4 in.
Tire/Size Shinko 16 x 4 in.
Caliper Performance Machine
Rotor Custom Chrome
Pulley 48-tooth chain drive|
Finish/Paint
Colors House of Kolor silver mega flake, Honda Piano Black, Candy Blue
Paint/Graphics Joel England|
Powdercoating 951 Powdercoating
Accessories
Rear Fender Low Brow and Michael Rickman|
Gas Tank Joel England
Handlebars Kendall Thompson |
Grips Pangea White|
Mirrors Custom Chrome
Hand Controls Honda CBR600RR |
Foot Controls V-Twin Manufacturing/H-D|
Footpegs H-D |
Headlight 5-in. Bates
Taillight Biltwell
License Mount Low Brow
Seat Biltwell

Get the all the latest issue of Hot Bike magazine! Subscribe directly from us.