The inspiration for this bike originally came from a trip to Red Lodge, Montana, and an infatuation to ride in the Iron Horse Rodeo on the dirt rodeo arena. Living in northern Wyoming, the selection was limited, but in the back of a shed/shop I ran across a 1974 Harley-Davidson Ironhead Sportster. It was stripped of its tin, oil tank, and many other incidental parts. Not exactly a basket case but a rolling (after airing the tires) chassis, with a shopping cart full of parts.
The first thing I did was a compression check. To my pleasant surprise, the gauge clocked up 120 pounds compression. I proceeded to makeshift some oil lines and oil tank, added gas to the carb, applied power to the starter solenoid, sparing you the un-sundry other coil power hookups, etc. A bit of choke and, , it was running. No missing, no blue smoke, just that great Ironhead sound and a sweet, loping, legendary idle.
I had a year until the Iron Horse Rodeo, so I continued to ponder it while I finished up a couple of other custom paint jobs. Then the Tour came through Sheridan and I got a good look at some sweet bobbers. I was hooked and knew my ’74 Sporty could be turned to the “Dark Side” and make a great bobber. Now, just like a good paint job, I had to come up with a theme.
Most of the riders I knew were veterans. My son did a tour in Iraq with the 1st Calvary, and I had a high draft number in ’71 and just missed Vietnam. Although not a vet myself, I felt this was my direction on this bobber. I was moved by the American Sniper story and went to see the movie. That did it. That would be my theme: Chris Kyle Tribute Bike. The least I could do as a person way out here in Northern Wyoming is to use this bobber build to honor our veterans and pay tribute to an American hero.
After I stripped the frame, cut off the rear, and welded on a hardtail kit, I pulled the fork sliders and took them to Big Sky Cycles and had my buddy Jim chuck them up in his lathe and remove all the brake and fender mount projections for a clean look. Various mounts were fabbed and welded on before the frame was powdercoated in the local Vacutech manufacturing facility. They also powdercoated the tank in a really cool hammered copper over black for me.
A remote activation was a perfect trick addition to this build. The heart of the rewire is a small remote-start module built into the battery box. It allows remote activation of the LED accent lighting, and with the help of a discreet fabricated neutral safety switch I can remote start it from a quarter mile away. I concealed as much wiring as possible inside the frame, and all exposed wiring is antique cloth style.
In finishing up, I picked up a 30.06 rifle barrel and used it for a suicide shifter. I converted the left-side forward control, shifter lever, and peg to a foot clutch.
I then applied a copper leaf Punisher skull to the sides of the gas tank, airbrushed some details, red eyes, shading, and then clear-coated the whole thing. I put the Chris Kyle badges on the ends of the oil tank as well. Norbrook Plating out of Warren, Michigan, did the copper plating and polishing with clear coat by Jack’s Body Shop here in Sheridan.
Thanks to an inspiration modification, caused by an awesome Hot Bike Tour, in my hometown this build has become larger than life in the form of an inspiration of recognition for all veterans and Chris Kyle’s service to us all! I guess my Iron Horse Rodeo ride will have to wait.