I have never had much interest in Harleys. I’ve ridden dirt bikes since I was a kid, but the desire to ride on the street was just never there. After about six months of working at Biltwell and going to events I eventually caught the bug. The main thing that made me want to ride was how fun all the trips looked; you get all your gear together the night before and strap it to your bike, then you wake up early in the morning and meet up with your friends and ride to an epic place to camp and hang out—what’s not to love? After realizing I wanted a bike I did my research at events by picturing myself riding different bikes I saw. I love the look of long jockey shift panheads and big touring FXRs, but I couldn’t really see myself riding either of them. I really didn’t know what I wanted until my dad Bill Bryant finished a build for our buddy Dutch Rob. He built a rigid chopper with a Paughco frame and a Buell motor and the second I sat on it I knew it was the bike for me. After riding it I was blown away by how fun it was. Dad and I agreed that a Buell might be a little quicker than I really needed in a first bike, so we started the hunt for a 1200XL.
We found a handful of 1200 Sportsters around us and checked them out. Buying a used 1990’s Sportster is kind of like buying a used 1990’s 3 series BMW. You get a bike that was probably owned by someone trying to go fast on a budget, so their speed machine was held together with safety wire and zip ties. We turned down every bike we saw, but eventually came across a super clean 883 right down the street from us, so we scooped it up.
After we had the Sportster in our shop the race was on. My goal was to build a bike I could ride on the El Diablo Run so I wouldn’t have to drive down to San Felipe in a chase van. With less than four months till EDR we started furiously looking for parts. We got an S&S 1250 kit and found a fork off a crashed Sportster S, and that made my 883 XL an even better version of the XL1200S we were originally looking for. We had our buddies at Haifley Brothers ship us their bolt-on hardtail kit, while we tore the donor bike down. It took us two weeks to turn our stock 883 Sportster into a 1250 in a rigid frame. Pops and I spent almost every day after work in the shop trying to get this bike ready for EDR. I have almost zero fabrication skills, but pops is a great welder and has enough of the bulldog-never-give-up attitude to get anything done. Every time he was in the shop I was in the shop. I did all the shitty work like cleaning bolts, sanding parts, prepping pieces for welding, and brush painting the motor.
My vision for this bike was a “performance chopper;” I wanted to be able to go fast, stop fast, and look cool while doing it. I didn’t know much about bikes, but I had spent hours looking through photos and studying bikes at events, and I knew what I liked. I like high pipes, I like black paint, and I like Tokico brakes.
We finished the bike about ten days before EDR and I started riding it to get used to the hardtail. I had very little experience on the street so it was kind of weird at first. There is a twisty 30-mile mountain loop near our office that goes from where I live in to Temecula where I work, so I would take that to and from work every day and that was really my only “training” before the El Diablo Run.
This bike has led me to so many good times. I think people who don’t own bikes of their own can’t really understand how many things owning a motorcycle unlocks for you. Just riding it to work made my days better; riding it from work to lunch puts you in a good mood when you get back, and unexplainably it makes you feel closer to your friends. I think it has something to do with the fact that when you ride a motorcycle it feels like you’re in a war, you are hyper aware of all your surroundings, and your main goal is keeping you and your friends as safe as possible. When you and your buddies park your bikes in front of Chipotle after a good ride it feels like you accomplished something special or important, and nothing beats that feeling. It also opens up the possibility of road trips. I have been on so many life-changing trips because of this bike. Everything from riding down the coast of California and Mexico to riding through the amazing mountains of Virginia and North Carolina. It is such an eye-opening experience to ride for hundreds of miles in a day, take all the gear off your bike and set up camp with your homies. When you are sitting around the fire drinking beer and talking about the day’s ride you really feel like you’re all part of the same team and you just accomplished something epic.
I told myself I would never sell this bike because it’s the first bike my dad and I built together, but I want to continue building bikes with pops and continue learning and getting better at fabricating. Unfortunately this bike has to get sold to fund the next build. This Sportster was my 2015 EDR bike, and hopefully my new bike will be ready for 2017 EDR. Bikes come and go but the passion stays the same. It doesn’t matter if you’re riding your first bike or your hundredth bike, when you get to your destination and high five your buddies you’re still going to feel like you accomplished something and it will always be fun.
(Biltwell Video Troll)