Sweet Ironhead Sportster

Written by  Story By Jake Blake Photos By Jack “That’s What I’m Told” Cofano Saturday, 26 August 2017 17:54
Published in Bobbers
When I think of sweet things it usually involves lots of calories and some kind of chocolate. But, every now and then I see a custom that hits my motorcycle sweet tooth and my immediate unthinking response is “sweet.” Like I said, I rarely think of a custom Harley-Davidson that way, but it does happen and it was my first response to this Smoke Out Sporty that’s got more than its fair share of cool stuff going on. 


  One thing we do know about this bike is who the builder and owner is because he was an invited builder to the ACO Show at Smoke Out 18. ACO stands for Amateur Chop Off and the event’s sponsor, The Horse Backstreet Choppers magazine, makes it a point to make sure this is no out the back door of a pro shop special. Nope, it’s built by the entrant. In this case that would be Jae Hamilton of Washington Court House, Ohio, who created this wonderful cross between Old School and Art Deco with a touch of Steampunk too. For a one-man amateur build, it’s far from amateur. 

   Building this bike around an old Ironhead immediately gets the hard core Old School vibe on track for a successful build. Anybody who’s ever ridden an Ironhead Sporty will tell you what a trip they are to whack the throttle open with a good set of pipes and head to the horizon. Visually, they’re more vintage Knucklehead than Twin Cam and Jae was careful to keep the finish clean and real. The block’s possibly better than new, there is some nice hand polishing on the castings while a chrome finned sheet metal primary cover just looks flashy right. Oh, don’t forget to try and find the teeny tiny jockey shifter hiding in plain sight.

   It’s still got a kicker and that’s about as cool as it gets if you’re proficient with it, but it retains an electric alternative too for those days when you don’t give a damn. Nice to have the option and kick starting is still fun to do when the planets are lined up right inside and outside the engine. Toss in a magneto too and you’ve got a hardcore bike without having to do anything else. That’s not the case here, though, as those fabulous set of fabricated trumpet exhausts not only bring on the Steampunk, but have gotta amplify the Ironhead engine like it needs more sound. The carb is a modern Mikuni sitting under an air filter that looks more Mr. Gasket auto (that’s cool) than motorcycle.

   The hard tail frame brings on the hardcore even more with classic lines and some Old School frame molding that I’m sure is done in metal and not in four-inches of Bondo filler. Man, when big chunks of Bondo fell off old back-in-the-day customs, you just had to wonder what was really on underneath the rest. In this case there are no rake shenanigans going on so the frame’s nice and intact. It does look cool, though. 

   Cleaned up and shaved forks that hit the polish hard provides a neat perch for the traditional spool front wheel wearing a traditional ribbed tire ─ a classically cool front end. Out back, a stock chrome rim laced wheel still sports its OEM drum brake complete with a sprocket. The original sprotor or sprocket brake has its roots right in this back wheel and it’s pretty at least. I’ve never experienced a drum-only rear brake bike and would rather rely on other riders’ experiences than mine. Like I said, it does look nice, though. 

   Jae nailed it with the stance of this bike. It’s aggressive and looks ready to pounce at the touch of the throttle. The skinny Z-bars with not a control in sight and the sissy bar that looks like it was stolen from Buckingham Palace and repurposed mimic the angles of the fork and might as well be a bunch of cartoon speed lines. It looks like it’s moving standing still.

    For me, it’s the fabricated aluminum fuel tank that caps the build with a prominently mounted sculpture of fins and finish. To me it’s so beautifully Art Deco in shape and movement. It seems like Art Deco somehow always involved the movement of air ─ sometimes in big quantities and sometimes with a light touch. Here it looks big and fits the hardcore aspect of a feisty rigid chop like your second time ever going into a bar. 

   The choice of finishes Jae chose to mix together came out surprisingly well. Maybe I shouldn’t say surprisingly, but combining a stunning aluminum tank that’s got a 3D surface and a beautifully polished finish more like nickel than chrome. It’s cool and not glaring or garish like extreme show polishing can be. It still looks like it’s made of aluminum and not chrome. Everything about that tank is fine by me and I’m sure you too. 

   I can’t help but like the choice of the red frame as it almost highlights everything going on as an individual piece that the frame holds together. As the late Phil Hartman used to say, “It’s sassy!” Jae composed a bike with an attitude and a remarkably well-finished build that has a look of its own. Amateur? I think not, it’s a build worthy of being compared to professional builders who specialize in Old School builds with a blue collar heart. Maybe that’s why I like it so much?

Leave a comment