The Chopper Farm’s Sassy Brassy Dark Sportster

Written by  Story by Juan Tanamera Photos by Jack “Sassy Is My Middle Name Or Is It?” Cofano Thursday, 12 February 2015 17:54
Published in Modified Stockers
  Okay, okay, back to a bit of Harley reality with this fetching rendition of Jim Bortles’ take on a Sportster that willingly trespasses on Harley-Davidson’s recent highly successful Dark Custom series, but with a twist of brass. Actually, that’s a misnomer as Harley is the one who’s trespassing on a look that pro and amateur builders have been doing for years. Yes, Harley did capitalize on murdering out their various models to bring them in line with the hipsters, but builders like Jim Bortles, owner of The Chopper Farm in Waxhaw, North Carolina, are always way ahead of the production bike curve and this Sporty is just one more example. Dark and brassy always has its own appeal and you have to admit this 2002 Sporty wears it well.  


   You know, I took one look at this Sporty after all the hard core show bikes we’ve featured recently on Barnett’s Magazine Online and my first thoughts were, “That’s a nice bike.” Now that might seem a bit lame if you’re looking for some ground-breaking, insightful comment, but that’s really about the highest compliment I could give a bike. It’s a really good looking bike that looks like you could hop on it and go buy some smokes (or whatever) anytime and anywhere you felt like it. Now that’s a custom motorcycle to me and not some strictly for-show-only bike. Jim’s show-worthy Sportster he calls Brassy looks like a show boat of motorcycle fun to me where I could appreciate it the most, out on the road.


  Starting with a pre-rubber mount XL-series 2002 Sporty, Jim welded on a Led Sled Customs hardtail to clean up the ass end and giving it a bit of real Dark Side attitude. With that one move, the frame lines of the bike flow unencumbered fore and aft like no lowered stocker can begin to emulate. Not only does the Led Sled hardtail add a bit of needed stretch to smooth things out, but it allows fitment of a larger rear tire than stock. Up front Jim adapted a set of fork legs from a Deuce to keep things clean while the rubber fork gaiters add an always appreciated bit of nostalgia. When I had bikes with rubber gaiters, I was always trying to remove them to look like the newest models and now I think they’re totally cool on just about anything old or new. Funny how that works.


  Sitting between those Deuce legs and the Led Sled hardtail are close to over the top, but not quite, Ride Wright fat spoke wheels. I say “close to over the top” mainly because of the brass color spokes, but then this bike is about a little educated bling so that’s cool with me. I guess the same goes for the brass fork tube tops, but then that’s what ties this black and brass beauty together. I do like that Jim hasn’t copped to the latest hipster trend of running a brakeless front wheel and provided Brassy’s owner, Gary Beyerlein, with brakes worthy of being a sympathetic buddy when the going gets tough.


   Same thing goes for the use of real fenders front and rear. It’s just so easy to pull off a front fender and call it a day, but here Jim’s made a great style and practical choice for somebody who actually wants to use a bike whenever and wherever they want to use it. The simple rounded rear fender fits like the proverbial glove and looks like a fender should. No cutouts, no points, no crap ⎼ just a nice shape that works. Not as easy to do as it may sound.


   The only other real piece of bodywork other than the cylindrical oil tank is the fuel tank. It’s a no-brainer to use a Sporty tank as the shape never ever grows old or tiresome, but it did require a bunch of work to get it to where it looks like it’s always been there. That’s the touch of a skilled craftsman with an eye for design like Mr. Bortles has shown in his many other customs over the past 100 years or so he’s been making chops. On this bike, there’s no other better solution to where this tank is placed and that’s not easy to do – correctly that is.


   Apparently owner Gary Beyerlein likes his bikes with a bit of snap too as the unit-construction Evo mill has been treated to a mild hop up with an Andrews can, a somewhat rare black S&S Super E carb, and a set of tough-ass Spitfire Hi N Tight straight shot exhausts. That combo’s just right to awaken the stock mill from its EPA-induced slumber while making sure anybody in the general vicinity knows when Gary’s taking his Sporty out or when he’s coming back. They’re simple, yet dramatic with a look of speed at rest and they would be perfect if Gary decided to take up off-roading with all the ground clearance they provide.


   The paint scheme is about as simple as it gets, but if you’ve ever tried to spray a perfect flat black paintjob, you know how tough it is. Luckily for Jim, he can always turn to The Chopper Farm’s choice of talented painter, the lovely and well respected JoAnn Bortles’ Crazy Horse Painting when it comes time to spray. And spray she did giving a nice satin black backdrop to showcase all the brass bling.  


   One thing I really like about this bike other than the hot rod look is what appears to be an extremely comfortable riding position. Not only does the relationship of the bars, seat and pegs look comfy, but its very thought rider position looks good too. Nothing seems compromised for the sake of show bike looks and that makes this a smart looking ride as well as pretty. I’ve never been too big a fan of the Z-bar look, but Jim’s highly-modified take on Z-bars warmly invites you to want to grab a hold and hit the starter button. Even the gorgeous sprung seat by Duane Ballard of Duane Ballard Custom Leather in Lake Elsinore, California, not only has great visual appeal, but a very decent attempt at ass-happy padding. I don’t know about you, but I sure can put up with a lot of other custom inconveniences when my ass is happy.


   Jim Bortles and The Chopper Farm has turned out one bitching Sportster with a pile of eye appeal along with real world riding capability. For owner Gary Beyerlein, he’s stuck with the pleasure of having his cake and eating it too in one tastefully blinged-out-in-brass Dark Custom liked none other on planet Earth.


  For more info on The Chopper Farm and what Jim’s up to lately, click here or visit his Facebook page. 

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