The Beginning - Meet Emma and Nick
After 25+ years in the industry, I’ve seen countless custom Harley-Davidson motorcycles and met many custom Harley builders . One thing that I’ve come to believe is that the Sportster is the most difficult HD model to get right.
Having the engine and transmission combined into one unit makes for a compact power plant which can be easily mis-proportioned with the rest of the motorcycle, ruining the entire look of the build.
When I spotted Emily Myers’ Sportster last year at Fuel Cleveland, I could see right away that Emily and her husband Nick shared my views on what a proper custom Sportster should look like. Tight lines, just the right components and no extra fat.
Nick and Emma outside Fuel Cleveland.
The Similarities Between Them
What really impressed me about this couple was that they both ride and wrench. Emily started riding when she was 16 on a Honda Rebel 250. Inspired by her grandmother who rode motorcycles, Emily said “I never wanted to just be the girl on the back of a bike. Getting my license was a huge confidence boost and made my self esteem rise.”
Nick began building bikes when he was in college, starting with a Yamaha XS that he turned into a chopper. From there he became a bike builder of Harley Davidsons, building another chopper, but this time using an Ironhead Sportster as the base.
Nick and Emma with their custom Harley Sportster at Fuel Cleveland 2019
After attending Fuel Cleveland for the first time, Emily knew she wanted to build a custom bike, but it wasn’t until Nick mentioned he was going to buy a wrecked Sportster that things started to come together.
Instead of letting Nick buy the bike, Emily stepped up and bought it herself. Then with the help of some of their friends, they tore the whole bike down in a day and the project officially got underway.
After going to Fuel Cleveland, Emily knew she must have a custom Harley Sportster.
A Unique Wedding Gift
Now at this time, Emily and Nick were just dating, but a few months later Nick proposed to Emily with a complete frame which he had personally hand built. After she said “yes”, Emily worked with Nick on the main design elements of the bike with the goal of building a bike that was small and short to fit her stature.
To add a little drama to the build, they also decided that Emily should ride it on the day of the wedding, so between planning for the wedding and doing a complete motorcycle build, the next six months were pretty hectic.
Who would have thought to replace an engagement ring with a motorcycle frame?
Going back to the frame, Nick built a clean and narrow rigid which is 6 up and 3 out with 35 degrees of rake. A 2 over DNA narrow springer with a 21” spoke wheel was bolted to the front and paired with a 16” wheel in the rear to give the bike a nice level stance and a low seat height making it a good fit for Emily. The rear belt was replaced with a chain to allow the rear wheel to fit inside the narrow tail section and keep everything looking nice and tight.
Brakes are usually an afterthought on most chopper builds, but Emily and Nick did their homework and set this one up with a modified stock disc brake on the rear and a mini drum on the front to provide a good combination of form and function.
Emily and Nick have done a wonderful job to combine both form and function in their chopper build.
The oil tank is a one-off design the Nick fabricated which includes a hidden trap door underneath the tank for removing the battery. A Manta Ray rear fender and Deep Tunnel P-nut gas tank from Lowbrow Customs round out the sheet metal and compliment Nick’s custom frame perfectly.
Of course, building a custom frame also meant that a custom exhaust was needed so Nick fabbed up the exhaust as well using an assortment of pre-bent pipe sections. To help make up for the lack of rear suspension, an old sprung solo seat from Nick’s parts stash was reupholstered and Emily made a matching pillion pad to go along with it.
Real sunflowers in the timing cover is a nice touch to make the bike stand out on it's own.
There are also several feminine touches added to the build which really give it a personality all its own. The first thing anyone who rides behind this bike will notice is heart shaped sissy bar. Nick fabricated it to not only look good, but to provide mounting points for the motorcycle license plate, taillight and rear fender.
Keeping with the heart theme, Nick also made the rabbit ear style handlebars with a heart shaped gusset between them and added hearts to the frame neck. The VW yellow paint was laid down by Nick’s Dad and looks great alongside the white upholstery, oil tank and grips.
To complete the look, Emily picked up a timing cover from Vicious Cycles made with real sunflowers embedded in clear resin.
Emily and Nick with their custom build.
Even with all their efforts, including an all-nighter before the wedding, there just wasn’t enough time to get the bike running for the ceremony. The bike did make it to several major shows including Fuel Cleveland, Glory Days and Thunder on the Strip where it was a real crowd favorite, especially among women.
Personally, I’m hoping this machine will not only inspire more women to ride, but start a new trend in replacing engagement rings with motorcycle frames.
Words & Photos by: Panhead Jim
The first thing anyone who rides behind this bike will notice is heart shaped sissy bar.
Owner: Emily Myers
Builder: Emily and Nick Myers
Year/model: 1996 Harley Davidson Sportster 883
Time to build: 9 months
Polisher: Emily Myers
Powder coater: Platinum Powder Coating
Painter: Mike Myers
Color: VW Bug Yellow
What a lovely Sportster build, don’t you think?
Engine, year/model: 1996 Harley Davidson Sportster
Flywheels (make & stroke): Stock
Connecting rods: Stock
Cylinders (make & bore): Stock
Pistons (make & comp. ratio): Stock
Cam (make & lift): Stock
Push rods: Stock
Air cleaner: Velocity Stack with Lowbrow Customs Breather Bolts
Exhaust: Custom Stainless
Ignition: Dynatek 2000i
Charging system: Stock
Oil pump: Stock
Cam cover: Stock with Vicious Cycles - Sunflower Resin Timing Cover
Primary cover: Stock
Transmission, year/model: 1996 Sportster
Gears: 5 Speed
Mods: Lowbrow Customs Chain Drive Conversion
Primary drive: Stock
Final drive: Stock
Complete look of the VW yellow paint. Photo by: David Carlo
Frame (year, make) Custom 2019
Rake: 6 up 3 out 35 degrees
Front forks: +2" over Springer
A 2 over springer with a 21” spoke wheel was bolted to the front.
Shocks: nope its a Hardtail
Front wheel (size and make): 21“ Cycle Standard Mini Drum
Rear wheel (size and make): 16“ Spoke
Front brake (make and style): Mini Drum
Rear brake (make and style): Modified Stock
Front tire (size and make): Shinko
Rear tire (size and make): Shinko
Front fender: NOPE
Rear fender: Lowbrow Customs Manta Ray Fender
Fender struts: Heart Sissy Bar
Little details like the heart between the Rabbit ear handlebar risers is what makes this build so special.
Headlight: Aris Style Triangle Headlight
Taillight: Custom Housing
Fuel tank: Lowbrow Customs Original Deep Tunnel P-Nut Gas Tank
Oil tank: Myers Custom
Handlebars: Custom Rabbit Ear Handlebars with Heart
Pegs: Biltwell Inc.
Hand controls: Biltwell Whiskey Throttle
Foot controls: Stock
Meet Emma Myers A Custom Harley-Davidson Sportster Builder. Photo by David Carlo
Emma Myers and the Custom Harley-Davidson Sportster.
This custom Sportster was built for Emma's stature.
Nick fabricated the sissy bar to not only look good, but to provide mounting points for the motorcycle license plate and tail light.
Emily's perfect ride for the day of the wedding
The VW yellow paint looks great alongside the white upholstery, oil tank and grips. Photo by David Carlo
A Perfect Custom Harley-Davidson Sportster. Photo by David Carlo
A Custom Harley-Davidson Sportster - A Unique Wedding Gift