Barhopper + brass = Brasshopper

Barhopper + brass = Brasshopper

(3/30/11 update: This bike is about to be raffled to raise money for Vets Home.  See www.kickstandsupnd.com for more information)

Patriot Custom Cycle's Brasshopper

It took only 90 days for two men in a little motorcycle shop to turn a dream into an award-winning bobber – the Brasshopper.  Black and gold are the colors of their dream. Where other motorcycles would be chrome, the Brasshopper is a golden polished brass.  Wes and Brasshopper
“I’ve had the idea for a long time, years,” explained Wes Annable about his dream.  Annable owns Patriot Custom Cycle of Dickinson, North Dakota.  “I wanted to do something out of copper or brass and black.  I’d seen a few bikes with one or two brass pieces on them and it looked cool.”

Annable’s ideas evolved over his motorcycle riding life – 24-years of which were in the Army.  When he retired, he settled in Dickinson and opened Patriot Custom Cycle in April, 2009.

He says he knew what he wanted on his dream custom bike: rigid frame, Indian Larry gas tank, jockey shift, one brake control for front and back, and no visible wiring in true bobber style.  “We didn’t want you to see any of the wires,” he says.

Along with fellow motorcycle mechanic Kevin Wojahn, the two used slack time in December 2009 to turn the concept into a show piece by March 2010.  “We wanted to have it ready for this spring’s bike show season,” Annable said.

Weeks of late nights were spent building Brasshopper. The pair of builders say they never lost their motivation.  “If you’re a motorcyclist, you stay motivated,” said Annable.  “We are lucky we have wives who are as understanding. They help our shop be what it is.  I told my wife, Lisa, we had to be done by bike show season in March. We met our goal.”

Wes, Lisa and Kevin

Wojahn is known in the Dakotas as an active supporter of all things motorcycle, from clubs to events, rides and rallies; he has built a reputation for being a smart motorcycle mechanic.  What many people don’t know though is his talents on a metal lathe and mill.  His fabrication skills are evident all over the Brasshopper. From the turn signals to the front fender, he fabricated in Annable’s shop nearly all the pieces.

Wojahn came up with the idea for the brass barrels that house the turn signals. “It took me about 5 minutes to come up with the idea, drill it out so the LED light would fit in it, and then lathe the cuts in to it,” he said. “I’d say one of the biggest challenges was fabricating the speedo and filler neck in to the gas tank,” Wojahn said.  Using a 3 ½ gallon Indian Larry tank, the pair designed the speedometer to fit neatly in to the tank.  It sits in a hollow tube where the speedo wires run up from the bottom of the tank.  The challenge was to make sure there were no leaks in the tube, the bottom or the top where the gage is set.

Annable also wanted to modify the tank neck, to accommodate the brass gas cap.  That too, required tight attention to be certain it did not leak.

Annable said, “In the mock-up stage, we shot from the hip a lot. This would go here, this there.  A lot of things got changed as we went.”

Since he had in mind what he wanted to achieve, Annable worked with Wojahn through each stage to incorporate his ideas, modify and fabricate his ideas.  “We started with the main body pieces,” Annable said. “The Paughco frame was the start. The forks, the fender and the wheels were all the first stage.  Then came the power train.”

Brasshopper is powered by a stock Harley-Davidson 80 ci Evolution engine.  It’s not yet been put up on the Patriot Custom Cycle dyno, but Annable says he is sure the estimated 62 horses Ultima 6-speed transmission will send Brasshopper to the front of the pack.

After the 2010 bike show season, Annable says you’ll see Brasshopper at the rides and rallies around the upper Midwest.   It’s for sale, but after the ride captured in these photos for Gasoline Magazine, he said he is reluctant to sell. “I dunno. I don’t want to sell it. I may sell one of my other bikes before I sell this one.  It’s sweet!”

Watch for Patriot Custom Cycle’s next custom – a bagger with an old school look.  Annable and Wojahn are already scheming and dreaming, getting ready for their next winter’s show bike.

2 Responses to “Barhopper + brass = Brasshopper”

  1. Tony Rothacker Says:

    I paid $50 for a ticket at the Freedom Riders bike show. I get the impression that your going to keep this bike. Whatever, I hope that the money at least goes to the veterans home.

    • As I understand it, that’s the plan. $50 chance to own/keep/possess Brasshopper. It’s been Wes’ idea since he built it to sell it, raffle it, use it for a good cause and he’s doing it. He’s a man of his word.

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