Safe Riding


The beauty of tattoos is upon you as you enter the gates of Purgatory. An enthusiastic, cheerful, long blond haired beauty behind the counter, who just happens to be owner, Elizabeth Hilden, greeted me. Elizabeth was Pet of the Year for Penthouse Magazine in 1997. She rides her own bike, a Big Dog Chopper that happened to be in for a paint job at the time of this interview.

She guided me to a room and introduced me to Chris Melchert. He was working on customer, George Ketner, who was reclined in a chair. The ease that Chris displayed while performing his artistic work and talking with me at the same time is amazing. His enthusiasm and eye contact was contagious during the entire interview.

Elizabeth and Chris knew each other back when they were nine years old, when Chris was her boyfriend at the skating rink! Elizabeth started her business four years ago in Independence, Missouri after finishing her responsibilities with Penthouse Magazine. She called Chris to see if he would come to work for her and told him he wouldn’t have a boss standing around all day looking over his shoulder and he could do 'his own thing.’ Well the rest is history, although Chris said, “I still have a boss!” while looking at Elizabeth with a grin.

From the time Chris got his first tattoo, he knew he could do this himself. He has worked at three other tattoo shops over the years and occasionally helps his brother who owns a shop. Chris specializes in cover-ups, no matter how bad it is, he can fix an existing tattoo to make it look better. He has received numerous awards for his work, most recently, Best Black/Gray at the Shane Hart Tattoo Convention. At an Easy Rider Bike Show, Chris’ tattoo on customer, George Ketner, won second place. Chris has 60-70% of his body tattooed and even has one on the inside of his lip. Ouch! On the other hand, Elizabeth doesn’t have any tattoos. When I asked her why, she said, “I really haven’t found anything I want to wear for life.”

Purgatory employs a crew of six artists, three are piercing specialists. Elizabeth boasts highly about her team, “It’s the best crew we have ever had. Everyone gets along, we invite them to our home, we enjoy being with them and they like coming to work.” I bet the guys love having a gorgeous boss too, especially with the care and concern she shows toward them.

CC: How do you price your tattoos?

Chris: Each artist sets their own price, but we have the best prices in town. There is a minimum of $30.00. We also give great deals to repeat customers and friends.

CC: Where do your clients come from?

Chris: Mostly referrals and from others who see our work. We work on all types; upper class, professionals, preachers, college students, you name it. Just today we had a repeat customer who is a preacher come in with his wife and son. They had been thinking about having a tattoo for a long time and just decided to do it. It just seems a little ironic that a preacher gets a tattoo at Purgatory. (everyone laughs)

CC: Are you seeing more women getting tattoos?

Elizabeth: Oh yeah. When they turn 18 they think they need to rush out and get one. I have tried to talk girls out of getting one, I tell them to go home and think about it for 4-5 months and then if they decide they still want one, come back in and we will do it for free!

CC: That’s generous, how many return?

Elizabeth: There have been a few over the years. It’s just when they get one, it becomes addictive and they keep getting more.

George (the customer in the chair) had his own theory, “I think the manufacturer puts something in the ink to make you crave more tattoos!” He is speaking from experience!

Chris: Oh man, women are a lot easier to work on, they can sit still for hours, while a biker comes in, gets a few dots and starts getting antsy to get done and out.

Elizabeth: Yeah, and the guys are always the first to pass out!

CC: Have you ever put on a tattoo you didn’t want to?

Chris: Yes, today someone came in and we didn’t like what they wanted to do so we gave them our input and advice. Sometimes the customers don’t always know how it’s going to look and we want to try and explain so they understand. If the request is too outrageous, we will refer them to someone else.

CC: What do you feel has been the biggest impact in the industry?

Chris: The greatest thing that has happened, and your going to laugh at this, but
Dennis Rodman! When he steps into his hi-tops and hits the court with all his tattoos, it’s just awesome. In addition, there are extremely talented new kids who are kickin’ butt. They are doing great things in tattooing that guys who have been in the business for 20 years still can’t do. There are a lot of great artists in Kansas City, it’s really great to see so many.

CC: Are there any rules you enforce?

Elizabeth: No food, no drinks, no smoking, no pets, no kids, no loitering.

Chris: We won’t tolerate any of those. I was in a shop in Florida and the guy tattooing was eating a Twinkie, barefoot and smoking!

CC: What do you do for cleanliness and to keep the equipment sterile?

Chris: All of our equipment is disposable, we wear gloves, the City of Independence requires an annual blood test, and you can’t work until the results come back. We do use an autoclave and with the new needles, we solder them down to a flat, round or pointed shape then put them in the autoclave to sterilize again as extra protection. We also lay all the new sealed packages of equipment we are using on a piece of plastic. When the job is done, we roll everything up in the plastic and place it in a biohazard container.

CC: Why not use standard needles?

Chris: Because each artist has a different style and being able to use various shapes of needles allows them to be more creative.

CC: Do you do tattoo removals?

Chris: It depends on the tattoo, you can laser them off, but it's expensive, I use a white ink procedure that takes several applications over a period of several months. I then use a flesh tone ink to fill in. It doesn’t make it go away, but it makes way for a new tattoo to be put on.

CC: What should a person look for in a tattoo artist?

Chris: Look for smooth flowing line work, bold colors. We ask customers to look through all the artists’ portfolio books and see what they like best. We have a portrait artist and you just bring in the picture you want done and he can duplicate it to a tee. I would also suggest they get on the Internet and do some research on what they are about to do to their body so the have a better understanding.

CC: Do you have any license requirements besides the state?

Chris: Yes, the city of Independence requires an annual license by each artist, plus the shop maintains his or her own city and state annual license.

I was also informed by Seth Owens, an employee, that the business has liability insurance, but that the artists are independent contractors and they each have customers sign a consent and waiver form.

CC: Do you do body piercing?

Elizabeth: Yes, we have three guys, but we don’t do any piercing below the waist, and no minors.

CC: Why not below the waist?

Elizabeth: The liability and women are more prone to infections so we try to do a minimum of piercing. Ears, navel, tongue, nose and eyebrows.

Chris: The tongue is the fastest healing too.

CC: Do you do facial cosmetic tattooing?

Elizabeth: As soon as we have time we want to. We have a friend who owns a salon in Mission who wants to book Chris a couple times a week to do eyebrows, eyeliner and lip color.

CC: Does skin tone make a difference when getting a tattoo?

Chris: It depends on a person’s skin on how fast they heal, how much it scabs over and some people are allergic to certain inks.

Becky Ketner, George’s wife, mentioned that she was allergic to red inks and it caused her to break out. Elizabeth said Becky has five tattoos and has to be careful in her ink selections. Becky also has a 'bad ass’ bike.

CC: What advice would you give people doing it for the first time?

Elizabeth: Take your time, don’t rush into it. Tattoos are forever, think about it.

Chris: Take vitamins, don’t drink, and maintain good hygiene.

CC: What designs seem to be the most popular?

Chris: Guys are still getting tribal (solid black), but I’m seeing more coming in for Black and Gray, no color tattoos.

CC: Do most of your customers know what they want?

Chris: Customers who want custom work usually do. We are doing more free-hand work also.

Elizabeth: Some come in and say they have this much money, so free hand whatever you want.

CC: After four years, are you facing any business obstacles?

Elizabeth: I don’t think there are any. As long as we are good we will have customers and a following. Finding the right crew is important in any business, I would rather have one guy (looking and speaking to Chris) who is phenomenal versus ten guys who do half-ass work.

CC: What is the age of the oldest customer you have tattooed?

Chris: The lady who came in from the Lake of the Ozarks, she was in her mid 70’s. She had gone to another shop and they told her she was too old. She came in here and all she wanted was a little rose. We did it and she left happy!

CC: What are the most tattoos you have put on one person?

Chris: That’s hard to say because I spent over 100 hours on one customer over a period of years. I mostly do large tattoos that are pieces of work that all come together in a sleeve (completely covered areas). You just keep adding to whatever is already there and it all flows together.

CC: What body part do you think is the most sensitive to tattoo?

Everyone has an opinion on this one; I’m hearing voices all around me, abs, ribs, lower back, neck, penis!

Chris: There are 80-pound girls coming in for a 3-hour tattoo on their lower back.

Elizabeth: One client had two rows of flames tattooed on his penis.

Chris: For the record, I did not do that work.

Ouch! I bet any guys reading this are grimacing. I thought of several questions to ask about that type of procedure, but I think I will let a reader who wants to share his story inform us on the details. Any takers?

CC: What follow-up advice do you give after receiving a tattoo?

Chris: The sun is not your friend, sunscreen lotion and follow the after care instructions we give you.

Elizabeth: Any touch-ups after the initial tattoo are free.

CC: Do you sponsor any charity events?

Elizabeth: Yes, we do an annual Customer Appreciation Day in June and the proceeds benefit the Dream Factory. We provide free food, free drinks, a bike show, bikini contest and I fly the Penthouse girls in to sign autographs. Our parking lot is packed with motorcycles and it’s a really fun day.

Chris: Area businesses made donations of about $5,000 in merchandise and we had a raffle. The Dream Factory little boy stayed in a hotel for the night with his family and then was picked up in a limousine the next day and chauffeured to the Chiefs game. It was really exciting to be a part of it.

Elizabeth: We also participate in Bikers for Babies, Run what you Brung, and Special Olympics.

It was quite obvious that Chris and all his talents could not do a tattoo as big as their heart is when it comes to children. I could hear it in their voices, I could see it in their eyes how touching it is to help others, especially kids. Sharing and giving back to their community is definitely part of their business.

They love to ride, they love tattooing, and they have even converted a 35’ school bus into a mobile tattoo shop. They take it to Sturgis, South Dakota every year for the bike rally and have met so many people from all over the United States. Now those customers are coming to Kansas City for Chris to do their work. You can’t ask for a bigger compliment than that folks!

The excitement, friendliness, upbeat attitudes and laid-back atmosphere are why this business is such a success. Stop by, introduce yourself, meet the staff, and get inked! Be sure to tell the crew you read their review in Cycle Connections Online Motorcycle Magazine!

I had so much fun with this interview; the questions and answers were flying right and left. I almost wanted to jump into the chair and have Chris ink me, but once again, duty calls me on to the next interview.

Story & Photos by Goldie Arnold

Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Shop has been servicing both new and old American V-Twin bikes for more than seven years. Owner and mechanic, John Small and his crew of certified technicians provide restorations, complete engine rebuilds, custom paint, collision repair, inspections, and warranty work on Harley-Davidson motorcycles. They also specialize in custom built bikes and are big in the V-Twin hot rod scene. Whether you’re looking for a fully blown bike or simple bolt-on horsepower, Rolling Thunder can make it happen!

Conveniently located next door to Alter Ego in North Kansas City, Missouri, Rolling Thunder serves a large base of satisfied customers, not only in the Kansas City area, but as far away as Columbia and St. Joseph, Missouri. I asked John why someone would bring their bike to him from out of town, and what makes his shop so unique? “Customer service and satisfaction” was his immediate response. “We work on both new and used bikes, change tires while you wait, do tune-ups in a couple of hours, and provide same day turn around on service work requiring five hours or less” says John. That, my friend, is one of the keys to Rolling Thunder’s success!

John also told me that many new customers are shocked when they find out how quickly they can have work done on their bikes. John said, “I had a guy call me the other day and asked how long he would have to leave his bike to have a tire changed. He said a local dealer told him if he brought it in on Tuesday, he should be able to pick it up by Friday. When I told him to just bring it in and we’d fix it while he waited, he couldn’t believe it!”

Another key to Rolling Thunder’s success is John’s staff of skilled mechanics and certified technicians. Don Loomis, Tom Keller, and Jim “Pup” Hatley are skilled professionals with years of experience. While I was there, John and his crew were working on a very nice custom ’52 Panhead. John told me they had previously added a belt drive and electric starter to the bike and was now doing additional work on the customer’s bike. At the other end of the shop, Don and Tom were busy working on a Sportster that had been rear-ended. In the short time I was there, I was able to see the full spectrum of what Rolling Thunder has to offer customers who own both newer and vintage bikes.

While looking at the endless collection of photos, flyers, and memorabilia that fill the walls of his small office, it was obvious that John likes to help others by sponsoring local charity rides and events. “We sponsor rides and events for organizations, such as St. Judes Children, the Salvation Army, and the Commander’s Club for disabled veterans.” I also noticed a plaque on the wall, which identified John as a Bronze leader for the Commander’s Club.

Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Shop is located at 4131 N. Brighton in Kansas City, Missouri, (next door to Alter Ego). If you’re looking for great customer service and reasonable rates, give John a call at 816-452-0157 and tell him you heard about them in Cycle Connections Online Motorcycle Magazine.

Story & Photos by Mike Schweder

When you think of custom motorcycles, many of us flash back to the latest episode of American Chopper or one of the numerous Bike Build-off specials we've seen on the Discovery Channel. Names like Jesse James, Billy Lane and Indian Larry come to mind, however, there are two other names floating around the custom motorcycle arena, and they are “Nick Kasik,” founder of Temptress Choppers and “Mike Hudson” founder of Heartland Fabrication and Machine in Lee’s Summit, Missouri.

The first time I met Nick was at a bike night at Russo’s Pizza & Pub in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. Nick and his wife Niki, were there to sponsor a wet T-shirt contest and had donated leather chaps, vests, and a jacket for the contest. After talking with Nick for just a few moments, and hearing the excitement in his voice as he showed me his custom Harley-Davidson FXR, which contained several custom parts they produce, I knew I had to find out more about this guy and see more of his work. The next day, I contacted Nick and he was excited to have me drop by so he could “Show me some really cool sh*t” as he put it. He was right! They are doing some very cool and amazing sh*t there in Lee’s Summit!

When I arrived at Temptress Choppers, Nick greeted me at the door and gave me a tour of their new 12,000 square foot facility which houses state of the art computerized equipment. During the tour, I had the unique opportunity to see a solid block of aluminum magically transformed into a custom mirror stem. Very impressive! Nick also handed me a triple tree and showed me how the rake is machined into the contour of the tree-fork tube so it’s flush with the tree to achieve higher strength and superior appearance. We also took a peek in their final assembly room where several custom mirrors were being assembled. Nick handed me a mirror they had rejected earlier that day because they didn’t like how the glass fit into the frame. It looked fine to me, but when Mike and Nick aren’t satisfied with the end result, it’s back to the scrap heap until it’s done right! Temptress mirrors and other parts are featured in several catalogs including the popular J&P Cycles catalog. This comes as no surprise after seeing the quality that goes into all Temptress Choppers products.

After touring the production facility, we made our way to Nick’s modest office located at one end of the facility where we chatted for a while. The walls of Nick’s office were covered with photos and motorcycle paraphernalia, and Nick showed me a few of his favorite photos that were taken of him with Billy Lane and Indian Larry during one of his many trips to Sturgis, South Dakota. I also noticed photos of several custom cars and trucks, which Nick had built before switching his focus to custom bikes. I asked Nick why he doesn’t build cars anymore, and his response was “I can get a lot more bikes in my garage than cars, plus they are much easier to maintain.” I also couldn’t help but notice several photos of Nick and his friends skydiving, rock climbing and whitewater rafting. Nick explained that he has always enjoyed living on the edge, but now prefers to spend any spare time he can find, hanging out at home with Niki and the kids.

Temptress Choppers has been featured in several national motorcycle magazines, including the October 2003 issue of American Iron. When I spoke with Nick, he was getting ready to head down to Daytona Beach, Florida for the annual Biketoberfest rally, where he was invited to a VIP event with Billy Lane, who was going to be in town to judge a bike competition for old school choppers. Nick could do some serious name dropping if he wanted, but that’s just not his style.

I asked Nick where this passion for building custom parts originated, and he explained that he had been building custom bikes for years, but struggled to find unique components to match his specific needs. In early 2002, he began developing ideas for his line of products. As a mechanical engineer with more than 10 years of experience, Nick had the vision and knowledge to create these parts, but lacked the capacity to actually produce them.

It just so happens, that around this same time, Mike Hudson, owner of Heartland Fabrication and Machine, a nationally recognized precision machine shop, was initiating the development of a motorcycle parts division. He also shared the desire to produce innovative motorcycle parts, but lacked the contacts in the motorcycle component industry.

As fate would have it, a fellow motorcycle rider and friend of Nick’s picked up one of Mike’s business cards at a trade show, and knowing that Nick was looking for someone to aid in the production of custom parts, a phone call was made, and the rest is history. The combined resources of Nick and Mike have enabled them to produce truly innovative motorcycle components, which has led to their own proprietary line of custom parts and accessories.

Temptress Choppers has turned the world of custom wheel making upside down by being the first company to offer production run billet aluminum three-dimensional “sculptured” wheels. Until now, “sculptured” wheels have been available only as high-cost luxuries, which are too expensive for most people to even dream about owning. Because of advanced technology and engineering know-how, Nick & Mike can bring these wheels to the market in a cost competitive manner. Nick says “For a little more than the cost of “flat” cut wheels, you can now own one of the most unique wheels available.”

In addition to custom wheels, Temptress Choppers offers a complete line of triple trees, axle covers, mirrors, fork braces, speedometer clamps, cable clamps, shifters, grab bars, derby & point covers, license and brake light brackets, oil coolers, pegs, grips and much more! They are also able to laser etch almost any design into a part for their customers. Nick told me that while Mike’s focus is on customers who want high quality billet products; Nick’s heart and soul still reside in the old school parts, such as their popular Maltese cross oil coolers.

They’ve come a long way since their original retail shop in Grain Valley, Missouri, but now Nick and Mike have combined efforts on the parts design and production operation, creating new ways to build the impossible part. Currently they are in the process of further combining their efforts to create a new company called “No Limitations.” No Limitations will take their unique parts production designs and techniques right to the builders, and become a resource for builders to create new and unusual private label products. Niki Kasik controls marketing and assembly, as well as heading the scheduling of customer relations activities, while Kristi Hudson manages the business office operations and controls the day to day activities.

Before leaving, I was also hoping to chat with Mike for a bit, but Nick told me he was currently out of town working on a deal with the folks at Paul Yaffe Originals. Wow! What’s next?

Temptress Choppers is located at 1695 SE Decker Street in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. Make sure to check them out at or give Nick a call at 816-875-1040.

Story and Photos By Mike Schweder

A-1 is located in the heart of Gladstone, Missouri where the name says it all. As you walk through the doors you will find a friendly, helpful, and professional staff of seven anxiously awaiting the opportunity to ink or pierce some part of your body.

Brennan O’Rourke, owner/operator, has been a tattoo artist for 16 years. His expertise in artistic design and tattooing comes from a background in art and an invaluable apprenticeship with a biker from the old school, Wild Bill of Columbus, Georgia. Brennan said Wild Bill was unbelievable, an awesome mentor, and he learned so much from him. Brennan has received many awards and has been recognized at numerous conventions for his tattoo artistry. He was named “Best Tribal Design” artist at this year’s Am-Jam. He also was selected as one of two featured artists for a two month OzFest Tour this past summer.

Chris Hughes is A-1’s body piercing specialist and has been in the business for 11 years. He started out as a punk rock kid doing piercing on himself and his friends. Now Chris has a degree in Nursing and was named “Best Body Piercing” specialist in the Midwest by Pitch Magazine. He has traveled to Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia to visit, train and work in other studios. Chris has been riding motorcycles since he was 3 years old and also restores and races vintage British motorcycles. He presently owns four bikes and rides daily, weather permitting.

According to Brennan and Chris, when it comes to tattoos you get what you pay for. If you choose cheap, you will soon be running to a real artist to have it covered up. Their advice is to shop around, not for price, but for quality. This is not something you want to rush in to lightly. Many people decide on impulse or on a whim to get a tattoo, and then usually don’t want to wait. When you decide to get a tattoo, take the time to find the right artist. Look for an excellent artist, view their portfolio and look closely at their work. Look at their lines to see if they are smooth and not jagged. Colors should be bold and completely inked. See if they are friendly and willing to talk with you by asking questions. Ask your friends. If they had a good experience, they will share it with you. If they had a bad experience, they will warn you.

Tattoos and body piercing are safe, as long as you go to a reputable artist that goes by recommended safety pre-cautions. Both Brennan and Chris have 80% of their bodies tattooed. I asked Brennan and Chris a few questions about the tattoo and body piercing industry, their philosophy and the current trends.

CC: Is there a license or certification required to do tattoos? If so, what is the fee?

Brennan: No, there is no certification required, but the State of Missouri, Department of Economical Development does require you to be licensed. For a fee of $100, a person can operate a business anywhere, from a basement home operation to a dumpster behind a fast food restaurant. The business pays an annual $500 fee plus $100 per employee. The State comes out once a year for an inspection of your premises.

CC: How do you sterilize your equipment?

Brennan: The process for sterilization of equipment is done with steam in an autoclave. Using this process eliminates cross contamination. We perform a spore (live bacteria) test weekly, which is then sent to a lab to be analyzed. All of our tools are disposable.

CC: Who is getting tattoos these days?

Chris: Everyone! No certain groups, we have blue collar, white collar, priests, you name it.

CC: What designs are females getting and where on their body are they being tattooed?

Brennan: In the past couple of years, females have gone from small tattoos to larger ones and from single to multiple tattoos. The designs have been hearts, angels and butterflies. If you noticed the girl who just walked outside, I finished her entire back this time.

CC: Yes, I did notice. Wow! Impressive work!

Chris: The lower back and ankles are the most popular areas and we have noticed there are more older women getting tattoos also.

CC: What do you consider older?

Chris: Oh, 50 or so.

That hit up close and personal to me, of course, I have a son their age and he probably thinks his mom is old too!

CC: What designs are the guys getting?

Brennan: Arm bands, tribal, Japanese influence.

CC: What is tribal?

Brennan: Solid black designs, loops, points and lines. Take a look at our books they are filled with tribal designs.

CC: Is there an age requirement?

Brennan: Yes, 18 years old and they must have a state issued ID.

CC: When I hear that someone got a tattoo, invariably someone will ask if they were drunk when they got it. Is that common?

Chris: No, we absolutely will not work on someone who has alcohol content; it’s also against state law. If I found someone with alcohol on their breath, they would be asked to leave.

CC: What is the oldest client you have tattooed or pierced?

Chris: An 86-year-old man who promised his wife he would never get a tattoo. After she passed away he came in and had a poker hand tattooed on the knuckles of one hand and his wife’s name on the other.

CC: How long does a tattoo take?

Brennan: The average is approximately 45 minutes to an hour. Of course that depends on the size and design.

CC: Do you do custom designs?

Brennan: Yes, I usually draw the design on paper first go over it with the customer then make any changes. My portfolios are filled with samples of my work.

CC: Do most people know what design they want when they come in?

Brennan: Sometimes. Whatever a client wants or picks out has its own meaning to the individual and shows how it relates to them. I don’t judge others.

CC: What is the most sensitive part of the body to tattoo?

Brennan: The ribcage is usually the last place someone will get done.

CC: Even if you have excess body fat?

Brennan: Body fat and bone does not make a difference, it’s the nerves and nerves feel pain!

CC: Do you do facial tattoos?

Brennan: No, we choose not to. If done right, it looks good.

CC: What areas are the easiest to pierce?

Chris: Ears, tongue, eyebrow.

CC: What is the most piercing you have seen on one person?

Chris: I saw 100 on a guy.

CC: What is the healing time for a naval piercing?

Chris: Six to ten months to heal, must stay out of the water six to eight weeks and follow proper care instructions.

CC: What is the biggest change you have seen in the industry in the past several years?

Brennan: Technique, more and more people getting into the business are artists.

Chris: Many have art training or are degreed; they are creative, know proper color blending and are experts at custom design.

CC: Where do you get your tattoos?

Chris: Guest artists that come to town or other studios out of state.

Brennan: Or we do each other occasionally.

CC: How difficult is it to remove tattoos?

Brennan: We don’t do removals, only cover-ups. I can’t imagine any of my clients wanting to remove a tattoo I have put on them. We do great tattoos.

A-1 is in business to put on great tattoos that are pieces of art that you wear for life. Brennan does excellent work and is very proud of it.

CC: What happens when a tattoo is put on too deep?

Brennan: It really messes the person up; whoever does this has no clue about the skin.

Dustin and Jessi Wolf shared an example of this experience with me. I met them while on a ride with the Southern Cruisers – KC Chapter. From a recommendation of a friend (not always a good resource), Dustin went to a “basement operator.” The guy needed money to open a business so he was trying to help him out. Dustin looked at custom designs that had the guy’s name on them, but later found out they were not his work. The guy had five years experience; little did Dustin know how bad it would get. Because Dustin works for Ford, is proud to be a union man and an American, he wanted FORD on his upper left arm. The so-called artist went to deep in the skin, and according to Dustin, 'it blew out, so the color blurs out under the skin.' It looked like a big smudge on his arm to me, and FORD was barely visible. Dustin’s next tattoo will be a cover-up over the mistake of an unskilled, inexperienced, basement operator. Jessi also had a tattoo put on too deep and the area raised up and the ink seeped up through the skin. The same guy that did Dustin’s also did Jessi’s. Beware folks!

Dustin and Jessi were given birthday gifts by Dustin's sister, Brande Luna who has several tattoos, and just received her sixth the day before this interview, all from A-1. Because they do not wear wedding bands, they had matching wedding bands tattooed on their left arms two years ago. Jessi has two tattoos so far and is already getting psyched up for her next one, “a wolf of course,” says Jessi. Dustin has three tattoos. They highly recommend the talent and skill of A-1 Tattoo.

As the interview came to a close at the A-1 studio, several customers had come in wanting information on new tattoos, designs, cover-ups and prices. The minimum price is $50. Dustin and Jessi’s wedding bands were $150 each. I browsed through Brennan’s portfolio of tattoos and Chris’s portfolio of body piercing (wide eyed by the end)! The places people decide to get pierced were quite amazing to this “older woman!” I was impressed with the detail, color and designs of the custom work. Both Brennan and Chris are very skilled and talented artists that take their business seriously, and they want their customers to feel welcome and come back. Brennan’s parting words were, “If a tattoo looks good now, it should look good in 20 years. It’s going to age, but they can age gracefully if put on correctly.”

I enjoyed this interview so much that I seriously thought about hanging around and getting a tattoo, but duty calls, on to the next interview!

If you are contemplating getting a tattoo, stop in and visit with A-1. Be sure to tell Brennan and Chris that you read their review in Cycle Connections.

Story and Photos by Goldie Arnold

April 30, 2011

Dawg's Barter Bike

I recently met Mike “Dawg” Bradley via mutual friends at our local hangout. He’s a junk man by pedigree as his father was before him. He described a project that he had been envisioning in his sleep, and that it was going to be a personal challenge for him to complete in “30 days.” Building bikes and cars has been a passion for him his entire life, but given the timeframe and the fact he was starting with “zero;” this was a daunting task. Mike disappeared for nearly a month, and when I started getting photos of his progress, I was amazed. The complete build took him only 27 days of working alone.

Mike’s so called “Barter Bike” was quickly taking shape. He initially traded a 2001 Chevy truck bed for the custom wheels and tires, a jet ski for the frame, a 1993 mustang for the motor, transmission and tins, and sold a rigid bike frame to complete the build. What Mike created in his backyard garage was incredible, as you can see from the photos. He personally designed, built, and painted this beauty himself….no credit cards here. Mike has $1,100 invested in this bike that is conservatively valued at 30k.

I recently talked “Dawg” into allowing me to take a few photos. He’s a very talented, yet humble bike builder, who certainly fits the image that Cycle Connections may like to promote.

Build Sheet:
- 2005 Custom Softail
- S&S 110 motor
- 6-speed transmission
- Custom wheels
- 200 rear tire
- 20” ape hangers w/forward controls

By Chip Wright

This eye-catching new addition to the Ducati superbike family is a true work of art. With its naked design, powerful 185 bhp engine, massive 50mm Marzocchi forks and protruding air intakes, this is a bike to be reckoned with, both on the street and at the track.
On Friday, March 25, 2011, Steve Okenfuss, owner of Reno’s Powersports in Kansas City, Missouri invited Wally and I to his Ducati Diavel Launch Party. Unfortunately, I had a prior commitment, but Wally was able to attend and gather the following specs on this incredible new bike.

Diavel Carbon - Technical Specification

Frame: Tubular steel Trellis frame
Wheelbase: 62.6 inches
Rake: 28 degrees
Front Suspension: Marzocchi DLC coated 50mm fully adjustable usd forks
Front Wheel Travel: 4.7 inches
Front Wheel: Marchesini forged and machined 9-spoke 3.50x17
Front Tire: 120/70 ZR 17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso II
Rear Suspension: Progressive linkage with fully adjustable Sachs monoshock. Aluminium single-sided swingarm
Rear Wheel Travel: 4.7 inches
Rear Wheel: Marchesini forged and machined 9-spoke 8.00 x 17
Rear Tire: 240/45 ZR17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso II
Front Brake: 2 x 320mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Monobloc Brembo calipers, 4-piston with ABS
Rear Brake: 265mm disc, 2-piston floating caliper with ABS
Fuel Tank Capacity: 4.5 US gallons
Dry Weight: 465 pounds
Instruments: Handlebar mounted instrumentation with LCD display: speed, rpm, time, coolant temp. Warning lights for: Neutral, turn signals, high-beam, rev-limit, DTC intervention, ABS status, oil pressure, fuel reserve. Tank mounted instrumentation with TFT color display: gear selected, air temp, battery voltage, trips 1 & 2, fuel reserve trip, average and actual fuel consumption, average speed, trip time, scheduled maintenance. Full status and/or management of Riding Modes, DTC, RbW and ABS
Warranty: 2 years unlimited mileage
Body Color: Red and Matt Carbon (red/black) - Glossy and Matt
Frame/Wheel: Carbon (racing black/black)
Versions: Dual seat
Seat Height: 30.3 inches

Type: Testastretta 11°, L-Twin cylinder, 4 valve per cylinder, Desmodromic, liquid cooled
Displacement: 1198.4cc
Bore x Stroke: 106 x 67.9mm
Compression Ratio: 11.5:1
Power: 162hp @ 9500rpm
Torque: 94lb-ft @ 8000rpm
Fuel Injection: Mitsubishi electronic fuel injection system, Mikuni elliptical throttle bodies with RbW
Exhaust: Lightweight 2-1-2 system with catalytic converter and two lambda probes. Twin aluminum mufflers

Gearbox: 6-Speed
Ratio: 1=37/15 2=30/17 3=27/20 4=24/22 5=23/24 6=22/25
Primary Drive: Straight cut gears, ratio 1.84:1
Final Drive: Front sprocket 15; Rear sprocket 43
Clutch: Light action, wet, multiple clutch with hydraulic control. Self-servo action on drive, slipper action on over-run

Standard: Euro 3

This bike has 59,000 miles and is in excellent condition.

$3,500.00 or best offer

For additional information, contact Wally at 816-679-5235.

Fremont Street Experience Commissions the First Ever Las Vegas-Themed Motorcycle
Las Vegas (June 12, 2009) --Award-winning bike builder James Callahan announced today that Callahan Custom Cycles , has been commissioned by Fremont Street Experience to build the first ever Las Vegas-themed motorcycle as part of Fremont Street Experience’s 'Born To Be Wild' promotion.
“It is an honor to have been chosen for this build,” Callahan said. “I take pride in knowing that the Callahan name will forever be a part of Las Vegas history. We want to thank Fremont Street Experience for putting their confidence in our shop.” .
Fremont Street Experience is a five-block entertainment destination which links 10 downtown Las Vegas hotel-casinos. The featured attraction of Fremont Street Experience is the world’s largest video screen, Viva Vision. The “Pit Boss” custom motorcycle is scheduled to be unveiled during Las Vegas’ BikeFest weekend, Oct. 1-4. .
The privilege of designing the Las Vegas-themed custom bike, deemed “Pit Boss”, went to conceptual artist and designer Bogdan 'Bo' Asciu, owner of Custom Eyes Concepts Co.. The concept design of 'Pit Boss’ can currently be seen nightly in its virtual form in “Born 2B Wild.” The six-minute video plays nightly at midnight on Fremont Street Experience’s world-renowned Viva Vision canopy screen. The world’s largest LED video screen spans 1,500 feet of four blocks, captivating viewers with 12.5 million lights along with a 550,000-watt sound system. .
“We used the concept of 'Pit Boss’ in our new Viva Vision show 'Born 2B Wild’, which we debuted at last year’s Las Vegas BikeFest,” said Jeff Victor, President of Fremont Street Experience. “Now during this year’s Las Vegas BikeFest, we will be unveiling the real thing. Between Bogdan’s unique design and the talent that James brings to the build, we know we have a classic, one-of-a-kind motorcycle in the making.” .
“Fremont Street Experience gave us a well-written theme description which fit well with my love of old school bike and car designs. Conceiving the 'Pit Boss’ proved effortless,” Asciu said regarding his inspiration for the “Pit Boss” design. “I am immensely grateful to Fremont Street Experience for giving the builder and myself this incredible once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It's truly an honor to work with them and Callahan Custom Cycles to add to the history of Fremont Street.' .
For additional information on this build, its participants or to become a sponsor, please contact Milton Campis at Over The Limit Productions.

October 31, 2008

2008 Can-Am Spyder

When I was approached by Steve Okenfuss of Reno's Yamaha in Kansas City, Missouri to come and see the 2008 Can-Am Spyder, I jumped at the chance. For those of you who are not familiar with the Spyder, it is a 3-wheeled roadster made by Bombardier Recreational Products that offers the performance of a traditional motorcycle with “much of the peace-of-mind of a convertible sports car.” It is powered by a Rotax) 990 V-Twin engine that produces 106 hp. The Spyder uses an ATV-like chassis with a single rear drive wheel, and two wheels in front for steering (similar in layout to a snowmobile.) In most US states (Washington, Delaware and California are exceptions) the Spyder is licensed as a motorcycle, though some reviewers have stated it is much easier to achieve proficiency and confidence with the Spyder than with a motorcycle.
Steve and I met at one of the local Kansas City lakes to bang this 106 horsepower beast through the corners. (Steve rode; I took pictures.) The Spyder maxes out around 130 mph. The main feature is a stability system or VSS that monitors the vehicle at all times and intervenes in case one of the front wheels lifts off the ground (it cuts the engine and applies the brake on the outer wheel). The Spyder also comes with additional convenience features such as simplified braking (front and rear brakes are both actuated by the same foot pedal), a true reverse gear, power steering and an optional electric shift transmission. It has a 6.6 gallon gas tank gets up to 30-35 miles to the gallon. The Spyder is not only fun, it’s functional. Even the cargo compartment under the “hood” at the front of the vehicle is roomy enough for a 12 pack and at least 1 extra helmet. To help prevent theft, there is the DESS (Digitally Encoded Security System). The vehicle will not start without the correctly coded key.
Billed as a vehicle that offers the performance of a traditional motorcycle with much of the peace-of-mind of a convertible sports car, there is nothing like it on the road. It is in a vehicle category all its own. Marketing efforts are geared toward baby boomers who are seeking the thrill of the ride but with clutchless shifting technology and added safety features.
Though it provides an entirely different sensation than a motorcycle or trike, the Can-Am Spyder is a new alternative for those looking to add a new dimension to their riding experience.

By Dave Miller

Sometimes, things just stand out in a crowd. There seems to always be that one motorcycle at a bike night or motorcycle run that just seems to have “it.” It could be a flashy paint job, a monster engine, flashy wheels, or a combination of any or all of the above. Rarely is it a stock motorcycle though, because that stand-out ride usually is a full-on custom or someone’s dream bike that they have built. Well, when I showed up to Rt. 66 Ridley in Carthage, Missouri for a test ride, I was very surprised at what exactly was waiting for me. Sitting up next to the wall outside, against a blue background, was a gorgeous motorcycle. One that said, “Look at me, I am one of a kind.” The pearl and teal paint shone in the sunlight, the flash of chrome, and the fine lines stood out in my mind right off the bat. I thought to myself, this can’t be a stock bike; its detail is way too high for a stock bike. Boy, was I wrong on that one.

Derek came out and said hi, shook my hand, and in his laid back way, thanked me for coming out. We went over some of the specifications I had questions about, and I looked the bike over. When I say Ridley puts attention to detail into their motorcycles, I am making the understatement of the year. The lines on this bike, the fit and finish, the quality of components…all are standout, and outstanding. First thing you notice about this bike is the level of components that are used. From the braided stainless steel lines for the brakes and throttle to the polished brake rotors, there are all kind of goodies used on this bike. I will go over more of the details of what is used on this bike in the ride details.

We hopped on the bikes, (he has a Classic also), set the choke, pulled in the brake, and fired off the bikes. The motors came to life, with mine being quite a bit more subdued in sound due to the stock 80DB pipes on the bike. Actually, as I have gotten older, I have gotten to where I appreciate the lack of noise constantly berating my eardrums. The exhaust has a great standout feature that you would not normally see on a stock motorcycle--ceramic coating. While not flashy like chrome, its redeeming quality makes it far more desirable to me than the fancy chrome in most cases. Tough, durable, and corrosion resistant, it makes for a lot less time taking care of something that can dull and require a lot of cleaning just because of where it is located. Derek went over some details with me to bring to my attention how different it would feel to ride an “automatic and shiftless” motorcycle, since I was used to riding my big Twin. “You will use your brakes just a bit more, because you won’t downshift. It takes some people a little time to get used to it, but most catch on quick,” Derek said. So after a little warm-up, off we went.

The bikes ergonomics are very good. Reach to the bars and controls were very comfortable. I was torn between wanting the high/low beam and the horn buttons switched out in where they were located, but for safety’s sake, they are actually probably better off where they are. The throttle was effortless, and very smooth. The floorboards had lots of room, but on the left side, the casing does rub your boot. Derek had told me that tall people usually ride with their foot in front of that case, and short people ride with it towards the back. Being six feet tall, I did end up riding with my feet more forward on the bike, and it seemed it wasn’t an issue as much as I thought it would be. The reach to the brake pedal was fine, and you could tell that the ball bearings inside the pedal housing led to a lot smoother feel on the pedal. The amount of rubber to put your feet against also gave more confidence to your braking. Braking is handled by four piston calipers front and rear, made exclusively for Ridley. A little heavier than your standard calipers of the same size, they are made that way because you will tend to slow down your bike with your brakes instead of engine braking. The front brake, as well as the back brake, works well with this bike, slowing the bike down with ease, and hauling you down to a stop with little effort.

At idle at the stop signs, the bike vibrated just enough to give you the feel you expect; a little more noticeable than a Honda, but a lot less noticeable than a Harley. To me, it was just right. When you pulled away and got up to highway speeds, the stock mirrors showed no vibrations and were very easy to see out of, another safety factor I like. The digital dash was easy to read in the sunlight, and had all the things you need to see. I would have liked bigger turn signal indicators, but that is just personal preference. Speaking of safety, this bike is adorned with great lighting, and LED turn signals front and back allow the cars around you to see what you are planning. They also have a self canceling feature, so that gets an A+. A real cool retro styled tombstone taillight out back leaves an uncluttered look to the rear of the bike. The wires for the turn signals are more or less hidden for a clean look.

The stock seat was a little hard on the tailbone, but to give it a break, it had not been broken in. It may give a little after a bit, but I would probably do the upgrade on the seat. I sat on Derek’s, and he had the touring version. Very nice, comfortable, and supportive in all the right spots, it is one that I would spring the small amount of green backs for.
The 40 degree rake in the neck, with a 3 degree offset in the trees gave the bike a wonderful ride. This bike invokes confidence in a lot of riders, from large to small. The adjustable Progressive suspension is top of the line, and handled all that I could give it. I am a big boy, (my wife reminds me of this all the time, too bad I have never met Jenny Craig) and I can test a suspension. The front tracked well, and the rear soaked up everything out there, and was very smooth going over a couple of rough railroad crossings out in the scenic area we rode in. The low seat height made for planting your feet easy, and came in at just over 24 inches. The dry weight on this bike is listed at 450 pounds, but it never felt that heavy. The 66 inch wheelbase led to a lot of the stability the bike had. It came shod with Metzler 880s front and rear, on 60 spoke, 16 inch wheels. Very nice touch if you ask me.

Riding down the road, it didn’t take long to get used to the auto-glide, shiftless transmission. I was a little worried at first when I heard the belt disengage, but got used to it. It wasn’t real loud, but I heard it, and until I figured out that it was one of the noises you hear, I was a little worried. Like I said though, after I knew I was supposed to be hearing it, it didn’t bother me. The bike responded real well to throttle input, and was very comfortable with highway speeds around 55-60 MPH. I can’t give you an interstate feel for this bike, because I didn’t take it for a ride down the super slab. With the proper tweaking on the throttle and finding its sweet spot, it shouldn’t be a problem at all to ride it at interstate speeds. The carb is more than enough for the engine, and leaves room for performance upgrades. A windshield may also help with any buffeting or streamlining, but the bike I test rode was not equipped with one, so I can’t tell you just what it would do. It didn’t take very long to get used to the automatic feature of this bike. I would love to have had one down in Florida with me when I was there in the stop and go traffic a few weeks ago. Not having to hold the clutch in was great at the stop signs, and like I said before, the bike pulled away with authority from a stop. I give the Mikuni 36MM Flatslide carb a lot of credit for that. The 90 degree V-Twin has plenty of power for its 750 CC of size.

When I got back to the shop from my ride, I set another feature of this bike that is safety minded. The parking brake. Easy to use, great piece of mind for parking on a hill. With a little practice, it is easy to engage and disengage. The kickstand on this bike is set a little farther back than I would like, but it is easy to find also.

Talking to Derek, I asked him about maintaining the bike. Maintaince is easy, with a drain plug on the front for changing the oil, a common spin on oil filter that is common on a lot of American made brands, and the K and N oil filter within easy reach. More mind easing features if you ask me. Another cool feature is the standard battery tender, with a plug in already installed right under the seat and easy to get to. I like that. I have never run across a bike with that already on it, and it makes it great for those long winter weeks when you might not get to ride because of the weather.

To summarize my ride, I would have to say I was way more impressed with this bike than a lot of bikes I have ridden. Ridley targets a certain audience, but to be honest, the bike will fit a larger segment of riders than most would know. Getting someone to just try it, may be the key to breaking down that barrier of “old school” thinking. I have to admit, I would not mind having one of these bikes myself. It would fit my wife just perfect, and the shiftless riding is wonderful. The bikes are priced high, and the test bike was outfitted with optional paint and matching frame and white wall tires. Its suggested retail was $19,425. Now that being said, I think the bike’s price is well within reason by looking at what you get exactly. The fit and finish of this bike should be looked at by other manufactures, for it really stands out. The level of components that I have mentioned deserves merit also. And then on top of that, there is the exclusitivity factor of owning one. Ridley really believes in the way they build them, for they back it up with a 2 year warranty. That also says something right there. So all and all a wonderful bike, that reaches its target audience right on the money. I really wish I didn’t have to park it; I could have had more fun and easy riding than I could ever hope for. Thanks again Derek, you showed once again why you are one of the best dealers to deal with in the Midwest.

2008 Ridley Auto-Glide Classic:
Suggested retail price as tested: $19,425
Standard features noted on test bike that stood out:

60 spoke laced wheels front/back with polished brake rotors
4-piston brake calipers, front/back
Metzler 880 tires
Tubular swingarm with adjustable Progressive suspension
K & N filter
Digital dash
Braided SS throttle and brake lines
Screw in gas caps with paint saver features
Chrome switch housings
Ceramic coated dual exhaust

Optional features:

Premium paint and matching frame
Whitewall tires

For a complete list of the factory specifications, log on to

Review by Jim Austin

Photos by Paul 'Luc Chokota with Reflections by Paul Photography