American Motorcyclist February 2019

Quest completed!

Homebuilt Bike Fulfills Longtime Dream

What if your boss offered you cash to pursue a dream? Not a ton of cash. But enough to make one thing happen.

AMA member Ash Watkins, of West Liberty, Ohio, received a $4,000 grant from his employer, CoverMyMeds, in 2017 to fulfill his quest of building a motorcycle. It is part of the company’s CoverMyQuest program, which allows employees to pursue personal projects.

“I have been riding and wrenching on bikes for over 14 years and always dreamed of building my own,” Watkins said. “However, I decided to challenge myself. As if a $4,000 budget wouldn’t be hard enough, I wanted to show how amazing Ohio is by building a bike using parts from Ohio companies.”

His partners included Lowbrow Customs, Led Sled Customs and TC Bros. The companies provided parts, advice and mentorship throughout his project.

“After about nine months of building the bike, by sneaking out to the garage when I could, I finally completed my motorcycle,” Watkins said. “She is a 1996 Harley-Davidson Sportster 883, with almost every part now shiny and brand new. I named her Mary. Since her completion in April 2018, I have entered the bike in three motorcycle shows around Ohio and have won trophies at each one.”

Watkins said all of the parts he used are readily available. But the parts he chose make his bike unique.

“I wanted to make it look like a ’70s chopper, but with a little more aggressive stance,” he said. “The tucked handlebars and shorter sissy bar help give that lowdown look that I was wanting. So, how the bike is assembled and the parts I chose definitely make it unique and mine.

“One big thing is the paint,” which was done by one of the non-Ohio companies Watkins says he worked with. “I teamed up with Blue Moon Kustoms out of Oshkosh, Wis., to have the tins painted. I follow [the owner] on Instagram and love his work! After a few chats back and forth we discussed design. My words were ‘No flames, lots of flake, do you!’”

For the colors, Watkins asked for the favorite colors of members of his family: green for his wife, blue for his son, orange for him, and pink for his baby girl, who was born in January 2018 and “didn’t have a favorite color yet.”

Some other features Watkins is particularly proud of are the thumbs-up valve stem caps, fish scale choke/enricher knob button, and EMD engine covers.

“Strangely—and it’ll probably sound like bragging—but there weren’t too many things that were difficult building the bike,” he said. “I’d say the most challenging thing was the wiring. I tossed out the factory harness and wired everything from scratch. Because of this, I overlooked that the ignition module was needed to get the bike to run. I wired the coils directly from the battery and that was definitely bad. A quick trip to the Harley dealer with a picture of my hand drawn wiring diagram and they pointed out the solution right away. Five minutes after getting home and we had it running!”

Watkins hopes to get his bike into some of the major motorcycle shows, including the Mama Tried Motorcycle Show, Fuel Cleveland or the Garage Brewed Moto Show.