Becky Goebel and Her Bikes
When I moved to America from Canada 2 years ago, I had to sell or take back all my Canadian vehicles because of import laws and immigration stuff. I had a van, a 60s Honda scooter, a vintage Yamaha Dirt Bike, a 2007 Sportster and I had a 95’ Sportster Chopper. So off my stuff went, back up to Canada to it’s new owner or to my parents garage. I needed new bikes and had a new empty garage in Long Beach, CA.
[Note from the Editor: Be sure to check out Axel Co., Becky's motorcycle glove and clothing company!]
My Sportster chopper I had to sell back in Canada. Photo by: Adri Law
I won a Sportster at a bar a couple weeks into needing a bike and then bought myself a 93’ FXRT. Yeah, so far it seems like I’ve had an array of perfectly fine bikes but I never really had a bike that I designed myself, that fit me properly, or I really loved. I’ve never had a bike that ran great or was something I cared to put money into. It was always a “I’ll buy this now and sell it for more later to one day get a bike I love” attitude about my bikes.
How Becky Got Her Motorcycle Rebuild Project
My boyfriend and best friend is Cody Kemmet who does Hawg Supply (you may remember him as @smalldickpoppa). He runs his shop out of the old “Chun” warehouse in downtown LA. Cody is always hustling bikes, but usually only Shovelheads and Panheads. One day he got an awesome deal on a 2001 Harley-Davidson Sportster chopper that he figured he could quick fix and raffle. Cody let me ride it around one day and then the next day, it was gone - raffled off on his Instagram live. At the time I didn’t know but one of our homies won it who lived in Orange County. He ended up riding the bike around for a couple months then took it on DVR and broke it (typical).
Cruising hard with Cody's "raffle bike" before I knew it would be mine.
He hit up Cody and told him he wanted to trade the old motorcycle back to him for a Shovelhead project Cody had laying around his shop, so sure enough, the bike was back around. It was in rough shape but I knew the owner before Cody had just rebuilt the motor, put bigger cams in it and that it was fast as hell. It already was in a hardtail frame so I said f*#k it and bought it off Cody.
The day we got the chrome Sportster back.
The Idea to Chop the Chopper and Start Fresh
How it looked before we chopped it into pieces.
The idea for the motorcycle was to take literally everything off it and start fresh. It had a chrome tank on it throughout this whole process and I hated it at first. But then I figured well, I either pay to get someone to paint the whole bike and probably buy a new tank, or just chrome a fender and call it done. That’s when I hit up Lowbrow Customs to get my hands on a few parts - the Manta Ray Fender, Fender Mount, a new switch, some grips and a throttle housing. Prism Supply sent me some bars, the brake light and a license plate mount. I bought an 18” wheel for the back and a 21” wheel for the front along with each AVON tire and put those together. We chopped out the pill-shaped oil bag, the old fender, all the wiring and plumbing and polished the heads and primary cover. The motor was primarily black before.
We had fun...
The motorcycle starting to come together.
We had a roller and really didn’t have a ton to do to make the bike be a rideable bike. Our biggest issue was the down tube of the frame. It wasn’t straight and the only option we really had for an oil bag to fit in there was a circular or small weird one. Cody and I both didn’t want that so it took some time to figure out what we were going to do. Eventually Cody found a Paughco oil bag that fit on one side of the down tube but still left enough space for the chain. The other side of the bike had a bunch of open space so Cody made a fake oil bag looking cover to put the coil and electrical behind. So now the spark plug wires go through 2 holes we drilled in that and all the wiring is tucked up in there beside the oil bag.
After that, I was able to get that cover, the fender, the bars, the pipes, the license mount and the sissy bar chromed. The tank was already chromed so my bill was alright and I got a homie deal. It was only $400 (I know you’re all wondering how much that cost so I’ll just tell you). Two weeks later we were piecing it all together.
I am aware of the 3 previous owners of this bike. It has been built into every style in the book. I have heard of people having a lot of troubles with certain things on the bike and it defiantly took us some time to tweak it right. I ended up getting a new stator, stator cover, throttle, battery, entire new electrical system, etc. so really there’s nothing left on the bike from before other than the motor and frame that hasn’t been replaced or changed drastically in some way.
A version of the bike from 2014 - 4 owners ago.
Even with that being said, Cody got it pretty much dialed without even taking it off the lift in those last days of building. Even though he’s only worked on a few Evos, he really knocked this one out of the park and I think we both learned a ton throughout my motorcycle rebuild project. We’re even talking about making a matching version of this bike with a Big Twin Evo motor next.
Before wiring, but almost done!
Before dialing it in - This was the first time we rolled it outside into the sunlight since chopping it up.
Finishing the Sportster Chopper Build and Enjoying the First Ride
We took the bike off the lift, fired it up and I was ripping it through downtown LA in a matter of minutes. After that, we cut down the motorcycle handlebars a few inches and did a few adjustments and it was good to go. Right now, I have the bike at my house in Long Beach and ride it around town every day. I've had only a couple small problems; it’s idling a little weird and I blew my headlight - like it totally melted and I could smell it. Other than that, the bike is so solid and so fast. It fits me absolutely perfectly.
My first ride! We got it going at midnight on a Tuesday night.
In the beginning Cody really wanted me to build around a Shovelhead or a BigTwin Evo and I’ve ridden those bikes, I like them, I think they’re cool and whatever but I just love Sportsters. I’m 5”8, 130 pounds and I’m like, so weak. I have no upper body strength, my ass and my legs are the only little bit of power on my body and I wanna ride more than I wanna wrench. I know Sportsters really well and they’re really just the bike for me. I rode that FXRT around LA for the past year and you know what? It sucked. It was heavy and scary and wide and had a fairing on it that was expensive and like, I got nothing to prove guys - Sportsters forever. And now I have one of the baddest Sportsters around thanks to Lowbrow Customs, Prism and Cody!
The final build.
Pipes and oil bag.
Booty shot - Lowbrow Customs Manta Ray Fender was used on the rear.
The faux oil bag with my coil and wiring behind it also using a Lowbrow Customs weatherproof key switch.
The story with this bike is just beginning. I’m happy to say that I have a bike now that I will keep around for as long as possible. You can follow my Instagram for photos of it out in the wild - @actuallyitsaxel and if you ever see me out ripping around, say hey. I’m pretty hard to miss now.
If you want any work done on your chopper, hit up Hawg Supply www.hawgsupply.com or check out his instagram @hawg_supply. You obviously already found the Lowbrow Customs website so make sure to pick up some of your chopper parts there. I recently ordered a mirror from them and they’re my go-to website for pretty much everything I need for my bikes.
The Hawg Supply front courtyard.
Cody in his courtyard - This article needed his face in it somewhere...
Thanks for reading and see you guys on the road! - Becky Goebel
Owner: Becky Goebel
Year/Make/Model: 2001 Harley Davidson Sportster
Fabrication: Hawg Supply
Build Time: 1 year
Year/Type/Size: 2001 883 Sportster (Converted to 1250)
Exhaust: Custom by Hawg Supply
Year/Type: 2001 Sporster
Front Size: 21” Avon Speed Master
Rear Size: 18” Avon Mk II
Paint by: CHROME
Powder coating: n/a
Front Fender: Nope
Rear Fender: Lowbrow Customs 4 3/4" Manta Ray Fender
Gas Tank: Cycle Standard 2.1 Gallon Sportster Frisco Tank
Handlebars: Prism Supply
Grips: Classic Grips Black by Lowbrow Customs
Foot Controls: Stock, Biltwell Sanderson pegs
Headlight: Cycle Standard 5 3/4 chrome bottom mount.
Taillight: The Prism Box chopper light
Turn Signals: Nope
License Mount: Prism Supply
Seat: Some upholstery guy down the road who’s really old
Sissy Bar: Custom by Hawg Supply
UPDATE: Becky Goebel - Invited Born Free Builder 2022
Born Free Invited Builder Becky 'Axel' Goebel and her 1948 Harley PanShovel project. It will be debuted at Born Free in June 2022!
I got invited to build a bike for Born Free and at first I kind of said no. But then I said yes!! I am still building knowledge on working on bikes and as you know, built a bike way out of my comfort zone last year… so I figured, if I can build that thing, I can build a chopper. The whole bike build will take place at Hawg Supply in Downtown LA.
1948 Harley PanShovel Project
I bought this 1948 Harley Davidson PanShovel Motor, Pan Transmission & frame. I’ll be switching the heads & cylinders out for Panheads. I took apart the entire motor and transmission and will be rebuilding from the ground up. I’m not 100% sure yet but I think I’m going to do a springer front end, hand clutch, skinny 21" front wheel, 18" rear wheel, custom Dunlop tires, mechanical brake, lots of parts from Lowbrow including gas tank, really nice paint job and lots of shiny chrome, use a bunch of parts I buy but then also try making a few on my own *with the help of my friends & Hawg Supply* - Like a sissy bar and brake pedal. I’m not really going to do anything over the top crazy - mostly just focus on learning and getting it done. I also want to have a bike in the end that fits me, I can kickstart and ride far as fuck, and I totally understand every part of.
Becky Goebel's Born Free 1948 Harley engine rebuild in progress
Because Born Free got pushed to August last year, that means us builders only have 8ish months to get our bikes done. I’ve already been collecting a lot of parts and tearing into what I can!!
Stay tuned for build updates and photos here!