Featured Chopper: The Dyslexia Bike by Hawke Lawshe of Vintage Technologies
By Lou Stands
Photos by: Trent Sherrill
About 5 to 10% of American kids have some symptoms of dyslexia, such as slow reading, trouble spelling, or mixing up words and numbers. Adults can have this learning disorder as well. Some people are diagnosed early in life, others don't realize they have dyslexia until they get older. Hawke Lawshe must have it pretty bad—let me explain.
Born and raised in Kalispell, Montana, Hawke got his first bike when his dad passed away at age 16. It wasn’t just any bike, but a Harley Davidson Panhead called “Godfather." One catch, it came in a milk crate, a few coffee cans, and no instruction manual. It was Hawke’s first lesson in self-education and he still rides that bike daily back and forth to work.
Hawke started Vintage Technologies officially in 2009 but has been building bikes since the early '90s. He didn’t start in some fancy shop but built his first bikes in his sister’s laundry room. Soon guys were asking him to build baggers with big wheels and big stereos and the business took off. But, personally, he was building bikes that stop you in your tracks. Hawke says, “A show bike should grab you with shock and awe, funky, weird and really blow your mind.” Sometimes that means not everyone likes it or gets what he is trying to create. But he says his bikes are “cooled by the tears of haters.”
Maybe Hawke was fueled by those tears and inspired to build something that breaks all the rules. That is exactly what he set out to do with the chopper you see here. What started as an ‘81 XLS Ironhead Sportster is now “Dyslexia”! It started as a customer build for Todd and Terri Anderson and their son Justin. One day Hawke walked into the shop to find Justin, equipped with a Sawzall, cutting the transmission off the engine! That was just the first of several crazy ideas that make this bike live in a class of its own.
To serve as the backbone for this experiment, a kit from Shortsters has been heavily modified and added to the 42° raked neck of the once original Harley Davidson frame but from there, things get a little mixed up.
The first thing you might notice is the top end is flipped around backwards. This makes the intake and the Rivera SU Eliminator II carburetor protrude from the “wrong side." The exhaust, with inverted fishtail pipes, makes its exit contrary to the norm. Oil is routed from and into the tank on the left, it's chained on the left, and to show that all off, the kickstand is on the opposite side of its traditional location.
The foot clutch, brake, and kicker, all in Honey Gold, retain their normal locations but the list of wrongs keeps going. Up front, an original ‘58 H.D. taillight serves as a headlight. It's lit through a custom yellow lens made by Mason at Physco-Resin. Out back, the taillight, a unit from PRISM Supply, is made to look like a tiny headlight.
Further result of self-education was Hawke’s first attempt at full paintwork appearing in dazzling 3 stage pearl white. It features confused gold leaf flames heading forward up the tank and frame sides.
The drenched in chrome, twisted steel Paughco front end sits 21” over stock and holds a 19” Scotty’s Invader wheel, a 16” is used in the rear. Clutch linkage and jockey shift continue in twisted steel detail as does the hand-formed sissy bar topped with a water jetted brass medallion in the shape of the International sign for Dyslexia.
Help along the way came from a few friends, Ron Eckert at Loose Ends covered the seat. Right-hand man at Vintage Technologies, Gayden Mansir III, helped beyond measure, and of course, trusting and willing customers — the Andersons.
Hawke’s backwards brainchild was completed just before Born Free 9 and was included in the Peoples' Champ voting competition. Making it to the final 6 and winning best Sportster was a high honor and got him the chance to return the next year as a featured invited builder. Dyslexia was an invited guest at the Swiss Moto show in Zurich, as well as the Rats Hole Custom Bike Show where it took home best-in-show.
Next on the fab table, a tribute Digger to the late Arlen Ness that you will see at Born Free 12. “Arlen never cared what people said and built the bikes he wanted to build.” It’s this attitude to design that makes Hawke Lawshe one of the gnarliest custom craftsmen out there. Although, he says he’s “just a dude with a welder.”
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