Saturday, though, was their biggest day by far, as 110 motorcycles and trikes surrounded the premises in a battle for the prestigious ‘Best of Show’ trophy. A constant procession of people filtered by throughout the day to see the bounty of creative customs, from Ted Bodine’s Harley V-Rod converted into a sporty trike with two high performance wheels up front to Jack Donkey’s stunning Sportster-based digger to a customized Polaris slingshot. The diversity ranged from a hot-rodded, raked-out trike toting a trailer styled like a miniature ’57 Chevy to a trio of tricked-out Honda Ruckuses trailing extended swingarms and performance pipes.
With the high level of competition at the Leesburg show, the tenured Rat’s Hole judges had their work cut out for them, but when scorecards were gathered and points tallied, it was the ultra-clean bobber by Flat Broke Customs that rose above the rest. The winning builders out of Ellijay, Georgia, also pocketed “Best Bobber” award for their efforts.
“This was our first big, big, big win,” said York. “It turned out awful good for what we had to work with, that’s for sure.”
Flat Broke isn’t just a name, it’s the mantra of Judd York and shop buddy Josh. Working out of a small 20-by-30 shop in Ellijay, Georgia, the winning motorcycle was a two-year labor of love, a nickel-and-dime project they pieced together out of recycled parts and eBay finds. The Shovelhead was salvaged from a motorcycle that had been in a fire they bought at an insurance sale.
“It was toast,” York said.
The leaf spring fork, the first thing they bought for the build, was an eBay find purchased for $1200, probably the biggest single investment in the bike. The headlight was a spotlight off a local fire truck, the taillights from a ’46 Dodge. The Fuller hot rod seat is mounted on leaf springs that came from a 1880s Minneapolis-Moline Wagon. His dad used to restore wagons and had a pile of old, narrow leaf springs laying around his barn. The kickstand comes from a poultry plant and is made from two shackles used to suspend the birds. The wheels were on sale from Mid USA while the tires were left-over from the root beer copper Shovel they made in 2013, a bike that won the Bobber Class at the Rat’s Hole in Daytona that year. The exhaust tip is actually an impeller from a Caterpillar turbo taken off a big rig.
The bobber features a Voodoo Vintage frame. The only Harley frames Voodoo builds are for Sportsters, but York found the blueprints online and did some measuring and realized there was enough room to put in a Shovelhead. Barely. He asked Voodoo to leave the engine mounts and seat post off of it to make it work. For the beautiful split tanks Flat Broke made templates out of cardboard, then folded them up and shipped them to a buddy in Indiana who fabricated the tanks for them. The brass leaf and all the brass oil lines feeding off the tank were bent by hand. The paint came straight out of the paint gun and hasn’t been buffed, which York admitted required a little luck. The battery is mounted neatly under the 4-speed ‘70s tranny, adding to the motorcycle’s tidiness.
While Flat Broke Customs is elated about their victory at the Rat’s Hole, they already have their sights set on their next project. York said they’re going to build an Indian Larry-style Shovel based on a Flatside Shovelhead one of their customers gifted them. The engine belonged to the brother of the customer who died before he could do anything with it, so he wanted Flat Broke to build something his brother would be proud of.
And while many motorcycles use high-dollar paint jobs to catch a judge’s eye, “Dog” Harmen’s rat rodded 1986 Kawasaki 1200, complete with an equally ratted-out sidecar and trailer, captured as much if not more attention than any other bike in the show. Staring at his moto-menagerie is sensory overload, there’s so much to take in. Steer, deer and other animal
This is how ‘HonDog’ rolls! His overly ornate 1986 Kawasaki 1200 earned him best of in Leesburg’s ‘Rat Class.’
horns are everywhere. Troll dolls are a common theme. Horseshoes sit above the door to the trailer, and a real horse saddle serves as the motorcycle’s seat. The owner, better known as “Hondog,” is a Middleton, New Hampshire native. His multi-horned Kawasaki rightfully earned him first place in the Rat Class.
“I’m a Christian biker. I headed down here in January. When I gassed up in Keene, it was 18 degrees. When I got to New York, I got snowed out and I had to spend the night in a parking lot and they plowed around me,” said Hondog. “This bike I’ve only had less than two years. I’ve put roughly 22,000 miles on it. I built the trailer out of an old barn roof. I wanted something cheap to travel so I could get out of New England.”
The Extreme Full Dresser Class also brought out a bevy of big-wheeled baggers, slammed with air ride and outfitted with booming sound systems. But it was the bold, gold bagger of Joey Jones, its bags integrated seamlessly into the bodywork that claimed the top prize. Having a supercharged V-Twin added to its winning combination of components.
The Rat’s Hole heads to Sturgis next as the “largest and longest running bike show.” The competition, featuring 16 classes and over 60 custom-made, hand-sculpted Rat Awards, will take place at The Crossroads of the Sturgis Buffalo Chip, and the winner will be paraded out on the main stage of The Chip during that night’s concert in front of a raucous crowd of thousands. The Rat’s Hole will also be conducting the 2nd annual Black Hills Bagger Showdown in Sturgis.