BORN TO RIDE

WHEN CUS­TOMIZA­TION IS IN YOUR DNA

Low Rider - - TANKS AND TAILS - STORY & PHO­TOS BY PHIL GOR­DON

Whereas some jump around try­ing to find their niche, oth­ers like John Alvey of Louisville, Ken­tucky, are born right into it. It’s been said that we’re all by-prod­ucts of our en­vi­ron­ment, and for John, well, let’s just say that he was des­tined to cul­ti­vate his own cre­ativ­ity and drive. “I’ve al­ways been into any­thing with a mo­tor and wheels,” John says. “It just so hap­pened my fa­ther had a garage full of mo­tor­cy­cles,” so as a third-gen­er­a­tion bike lover, John was des­tined to ride his path on two wheels.

At 13, John couldn’t pur­chase or ride a mo­tor­cy­cle, so he did the next best thing by tak­ing on a sum­mer job cut­ting lawns. John took the first $20 bill he made and went into a Sch­winn bi­cy­cle store. Of course he didn’t re­al­ize how lit­tle his $20 would get him, and soon be­came de­jected when he saw the prices of bi­cy­cles. The owner saw a dis­ap­pointed young boy and brought an older vin­tage St­ingray out from the back, agree­ing to let John have it for his $20.

John prac­ticed his craft by cus­tom

paint­ing and adding lowrider ad­di­tions to the bi­cy­cle. At 17, John be­gan search­ing for his first mo­tor­cy­cle by call­ing ev­ery deal­er­ship in his state, and even ex­pand­ing out­side the state. The only Har­ley model that had ev­ery­thing he wanted was in Ohio, about a 16-hour roundtrip ride. Once again light on funds, John bor­rowed money from his dad, loaded up, and went to pick it up. He con­tin­ued to “cus­tom­ize the hell out of it” as he started his first of­fi­cial job as a cus­tom painter.

In 2003, John de­cided to pur­chase a '99 Har­ley-David­son Softail Springer and that same year he opened his own cus­tom paint and body shop called Alvey’s Body­worx in Louisville. The very first thing John did to his new Har­ley was stretch the rear fender 9½ inches and cus­tom-fit a '39 Buick tail on it for the old-school look. John also cus­tom fab­ri­cated a one-off fender and shaved the riv­ets on the front fender so he could have a nice, flat can­vas to prep for cus­tom paint.

John laid down a sil­ver basecoat and sil­ver met­alflake while the graph­ics were be­ing added. Candy root beer paint was used to coat the en­tire body of the Har­ley. To give the mo­tor a cus­tom feel, John bought and as­sem­bled a 124 S&S su­per sidewinder mo­tor and built it to specs. He got the heads to the ma­chine shop for some nice port and pol­ish work. The mo­tor was sent off to Henry Higgs for some touchups and pol­ish­ing. The rear swing arm was mod­i­fied to lay low and tuck the rear wheel. The oil tank was built one-off to hide the swing arm since it had been mod­i­fied to come up fur­ther, which would have hit the stock oil tank.

Af­ter all the big pieces of the puz­zle were in place, it was time to make a seat pan and get it off to Jes­sica Lile at Sewn Tight In­te­ri­ors for the Cin­na­mon Bi­son wrap­ping. The en­tire assem­bly of the Har­ley was done by John with the help of his brother Grant Alvey. Some of the ma­chine work on the odds and ends were done by Brian How­ell at Tool­ing Ven­tures in Shep­herdsville, Ken­tucky.

John wishes to thank his wife, Christy, for her love and sup­port and for en­joy­ing the Har­ley life­style; as well as his brother Grant, Marty Hol­ston, Gor­don Bur­kett, and his nephew, Jaxx Alvey, for hav­ing the mo­tor­cy­cle pas­sion. John gave 8-year-old Jaxx his old vin­tage Sting-Ray bi­cy­cle hop­ing it would build the same lowrider pas­sion it gave John. “I hope he fol­lows in my foot­steps,” John adds. “This life­style has given me so much and I just want to be able to give back.”

1999 FLSTS SOFTAIL SPRINGER BY HAR­LEY-DAVID­SON MO­TOR­CY­CLE

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