"Sportsters pretty much built this company," said Pat Patterson of Led Sled Customs. "Wow, I now just thought of putting it that way," he explained to us, "and it's the very theory the company was founded on." Is he oblivious to the ever-popular opinion that Sportsters are deemed "girl bikes"? No, not Pat: "It was from people who don't know any better." Coming from Pat, who claims to be "just a glorified garage builder," and has ridden and wrenched on Sportys his whole life, it's understandable that he believes Sportsters and Sporty-based customs are underestimated and are looked down upon by the Softail crowd.
Since the Dayton, OH-based company opened in 2003, Led Sled has not flipped on their roots in specializing in Sportster-based customs. "Sure, we'll work on or build anything," Pat said, "but Sportsters are our expertise." Out of 25 bikes they build over a relatively short course of time, 20 of them are Sportys. And, may we add,"many of my customers are men," Pat said, including the owner of the bike before you, and yes, they have built some bikes for women.
The best thing that could happen to Pat is people seeing a custom Sportster and making the connection that it's a Led Sled. He also hopes that owners of stock Sportys in need of a makeover will find their way to his shop. This was the case with Pat Bucci, owner of the '99 883 spread across these pages. In the market for a motorcycle, Bucci found the one he wanted through a friend's brother. Although in its original state, "I wasn't overly excited about the concord purple color, but it fit me well and was priced to move."
Bucci continued, "I bought the bike and immediately started pulling everything I could off it, especially chrome. I had always loved rat rods and bobbers, and over the next year and a half I continually strived towards de-glossing my bike and bobbing it out. I went into a local bike shop and was talking to the guy behind the counter about buying black shocks in order to make my bike look like a hardtail. Cole from Led Sled was nearby and overheard me and told me, 'Why don't you just make it a hardtail?' He then told me about Led Sled. I got online and my interest was piqued once on Led Sled's website. Later a friend called me and told me Led Sled was set up at a local event and that I should stop by. I did and spent the next hour talking to Kevin Keoppe and drooling over Led Sled's bikes."
After the bike event and talking with the Led Sled crew, Bucci went home and stripped his Sporty to its frame. "Over the next few months, Pat [Patterson] and the guys worked on my bike until the project took on a life of its own. I would go to Pat occasionally with some ideas that would come to mind-some crazy and some decent. The crazy ideas Pat would look at me, shake his head, and politely tell me, 'No.' The decent ones made it to the final result and ended up being better than I had imagined."
What makes this otherwise fairly stock Sportster a Led Sled custom? Aside from a lot of handmade components, Led Sled's Evo weld-on hardtail kit is, according to Pat, "the flair behind the bike." Pat explained that once the weld-on kit is installed, it gives the appearance of a traditional frame as opposed to a huge chunk of metal trying to make it look like it's a hardtail. As an owner of a stock Sporty, Pat said, "You can have the back half of this bike, too." OK, let's clarify-not off this bike, but you can get your own. This Sporty, according to Bucci, "is not for sale."
Pat and the Led Sled crew like to take Sportsters to another level, and this one is no exception. They make their own frames, controls, fenders, and sheetmetal in-house, as well as doing their own bodywork and painting. Most of this can be seen on the Sporty before you, in addition to other handmade components and cool parts, like the aluminum oil tank and battery box. The concord grape was saved for the juice and Pat instead went with painting the bike a flat grey and black mixture.
"The end result," Bucci said, "is that I ended up with a bike that gets looks, comments, and a crowd wherever it's parked." Bucci also commented to Pat that a lot of people ask if it's a Led Sled bike. Whether there is a connection with some people that Sportster-based customs equals a Led Sled bike, or the love's coming back or perhaps was always there in some form for Sportys, one thing's for sure: Sportsters are always going to be around, and they will always have a spot in the shop at Led Sled Customs.
|SHOP:||LED SLED CUSTOMS|
|SHOP PHONE:||(937) 879-4645|
|BUILD TIME:||TWO MONTHS|
|AIR CLEANER:||LED SLED|
|TYPE:||STOCK W/LED SLED WELD-ON|
|RAKE:||4-INCHES IN HARDTAIL|
|WHEELS, TIRES, & BRAKES|
|COLORS:||FLAT GREY/FLAT BLACK|
|GRAPHICS:||PAT PATTERSON, SHANE SYX|
|CHROME PLATING/ POLISHING:||S&H; CHROMING|
|REAR FENDER:||LED SLED|
|FENDER STRUTS:||LED SLED|
|OIL TANK:||LED SLED|
|FOOT CONTROLS:||LED SLED|
|LICENSE MOUNT:||LED SLED|