American Dream


Article By: Milwaukee Mike

Photos By: Chris Callen

Do you think that the American Dream is dead or dying? If you do, boy have I got news for you. I don’t know how many of you have heard that naturalized citizens of the US have more pride and knowledge of our great country than most of its original citizens, but in some cases, that’s the truth.

Meet Iliya Hamovic, a friend of mine who now lives in NYC. He came to the US in 1999 with thoughts of being a musician. The war in Croatia was over and there wasn’t much for a drummer of his caliber to do so he headed to the five boroughs to make a living as a musician. As life sometimes has a way of handing you lemons, Iliya decided it was time to make some lemonade. That meant packing up his whole world into one suitcase, and with eight-hundred dollars to his name, he ventured to “The Big Apple.”

Upon arriving, the first thing he needed was a job. He got a much needed break in that he scored his dream gig on the first try out. Well, he did have a pretty cool advantage. When he was drumming in the old country, he could not get the sounds that he wanted out of mass produced drums so he started making his own. That skill  gave  him  the  advantage  he needed  to  score  a  job  that could provide a decent living while trying to make it in the big meat grinder that is the NYC music scene. What he didn’t know  then  was  a  lot  of  those  same metal  and  wood  skills  would  serve him quite well later on; funny how life sometimes  predetermines  your  fate. Fast  forward  a  couple  of  years and the scene started to tear him up. The big break had not come like he hoped and he needed a change.

Iliya  had  always  been  very concerned  with  the  type  of  garbage food that Americans’ shovel into their bodies  on  a  daily  basis.  So,  armed with more knowledge than I ever had, he  acquired  a  job  as  a  manager  in a  restaurant  in  midtown  Manhattan called  Bonobos.  The  restaurant  is  a mostly  organic,  vegan  friendly,  raw food eatery. I know you’re thinking that there’s no way this can be any good. I can tell you from personal experience it  is  amazingly  good  (something that  even  this  big  country  boy  was surprised by) and it gave me a ton of energy  as  well.  He  worked  hard  and went  from  being  a  manager  to  being part owner. But even with the success of the restaurant, he was still missing that  hands-on  work  of  feeling  metal between his fingers; hence, Steelborn Choppers was born.

Iliya  had  been  riding  motorcycles and  working  on  them  since  he  was twelve, and armed with that knowledge he found that one of the best ways to get  around  metropolis  was  on  two wheels.  He  bought  a  Sportster  and then  proceeded  to  customize  it  to  fit his  riding  style  and  the  mean  streets of  NYC.  As  another  side  note,  while he was living in Brooklyn, he stayed 3 blocks away from Gasoline Alley and even  though  he  didn’t  know  it  then, one  of  his  largest  influences was just  down  the  street.  That’s  right  my friends, Indian Larry and the boys were in  his  backyard.  For  years  he  would see  these  sickass,  ultimately  ride- able machines that could conquer the roads of NYC, rolling out of that shop. After  many  years  of  working  on  the Sporty,  it  was  time  to  do  something a  little  different  so  it  hit  the  sale’s block  to  begin  funding  the  creation you see on these pages.



First thing Iliya needed was a motor. Being  a  fan  of  going  fast  and  of  old American  iron,  he  decided  to  find a real Pan motor. Once he did, he gave it  to  Paul  Cox  to  build  it  and  make  it as bulletproof as possible. As always, Paul  being  the  best  at  everything  he strives  to  do,  the  motor  came  out beautiful  and  it  hums  like  a  top.  Not a  big  surprise  considering  the  fact that  his  attention  to  detail  is  second to  none.  Iliya  also  put  his  two  cents in  and  worked  some  unbelievable details into the mix like the all stainless his first frame jig and then his first frame. Of course not skimping and getting American made equipment helped a lot with that.

All in all, I would say that the first effort from this young builder has hit the mark quite squarely and the future is going to hold some exciting things from this man. Wait until you see the Shovel he is working on now. It is simply fantastic and I can’t wait to see how this artist keeps his line of great bikes coming out of this cool little space. I will be there to show all you faithful Cycle Source readers more from him in due time.

Remember Iliya, Larry is always watching and hopefully smiling at the work you are doing as you grind away long into the night.


AmericAn DreAm tech sheet

Owner: Iliya The Vyke

city: New York City

Fabrication By: Steelborn Choppers

Year: 2010 model: NYC Street time: 1 Year Value: OOF!


Year: 1951 model: Pan Builder: Paul Cox

ignition: Morris Magneto-G5

Displacement: 88” Pistons: S&S heads: STD cam(s): Andrews #2 carb: S&S Super E

Air cleaner: Steelborn Choppers


Primary: BDL -3” Open


Year: 2010

make: Baker 6 into 4

shifting: N1 Hand


Year: 2010

make: Steelborn Choppers rake: 30 Degrees stretch: 2 Up – 2 Out

Front end

type: Springer

Builder: Steelborn Choppers

extension: 3”


Front Wheel: Excel

size: 21”

tire: Metzeler Brakes: Dual Jaybrake rear Wheel: Excel size: 18”

tire: Metzeler

Brakes: Jaybrake


Painter: Robert Pradke color: Black/Platinum type: Custom Auto Design Graphics:


Plating: Nickel- JR and Epner Technology


Bars: Steelborn Choppers

risers: Misumi

hand controls: Jaybrake Gas tank(s): Indian Larry Front Fender: None

rear Fender: Steelborn Choppers

seat: Paul Cox

Foot controls: Steelborn Choppers

mirrors: None

Oil tank: Steelborn Choppers

headlight: Little One t

aillight: Michael Baragan

speedo: None

Photography By: Chris Callen

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