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
make: Baker 6 into 4
shifting: N1 Hand
make: Steelborn Choppers rake: 30 Degrees stretch: 2 Up – 2 Out
Builder: Steelborn Choppers
Front Wheel: Excel
tire: Metzeler Brakes: Dual Jaybrake rear Wheel: Excel size: 18”
Painter: Robert Pradke color: Black/Platinum type: Custom Auto Design Graphics:
Plating: Nickel- JR and Epner Technology
Bars: Steelborn Choppers
hand controls: Jaybrake Gas tank(s): Indian Larry Front Fender: None
rear Fender: Steelborn Choppers
seat: Paul Cox
Foot controls: Steelborn Choppers
Oil tank: Steelborn Choppers
headlight: Little One t
aillight: Michael Baragan
Photography By: Chris Callen