Hard F’n Core Night Train

Article By: Roadside Marty

Photos By: Bart Mitchel

Originally Published In The February 2013 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

Feature 5

I first met Darren McKeag at this year’s BMR and we immediately hit it off. I knew his bike had to have the same kind of FTW attitude that he had and I was not disappointed when I saw this fine ride. This ‘04 Night Train started life as most choppers in the beginning do. It was a stock bike that the owner modified to fit his needs and/or riding style. Once you get to know Darren, you understand completely as he is quite often sideways on this thing going like a hundred. One look at this bike from any angle and you realize why Gary Maurer from Evil Engineering picked this bike as “Best Hardcore” for the Cycle Source nighttime chopper show at the Buffalo Chip this year in Sturgis. It took us a little time to nail him down long enough for this interview, and we thought the “Garage Builder” issue would be a perfect place to show it to you. You see, Darren, like so many of our readers, built this bike in his spot with his two very own hands.

Darren owns Slingin’ Ink tattoo shop in Iowa that he opened back in 1994. When he’s not drawing up a custom piece for a client or pinstriping anything that will sit still for him, you can usually find him doing multiple burnouts and hole shots for no other reason than he just loves to ride the hell out of this bike. Rest assured, this baby ain’t no trailer queen. When he blows by a pack of dresser riders like he’s out for a Sunday cruise, you can bet they are at the dealer on Monday springing for a bigger motor!

The story on this bike all started at the 2004 Sturgis rally. Darren had a “chopper” from a well known West Coast shop that broke down on him so often that he bought this baby bone stock from Black Hills HD. Darren only rode it for three days before he started choppin’ it. As a matter of fact, the only stock pieces left today are the tranny and the frame, minus the fender horns! This bike was transformed with a lot of help from numerous brothers like Dan Reeman from Sioux Falls, SD who built the bullet proof 106” motor that Darren broke in on the way to Sturgis in ’08. Shawn Wubben chipped in and built the bitchin’ tank with the ’51 Ford emblem. Speaking of ol’ Henry Ford, the air cleaner is a ‘32 Ford hubcap and the “points” cover is a ‘49 Ford horn button. Darren and Matt Wilson whipped up the bars that sit just right.

Feature 5b

Lemme covered the seat pan, which Darren hammered out, with some fine leather work. Kai from Twisted Choppers stepped in and helped Darren with some of his metal working skills on the rear fender. It does my heart good to see an RSD exhaust and BDL belt drive being put through the paces as well on a war machine like this. I think one of the best pieces on the bike is the rear wheel that still has the $225.00 price tag on it. The reason being is that Darren and his close brother Hank Bertka (RIP) did a dual burnout at the Full Throttle Saloon in Sturgis that lives on in infamy to this very day.During the course of what seemed like a half hour long duel between the two, Darren literally melted his rear wheel off the bike. I don’t mean just the tire; it went past that point and down to where the wheel wouldn’t spin anymore. This wheel is the replacement that they found the next day, hungover, in the hot afternoon sun on Main Street in Sturgis. Those are the kind of memories that can’t be bought, they have to be earned!

I can honestly say that after riding across two states for over 1,000 miles at triple-digit speeds beside this bike on the way to Sturgis this past year, it rides just as good or better than it looks, and the attention this thing draws when it’s parked is priceless. Most people just can’t believe it’s being ridden across the country but if you know anything about Darren, then you know he wouldn’t do it any other way! Great job brother! I can’t wait to see what you’ll do next!
Feature 5c

Hard Core Night Train Tech Sheet

Owner: Darren McKeag

City: Grinnell, IA

Fabrication By: Owner-Kai Morrison-

Lemme-Matt Wilson-Shaun Wubben

Year: 2004

Model: Perfect

Time: Several Years

Value: Priceless


Year: 2008

Model: Twin Cam

Builder: Don Reiman SFSD

Ignition: Twin Tech

Displacement: 106

Pistons: S&S

Heads: HD/Modified

Cam(s): S&S

Carb: Mikuni

Air Cleaner: ‘35 Ford Hubcap

Exhaust: Wrapped

Primary: BDL


Year: 2004

Make: HD

Shifting: Jockey


Year: 2004

Make: HD

Rake: Stock

Stretch: Stock


Type: Stock

Builder: HD



Front Wheel: Yes

Size: 21”

Tire: Avon Speedmaster

Brakes: None

Rear Wheel: Yes

Size: 16”

Tire: Metzeler 880

Brakes: Stock


Painter: Mother Nature

Color: Rust

Type: Enamel

Graphics: Owner-Stickers

Molding: None


Bars: Owner/Matt Wilson

Risers: None

Hand Controls: None

Gas Tank(s): Shaun Wubben

Front Fender: None

Rear Fender: Owner/ Kai SFSD

Seat: Owner/ Lemme SFSD

Foot Controls: Stock

Mirrors: Smoking

Oil Tank: Stock

headlight: Stock/Duct Tape

Taillight: Small

Speedo: Face Flapping = 100+ MPH

Photos.By: Bart Mitchel

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.