Article By: Dudley
Photos By: Chris Callen
ithout question, each of us remembers our first bike. Whether it was a complete basket that left you stranded half the time, or maybe you were one of those fortunate enough to afford a strong runner. Either way, it was your first scoot, and if you’re like most, you road the wheels off of it and was sorry to see it go when you finally moved on.
Well, just like the rest of us, Tyler Elliott wanted his first bike to be one he’d be sure to remember. Given his skills in welding, metal fabrication, auto restoration, custom paintwork, airbrushing and pinstriping, riding something stock was definitely out of the question. Having grown up around custom cars and motorcycles, he was engendered with a passion for creating what he describes as “rolling works of art.” To that end, Tyler purchased a ’73 Harley Davidson Sportster in good running order for $1000 from a riding buddy of his dad’s.
Once the bike was back at Tyler’s shop, TE Customs, the tear down began. Tyler’s mantra when doing any project, from a frame-off car restoration to this custom Sportster, is to have the entire project appear as though nothing is out of place. As Tyler puts it, “I don’t want anything to look as if it was made.” The idea behind this concept is that his projects should look like they could be factory production models with every part designed and engineered with tremendous attention given to overall fit and finish. But, most importantly, everything must look and function in such a manner as to never seem out of place with any other part on the build. It’s a design philosophy that strives to create customs that don’t appear…well, custom. Cool!
Another area where Tyler’s eye for customization really comes across is in his ability to pick and choose the areas of his builds on which to focus his attention.
On this particular Sportster, he knew that its previous owner had completely gone over the bike’s engine and driveline just prior to selling it. So, no mechanical issues would need addressed, leaving him time to add small accents that would emphasize the mill. On the other hand, the stance that was in his mind’s eye for this ’73 required substantial modifications to the frame, suspension, rolling stock, and much more. In the end, he would hardtail it and stretch the frame to give it that seventies’ drag bike profile.
Once a complete concept had been formulated, Tyler went right after that ever- elusive perfect stance. He nailed it spot on with a Sportster hardtail conversion and a beautiful set of wire wheels. Next would be the details of fabricating just the right set of handlebars to give the scooter that long, lean look Tyler envisioned. Countless hours were devoted to everything from new sheet metal, to the myriad collection of small and large pieces that tie the whole bike together and give it that, “could be a factory model,” appearance Tyler was shooting for. For the paint, factory was out and to match that seventies’ drag bike style, a metal flake job was in order. Tight lines and a killer Tangerine Kandy finish really brought it all together.
So now you may be wondering what Tyler did with this beauty once it was finished. Well, he did exactly what he set out to do at the inception of the project. Tyler added a motorcycle endorsement to his existing Pennsylvania drivers’ license and rides the TE Customs Sportster anywhere and everywhere just like all of us did with our first scoot.
Although Tyler has been customizing and restoring cars for quite a while, having earned a degree from Wyotech right after high school, he didn’t begin riding motorcycles until after the completion of the TE Customs’ Sportster. When Cycle Source’s editor- in-chief, Chris Callen, and I met Tyler he was at a local Harley Davidson dealer open house and bike show. He was there with his dad and for the most part, just enjoying the event. As soon as we began talking with the two Elliott men, it became obvious how incredibly proud Tyler’s dad was of his son and the amazing craftsman he had become. Tyler, not so convinced that his newly built bike was “good enough,” hadn’t even entered it in the show. Needless to say, we all strongly encouraged Tyler to enter his bike, each of us knowing full well that it would win something.
Congratulations to Tyler for taking home top honors that day and for having one of the coolest first bikes I’ve ever seen. At his young age, it’s amazing to consider his many accomplishments as the owner and master craftsman behind TE Customs, a complete car and motorcycle restoration and customization shop dedicated to “creating rolling works of art.” I invite you to stop by his shop in-person or online and take a look for yourself at the awesome work this highly skilled, highly motivated young man can do.
tangerine dream tech sheet
Owner: Tyler Elliott / TE Customs city: Eighty-Four, PA Fabrication By: Tyler Elliott
time: Year and a Half
model: Sportster Builder: Jeff Saunders ignition: Compufire displacement: 74”
heads: Jerry Branch
carb: S&S Super B
air cleaner: S&S
exhaust: Drag/ Tyler Elliott
Year: 1973 make: Sportster
make: HD-Chapman-Santee-Tyler Elliott
rake: 32 Degrees
type: 1977 FX/Shaved Builder: HD extension: 4 Under triple trees: Stock
Front Wheel: Aftermarket
tire: Avon Speedmaster
Brakes: Dual Disc
rear Wheel: Aftermarket
tire: Avon MKII
Brakes: Stock Sportster Drum
Painter: Tyler Elliott
color: Black, Gold Flake, Tangerine, 24K Gold Leaf, Fire Red type: H.O.K., PPG, 1-Shot Powdercoating: Tyler Elliott
molding: Tyler Elliott
graphics: Tyler Elliott
Bars: Stainless/Tyler Elliott risers: Split & Shortened Sporty hand controls: Stock/GSXR
gas tank(s): Stock Sporty w/ Sight Glass
Front Fender: None
rear Fender: Modified Front
seat: Tyler Elliott
Foot controls: ‘75-’76 Sporty
Oil tank: Mod. HD Horseshoe
headlight: Stock Sporty
taillight: Found In My Garage Photographer: Chris Callen