The Scotchster

Article And Photos By: Josh Elzey

Originally Published In The March 2018 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

The “Scotchster” was originally the “Messenger,” a home-built bike belonging to Dr. G, who was a great guy and a great customer who unfortunately passed away a few years ago. When he passed, Jacob Cutler of Barnstorm Cycles purchased two of his bikes from his family, The “Messenger,” and “Inferno” (an FXR), he also helped them sell a third. Dr. G was passionate about his motorcycles and had many hours into every detail of his machines. He had spent years developing them, and one couldn’t help but appreciate his efforts when looking at his creations. As such, when Jacob acquired these machines, he didn’t think it was right to just “flip” them and decided instead, that they should be re-born. Cutler felt that Dr.G would have been excited to see his bikes have a new life. Jacob put both bikes away and waited for the right opportunity to present itself. For the “Messenger,” that opportunity came in the form of his old friend Joe Weiss. Joe and Jacob went to the same grammar school and junior high, but lost touch after he went to a different high school. Years passed, and life went on, until a few year ago when Jacob got a Facebook message from Joe about catching up… and to talk about having a bike built. It took a while for them to connect, but after exchanging several emails and waiting for his bands tour to end, they finally managed to meet up at a local hot rod show and put some ideas on the table. Joe wasn’t sure what he wanted but felt it should be a stripped down, fast and reliable, clean but rugged looking bike that fit his budget. Cutler thought the “Messenger” would make the perfect donor for Joe’s project. The 1200cc Evolution motor and Sportster platform would allow them to meet all the goals. So, after meeting, discussing and pondering some more, the decision was made. Jacob took the “Messenger” for one last rip as it was, and then took it all apart in preparation for its new life.

Barnstorm works closely with folks to make sure they have all the input they want. After all, it is THEIR bike. This process often involves hanging out, maybe having a few drinks and just brainstorming. It turns out Joe and Jacob share an affinity for Scotch. Therefore, it was often the go-to “thinking” drink. And thus, from the “Messenger,” the “Scotchster” was born. The pair worked out the basic layout, which wasn’t too difficult because they valued many of the same qualities in bikes, making a lot of decisions based on these criteria: what works, what is reliable, how will it be to maintain, and how will it look? A few late nights, and a few scotches later, they had it. The bike was to be a minimalist type bike that had a dirt tracker/ BMX kind of aesthetic with an air of vintage class. He wanted something comfortable, not necessarily 100% practical, but 100% reliable and ready and willing to go at a moment’s notice. From the initial planning, Jacob felt getting him into a hardtail would be a decision he wouldn’t regret. To keep costs down, they sourced a production “weldon” tail from Mike at 47 Industries in a 4” stretch. Cutler knew it would be high quality, and have the look they wanted. From there they decided to use a 16” rear wheel and 19” wheel for the classic look, and the availability of tire options in those sizes. To help with the look, the Avon MKII and Dunlop K-70 were appropriate tire choices. They opted for a Buell inverted front end with the larger 13” single rotor and 6-piston caliper to make sure this thing stopped on a dime and added to the offroad performance look. They reused the stock 11.5” rear rotor and single piston caliper. These details established the stance and attitude of the bike and set up the framework for the rest of the detail work. Joe made the call to work a vintage Husqvarna dirt bike tank into the picture which Barnstorm re-tunneled, and rubber mounted, it looked perfect. For the oil tank, he hammer-formed an aluminum tank to fit the lines of the 47 Hardtail and rubber mounted that too, for good measure. The bars and seat work were done simultaneously to make sure Joe was in a comfortable riding position. The rear fender and sissy bar were set up to allow the option of a passenger in the future.

Building exhaust systems is often one of Jacob’s favorite parts of any project. He likes to try to make them look the part, but still, work like they are supposed to. For the “Scotchster,” they wanted to give the bike a set of pipes that allowed for cornering clearance, which sounded good and fit with their aesthetic goals. The classic “tracker” pipe came to mind, and Jacob worked out his version of it for this. It’s a stainless steel two-into-one system with a mildly baffled “expansion” chamber. The bike isn’t super loud, but instead, has a very healthy tone, and the system lets the motor run well, pulling hard throughout the entire RPM range. For the mechanical side of the project, there was very little work “needed,” as the Messenger was a great running bike, to begin with. The motor in its donor state was fully chromed out, and that did not fit the cosmetic plans for this project. Jacob tore the whole thing down, evaluated all the components, had the chrome stripped off, glass beaded the castings, freshened up the heads, and then reassembled the motor with new bearings, rings, gaskets, and seals.

Giving it the natural aluminum finish they desired. They also found that Dr. G. had had some performance work done in the past, which was suspected, but a pleasant surprise to confirm! Most of the other parts were finished similarly, leaving them in a “raw,” fabricated state when the material allowed. They opted to powder coat the vast majority of the steel items, i.e., frame, rims, etc., and painted only the tins for easy cleanup and maintenance. Like all builds, there is a lot more going on, so spend some time looking at the photos, it’s more fun than reading anyways! They finished Joe’s bike just in time to leave for our buddy’s bachelor party. With zero shakedown miles, they hit the road at about 6 pm and arrived shortly after 11 pm. Those first rides are always exciting, albeit somewhat nerve-racking because all fullbuilds have some kinks. The “Scotchster” had very few, and a season of riding later, Joe is still a happy dude. For these things and more, Jacob is very grateful, to have been able to reinvent this machine with and for his good friend. Joe was awesome, and Jacob knows Dr. G would be thrilled to see his bike looking fresh and most importantly, getting ridden and loved! Jacob saved all of the tinwork from the “Messenger” and will be putting it on permanent display at the shop… Just a small homage to a great donor bike and man. From one motorcycle enthusiast to another, may the cycle continue.

Scotchster Tech Sheet

Owner: Joe Weiss

City/state: Worcester, MA

Builder: Barnstorm Cycles

Year: 1993

Model: Harley-Davidson XL1200

Time: 42 Weeks +/-

Value: Priceless


Year: 1993

Model: Harley-Davidson XL1200

Builder: Barnstorm

Ignition: Programmable Electronic

Displacement: 1200cc

Pistons: Stock

Heads: Evo, S&S Spring Kit

Carb: S&S Super E

Cam: Stock

Air Cleaner: Mod Vintage Louvered Deflector

Exhaust: Barnstorm Cycles

Primary: Enclosed Chain Oil Bath


Year: 1993

Make: Harley-Davidson®

Shifting: 1 Down, 4 Up


Year: 1993

Model: 47 Industries Hardtail

Rake: Stock

Stretch: 4” In Tail Section


Type: Buell Inverted

Builder: Buell

Triple trees: Buell Aluminum



Front Wheel: H-D, Buchanan Spokes

Size: 19”

Front Tire: Dunlop K70

Front brake: Buell Rotor, Works Performance Caliper

Rear Wheel: H-D, Buchanan Spokes

Size: 16”

Rear Tire: Avon MKII

Rear brake: Single Disc, Stock Caliper


Painter: Air Brush Works

Color: Tan, Black, White

Type: PPG

Graphics: Air Brush Works

Powder coat: ProKoat


Bars: Bartnstorm Cycles

Risers: Built Into Bars

Hand Controls: All Modified Parts

Foot Controls: Stock Mids, Biltwell Pegs

Fuel tank: Vintage Husqvarna

Oil tank: Barnstorm Cycles

Front Fender: None

Rear Fender: Led Sled Customs

Seat: Barnstorm/Seamless Customs

Headlight: Vintage Chopper

Taillight: 1” LED


Photographer: Josh Elzey

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