Steel City Steve’s Dual Sport Knuckle
Article And Photos By Missi Shoemaker
Steve Peffer of Steel City Choppers has been on bikes since he was seven years old when he used his own money to buy a Honda Trail 70. Steve grew up on a dairy farm in rural PA and was getting paid $1 a load to unload hay and would do about four loads a day. He also cleaned the neighbor’s horse barn for $1 per stall. Peffer also mentioned something about milking cows, but that was a chore, not a paying gig. He rode that Trail 70 all over the farm, and at the coal mine down the road, he very much enjoyed riding in the dirt and still does.
When Steve was 15, he found a 450 Honda Chopper at a local swap meet for a mere $75, and he spent time fixing it up and getting it running. He was riding it to school by the time he was 16 and the love for all things chopper was born. Steve has built many choppers over the years and continues to do so, building a bike a year. When Bill Dodge invited him to display a bike at the Inaugural BC Moto at the Tennessee Motorcycles and Music Revival in 2017, Steve knew exactly what he wanted to build.
At the time of the invite, Steve had been riding dual sport bikes, KTMs and BMWs, mostly, and he really wanted to build something along those lines, however being a chopper guy, he didn’t really want to show up on a KTM. So, Peffer drew inspiration from host Bill Dodge who had previously built “Dirt Chopper” and decided to build a dual-sport Knuckle. Yep, you read that right, a Dual Sport Knuckle, but he knew it needed to have that old school killer feel of a hot rod; so let me introduce you to “Voodoo Child” the Dual Sport Knuckle.
The bike was built with riding on that childhood farm and mine land in mind. Steve chose a Yamaha front end, perfect for off-road, and knobby tires so he could whip it around in the dirt. Another inspiration from the farm is the custom-built barbed wireframe, for which Peffer had to make a frame jig to build. As for that hot rod influence, you’ll find speed holes in the frame and other strategic places around the bike. The fender mount is custom made from stainless steel, as are the exhaust pipes. Ribs in the exhaust were done by Paul at Bare Knuckle Choppers. The SU carb is perfect for the Knuckle and is a tribute to the Jaguar his dad had when he was a kid.
Steve is an artist, and you can see that in this build. One of his dreams has always been to collaborate with painter Robert Pradke. One day he was looking on a chopper parts swap page and came across a beautiful 1/2 finished sporty tank, that had been painted by Pradke, and the price was right. Steve scooped it up and then added his own design over it, including the pinstriping, gold leaf, ghost flames, and stainless trim, so he now has a Pradke/Peffer collaboration!
The skull on the rear of the bike is there to remind us that we all come from the same place and we are all the same under our skin. The gold leaf on the tank reads “Death or Glory” and the seat has a beautiful portrait of Mary, who is there to “guide us through the ride” according to Peffer. And of course, we leave you with those famous words… Choppers Rule!