Jeff Najar, J&P Cycles Ultimate Builder Producer
Jesse Srpan owns Raw Iron Choppers and is grabbing success by the handlebars as one of the youngest professional bike builders in the industry. Being young doesn’t mean simple designs because he builds some of the coolest custom sleds.
Jesse is not new to the Ultimate Builder, he won 1st place in Freestyle in 2015 and 1st place in MOD Retro in 2013. When not building bikes he is a welder, teacher and master fabricator. You might recognize him as he won the Discovery Channel BikerLive television show.
It all started when he was a kid and watched Motorcycle Mania and saw how Jesse James of West Coast Choppers built his bikes. It began clicking on how things were manufactured so he went out and bought a small Lincoln Electric welder at 13 years old. Now he teaches welding for Lincoln Electric at the EAA Oshkosh air show and at the local college, Lakeland Community College. He also welds for nuclear, aerospace, ironwork, & pipe welding projects. The only place he doesn’t weld is underwater.
Raw Iron Choppers builds one-off customs as well as bikes that get delivered in cardboard boxes. He has built a reputation on projects that range from customs to anything that can be held together with metal. Jesse fabricates, refurbishes and redesigns all aspects of the motorcycle.
Jesse rolled 5 custom bikes into the 2016 J&P Cycles Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show in Cleveland, OH. He took 3rd in the competition with his latest build and personal sled. He also won the SHO-DOG award and The Leatherworks Solo bag for the hardest working builder at the show.
The one that stood out is his latest named Redemption. It’s a 1972 Harley-Davidson FLH Shovelhead that was built into a mild chopper.
The inspiration of the build started with a customer’s jockey shift shovel. He rode it and liked the feeling of it. So Jesse decided to build a California-style bike that you see from Ultimate Builders like Chris Richardson, Dalton Walker and Rick Bray among others.
It was fabricated in just 5 weeks and he did it to put the fun back in bike building. He closed down his shop and only worked on his passion.
The tall and skinny bike features a kicker and a hand shift/ foot clutch that delivers an old-school feel.
Jesse worked his magic on the engine with a mild cam and .060” over high compression Wiseco pistons, and was also fitted with a new S&S oil pump to push as much oil through it as possible. No battery is needed as Joe Hunt Magneto provides the spark and the lights are ran off of an Accel battery eliminator which runs off of the 32amp cycle electric charging system.
The one-off chassis was designed to showcase this incredible welding talent. All the welds are out in the open and chromed so you can clearly see them. All the original FLH factory frame castings were cut off the original frame, ground and polished for the new tubing that would be for the frame. Twin cam softail axle blocks were cut from a swing arm to create the clean rear end of the frame. It is built with a 36 degree rake, 4”up and 2” out. The frame accommodates a 160mm by 18” rear wheel. The front forks are 35mm 2” over tubes and the trees were an eBay special that Jesse randomly found before starting the build.
The paint took a lot of back and forth with Ron Harris of Chop Docs Choppers. Ron had a special pigment that he used but didn’t tell Jesse until after it was painted. Did he like the color combination and the artic white color? Oh yeah. Would he have allowed it if he would have known that it was Camry white with Ice pearl added to it? Absolutely not. Curt from bare bones leather tooled out a WWII style fighter pilot seat to create an abstract vintage feel to tie in the bikes color scheme and retro design.
Jesse has won numerous awards including:
2015- Won 1st place freestyle class J&P cycles Ultimate Builder Cleveland, Ohio
2013 – Won 1st place retro mod class J&P Cycles Ultimate Builder Cleveland, Ohio
2013 – Won Best Panhead & Café Racer, “Editor’s Choice Bike Show,” Sturgis
2013 – Won Best Panhead & Café Racer, “Editor’s Choice Bike Show,” Daytona
2012 – Won 1st place, Rat’s Hole Custom Bike Show, Extreme Bobber
2012 – Won ISCA “Rising Star” award, Cleveland Auto-Rama,
2008 – Won Future motorcycle mogul award “Easyriders” Columbus, Ohio
2007 – American Iron magazine with a custom mini-chopper at the age of 16
2006 – 1st place, Rat’s Hole Custom Bike Show, 1-250cc Class, Daytona, FL
Jesse can be contacted at http://www.rawironchoppers.com/.