_October '93Hot Rod Harleys One-Shot_Every fire starts with a spark. In this case, HOT ROD's editors launched a motorcycle hop-up single issue publication. It was a little more popular than they anticipated.
_March '94Hot Rod Harleys_Eric Falconer helmed our maiden voyage as a bi-monthly magazine, with HOT ROD's 45th anniversary theme bike as our first cover.
Hot Rod Bikes_Less than a year after the magazine's inception, Frank Kaisler had taken over for Falconer, bringing a wealth of magazine and technical experience with him. January 1995 also saw our new title. With the custom bike scene growing beyond strict Harley-based customs, the change made sense (and a court-order from Harley-Davidson helped things along).
_February '97Draw on Wide Tires with a Fine Line_Kip Woodring's narrow drive belt conversion let riders run "fat" 150 series rear tires. Little did we know what the industry would do with back tires in the following years.
_August '98_First Horsepower by the DollarThis issue marked John Sullivan's first Horsepower by the Dollar article, wherein he sought out which parts combos gave the best bang for the buck. The series ran about 5 years, during which he tested a pretty wide range of performance parts for Big Twins.
_August '99First Ness Twin Cam-Powered Custom_Right after Bob Dron got his hands on his first Twin Cam Dyna at his NorCal dealership, his buddy Arlen Ness took it off his hands for a makeover. It certainly the first Ness Twin Cam, and possibly the first custom Twin Cam. Either way, Arlen was nice enough to let us run it on our cover.
_January '00First Todd's Garage_In 1998 Frank stole Billy Bartels away from motorcycle.com (MO for short), and by the end of '99 snatched up MO alumnus Todd Canavan for our staff. It was the beginning of an era for us that saw a lot of unconventional thinking, like our Todd's Garage series. We'd done garage pimping before, but not as an ongoing thing, and this series was extremely popular with our readers.
_July '00Team HRB's First Drag Race_Frank and Todd got it in their heads to team up with Gene Thomason at Thomason Racing to create Team HRB, wherein Gene and Todd traveled the AHDRA circuit and chronicled the whole journey. It not only gave us exposure at the races, it gave our readers insight into all aspects of Harley drag racing, and how the high-performance stuff we learned on the track translated to street bikes. The July 2000 issue marked the team's first AHDRA event in Daytona.
_October '00Feuling's W-3_Jim Feuling's W-3 motor was an interesting experiment that also worked, as we found out when Billy Bartels test rode it later on. It was essentially a 3-cylinder version of an H-D-style motor and one of the more intriguing bikes to grace our cover.
_November '00Who Wants to Own a Rubbertail?_Tom Vasilaros at Performance Specialties made this Rubbertail for lottery winner Jim Hayes. The name says it all: a rubbermount Softail-style chassis made to ride all day. To prove it we did a ride test on it a couple of issues later. It's not exactly a common frame configuration, and we were proud to feature it.
_January '01Bolt-Ons_In '01 we committed more time and resources to making better covers, starting with the January issue. Bobbi Billard's bodaciousness was incorporated into our bolt-on parts theme.
_January '01:Inside Building 42_Harley led us through Building 42 at their York, PA plant for a sneak peek behind the curtain where they make their CVO bikes, like the Screamin' Eagle Road Glide. We'd visited there the previous year to check out the Factory's FXR CVO operations, but the Glide was the first CVO machine featuring the new Twin Cam motor.
_March '01Todd's Drag Bike_If the mail was any indication, readers loved our drag racing team, and we thought it'd be good to show you everything we'd done with it in one package.
_July '01Big Motor Showcase_This wasn't the first time we'd run a dyno shootout using big motors. However, this go round we had a wider range of mills, from Joe Keenan's 88-inch RevTech to Gene Thomason's 107-inch FXDX to the 150ci Feuling W-3.
_August '01Hittin' the Road on a Draggin' Dyna_Billy and Todd were giddy for weeks after Harley let them test their Draggin' Dyna prototype. It consisted of all the parts in H-D's 95-inch kit, plus a long stroke crank and all kinds of Screamin' Eagle goodies. Somehow, though, the boys "forgot" they'd promised not to run it on the street, did it anyway, and wrote a story about it.
_October '01V-Rod Premiere_We knew about Harley's super-secret new bike months before they unveiled the V-Rod in 2001. Both it and Amber Marie beautified our cover in October of that year. Todd Canavan later rode it to Sturgis, where he caught some heat from the Factory after running it at the "outlaw" drags.
_November '01WCC Camel Roadhouse Chopper_Timing is everything, and ours couldn't have been better with this cover. Motorcycle Mania had just started launching Jesse James to stardom, and we'd followed his Camel Roadhouse charity bike build for months, culminating in this feature shot by Mark Langello when the bike debuted in Daytona.
_September '05PM's V-Rod_This bike was Performance Machine's take on what the V-Rod should've looked like: A badass streetfighter, all lean muscle with no fat save the back tire. Reinventing stock bikes embodies a lot of what HRB was about, and this bike is a great example of that.
_November '95Hittin' the Road_Feature Editor Howard Kelly soiled a Dyna Convertible by offroading it on a camping trip and wrote about the whole experience. He enjoyed it, but we're thinking Harley wasn't too happy when they found out. Still, if they didn't want it tested for real, why'd they leave it with us?
_September '98Super Hot!_Frank "Super Dave" Kaisler rode Mule 1 through a burnin' ring of fire. Indoors. It probably wasn't good for his lungs, but it made for a great cover.
_April '06Ulysses Road Test_It seems Harley didn't learn their lesson the first time. They gave us a new Buell Ulysses to spank for a few weeks, and we weren't shy about taking it to task in the dirt. Crash test dummy Alan Knowles showed it the ground.
_November '96Brooke Morales_Brooke Morales, AKA Brooke Moore, posed for us twice; November '96 was the first. In the years that followed, she graduated to B-movies and has had a pretty successful modeling career.
_January '98Linda O'Neil_Sadly, there were no cover models in the first half of '98. That didn't stop a certain subversive editor from using them in the studio, though. Linda O'Neil was one such beauty, and since then you've probably seen her all over the place, whether it's calendars, other mags, or running out to play with sharks in that Vonage commercial.
_April '99Lorissa McComas_This young lady posed with Tom Foster's Landshark. She also made quite a name for herself in softcore flicks like The Bare Wench Project.
_December '99Shannon Malone_Shannon went from the pages of HRB to multiple TV gigs like cheerleading on the Best Damn Sports Show Period.
_May '00Sandee Westgate_Sandee stepped from our pages onto PLAYBOY's. Sometime after that she became "A Playmate Gone Bad" and started doing girlie videos on her website (you can also find video of her with Lorissa McComas, not that we spent twelve hours watching it or anything). Nowadays Sandee's one of the most popular women on the Internet.
_September '01Brandy Dahl_Brandy Dahl had done some fitness modeling when we first met her. Shortly after that her popularity erupted and she became one of the most sought-after bikini models in the fitness world. We were just glad she was nice enough to pose with this LA Choppers scoot amidst the concrete jungle of downtown Los Angeles before all that.
_August '97Mr. Blond_Rick Diaz wrote up this story on Mr. Blond, AKA Michael Madsen, and his yellow Pan/Ahovel rigid.
_June '99Paul Tracy_We double-tapped racer Paul Tracy-first in '98, then in '99 with this two-girl cover featuring his Simms Softail bike.
_June '03Chuck Zito & Mickey Rourke_Chuck Zito/Mickey Rourke. John "Cap'n Crunch" Sullivan took over editor duties in 2002, and near the end of his tenure shot Chuck Zito and Mickey Rourke at their shop, Hollywood Choppers, in, well, Hollywood.
_June '06Steve McQueen_Erin Boyd brought us coverage of the Steve McQueen tribute display at the Petersen Automotive Museum. The exhibition was a great peek at the cool cars and bikes the actor enjoyed over the course of his life.
February '00Denver's Choppers"Way back in 1967, when the custom/chopper movement was headed for the stars, one shop set the standard for quality choppers." Frank Kaisler summed the old school shop up that quick at the start of this bike feature.
_March '00Matt Hotch_Young gun Matt Hotch built this long chopper in the clean style that became his trademark and brought him to fame later on.
_August '00Ed Roth Interview_We were extremely fortunate to interview Ed "Big Daddy" Roth before his untimely death. The backyard builder and racer rose to fame through his cartoon characters, wild custom cars, and his influence on the American chopper scene.
_April '01Ron Finch Interview_Every creative endeavor has its reclusive artists, and for the last thirty-plus years, motorcycling's has been Ron Finch. The custom builder blurs the line between form and function with a passion, and was good enough to let Keith Ball interview him for us in 2001.
_February '03Roland Sands_The cover bike for this issue was Roland Sands' first ground-up custom bike-a red and black Softail based around a Kosman Racing frame. He's built a few other bikes since then...
_February '05Roger Goldammer_His frontends are his signature, but in 2004 Roger Goldammer built this modern board tracker and took first prize at two of the top shows in the country-Artistry in Iron in Las Vegas, and the AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building in Morgan Hill, California.
_October '06Nick "New York Nick" Genender_Nick's NYC Choppers is known for tough old school iron, and this Knuckle from our October '06 cover exemplifies that style. You'd be hard-pressed to find a custom bike book that hasn't featured one of his bikes in years past and present.
_December '06Twisted Choppers_With most shops, it's one owner, one vision. Twisted, however, has four owners: Jason Kangas, Kai Morrison, Chad Petit, and Jeff Ernst. Although the shop's only six years old, their creativity has catapulted them to prominence, as exemplified by this chopper we shot in Sturgis.
This magazine's 15-year history has been a bit of a roller coaster. Known variously as HOT ROD HARLEYS, HOT ROD BIKES and its current HOT ROD'S BIKE-WORKS, some cool and historic stuff has gone on here. With world-class editors and photographers writing about and photographing some of the coolest machines out there, there's quite a bit that could be considered for this feature. This may not be a complete list of coolness, but it's close enough for us.
Don't Try This At Home
Or do. Your choice. We did a lot of crazy things to get your attention over the years. Here are some highlights.
Hot Rod Babes
Depending on who was in charge at the time, scantily clad hotties were either a blessing or a curse. Frank Kaisler knew sex sold, and whenever he had his druthers there was always a beauty with the beast. Some of our models even went on to fame...
Bike builders aren't the only famous folks that dig two-wheeled action. We ran into more than a few celebrities over the years and kidnapped some of them for bike features.
We ran a lot of cool bikes over the years, built by veteran masters like Arlen Ness and Donnie Smith along with up-and-comers like Matt Hotch and Roland Sands. We don't have space to list them all, but here's a cross-section from our history.
We did a fair number of pipe shootouts on the dyno, but we went outside that box a couple of times in 2001, when we ran tests no other Harley magazine had run (or has since).
We borrowed sister mag SPORT RIDER's Drack data acquisition software to test rear suspension travel on a variety of shocks on our '95 Dyna. It was the first in a series of comparison articles dealing with non-motor parts.
Glide vs. Springer
The next logical step was testing frontends. Denver's Choppers provided us with a 14-over Springer while Custom Cycle Engineering donated a 14-over glide. We used a potentiometer to test each fork setup, with Mule 2 as our test bike.
This time we took a bunch of aftermarket 4-piston calipers and measured stopping distances over a set course, with test rider Todd Canavan reviewing the pros and cons of each one.