Mike Watson is from Canada. He’s a really mild-mannered guy. A fabricator by trade, Mike spends most of his spare time wrenching in his garage. He rode down to Southern California from some part of that big country that borders us to the north. Maybe I should look at a map. All I know is that by the time we shot his bike in Fullerton, California, he had put a fresh 3700 miles on his chop to get there. So, you can discern that this bike sees a lot of the road. It’s pretty admirable to see people riding cross-country on these older chopped up bikes. It’s even more admirable to see them crossing national borders while riding them. It was great to talk to Mike about Canada’s chopper culture and to hear about his long trip down to my neck of the woods. So, if you ever cross paths with a hard-tailed sportster with a purple tank, an old springer with Canadian plates, make sure to say hello to Mike and listen to some nonchalant tales of the road.
Owner name, location: Mike Watson, Keg Killer Customs, Carstairs, Alberta, Canada
ChopCult Member Profile
Engine/tranny, year and make, model, modifications: 1999 XL Custom, 5-speed, 883 converted to 1200 and stroked.
Frame/Rake: Stock frame with a weld-on hard tail by Hammer in Hand, work done by myself (Keg Killer Customs)
Front End: 70's Fury, narrow twisted Springer with 6" risers with 12" narrow apes
Tire/wheel size and style: 21" chrome wheel with an Avon Speedmaster tire, 16" rear wheel powder coated black, with an Avon MkII
Favorite thing about this bike: My favorite thing about the bike is the front end. I love old springers!
Next modification will be: My next modification on this bike is going to be a new sissy bar, taller, and twisted to match the front end and the highway pegs. Other mods, accessories, cool parts, etc (paint, seat, tires, bars, switches, pipes, doodads): Custom painted tank by Myk Rock of Langley, B.C., Canada. Pinstriping on the frame, fender and oil tank by my good friend, Phil Said, from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Solo seat by Haifley Bros, that I won at the first People's Champ, with a custom P-Pad made to match. Custom exhaust, fabricated by myself (Keg Killer Customs). Speedkings Linkert style bird deflector. Hidden power/kill switch with a direct starter button.
Any building or riding story or info you'd like to include: I just took this bike on a 19-day road trip from my home in Carstairs, Alberta, Canada, all the way to Born Free 8. I made my way through two provinces and 4 states on my way down. Blasting west into B.C. and making my way south in to Idaho, Washington, Oregon and then California. I totaled about 3700 miles before I made it to my destination in Oceanside, California. I made the ride home a little quicker by taking a shorter route up California, Oregon, Washington, B.C. finally ending back in Alberta. It was roughly a 2000-mile trip back.
I have so many great stories from this trip. And I won't bore you with them all, but the one that sticks out in my mind the most is when I was blasting down the road in the rain and I decided to hit the next rest stop, which in hindsight was a great decision. I go stretch my legs and take a leak, then grab a coffee from a Boy Scout stand, and head back to my motorcycle. I notice a guy taking a look at the bike. A trucker wanted to take a picture of it. As he is doing so he says "You have a flat tire"
I look down and at this point, all I can say to myself is "great two days in to the trip and a flat tire 30 plus miles from the next town." Which was Moose Lake, Washington. I go back to the Boy Scouts and ask their parents if anyone has an air compressor/road side repair kit. I managed to find one in hopes to get enough air in it to blast in to the next town, but no luck. So, one of the dads comes over with and offers to load it in the back and drive me in to the town. He made a few calls and got ahold of the bike shop there and made sure they had a spare tube kicking around. Low and behold, they did. So, we hit the road. We unloaded the bike in the parking lot and I took the tire off in the parking lot in the pouring rain. I took off the rim and had them replace the tube.
Soaking wet and wanting a coffee, I set off about 6 blocks to the local coffee shop to dry out a bit. I walk out and look at my bike and the tire is flatter then when it first happened. At this point I'm kinda pissed off, since it was about 45 minutes ago I got a new tube. I called ‘em up, and they came with a truck and loaded me up to head back to their shop. This time, the tire was so flat we couldn't even push it through the parking lot, so they grabbed their forklift carefully scooped it up with me balancing it, and got it into the shop and on a lift. I once again took the rim off, and watched him replace the tube. Turned out that a couple of my spokes had come loose and punctured the tube. So, we tightened up the spokes, put some new rim tape on, and put it back on the bike. 6 hours later, I was back on the road to Born Free.
Thanks to Damon and Mal, Phil and Liz, Savannah, SpeedKing Steve, Mad Squirrel, Heather, the Cycle Zombie crew and everyone who stopped and hung out at Born Free! -Mike
Keg Killer Customs' Instagram - @keg_killer_customs / @thetrip_ab
Article and photography by Ryan Loughridge / @_loughridge_