Tomy Lipka is a welder and fabricator located in Glen Rock, PA. I caught Tomy and his lady, Britta, rolling into last year’s Ride to Skate on his ’71 cone shovelhead and knew there was a Chop Cult feature. So, when I approached him about an article, he suggested shooting his ’96 softail, citing some upcoming changes to the shovel…and the fact that it’s now in pieces. He also felt that the softail was a cool change from a lot of the vintage chopper stuff going on while taking some key points from that scene. Since his shovel is torn apart, this has taken its place.
Unlike many chopper dudes, Tomy wasn’t born into bikes. His family wasn’t into them and he didn’t grow up riding, but he always wanted one. A little over ten years ago, he got his hands on a 2000 Sportster and has been riding and working on them ever since. He has had the PPE for about two years. Originally his friend’s bike, Tomy did all of the maintenance for him. After a summer of bad wiring issues, his bud was done with it, so Tomy took it off his hands at a good price. About five years prior to that, Tomy broke his back and was keeping an eye out for something with suspension, so this was a good option at the right time. Although it was super stock (a real “dad bike”), Tomy figured he could still give it his own chopper look. At the time, he already had the cone shovel, his everyday driver, and was keeping an eye out for an evo. He had an evo Sportster before and liked the way blockheads looked. In his opinion, the mid-nineties evos are really the best motors that Harley ever made.
Tomy did most of the work on the PPE himself and estimates that the whole project took about five to six months to complete. He had the valves and seats cut by someone, whereas it didn’t make sense to spend a thousand bucks on the tools just to do one bike. Looking back, maybe he should have since he’s considering doing the shovel too. He also outsourced the paint and chrome.
Obviously, this wasn’t his only build. He built three of his own, one for someone else, and helped with a handful of others. Some of his help on the softail came from his Scummerset crew in Philadelphia. That may sound familiar from a feature I did back in August 2016 on “Sorcerer’s Juicebox” built by another Scummerset dude, Jesse Johnston. Tomy’s other friend, Anthony Nocella (with a sick ironhead that I hope to shoot for a feature) helped him carry the softail up his stoop and through the house when he first bought it.
Tomy explained that he got a lot of inspiration for the build from the trippy 70’s style fab work. This was also the inspiration for the sick sissy bar. Tomy attended MMI about 7 years ago where one of his classmates built a rad soft chop. That build also gave him some inspiration for the project. He mentioned that there was no real direction with this build, he just winged it and feels that the end result is killer…I have to agree. His favorite part about the process was how he was able to take a “dad bike” from the 90’s and turn it into something much more attractive without relying on the age of the engine to make it interesting. He feels that while many are concerned with bikes being vintage or period correct, ripping apart the softail and turning it into a sick chopper was a challenge he was ready to take. Another challenge he had to work with was a sloppy chrome job on that sissy bar. Apparently, it somehow got twisted between fab and getting it back from the chromer. The lesson learned is to find a reliable chrome dude when in need! He had to blast it and twist it back into shape. He said that’s why there are some visible bubbles in the legs of the sissy bar. I think it’s badass, such a well-executed design that works perfectly with the rest of the bike. Another change he made was the addition of the E- Z pull clutch kit, giving him a nice ride in the comfort zone.
Right now, he’s working on the ’71 cone shovel that I saw at Ride to Skate. He has it torn apart in his garage. Although that’s his favorite bike, the softail is his everyday rider until he’s done.
Although while building the PPE his intent was keeping it for the long haul, he thinks everything is for sale if the right money comes along.
Powder Coat (frame/tins): Dan at Full Spectrum Coating, West Chester, PA.
Bars: Hayseed Cycles, Atlanta, GA
Additional parts & knowledge provided by Vinny at SBKH Moto in Philadelphia…hands down, best mechanic in Philly!
Follow Tomy on Instagram at acid_daddy and keep an eye out for a feature on the sick cone shovelhead…wait until you see this!
Huge thanks to Tomy & Britta for this early morning shoot.
Daniel Venditto / www.dv8sport.com /@dv8sport