The Mako


Brandon Holstein is the mastermind behind Brawny Built, located in Signal Hill, CA. He is also the co-founder and part owner of The Speed Merchant. Brandon builds high quality, pure functional bikes that deliver speed, yet pleasing to the eye. He doesn’t prefer the lime light and lets his creations speak for his brand. Brandon was one of many chosen as an invited builder for Born-Free 5 and won the best competition award because of the detail you will witness below. It’s a pleasure to have a Brawny Built machine featured on ChopCult and I hope there are more to come!


Photos by Mark Kawakami


What style of bike would best describe the Mako? The style of the bike would best be described as maybe ‘vintage road racer.’  But, I always hate putting a label on me, it's a street bike.  Built for speed.  It won't break any records, but it will cruise at high speeds without a problem.  


Any inspiration used for the build? The idea for this build came to me when I was riding through Nevada and Utah with some close friends.  They were all on full liter sport bikes, while I was on my last FXR.  After spending most of our riding at 100-110, I decided that I needed to be on something that was built for higher speeds than that.  So, I started putting this bike together in my head while on this ride.  


How long did the build take to complete?  The build took approximately 3 months.  Not quite as much time as I would have liked, but I had a deadline for BF5.  I kept procrastinating because I was trying to get customer bikes finished before I started this build. Next thing you know, it was April when I actually got started.



What was the collaboration between Brawny Built and Mach Modified? Engine work?   I met Marco, of Mach Modified, in Brooklyn at the Invitational in 2012.  He knew that I was building a bike for BF again.  He and Christian volunteered to build my motor and trans for this build.  I thought it was a perfect fit, since they specialize in fast motors.  After talking with Marco for a bit, I decided to pull my big bore Sputhe kit off the shelf and use it in this bike.  I was just waiting for the right build to use this in.  So, Christian and Marco went to town with my motor, using my 85 cubic inch kit, they used some S&S flywheel and rods, ported and flowed Buell heads with their race cut nitrate valves, custom grind cams, and adjustable pushrods.  The transmission work was their first Hi-5 set up, using a custom built gear set to help lower rpm.  Then, they used their Micro Polished/Slick Blue treatment on all the gears and bearings.  Barnett pitched in also, and hooked me up with their Scorpion Clutch set up, to help get the most from all the engine work.  I couldn't be happier working with Marco and Christian on this motor/trans.



As for the rest of the bike, I handled the deconstruction, fabrication, and assembly of the chassis.  I removed the stock sub-frame to start fresh and lighten things up. The tail section was made from a sheet of aluminum.  I wanted the tail to almost disappear, so I narrowed it as much as I could without making it too small.  A custom oil tank was made to fit under the seat.  The tank is from a modern Triumph Bonneville.  It just seemed to fit the bike perfectly, especially with the vintage half fairing, which is from Air Tech. The fairing was modified to close the headlight opening.  I incorporated an LED light from Lazer Star, and an oil cooler behind the fairing.  After making the brackets for the fairing, I mounted an electronic speedo to calculate my speed, rpm, and engine temperature. I used both stainless steel hard oil lines, along with aircraft style hoses, to route the oil lines to and from the cooler.  To round out the fab work, I built a custom belly pan at the last minute, just ‘cause I felt it needed something there.   For the suspension up front, I used a set of my Speed Merchant trees and adjusters, along with Race Tech's gold valves and springs.  The clip-ons came off a 2004 Thruxton.  Front braking is handled by dual PM 2-piston calipers with custom mounting brackets, that bite onto a pair of Brake Tech 12.6" rotors.  In the rear, I used a set of Ohlins fully adjustable rear shocks, mounted to a modified swingarm.  The swingarm uses billet axle plates, additional trellis, and an adjustable mounting system.   Brakes out back are handled by a classic 4-piston PM caliper with a Ferodo brake rotor. An Antigravity battery, GSX-R hand controls with Pazzo levers, Motion Pro throttle and grips, and a custom leather seat by Azteka Customs round off the rest of the parts.



Owner name, location: Brandon Holstein "Brawny Built"

Engine, year and make, model, modifications: 2003 HD Sportster




Frame:  Modified HD

Fork: 39mm, racetech springs/emulators, lowered 1.5", Speed Merchant Preload Adjusters, and Speed Merchant Speed Trees




Chassis mods: The stock frame was cut and reworked.  I removed the stock subframe, and built a new one from 1" DOM tubing.  Extra narrow and a lot lighter.  A new aluminum oil tank was made to accommodate the new subframe.  Once the subframe was done, I chopped up the swingarm and made it much stronger.  I added some billet axle plates, and extra tubing to make it more rigid.  I also included some adjustable shock mounts. 

Tire/wheel size and style: Spoked, 19 front, 18 rear.   Avon's, 110 front and 150 rear

Favorite thing about this bike:  I can't pick just one thing……

Next modification will be:  Horsepower!!  The bike is currently being tuned by Mach Modified, who built this motor for me.

Thanks to: I'd like to thank Marco and Christian of Mach Modified ( for their contribution to this incredible motor.  I'd also like to thank Chris Wiggins for machining my billet axle plates, and to Mark Felt for helping me with my website.


Be sure to give Brandon a follow on Instagram.

- Lisa

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Comment with Chopcult (11)

Commented on 5-15-2014 At 11:29 am

Brandon always comes correct. Definitely one of the most creative and innovative builders out there. SM forever!

Commented on 5-15-2014 At 03:27 pm

the lines on this bike are perfect, very fun to look at

Commented on 5-15-2014 At 07:40 pm

would love to throw a leg over that one

Commented on 5-15-2014 At 09:02 pm

Simply beautiful! I would ride the shit outta it!

Commented on 5-15-2014 At 10:23 pm

rad feature..... Brawny came up to Seattle to get the donor motor from a project I changed motors on (redoing Bull from Todd's Cycle.... and I ended up going with a Buell motor instead) so my old 1200 sporty motor was ready for him to send to Mach Modified.

Commented on 5-16-2014 At 08:23 am

Brawny kills it period. He did some motor and suspension work on my sportster and the thing spits fire now!

Commented on 5-16-2014 At 11:20 am

any idea what it currently weighs and expected horsepower output of it? One of my favorite sportsters to date...

Commented on 5-16-2014 At 12:19 pm

As for Horsepower the bike made 116hp Uncorrected and 113 Corrected....
Brawny did an outstanding job on this bike, truly one for all time. glad we could be part of it.

Commented on 5-16-2014 At 04:33 pm

very clean! sharp with a lot of small touches! great job!

Commented on 5-18-2014 At 12:33 am

Best Cafe'd Sporty ever.

Commented on 5-18-2014 At 09:25 am

riotously dig this

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