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Drop Seat Sporty for Kristie

From Twisted Biker Werks, Big Island, Hawaii

By Bandit with photos by Chris and
6/11/2010 10:52:41 AM

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This all began 38 years ago on the Big Island of Hawaii. Chris Calicdan's dad, a phone company lineman, rode a raked-out Panhead at the time. Chris, at 2-years-old, stumbled into the garage as his father's engineer boot kicked the starter lever and that rigid, with upsweeps, fired to life. It was the first time Chris shit his pants and meant it. The sparkling chrome locomotive on two wheels was reminiscent of a land mind going off in front of a lizard on a nearby rock. His life would never be the same.

Dad and his Pan.

"My dad always rode," Chris told me as we discussed his biking background for this bike feature. He grew up in Hilo, the largest town of 45,000, on the 90,000-population island of Hawaii, or the Big Island. The most southern, eastern, and largest of the six-island chain, here's a handful of history:

Chris, in his tin shop, working on his Ness frame, Pro Street FXR.

The youngest island in the archipelago, Hawaii’s Big Island is believed to be the first island Polynesian voyagers from the Marquesas Islands set foot on 1,500 years ago.

In 1778, Captain Cook arrived on Kauai, opening the door to an influx of westerners. Only a year later on the Big Island, warriors at Kealakekua Bay killed Cook after a contentious chain of events.

During this time of discovery, Hawaii’s Big Island was divided into separate chiefdoms, and war between factions was common. In 1791, Kohala-born Kamehameha united the Big Island and went on to unify all of the Hawaiian Islands. This was the home to King Kamehameha’s court until it moved to Oahu in 1804. In 1812, Kamehameha the Great returned to his beloved Big Island, where he died in 1819.

In 1820, the first missionaries arrived in Kailua-Kona. Other westerners followed, introducing cattle to the island. Parker Ranch was born, becoming one of the largest cattle ranches in the country. Sugar plantations also bloomed on the Hilo side in the 20th century.

Today, the Big Island remains a vital touchstone for Hawaiian culture. Throughout its modernization, one ancient Hawaiian god is believed to be alive and well here. Pele, the volcano goddess, has settled in Kilauea Volcano after moving south along the island chain. She continues to display her power today, keeping Kilauea in a constant state of eruption since 1983.

Of course, the white man arrived with the kindly old missionaries and delivered western religion and disease. Only 25 percent of the native population survived to tell about it, but we won't go there.


When I asked about riding on the island, Chris told me of the only active volcano in Hawaii.

"It's constantly erupting and we have every climate," he said.

Eleven different climate zones generate everything from lush rain forests to arid deserts, black sand beaches to snow-capped mountaintops.

"Hilo is overcast and cool, but when you ride to Kona, it's sliced with lava flows and super hot, then you can run into mist, rain and cool roads. It rains between 180 and 200 inches a year. We've had 24 inches drop on our coast in one evening."

That was way beyond my precipitation limit and I shifted interview gears.

"Let's talk bikes."


Chris grew up around bikes. His first was a '79 Sportster.

"My dad helped me get it, but it was kick only," Chris said.

Inside Chris's shop.

One of his first jobs included a stint as a mechanic at the local H-D dealership, but when it went bankrupt, he opened his own shop, in a 2000-square foot old military Quonset hut five miles from the coast, next to the power plant.

"It's an oven in the summer," Chris said.

There are only three shops in the city, and he's opened his creaking steel doors daily for five years, since 2004, building customs, servicing bikes, and designing himself a one-off scooter from time to time. The island is a haven of fat tire Softails and Island Boy-styled bikes, a fat FLH-styled scooter from the '50s.


"You don't see a lot of diversion from the norm," Chris said. So, when he built this Sporty for his girlfriend, Kristie, the mother of his two sons, it turned out to be an island novelty.

Maybe I should back up some, so you'll understand the motive for his build, and why he left the island's custom lava path. He met Kristie while working as the bouncer in Hilo's Shooters Bar a decade ago.

"I've been married once," Chris said. "That's enough."


Soon after, they had two young men, Xander, the brainiac and Wyatt, the biker, she took the riders training course, graduated, got her license and Chris built her an island traditional fat tire Softail. Life was good, and then mysteriously, he sold the Softail out of the shop.

Kristie teaches math at the local high school and the kids love to see her tool onto the campus aboard her customized Softail. So, it wasn't going to bode well for the man of the house if she found out her trusty Softail ran off with a new owner. He needed to move fast.


He got a call and an offered to buy an '89 Sporty that had been collecting dust for 10 years in a hillside garage for $1,500. Chris made a beeline for the score. He took a fresh battery, aired up the flattened tires, and it fired to life. He was able, just barely, to steer the scooter to his tin shop, where he tore the engine away from the chassis.

"I sold the roller for $200 and ordered a drop seat rigid frame from Red Baron," Chris said. In three weeks, the special order 6-inch stretched frame arrived with 40 degrees rake worked into the neck.


He quickly set to work fabricating the handlebars, the coil mount, the rear fender, the battery box, the oil tank (in the frame top tube), the glass velocity stack, and the taillight. Between working on customer Softails and Island Boy bikes, he assembled, tore down for paint and chrome, reassembled and road-tested his girl's new ride. He saved his ass. She digs the unique aspects of this Mini Cooper blue bike and the light, fast, Sportster agility he built into the driveline.


All is well once more in the island paradise of Twisted Bike Worx, where Chris is capable of rebuilding motors and trans, welding, fabricating, and service. He has a readily available machine shop across the street. He handles all but chrome and paint. And he still builds big tire Softails and Island Boy bikes, but likes to branch out on his own customs, with light 200-tire rigids, and maybe even a low-buck Sporty custom from time to time.


He doesn't venture off the island much since they shut the super ferries down.

"It runs $500 just to have your bike shipped to another island," Chris said, but he ventures over from time to time to check out the action on the more crowded islands, then sneaks home to escape the squalor, to find his school teacher, life partner, and his dad, who still rides a strut-lowered FXR at 66 years of age.


"You've got to come visit us on the Big Island," Chris said and I agreed. Just to hang at Twisted Bike Worx would be worth the trip.



sign Extreme Tech Chart

Regular Stuff

Owner: Twisted Bike Worx
Bike Name: The Reckoning
City/State: Hilo/Hawaii

Builder: Chris Calicdan/Twisted Bike Worx
City/state: Hilo/Hawaii
Address: 22 Halekauila Street
Phone: 808-938-9093
Web site:
Fabrication: Chris Calicdan/Twisted Bike Worx
Welding: Chris Calicdan/Twisted Bike Worx
Machining: Dayton Jackson/Chris Calicdan



Year: 1989
Make: Harley-Davidson
Model: XL1200
Displacement: 1200cc
Builder or Rebuilder: Chris Calicdan/Twisted Bike Worx
Cases: H-D
Case finish: Natural
Barrels: H-D
Bore: 3 ½”
Pistons: Wiseco
Barrel finish: Natural
Lower end: H-D
Rods: H-D
Heads: Branch Flowmetrics
Head finish: Natural
Valves and springs: Andrews High Lift
Pushrods: Andrews Adjustable
Cams: Andrews V4
Lifters: H-D
Carburetion: S&S Super “G”
Air cleaner: Glass Velocity Stack
Exhaust: Tedd's Cycle
Mufflers: NOPE!



Year: 1989
Make: HD
Gear configuration:
Final drive: HHI Sprotor
Primary: H-D
Clutch: Barnett Kevlar
Kicker: NOPE!



Year: 2008
Make: Red Barron Choppers
Style or Model: Single Down Tube Rigid
Stretch: 6” top tube
Rake: 40 degree
Modifications: In-the-Frame Oil Tank


Front End

Make: Ultima
Model: 58mm Inverted
Year: 2008
Length: Stock FXST


Sheet metal

Tanks: Stretched by Twisted Bike Worx
Fenders: Front/stock FXST Rear/Twisted Bike Worx
Oil tank: Twisted Bike Worx


Sheet metal: Kalae Wong/Russell Gomes
Molding: Kalae Wong/Michael Leopoldino
Graphics: Greg Kobayashi
Graphics or art: Greg Kobayashi


Make: DNA
Size: 21”X2.125”
Brake calipers: Custom Chrome
Brake rotor(s): DNA Stainless
Tire: 90/90-21 Maxxis

Make: DNA
Size: 5.50”X18”
Brake calipers: HHI Sprotor
Brake rotor: Stainless Sprotor
Pulley: NOPE!
Tire: 180/55-18” Dunlop


Foot controls: UMI
Finish: Chrome
Master cylinder: UMI Chrome
Brake lines: Russell
Handlebar controls: Custom Chrome
Finish: Chrome
Clutch Cable: Barnett Clear Coat Braided
Brake Lines Russell
Shifting: Forward Controls
Kickstand: Chrome



Ignition: Crane HI-4
Ignition switch: Toggle
Coils: Crane
Regulator: Chrome
Wiring: Twisted Bike Worx
Headlight: Chrome 4”
Taillight: Twisted Bike Worx LED
Accessory lights: NADA
Electrical accessories:
Switches: Toggle
Battery: Interstate AGM


What’s Left

Seat: Thompson Upholstery
Mirror(s): Billet Ebay
Gas caps: Pop-up
Handlebars: Twisted Bike Worx
Grips: Avon Performance
Pegs: UMI
Oil filter: Chrome
Oil cooler: NOPE
Oil lines: Braided
Fuel filter: NOPE
Fuel Lines: Braided
Throttle: Chrome
Throttle cables: Braided
Fasteners: ACORNS!!!


Specialty items: Custom fabricated handlebars, headlight mount, coil cover/motor mount, LED taillight, license plate mount, rear axle, rear fender & supports, lower motor mount, sprocket cover, glass velocity stack, air ride seat, batter box, in-the-frame oil tank.

Comments: I purchased this bike as a $1500 basket, and I owed my girlfriend a bike because I sold her previous bike. No one has built a full custom sportster on the Big Island so I figured what the hell let’s do it.

Credits: Kristie Kelly(girlfriend)-Patience Michael Leopoldino-General Assistance George Calicdan-General Assistance

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