RIPLEY — Luke Atkinson, 37, of Ripley, has been around motorcycles for most of his life, whether it be racing or building them.
At the age of 19 he bought his first Harley and from there it has been an addiction to gain knowledge on motorcycles, how they operate and how you can modify them to one’s liking.
“I raced motorsport in the local area for a while,” he said. “I got a Harley and never looked back.”
Atkinson, a graduate of Williamstown High School, has been in the motorcycle building business for the past 18 years.
He attended MMI school in Phoenix, Ariz., in 2005 and graduated with Ph.D. Harley certifications in early and late model courses. Later he worked for Arrowhead Harley Davidson and Bourgetts Custom Cycles in Phoenix while attending MMI.
Today he owns Hillbilly Mafia Motorcycle and Hot Rod Services, in Ripley, which opened in 2015.
Atkinson said he hopes to build up the business over the next few years.
“I’d like to get up to where I’ll have two or three other mechanics working here,” he said.
Atkinson hand built a custom 1981 Harley Davidson flh shovelhead, basically rebuilding it from the ground up with a modified aftermarket swing arm frame lengthened 2 inches with relocation of swing arm pivot. He added that the bike has an aftermarket delkron softail style five speed transmission with kicker assembly as well as the push button electric start. The bike runs a primo brute force open belt drive with dry clutch and the motor is stock cases with S and S flywheels, rods, and pistons. It has evo style lifter blocks and lifters, an S and S cam, Harley cv carburetor brass oil lines and fittings. a painted softail oil tank with braided brass oil lines as well as fuel lines and a custom one off gas tank badges made by L.C. Fabrications.
It also features custom stepped fenders by Hillbilly Mafia with bike runs two 18″ repurposed street glide front wheel, a FXST 41mm front forks new model forks, Progressive 416 15 inch black shocks, PM brakes on both ends, modified twisted choppers hookah pipe header for exhaust with baffles and twisted choppers 12 inch apes.
“This bike is dedicated to Don Dixon, uncle of the current owner,” he said. “This motorcycle came to our shop in 15 boxes. Some of the original small parts were incorporated into this build. We felt it necessary to keep them with the bike. We are pleased to bring pride to the family and bring Don’s scoot out from a 20-year hibernation.”
Atkinson took this bike to the Cleveland International Motorcycle Show J and P Cycles ultimate builder contest where it was entered in the Modified Retro class.
“This was my first entry in an international show,” he said. “We received second place runner up honors in Cleveland which entered us in the championship round in Chicago.”
Atkinson said the only finishes they make public are first and second.
“They announced the top 10 and then the top two, but they don’t tell the rest where we placed,” he said. “We were in the top 10, I guess we were sixth or seventh.”
There are seven shows in seven cities across the country. Atkinson said winners in each region are invited to the championship round which was in Chicago for 2017. There are only two awards given for each class. The bike “Double D,” did not receive first or second place honors in the class. However, finishing in the top 10 in the nation and even being invited is an honor itself, he said.
For 2018 he said the championship round will be in Long Beach, Calif., where he hopes to enter two bikes in the competition.