Nikki Martin got the call from Micheal Lichter and (bing, bang, boom), she became a featured builder at the Old Iron/Young Blood exhibit at the Buffalo Chip Campground presented at the 77th edition of the Sturgis Rally. For the exhibit she built a 1999 Kraft Tech Softail Chopper that is 8-up, 34 degree rake and is named Lucky 13.
This year’s “Old Iron/Young Blood” exhibit features the work of the Next Generation of Motorcycling’s Masters with builders under the age of 36 years old.
Nikki is also a competitor at the J&P Cycles Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show. She sat down with Arielle Levine of the International Motorcycle Show Series to talk about her build.
Tell us about you/your shop?
I grew up in the garage with my dad. Initially starting with hot rods then transferred into motorcycles. If I wanted to spend any time with my dad, the garage is where I needed to be. Through the years I have built many motorcycles alongside my dad. We are very lucky to have our shop at our house. Our shop has non-traditional working hours, we run the shop at night. With my dad working in law enforcement during the day, I run the day to day operations with social media and when he comes home we go out to the shop and work on our builds. We pride ourselves in being a father daughter duo. I grew up learning from him and now we repeat the learning curve with my 3 kids.
Where did you find the bike? What year was it originally made?
We initially bought the frame from a friend of ours in 1999. We never did anything with it. Had it in our shop attic, until I got approached to build the chopper for Michael Lichter’s Motorcycles as Art exhibit “Old Iron Young Blood” the next generation of custom builders and artists.
Can you run us through the build?
The build started with the idea of using old parts we have collected over the years and utilizing powder coat where we could instead of paint. Stared off with a custom chameleon teal to purple heavy flaked powder coat, thanks to Lee at Pristine Powder Coating, Jesse James Villain Gas tank, Maltese cross brake rotors and pulley, 13 spoke Harley Davidson wheel coated in flat grey and a 80 cu in Evo motor, thanks to Scott Yamasaki of Scotts Motors. Once we had all these pieces powder coated and had rolling chassis, I knew I wanted an over the top paint job. Talked with our paint genius, John Pugh of Gunslinger Custom Paint, he came up with a killer paint scheme to tie in elements from my tattoos by Nik Pew of Denver City Tattoo Club. My tattoos were also used in the hand tooled leather seat from Enoch Langston of Langston Leatherworks. I wanted to include some engraving on the bike, had my exhaust, gas cap with “13” and custom license plate “Lucky 13” engraved by Jerry Potts of Steel Tattoos.
What was the hardest part of the build?
With me being on the shorter side of 5’5, the hardest part was finding the right seat height and placement to reach forward controls and see over the tank. In addition to having handlebars that were low and pulled back far enough for me to reach comfortably.
What do you like best about the finished bike?
I love the paint job and the hand tooled seat! They really brought everything I like together, from my favorite colors, glitter, tattoos, roses, and lace into one finished product of pure beauty.
Do you have a name for the bike?
“Lucky 13” reason behind is my birthday is February 13, so 13 has always been my favorite number.