The Locust by Josh Kurpius

When I took over the position of editor in February, I made a list of people and bikes that I wanted to feature. I immediately called Josh Kurpius and asked him if he ever received press for his personal bike. To my delight he stated that he had many offers but I could have it for Chop Cult. The Locust is a steel work of art built by Josh, with the help of a few friends’ kind donations. The best part of this feature for me is having Josh shoot his own bike. We all know Josh for his photography, hell you can tell it’s his photos before you even look at the photo credit in any magazine out there. His layouts are clean, focus is on point and the subjects seem to jump off the page. 

Recently I received an email from fellow CC member Jason requesting a feature on The Locust as he put it best, “It would be awesome because that bike is one of the sickest chops of all time! Josh's bike kick started my love for Choppers". Jason, this feature is for you!

I picked up the pieces of this bike in the winter of 2004 from a gray beard that was down on his luck…. I finally owned my first motorcycle. The problem was that I didn't have the tools nor the money to put these pieces together. Fast forward to the fall of 2008 when my father decided to retire his business slowly trading off the pieces of his painting company for a welder and a shop full of machining tools. Now that I had access to the tools it was just a matter of figuring out how to use them. I didn't have a penny to my name but I had time, a lot of scrap metal and plenty of friends that helped me out by handing down the beat up parts that would help complete my bike. I made it my goal to do everything and learn how to do it myself as I built the bike from ground up. I started with the frame which was a Paughco rigid frame that came with my pile of parts. I first torched out all of the gussets and mounts then proceeded to make my own. My third weld was laid on this frame. I continued welding for a few months straight as I modified and molded the frame which made me pretty fimilar with a tig torch. My dad had recently picked up a Norton chopper with a long narrow springer front end on it. It was quite a bit too sketchy for his liking so I made a new stem for it and put it on the sportster frame.

At that time I hated long bikes but I couldn't be to choosy about the components since I had budget of zero and at that time there were very few long bikes running around so I just rolled with it. I enjoyed the challenge of using parts I wouldn't normally use making the lines flow and parts work together as if the were made for each other. Bobby at King Kustoms gave me the cut up sportster tank which I narrowed, dished and up stretched a little in the front then molded it into the frame.

Warren at JR's Cycle Products gave me a skirted fender which I modified to fit the style of the bike. Dave Polgreen hooked me up with a set of rabbit ear bars that I had to narrow to fit the trees. I made the oil tank, motor mount, battery box and sissy bar from scratch. To fit the 70's long bike feel, I made a King Queen seat pan which Rich Phillips covered for me and was the only thing I outsourced on this bike. The bottom end of the motor was assembled when I purchased it but I had to figure out how to fit the rest of the pieces together. In the process I decided to engrave and re-shape the rocker boxes to add a bit of elegance to the Ironhead motor. I also engraved an Indian face on the primary cover. To get things rolling I laced up a 19 inch steel rim to a rear sportster hub and put a 19 inch spool hub up front.

By this time it was spring and the anticipation of riding it was pretty great. I "barrowed" a set of pipes from my friend Chris Odom and took it for a ride. I haven't stopped riding it since. So this is what it looks like now. Beat up and worn out. It's been laying ground more times than I'd like to admit…. seen more miles than I could keep track of…. I could fill a novel of never-ending stories and every dent, crack and piece of bent steel is a clue to each chapter. The front end is tweaked, bars bent, covers cracked and the wheels a bit out of true but it always seems to ride like the wind. One day The Locust will be finished but until then I'm just going to keep riding it.

Owner name: Josh Kurpius  

Location: Genoa, IL.

Bike name:  The Locust

Engine, year and make, model, modifications:  1977 Ironhead Sportster XLH- Handmade… oil tank, Sissy Bar, Seat pan,  Top Motormount, Battery box, headlight bracket, License plate bracket.

Modified…. Rear Sportster hub laced to a steel 19 inch rim, rear fender reshaped ribbed and trimmed, Plymouth dome light turned taillight, Narrowed, dished, upstreched Sportster Tank rubber mounted molded into the frame, narrowed rabbit ear bars, modified neck stem, Molded steel paughco frame (gussets, motor mounts axle plates), reshaped and engraved rocker boxes, Engraved primary cover…. All by Josh Kurpius

Frame: Molded steel paughco frame (gussets, motor mounts axle plates)

Fork: Long Springer

Chassis mods:  Molded Frame, Neck Stem Switch, wheels and Front end

Tire/wheel size and style: Rear…. 19 inch steel rim laced to a rear Sportster Hub,  Front…. 19 inch spool hub.

Favorite thing about this bike: it just keeps running 

Next modification will be:  The bike has never been completed…. Soon as it started for the first time fabrication kind of stopped and I've just been riding it ever since.  Still need to fabricate some exhaust pipes, fresh'n Straighten out all the broken and bent parts then paint and chrome.

Other mods, accessories, cool parts, etc: VW reverse lights as headlights, frame mounted headlight is from Eternal Combustion 

Please check out Josh's work here and follow him on Instagram

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Comment with Chopcult (20)

Commented on 5-2-2013 At 08:15 am

I've never met the man, but by following his online exploits it's confirmed:
Kurpius. Is. A. Ruler!

More miles on a true chopper than anyone! He & the Locust are one of the inspirations for my own long bike build.

Commented on 5-2-2013 At 09:20 am

it has always been a sweet one...

Commented on 5-2-2013 At 09:22 am

NICE........ Not much more I can say about it. WAIT....... I wish I owned it.... That's it.

Commented on 5-2-2013 At 03:59 pm

Fukin bitchin!! one the most creative chops to be featured in awhile. I love it, looks even more rickety than mine. Way to keep em scratching their lame ass heads.

Commented on 5-2-2013 At 07:02 pm

So sick. Looks like something a wizard would ride.

Commented on 5-2-2013 At 07:35 pm

nice and narrrroooowwwww. dig it! Nice stuff Josh!

Commented on 5-2-2013 At 09:28 pm

Cool Scoot---Lisa your write-ups latley are great!

Commented on 5-3-2013 At 11:18 am

This chopper is hands down my favorite chopper ever and was/is the primary source of inspiration for my chopper. Josh's photography and his chopper are inspiring to me and move me at a deeper level. Would like to see this chop in person some day.

Thanks for the will be saved on my computer and read for a long time

Commented on 5-3-2013 At 11:22 am

This chopper is my favorite chopper of all time. And it has been the primary inspiration in me building my chopper. Josh's chopper and photography are on a deeper level for me. I really hope I get to see this chop in person some day.

Great write up...i'll be saving it and re-reading it for years

Commented on 5-3-2013 At 03:34 pm

Rad bike. Rad pics

Commented on 5-4-2013 At 09:55 am

The Locust is going to be one of those legendary bikes that will never be forgotten for years to come. Later, David Vandiver!

Commented on 5-4-2013 At 09:29 pm

Great bike and great write up. A bike with a history like that is so rad

Commented on 5-5-2013 At 09:20 am

great story, great pics...!! Stories like this make me check Chopcult daily!

Commented on 5-10-2013 At 09:06 am

Sportsters Forever!

Commented on 5-27-2013 At 08:45 am

Awesome long bike! I follow Josh on Instagram, he has more fun than should be allowed by law! Love the bike!

Commented on 5-27-2013 At 08:47 am

God made Sportsters to cut up! I built my first HD from ground up. First time I had built a frame from scratch. Wish it had turned out like Josh's...

Commented on 11-18-2014 At 07:34 pm

one of the most beautiful bikes out there!

Commented on 2-7-2015 At 11:55 pm

Epic! Engraving and metal work is inspirational.

Commented on 2-7-2015 At 11:55 pm

Epic! Engraving and metal work is inspirational.

Commented on 3-3-2017 At 06:14 am

Absolutely cool bike, completely original. What's the dimensions on that frame (rake, stretch). Using a Paughco rigid for my first ground up, really dig the frames. Thanks

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