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Ride of the Week

Harley-Davidson “Divorster”

Car, truck and motorcycle owners often attribute names to their vehicles, creating a bond between the two and giving the vehicle a great deal of personality. As such, we knew we had to hear the story behind the name “Divorster,” a motorcycle that was displayed at Fuel Cleveland last year. We weren’t expecting it to be a pretty tale.

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The motorcycle is owned by Randy Noldge, the event organizer of Cycle Showcase St. Louis. The motorcycle show is in its seventh year and features a variety of custom-built motorcycles along with everyone from racers to long-distance touring riders to historical restoration buffs and hand-built motorcycle designers. Suffice to say, Noldge has a great respect for various motorcycle sub-cultures and the art of motorcycle building.

Thankfully, the name of Noldge’s Harley-Davidson Sportster wasn’t born from a traumatic moment in his personal life. Rather, it derives from the fact that he removed the original transmission from the bike, “divorcing” the transmission and engine.

“The bike was kind of gifted to me by a friend who inherited it from a crackhead, literally,” Noldge disclosed. “He didn’t know what to do with it, so I ended up with it and it sat around in my garage for six months before anything happened to it.”

Noldge’s friend Woody from the custom motorcycle duo Shortsters gave him the idea to cut out the transmission while they were at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. With intentions to make a drag bike, the two conceded that the Sportster platform’s transmission was the weak link in a high-performance build.

Noldge traveled to Shortsters in Nebraska and used the shop’s custom kit to make the conversion, which he says is fairly easy and can be done by enthusiasts in the garage. After the stock transmission was removed, Noldge installed a heftier one along with other performance upgrades.

“We cut out the transmission and in doing so, we dug into the motor and found out it was a high-performance motor, so we eliminated some of the problems that come along with the Sportster platform. We put a big twin, four-speed transmission behind it and a custom belt-drive setup.

“The frame had already been goose-necked, and the previous owner had put a car battery in front because a motorcycle battery would not start it since it was such a big, high-compression motor. It’s 12.5:1 compression now, and it’s 96 cubic inches in this platform.”

The motorcycle was largely a collaborative effort, with work being done from a few different shops. The engine was reassembled by Carl Pusser of Walking Tall Cycles and Nightfall Customs handled a lot of the cosmetic and metal work on the bike, including tabs and brackets for the wheely bars, struts, the fender, and the front wing.

Fuel Cleveland was only the second time the bike had been taken out to show, and Noldge plans to finish running the bike “through its paces” soon.

“I’m a big guy, so I have no plans to race this, but my friend Nick from Nightfall is shorter in stature, and he wants to run the hell out of this thing,” he says. “All I want to do is go do some smokey burnouts. Bikes kind of build themselves, and this has been a great, fun project we worked on last year.”

If you’re anything like us, you can’t wait to see this drag bike roar down a track!

If you have a motorcycle, ATV, UTV, snowmobile or jet ski you’d like to feature in MPN’s Ride of the Week series, sponsored by CanDo International, please email MPN Content Director Greg Jones at [email protected]

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