Me and My Bike: 1998 Honda VTR1000F Super Hawk

Photography by Jim Moy

Name: John Altmann

AGE: 41

Home: Milwaukee, WI

Occupation: Concrete contractor

This was my first brand-new bike. Super Hawks didn't sell well, and when my local dealer offered me a leftover for $6900, I did that deal. And then-how's this for squid factor?- just three weeks later, late at night on a cloverleaf off-ramp, zip, there goes the front end. Next thing I know, I'm skidding along watching my brand-new bike bounce off the guardrail.

"It was totaled: broken frame and everything. Blue Book value was $9200. After I bought it back from the insurance company for $1500 I was basically at even money, but with a wrecked bike on my hands. So I decided to go roadracing. I kept it all stock- suspension, brakes, even the tires-and it was a great training device. I learned to be really smooth, because any hamfistedness would just tie that bike in knots.

"I roadraced for three years-earning an Expert plate-and then crashed again, highsiding and breaking everything, including my wrist. I was into supermoto by then, so I quit roadracing and turned the 'Super Chicken' into a street-tracker. Flat bars, XR-750 tailsection, a KTM fender bolted backward on the lower triple clamp...but I didn't have the time or the skills to do it right, and it just kind of sat around in my garage.

"Some friends who do have skills-Rick Goldberg and Andy Mauk of MOMBA fame- eventually took an interest and offered to finish the project. All I said was, 'Streettracker/ Evel Knievel,' and they went for it. Of course, I've got an Evel fetish-don't we all? When I was a kid, as soon as Evel finished a jump I'd go straight outside and build a plywood ramp and jump my bicycle over it.

"The stock tank looked wrong, so Rick sliced it up to fit the look. They made bar risers, moved all the electronics out of the way, hand-hammered the front and rear numberplates from aluminum, fabricated the stubby exhausts and went wild with the paint.

"It wheelies even more now because we slid the forks down an inch in the triples to raise the front end, making the riding position more comfortable. And it jumps, too: I've jumped it over curbs, urban jumps, whatever-it flies right, for sure. I think Evel would have approved."

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