This motorcycle is named Gypsy’s bike by his author.
Growing up in Connecticut, Gypsy took an early interest in motorcycles. Against the wishes of her mother, she would ride dirt bikes with neighborhood boys. Rough use caused the bikes to break, making it necessary for Gypsy to learn how to fix them. Working odd jobs at a local bike shop, she learned the basics of motorcycle repair and earned spare parts for her projects.
Gypsy’s interest in motorcycles continued into her teen years when she left home. While living in Florida, Gypsy started riding Harley Davidsons and got her own bike at the age of 17. The bike needed serious work to be ready to ride. Gypsy put it together in her living room, taking it apart and rebuilding it three times.
“By the time I was done with my first bike, I knew the Harley Davidson as few men did,” she said.
Back then biking was different. The bikes were cheaper and chances were that the Harley flying past you on the road wasn’t the midlife crisis of a doctor or accountant.
“I remember when bikers used to be scum, when they used to be feared,” she said. “I kind of liked that.”
Time passed. Gypsy married and went to nursing school, eventually becoming an intensive care unit nurse. She had a daughter. Her interest in motorcycles never left, but had to be put on the backburner because of the demands of having a family.
“The passion never stopped, but the garage time did,” she said.
More time passed. Gypsy’s marriage eventually ended. Her love affair with the motorcycle reignited. She continued in her career as a nurse, but also started attended biking events and got back into the garage.
“I was doing 36 to 48 hours as a nurse per week and I would end a 12-hour shift by going out to the garage and beating metal,” she said.
Later she became a freelance writer for a motorcycle magazine and wrote a column for several years. Through her journalism and garage work, Gypsy became a celebrity in biking circles, and met Berry Wardlaw, owner of Accurate Engineering, and a respected name in the industry.
“Berry is the pinnacle motorcycle builder,” she said. “He’s the best-known engine builder in the Harley custom world.”
When the Discovery Channel invited Gypsy to compete as the first woman builder in Biker Build-Off’s six-season run, Wardlaw invited Gypsy to use his shop. Gypsy participated in every stage of the build, from blueprinting to the grease and grunt work necessary to build a bike. Working in 12 hour shifts over 10 days per competition rules, Gypsy and her team constructed a one-of-a-kind marvel, a bike that blends design genres to create a unique and aesthetically pleasing machine. The eclectic bike has a unique dual head knucklehead engine, a 1924 brass fire extinguisher as an oil tank, and a 1912 Brooks bicycle seat.
And true to Gypsy’s irreverent nature, the two-syllable name of the bike isn’t quite printable. Hint: The last syllable is slap and the first rhymes with “itch.”
The unnamed bike was selected by popular vote as the winner of the competition at a biker rally in Ohio. For Gypsy, her win was sweet. She had given up a job in Houston to compete in a field long dominated by men.
“I didn’t want to be the first woman,” she said. “But I didn’t want to be the first woman and lose, either.”