>The Chopper Farm and its creator: Jim Bortles


I’ve been friends with JoAnn Bortles for a couple of months.  We met on line because we both are featured in Edward Winterhalder’s new book: “BIKER CHICZ OF NORTH AMERICA”.  We communicated with each other through FaceBook and finally met at Chris Callen’s Big Mountain Run.   It’s been an exciting and wonderful time knowing such a go getter as JoAnn and I tell you I was very excited to plan another “get together” for us during October.  I’ve been bugging JoAnn, asking her to please try to make time for me to ride down and spend a couple of days with her and her man, David.  I wanted to get her to take a few days off from working and go riding with me.  The week finally came; she saw a small window between jobs and invited me down to her home and shop in Waxhaw.
I spent 3 days away from home, 2 nights with JoAnn and David.  During that time, I kept hearing about this guy named “Jim”.  She speaks highly of him, always enticing me with glowing stories of the motorcycles he has had a hand in building.  I’ve been in the motorcycle industry for almost 40 years.  Wouldn’t you think I would have known or even heard a whisper about a guy named “Jim Bortles”?  I guess I’ve been under a rock all these years.
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This story is about Jim Bortles.  It’s about his “CHOPPER FARM”.  It’s about his dedication to the motorcycle.  This story features Jim’s creations and honors his creativity. 
Jim still has his first chopper. It currently rests in a shed off the shop.  I have a photo of it. It’s a Honda, when I asked Jim about it, he gave me this information: “1971 Honda 450 with 500 crank and bored out-about 550 CC’s. It went through 4 or 5 changes. Got it when I was going to Weber State Col. in Ogden, Utah. Took welding classes stretched the swing arm 5 and half inches and lowered the seat area 4 last change was in Fla. with prizim tank and black paint. Never had a speedo-Been to Calif. on it back to Utah to Vegas to Fla. to Bristol Tenn. down the east coast to Fla. Lotta miles in between.”
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Jim worked 3 years with Wyatt Fuller at Razorback Motor Works until the unfortunate death of Fuller while flying and exhibiting his F86 Saber Jet.  Jim spoke fondly of Wyatt.  I choked up as he spoke of the death of his friend Wyatt.  Very sad indeed.
Jim was then hired on by Thunder Cycle Design in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  As their fabricator, Jim built the first 12 bikes that rolled from that shop! I asked Jimmy to tell something about working with Eddie Trotta, this is his response. ” It was great working for Eddie-he just wanted to build bikes. He would do the wiring and assembly- I did the building. A lot of fun in those days… figuring out how to make hidden gas tank mounts making fat tires fit ,that was when the 180 came out, then the 200. Eddie might be a rich guy but [he would] never look down on you, you were just one of the guys. I remember he would go nuts tying bikes down, one time coming back from Columbus, Ohio the trailer flipped upside down, we opened the door and all the bikes were hanging from the ceiling: only one got a dent in the tank.” (Not that’s some job of tying down bikes! Amazing! Thanks for sharing this with us Jim!)
The following photos feature 3 different models that Jim worked on!




After a while Jim moved to Waxhaw NC.  Jim opened his custom shop with Click Baldwin at his Carolina Harley-Davidson in Gastonia.  Jim ran a custom shop which was visible through a garage door on the north end of the sales floor.  Once again Jim almost brought me to tears as he talked about his friend Click.  I had read of Click’s death on the way to Sturgis a few years ago. I knew some of the facts, but now here is a man who not only knew Click, but loved him as well.  It’s the “dark side” of motorcycling.  There is no doubt, after living the years we have in the motorcycling world, we know and have lost a loved one to the road.

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Jimmy tells me “There is going to be a logo plasma cut in the cover plate and the LED will light it up,” Man…this drive cover is gonna be a rockin’ cool beauty!

I enter the shop for the first time behind JoAnn.  She wants to shoot a couple coats of clear coat on a job she is finishing up. Her paint booth is there at Jim’s shop.  Jim is sitting at his work bench, studying something before him.  His back is to the door, so as we enter he looks up and greets us.  I’m mesmerized by all the memorabilia mounted on the walls of his shop.  Professionally mounted pages of the many bikes that have been featured in magazines such as American Iron, Iron Works, Easy Riders and so on!  I also see two lifts with motorcycles on them.  I spot two more sitting on the shop floor. 

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Jim specializes in metal work. Welding, jigging, cutting, building….fabricating metal. He will take your swing arm frame, cut off the rear end and put a hard tail on.  Jim will cut the neck…not off, but he will cut it at angles that figure into a degree of rake you want.  He will extend your frame, make it beautiful, low and oh so comfy.  Wait until I get together with him for the next story we are going to do together! Jimminy Crickets you guys….I have so much that you are gonna LOVE!  Coming up soon!  So for now, let’s look at Jim’s current ride… his Sportster….I wish it was mine.
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Photo caption: Look at this neck. See any welding? NO? How about bondo filling? NO?  NOPE NONE< NADA! This is stuff of an understated artist!
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3 comments on “>The Chopper Farm and its creator: Jim Bortles”

  1. >love the sporty it is awesome hon….what an artiste Jim is…love his creation and so glad that you spent time down there………hugz Valkyrie

  2. I just stumbled across this site/blog and there’s my old bike! The Orange Krate was built by Jim for me back in 1998 when he was working at Cycle Sorcery in Charlotte,NC. The bike was very cool and a ton of fun to ride. Jim was great……..he put up with me stumbling around the shop at SC for about six months and was always happy to show me what the next step was on the bike. If this gets to Jim somehow, all the best and hope all is well!
    Colby Morris

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D. Brent Miller

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