Josh Kurpius and The Locust
One of the most iconic Ironheads of all time was never even meant to be an Ironhead.
Josh Kurpius gathered all the parts in the early 2000s. An Ironhead was what Josh could afford at the time, so an Ironhead was what he got.
“I never even wanted a long bike,” Josh tells us. But after spotting the long springer on a Brit chopper, he knew what he wanted. That long, skinny — really skinny — springer front end came to Josh at a time when classic stock or two-under front ends were the things to run. But there was something about that springer that drew him in.
Other parts for the build came from new friends like Warren Heir, Chicago Wil and Dave Polgreen.
Companies like Lowbrow Customs and Biltwell were new to the game and not yet supplying narrowed tanks or skinny pullback bars to the masses back then, so you either found parts in some old gray beard’s barn or learned how to fabricate. The alternative was some sort of billet aluminum chunky bull shit, which was an obvious no-go.
As the parts all came together, Josh’s direction became clearer than ever — long, tall and skinnier than a model during NY Fashion Week. Lean and mean.
Sometime in 2008, The Locust was born. The name comes from an actual locust set in resin Josh was going to incorporate into the bike, and also for the paint scheme he’d dreamed up for it — neither of which, as you all know, ever came to fruition.
He never “finished” the bike because once it was together and went through a proper shakedown, it was never taken back apart and painted or dolled up.
No need to fix what ain’t broke. Right, fellas?
That’s one of the reasons we call Josh’s bike iconic. Having a chopper on the road for well over 10 years is an accomplishment in and of itself, but never changing it up through all these milestones — not screwing up a perfectly good thing, and riding that perfectly good thing everywhere — is what makes this bike iconic.
Josh has rolled The Locust across the country and back on several occasions. You’ve seen it in commercials and music videos. It’s one of the most important tools Josh uses to capture interesting moments from unique perspectives, and has been since the day he finished building it.
We call this bike iconic because of all the above.
In early 2001, Josh was just a young man commuting to a small community college on his dad’s OG paint ‘69 FLH, snapping pics of things like his speedometer, handlebars and random sights along the way. He didn’t have the set of friends he has now, and nobody else in his circle was riding.
By the time The Locust was done and on the road, Josh’s circle had grown, he was immersed in the life and his bike was ripping along. He would hit the road with guys like Brian Harlow, Warren Heir, Bobby Goodtime and others, shooting from his bike and posting to his blog and early social media. Naturally, it didn’t take long for Harley-Davidson to take notice.
In 2009, Josh was hired to do his first shoot for the MoCo. The shoot involved some guys crossing the 1.9-mile Hoan Bridge above the Milwaukee River. When Josh showed up on his chopper — straight from the Davenport Swap Meet — the H-D team was confused.
Surely, Josh wouldn’t be shooting the gig from the seat of his bike, right? Right?
When the folks at the MoCo. learned that was actually exactly what he was planning to do, they debated whether or not they should still go through with the shoot. They did, and it worked.
In 2013, Josh had his first exhibit at the renowned Harley-Davidson Museum. Working for the MoCo. seemed inevitable. Thousands of miles and thousands of beers later, Josh now finds himself a full-time Photographer of the most iconic motorcycle company of all — Harley-Davidson.
Story by Choppers Magazine
Photos by Josh Kurpius
Photos of Josh by Rakel Karlsdóttir