Whereas some jump around trying to find their niche, others like John Alvey of Louisville, Kentucky, are born right into it. It’s been said that we’re all by-products of our environment, and for John, well, let’s just say that he was destined to cultivate his own creativity and drive. “I’ve always been into anything with a motor and wheels,” John says. “It just so happened my father had a garage full of motorcycles,” so as a third-generation bike lover, John was destined to ride his path on two wheels.
At 13, John couldn’t purchase or ride a motorcycle, so he did the next best thing by taking on a summer job cutting lawns. John took the first $20 bill he made and went into a Schwinn bicycle store. Of course he didn’t realize how little his $20 would get him, and soon became dejected when he saw the prices of bicycles. The owner saw a disappointed young boy and brought an older vintage Stingray out from the back, agreeing to let John have it for his $20.
John practiced his craft by custom painting and adding lowrider additions to the bicycle. At 17, John began searching for his first motorcycle by calling every dealership in his state, and even expanding outside the state. The only Harley model that had everything he wanted was in Ohio, about a 16-hour roundtrip ride. Once again light on funds, John borrowed money from his dad, loaded up, and went to pick it up. He continued to “customize the hell out of it” as he started his first official job as a custom painter.
In 2003, John decided to purchase a 1999 Harley-Davidson Softail Springer and that same year he opened his own custom paint and body shop called Alvey’s Bodyworx in Louisville. The very first thing John did to his new Harley was stretch the rear fender 9 1/2 inches and custom-fit a 1939 Buick tail on it for the old-school look. John also custom fabricated a one-off fender and shaved the rivets on the front fender so he could have a nice, flat canvas to prep for custom paint.
John laid down a silver basecoat and silver metalflake while the graphics were being added. Candy root beer paint was used to coat the entire body of the Harley. To give the motor a custom feel, John bought and assembled a 124 S&S super sidewinder motor and built it to specs. He got the heads to the machine shop for some nice port and polish work. The motor was sent off to Henry Higgs for some touchups and polishing. The rear swing arm was modified to lay low and tuck the rear wheel. The oil tank was built one-off to hide the swing arm since it had been modified to come up further, which would have hit the stock oil tank.
After all the big pieces of the puzzle were in place, it was time to make a seat pan and get it off to Jessica Lile at Sewn Tight Interiors for the Cinnamon Bison wrapping. The entire assembly of the Harley was done by John with the help of his brother Grant Alvey. Some of the machine work on the odds and ends were done by Brian Howell at Tooling Ventures in Shepherdsville, Kentucky.
John wishes to thank his wife, Christy, for her love and support and for enjoying the Harley lifestyle; as well as his brother Grant Alvey, Marty Holston, Gordon Burkett, and his nephew, Jaxx Alvey, for having the motorcycle passion. John gave 8-year-old Jaxx his old vintage Stingray bicycle hoping it would build the same lowrider passion it gave John. “I hope he follows in my footsteps,” John adds. “This lifestyle has given me so much and I just want to be able to give back.”
1999 Harley-Davidson FLSTS Softtail Springer
John & Christy Alvey
Full polished S&S EVO 124
Axalta Hot Hues candy root beer with patterns, Verigated leafing stripes done by Alvey’s Bodyworx, Carlini 18 apes, Performance Machine chrome rotors and cylinders, Performance Machine front and rear master cylinders, Cycle Smith floor boards and controls, 39-inch Samson Cholo fishtale exhaust
Two-way diaphragm air management system self-contained, 444c compressor
Cinnamon Bison done by Sewn Tight Interiors
21-inch front and 18-inch rear 100-spoke soft lip HDW radial crosslaced wheels, Vee Rubber fat whitewall tires