The FXR Friends Throwdown is what happens when legendary bike builders invent a challenge, pay tribute to camaraderie, and celebrate what many consider to be the best Harley ever. Before Arizona Bike Week, Jason Mook, Paul Yaffe, Brian Klock, Curtis Hofmann, Jeff Zielinski, Nick Trask, and their guests made a dream a reality.
The FXR Friends Throwdown took place April 6, 2022, and the following story first appeared in the July issue of American Rider.
The audience was not aware of all that had happened in the hours before Paul Yaffe and his young son, Nash, arrived at Arizona Bike Week. They parked his heavily modified Harley-Davidson FXR between the Paul Yaffe Bagger Nation booth and the HandleBar Saloon. Beside him, Trask proprietor Nick Trask, best known for turbocharged V-Twins, deployed the sidestand of another FXR, a bike both subtle and perfect.
These guys were arriving from Winslow, Arizona, via the fabulous State Route 87, one of the most amazing motorcycle roads in the state. They were leading the FXR Friends Throwdown adventure, a concept that began months prior with the motto: Dream it, build it, ride it, repeat.
The two world-renowned bike builders had ridden so hard they distanced themselves from the rest of the crew, who gradually arrived during the next hour. Some of the big hitters included Curtis Hofmann (Hofmann Designs), Brian Klock (Klock Werks), Jason Mook (Deadwood Custom Cycles), and Jeff Zielinski (NAMZ Custom Cycle Products).
This group of six brought customized Harley-Davidson FXRs to the party, joined by a gang of party crashers, including James Patience (Ground Zero Customs), Xavier Muriel (Providence Cycle Works), and Rick Bray (RKB Kustom Speed).
And let’s not forget the companions of the historical moment who brought their own FXRs: Fred “Flash” Van de Perre, the cofounder of Bikers Against Bullies USA; Ari Levenbaum, CEO of Law Tigers; and Chris Callen, editor of Cycle Source.
“I spent 1,000 hours to build this bike,” Yaffe noted. “I tried different directions before finding the right one. Except for the frame, nothing is original.”
Yaffe bought this 1990 FXRS more than seven years ago for his newborn son, Nash, who turned nine during the 2022 Arizona Bike Week. And now Nash is hooked.
“After this experience, Nash asked me to ride again with him,” Yaffe related. “We’ll ride together to Sturgis this year and enjoy the rally. My wife Suzy will follow us with the truck and trailer with her aluminum FXR, and our friend Jack will have the blue and silver FXR.
“If you want to understand and enjoy how a genuine FXR is to ride,” Yaffe continued, “Jack’s is the one to pick. All the parts are vintage and from the era of the bike itself, the mid-1990s. I can’t wait for the moment when Nash will be of age. He will ride his FXR, and we’ll go together again to Sturgis. He will then become a real Hamster.”
The six bike builders are members of the prestigious Hamsters, a club created 40 years ago and known for their custom rides and yellow T-shirts.
“We are friends because we are Hamsters,” Jason Mook summed up, “and we are Hamsters because we are friends.”
Mook, based in Deadwood, South Dakota, came up with the idea of the FXR Friends Throwdown when he was working on an FXR. He challenged Yaffe to a build-off.
“Sure! I’ve never won a build-off,” Yaffe reportedly joked. Mook announced the competition on his Instagram feed. Then Curtis Hofmann wrote, “Me too.” Brian Klock asked, “What about me?” Then Jeff Zielinski joined, and Nick Trask also piped in.
“The FXR is the best platform ever made by Harley,” Trask asserted. “What I did with this 1993 FXRS is my vision of what could be the perfect FXR. I did what I dreamt of doing when I was young and what I couldn’t do at that time. It looks classical, but it runs wonderfully.”
Trask’s FXR uses a completely different approach than the FXR Assault he built in 2018, which boasted 300 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque.
All the members of the group are busy business owners, so some of the FXRs on this ride were not fully developed.
“I finished my bike just three days before the ride,” explained Mook, who also was tasked with building a bike for Ari Levenbaum.
Levenbaum is a loyal supporter of the American motorcycle scene. His company, Law Tigers, sponsors tons of events nationwide, and he belongs to a family of motorcycle enthusiasts. He likes to ride fast and aggressively.
The two FXRs Mook brought from Deadwood are like twin brothers. Levenbaum’s FXRP is powered by a 124ci S&S Evo and painted orange like his company’s colors. Mook’s bike is built around a 1990 FXR frame and a 1993 drivetrain.
On Tuesday afternoon in Winslow, Arizona, the group gathered on Route 66 at the prestigious La Posada Hotel. They drove their trucks and trailers from South Dakota, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Arizona with their FXRs.
On Wednesday morning, all the FXRs were arranged in a half-circle in front of the hotel for photos. Yaffe asked Klock, a man of faith, to say a prayer before the kickoff. Klock was a bit emotional. His good friend and business partner, John Christner, had gifted the FXR Klock built for him to Klock’s boy, Kargo.
“I couldn’t imagine that John would make such a gift to my son,” Klock gushed. “I bought this frame 20 years ago, and it was stuck on a shelf, waiting to be built up. After Kargo was born in 2020, I wanted to get rid of it and get back some money that I could use for Kargo. John immediately bought it and commissioned a build. I needed a deadline for finishing it, and the FXR Friends Throwdown perfectly matched that need.
“Now I want to finish it,” Klock added. “The paint will be firecracker red like John’s Jeep he bought in 2020. And when Kargo gets older, I plan to buy John’s Jeep so I can give it to Kargo. Like that, the bond between John and us will be sealed.”
Friendship, family, custom motorcycles, and excellence are the components of this incredible story.
Curtis Hofmann chose a beautiful, luminous paint job for his 1992 FXRP. This bike is special for him as well. Hofmann is the happy father of two daughters: 1-year-old Emersyn, and Charlotte, who is almost 4. The youngest had the privilege of being the first to sit on the bike.
“Normally, I build and sell,” Hofmann related. “I never keep a project to myself. But this time it was different. This bike will be Emersyn’s FXR. My daughters are always close to me, even when working in the shop. Charlotte was with me for the first test ride.”
Not to mention that he bought an FXR for Charlotte last year in Sturgis. Now the girls are even! But they will have to wait a while to ride these beautiful machines.
On the road, the riders like to travel fast. But the bikes are fragile and not yet broken in. Mechanical issues occur, leaks emerge, intake systems balk. Every stop became an opportunity to fix problems.
The friends arrived at Arizona Bike Week like heroes, proud and happy, full of unforgettable memories. And they’re ready to do it again for next year’s Friends Throwdown, which will feature a chopper theme.
Dream it, build it, ride it, repeat.