For a guy who calls his business Angry Guy Streetfighters, Jim Haucke is one of the nicest people you'll ever meet. Soft-spoken and always smiling, Haucke, from Manitowoc, Wisconsin, utterly personifies the laid-back, low-key Midwestern charm that his home state is known for. How, then, did a mild-mannered guy like Haucke get started building some of the nastiest, most anti-social streetfighters we've ever seen in the United States? And, what's more, how did he come to build these wild customs in Wisconsin, the home of Harley-Davidson and a place more typically associated with the chrome and conchos cruiser crowd than stripped-down, blacked-out, urban road warriors?
Haucke originally launched Angry Guy in 2003, motivated mostly by boredom with his day job. He was working for the Kohler Company (plumbing fixtures) at the time, a self-described "tub guy" who spent his days enameling bathtubs and daydreaming about streetfighters to pass the time. Haucke was a performance motorcycle guy from way back, a former motocross and ATV racer who caught the streetfighter bug from reading European magazines and was in the process of building his first 'fighter from parts painstakingly sourced from the obscure European streetfighter aftermarket. Haucke was working second shift at the time, and one day when he complained to his buddy and fellow bike enthusiast Dave Schmidt that he didn't want to go into work, Schmidt suggested he quit and come to work at his printing business. So Haucke did, ditching the tub gig and joining forces with Schmidt, making banners, awnings, and custom vinyl graphics and doing bike stuff on the side. Eventually, the bike portion of the business grew to the point where Angry Guy Streetfighters (www.angryguystreetfighters.com) became a full-time motorcycle business focused on supplying hard-to-find streetfighter gear and apparel, including Motocyco parts, Sick Innovations stunt gear, C.R.W. neoprene face masks and New Rock boots.
At the same time, Haucke and Schmidt met Dave Begotka, a former pro roadracer, stunt rider and mechanic for the HMC Superbike team, where he tuned for Scott Russell and others. Begotka, a talented fabricator located in nearby Two Rivers, Wisconsin, was likewise into streetfighters (he built his first one in '97), and was just starting to manufacture the components that would soon form the basis of his Motocyco line (www.begotka.com). The three instantly bonded over a shared love of the streetfighter style.
"Streetfighters are the new outlaw motorcycle," Haucke says, "and I think they're the future of custom bikes. Streetfighters really bridge the gap between the performance of a sportbike with the style and attitude of a chopper. You've got all the power and handling of a sportbike with the attitude, look and craftsmanship that people usually associate with choppers." Angry Guy has made it their mission to be a driving force behind the streetfighter trend in America.
The Angry Guys crew has turned out roughly a half-dozen bikes since they started off, but the one shown here-dubbed Hell's Tailgunner-is the latest creation, and their wildest one yet. Haucke says he first got the idea for the project when he saw the unique Tailgunner "rotary cannon" exhaust canister, which features a gatling gun-style six-barrel outlet tip that rotates when the engine is revved, advertised on the Web. Haucke had just seen Begotka's Motocyco Psycho tailsection for the first time, which utilizes a high, center-mounted taillight, and he immediately imagined the Tailgunner exhaust protruding from that taillight opening. Haucke contacted the Tailgunne's owner, who agreed to provide him with an exhaust. Begotka said he could make it work with his tail, and the Hell's Tailgunner project was off and running.
Then tragedy struck when Haucke's business partner and friend, Dave Schmidt, died unexpectedly on the first day of the Hell's Tailgunner build. Dealing with Schmidt's loss at the same time as a 30-day deadline to complete the Tailgunner and feature it in the exhaust company's vendor display at the annual Sturgis Rally and Races, Haucke considered canceling the project entirely. Fortunately, Begotka stepped up and volunteered to handle the bike build himself while Haucke attended to the Angry Guy business. Begotka built the bike almost single-handedly from start to finish, investing more than 100 hours in the project over a four-week period. Both Haucke and Begotka wanted to see the Hell's Tailgunner project through to completion as a tribute to the memory of Dave Schmidt.