Meet 2023 Sturgis Flying Piston Benefit Featured Builder: Athena “Chickie” Ransom
What you need to know: Athena “Chickie” Ransom a.k.a. “The Vagabond Chickie” is our featured Custom Builder for the 2023 benefit. She has been riding and wrenching on motorcycles since her teens. She is the founder/owner/lead tech at Vagabond Chopper in Pompano Beach, Florida.
What’s new: Nikki Martin joins her from the Roy’s Toys Custom shop in Denver, CO. and is the co-featured builder.
More about Chickie – She started as a new rider in 1982, learning the ins and outs of motorcycles from her guy and the parts counter of an aftermarket shop working for a racing legend Guy Glover. The lessons she learned about motorcycles and the encounters with parts and people proved to be the driving forces to a passion-based career in the motorcycle world.
Chopping and building roadworthy machines is Athena “Chickie” Ransom’s life
Mix in a few antique machines that she enjoys restoring and updating to perform on the road, and it makes her smile so brightly it lights up the shop! Just ask her sidekick “Donny Gee Whiz” who is enamored with her creativity and true determination to keep it all pretty and practical.
“She keeps in mind reliability all the while wanting it to look aesthetically correct or ‘pretty,’ as she puts it,” said Don.
Athena enjoys doing charity and corporate builds also – especially if she has the freedom to design and build according to her mood. Yes, she admits it: her mood matters! “I enjoy getting a feel for who I am working with,” she said. “That sets my mood for what I see them riding or displaying.”
Athena has participated in some of the greatest motorcycle rallies, events, and rides in the country as a builder and mechanic. Hard Rock Roadhouse, the first Motorcycle Cannonball Team Effie, Chopper Chick Crew and Chix on 66 to name a few. Many have seen her in magazines and on television, and on her web show “Athena After Dark.” But those who’ve seen her working in her shop, The Vagabond Chopper, or wrenching on the road know: that is where she shines.
When asked why she pursued a career in the male dominated motorcycle industry, Athena will tell you that she believes passion is not gender specific, however respect and hard work aren’t either.
“So, I gave respect to my male colleagues, got respect in return, and worked hard just like they do. It’s pretty simple,” she said.
“Don’t get me wrong, at certain times I have an advantage: I can put on a dress and makeup, do my hair and nails, and look like a lady – and enjoy that side of life, too. After all, I am a Motor Maid. Our founding member Dot Robinson set that standard in the 1940’s as a racer who prided herself on being a lady after she beat all the guys on the racetrack. I am fortunate as a member to ride with legendary ladies who have paved the way through the decades so I can be who I am today. For me that’s what it’s all about.”
Athena is grateful every day for her life in motorcycling and has a variety of cool projects and events happening in 2023.
“It’s all about meeting new people and inspiring new and seasoned riders alike, to keep our passion alive by example of who we are and what we do as industry professionals and riders!”
But wait, there’s more:
We have more interviews with artists and builders that have provided outstanding art for the Flying Piston Benefit. Click here to see more artist interviews.
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The 2023 Sturgis edition of the Flying Piston Benefit Builders Breakfast is produced by Marilyn Stemp of Iron Trader News and Jeff Najar of Horsepower Marketing. Our work raises awareness and funds for non-profits and individuals in the motorcycle community, vets, and kindergarteners. Our funds are directed to All Kids Bike and Motorcycle Missions.