Showing posts with label Chopper. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chopper. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Hammer Of God | 1976 Harley-Davidson FLH

Few motorcycles I ever see really evoke emotion. You might see a killer chopper and it might give you the inspiration to get yourself in the wind, rollin’ down a long highway without a care in the world. You might see a race bike that makes you want to take on the world in the twisties or the straightaway. Maybe it’s because I spent a good few years of my life working on beat-up shovelheads that it takes a hell of a shovelhead to throw me for a loop. Well this is that bike.
1976 Harley Davidson Flh Side View
Jeff Wright is the owner/operator of Church of Choppers in Des Moines, Iowa. Since it is 2011 and everyone is connected to the internet, you might have seen his blog,, it’s one of the best sites on the web for choppers and all kinds of killer motorcycle-related stuff. Yeah, he also runs the two best bars in Des Moines: Kung Fu Tap and Taco and the GT bar. He is also one of the three guys behind FTWCO, clothing and art collective of sorts. When it comes down to it, none of that is what really matters to Jeff. What really matters to Mr. Wright is motorcycles.

This is his shovelhead. When this bike gets ridden anywhere, it doesn’t matter what YOU are riding, no one is going to notice, ’cause this thing is overshadowing. Sure this is just a standard ’76 Harley Davidson FLH, but it’s an FLH done by Jeff Wright, and that takes it to whole other level. Jeff isn’t one of those guys who decided last year that he wanted to get into the custom Harley game; he has been building custom bikes since the early ’90s, but Jeff is a guy who rides it all. Japanese, British, American…you name it and Jeff has built it. From a long-bike Evo to a streetfighter Kawasaki ZX-10, he has done it. This kind of experience doesn’t lead everybody where it led Jeff; he has a knack for taking the best from anything and finding a way to make it work on whatever he is building. Sportbike parts on a chopper? Why not? The stuff WORKS. Therefore it gets used.
1976 Harley Davidson Flh Side View
1976 Harley Davidson Flh Exhaust Pipes
1976 Harley Davidson Flh Custom Seat
1976 Harley Davidson Flh Headlight

Ok fine, the bike itself. An average person would look at a stock shovelhead frame and want to throw it away for a rigid, but not for this bike. This frame, while dimensionally stock, has some extremely high-performance chassis components. Yup, we have some beautiful gold anodized Sun rims stuck inside the JMC aluminum swingarm with eccentric axle adjusters out back. But when you move forward, that swingarm is attached to the frame with honest-to-god Ohlins shocks. I suppose that that might be enough chassis mods for some people, but why make the back work if the front won’t? The forks themselves are Ti-Nitrate–coated wide glide tubes with high-performance internals custom-built by Hickman Racing in Des Moines. Ok, so it will actually work on a bumpy road and might handle as well as it could. No stopping there, except if you mean brakes, yeah they stop. Two Tokico two-piston calipers in the back and one Tokico four-piston up front makes it stop on a dime. All run with Brembo masters, front and rear. A Mooneyes oil tank and a tail section that Jeff fabbed by hand to match the sporty tank tail round out the chassis nicely.
1976 Harley Davidson Flh Chain Drive
Yeah, and I bet he just stuck a stock shovel and four-speed in there too, right? Uh, no.
That motor is a twin-magneto-fired, S&S-flywheeled, hot-race-cam-timed monster. It’s right around 100 inches; yup in a chassis with just a kick-starter. 

That motor has some neat parts in it: cams made by some racer in Iowa and a set of special-order-only 4 13/16 S&S flywheels really make this motor a handful. Think it might be loud too? Yeah, it has short megaphones on it. Short LOUD ones.
1976 Harley Davidson Flh Rear Wheel
Behind that we have a Baker six in a four transmission so he can go really fast with a motor that can really pull the overdrive. It’s finished off with some high mid-controls that he dubbed “barstool-styled,” as they are in different positions on each side, and a set of Renthal bars. Is it fast, you ask? Every time you throw a leg over this machine you are ready to ruin people’s day. Just ask the guys in the tuner car that I walked away from when I was riding it. Yeah, it’s fast.

Something about this bike just begs you to get on it as much as possible. The sound of the motor as you gain rpm seems to do a really neat thing: it starts to drop in tone so at speed it sounds like a top fueler. It’s built for one thing: to get you there fast and make everyone know it. Ok, that’s two things, but you get my point.
1976 Harley Davidson Flh Engine View
1976 Harley Davidson Flh Rear View
To say that this is an epic shovelhead doesn’t do it justice. This is the bike that single-handedly changed the way some people look at what’s possible. The seamless mix of parts and the to-the-point styling gives it that kind of recognition, and it deserves it.

Once you see it on the road or get the rare chance to ride it, you will agree that if god had a hammer, it just as well might be this bike.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Lucille- The beauty

Story by Glenn Roberts / photos by Tracy Conrad

The story of Lucille is long and complicated. It all started about a decade ago, shortly after Brent and Derek Law started Cycle Boyz in Brandon, Manitoba. Brent sold his Shovelhead to a friend in order to fund their first shop build. Time marched on, and the bike changed hands again. Mike Ball bought that Shovelhead, but eventually traded it back to Brent on a deal for another bike. Getting his hands back on his original Shovel meant a lot to Brent, and he vowed to fix it up and never sell it again. After building that Shovel into a show bike, Mike re-entered the picture and decided he wanted it back – but Brent wouldn’t let it go this time. Wanting to keep his customer happy, Brent found a bone-stock 1979 FLH for Mike, and soon after, it was stripped, with plans to create a no-holds-barred showstopper. Trusting in the abilities of the staff at the shop, Mike gave Cycle Boyz free rein to build a rideable showpiece.
First, the stock frame was modified to create the rigid rear end. Cycle Boyz prefer to keep their frames looking original, so they used stock-style castings from Hardtail Choppers for the axle plates.
LucilleWhile the frame was being rebuilt, Derek tore into the engine for a refresh. Even though it seemed to be a good runner, Mike wanted to go big. Good thing. Derek found plenty of problems with the internals, including cracked heads, so he overhauled the engine as a 93-cubic-inch with new S&S internals and heads. Next, Derek gutted the tranny and replaced everything inside the stock H-D cases with Andrews gears and shafts.
Engine cases were sent out to Heather at New-line Engraving. Her artistic and engraving talents are second to none. Brent can’t wait to see her finished products when they return to the shop .
“She’s never let us down,” Brent said. “And she’s like my mom, she’ll send baking out with my parts, she’s awesome.”

The oil bag was made from two cast halves of a small fuel tank that Brent originally bought with the idea to one day make a tank, but it would be far too small to be practical. He reshaped the halves and welded a strip between them to fit the frame, and incorporated a pocket underneath to hold a spin-on oil filter.

The rear wheel is a reworked front V-Rod wheel with a Cycle Boyz–made sprocket and brake mounts. Up front is a 23-inch speedway hoop laced to a spool hub, but because of a lack of 23-inch street rubber, Brent had to resort to using a knobby tire. He understands that a skinny 23-inch tire should be released shortly, and it will replace the knobby.
The lack of a brake on the front helps to keep the front wheel clean, but doesn’t aid in stopping, so an extra caliper was added to the rear. One caliper is tied to the front brake lever, while the other is linked to the rear brake pedal. Since the bike has a foot clutch, this configuration enables a brake application even if the right foot is on the ground while the left foot is busy with the clutch.
With the engine electrics fed by dual Morris magnetos, the only other electrical requirement is the headlight and taillight. Brent and Derek didn’t want a battery taking up valuable space, so instead, they knocked three of the six magnets off of the H-D rotor to decrease the amount of AC current it produced, and then ran a snowmobile regulator/rectifier to dump any extra power. After trying a couple of different stators, they found the proper combination to run just the headlight and taillight without using a battery eliminator or capacitor. A lot of trial and error, but the end result was just a few bits of wire.

The final combination of skillfully made parts and talent paid off. The bike was entered into five ride-in shows during the 2013 Sturgis Rally, and Lucille won first place in every class it was entered in, including two out of three Best in Show awards. But the cherry on top was taking top honours in the Modified Harley class at the Ultimate Builder’s Show, where the other builders are the judges.
It’s always a nice feather in your cap when your peers, those with bikes in the same show, determine that yours is best

Owner: Mike Ball
Make: Harley-Davidson
Model: FLH
Builder: Cycle Boyz Customs
Time to Build: Two years
Name of Bike: Lucille
Year: 1979
Builder: Cycle Boyz
Displacement: 93”
Cases: H-D
Heads: S&S
Lower End: S&S
Carburetor: S&S Super E
Air Cleaner: Cycle Boyz
Ignition: Morris Magneto
Exhaust: Cycle Boyz
Year: 1979
Builder: Cycle Boyz
Type: 4-speed ratchet top
Case: H-D
Clutch: BDL
Primary Drive: BDL 1.5″
Year: 1979
Builder: H-D/Cycle Boyz
Type: Swingarm – now rigid
Rake: Stock
Modifications: Hard tail, windowed neck.
Front End
Year: 2013
Builder: WW Cycles
Type: VL Springer
Triple Trees: WW Cycles
Modifications: Shortened, drilled, nickel-plated.
Painting: Brian Fidler, Jamie Hertzog.
Chroming: House of Silver, Chrome Pit
Front Size: 23” x 1.6”
Builder/Manufacturer: Cycle Boyz
Tire Make and size: Bridgestone 3.00-23
Rear Size: 19” x 3.5”
Builder/Manufacturer: Harley-Davidson
Tire Make and size: Coker 4.00-19
Gas Tank: Cycle Boyz
Oil Tank: Cycle Boyz
Fenders: Cycle Boyz
Seat: Cycle Boyz/Union Speed
Handlebars: Cycle Boyz /Pearson Customs
Headlight: TT Co.
Taillight: Belmit/ Cycle Boyz
Extras/Things to add/ People to mention: We’d like to thank Mike Ball for the patience and free rein to do this bike our way. Our right hand man Myles Green for the countless hours and dedication seeing this project through. Fidler for the amazing paint and, of course, Heather New for the unbelievable engraving.

first appeared

Monday, November 18, 2013

BIKEEXIF Jamesville’s 1948 Harley Panhead

Harley-Davidson Panhead custom
James Roper-Caldbeck is English, lives in Denmark, and builds custom Harley-Davidsons. It sounds like a League of Nations recipe for disaster, but fear not—James has an amazingly good eye for stance and proportions.


Harley-Davidson Panhead custom

This long, low Panhead is James’ latest creation, a ground-up build for a customer from Romania. Panhead customs are two-a-penny, but as you can see, this one is a level above the norm.

“About a year ago I had a custom Evo Sportster featured on Bike EXIF,” James explains, “and a gentleman named Andrei fell in love with the bike. He emailed me simply saying ‘I want one,’ but unfortunately he now lives in Germany—where strict rules make it impossible to register a bike like that.” Instead, James decided to build a 1948 Panhead.

Harley-Davidson Panhead custom

The starter bike was in bad shape, but when it arrived in James’ Copenhagen workshop, it was in good hands. James rebuilt the engine and brakes, and replaced every bushing and bearing on the whole machine—from the forks to the wheels. The original Harley frame had been butchered too, with 36 holes drilled into it, so James re-welded it and cleaned it up to better-than-factory spec.
Harley-Davidson Panhead custom
“After that (and a whole lot more) was done, the fun could begin,” he recalls. “I fabricated a new set of bars from the old ones—which were so wide, I couldn’t get them through my shop door!” The 3½ gallon tanks were narrowed, then pulled back and raised on the frame. James also made a blanking panel out of aluminum, which now houses the ignition switch and warning lights. 

The rear fender is a reconfigured 1930s Ford spare wheel cover, and James built a mini sissy bar to hold the vintage rear light. Straight exhaust pipes are hooked up to trumpet-style mufflers, which reportedly sound glorious. The foot controls and brake brackets were de-chromed and Parkerized, a process that was used on metal parts before chroming was available.
The final touches were to convert the Panhead to a foot clutch with a police-style shifter, and chop down the original seat pan and cover it with tan leather from an old suitcase.
 Harley-Davidson Panhead custom

Once the fabrication was finished, it was time for the paint. Andrei chose petroleum blue, a deep and lustrous shade that’s difficult to replicate in photographs. Then James rewired the whole bike using vintage-style cloth wiring. 

 Harley-Davidson Panhead custom
The first time Andrei saw the bike was when he visited James’ shop to collect it. “We didn’t really email or talk on the phone that much,” James reveals. “He said he trusted me to build him his dream bike, and he did not want to interfere. I would like to thank him for letting me do so.”
A smart move on Andrei’s part—and amply rewarded with one of the most beautiful Panheads we’ve ever seen.
Head over to the Customs From Jamesville website for more classic Harley builds. James Roper-Caldbeck is one of the featured builders in the book The Ride—which you can order here.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Honda CB550 Bobber

It's always been understood that military service steels the mind. The travel. The rigor. The honour of serving one's country. Give them boys and they'll give you back men. Of course, this can take years to achieve - often longer. But what happens when you find yourself back home after an extended sea-borne hiatus and realise that while you've matured as a person, your garage is still stuck in a very green, very crotch-rockety 2008? Why you upgrade, of course. And not to just any bike. Meet Moh and his very ship-shape CB 550 bobber.

“I'm a Navy guy who spent a long time missing his three bikes in the garage back home,” say Moh. “So when I came back from overseas service last December, I thought to myself, ‘it's time to get rid of the ‘08 ZX6R in my garage and get something different’. To be honest, I already had a show bike in there that's won 3 trophies and a bobbed-out Sportster, but I was really looking for something unique and different but also a bike that had a little bit of cafĂ© in it too.”

“Next thing I knew, I had sold the ZX6R and was ready. By accident I found a man named Louis Soto out of Riverside, California who builds garage chops as a hobby and was working on a CB550. I immediately fell in love with it and made the purchase.”

“95% of the bike is hand-fabricated; the neck of the frame and engine are the only things off a stock CB550. There's a custom fabricated frame, custom fabricated forks - the list goes on and on. The tank is off an old Sportster Mustang and it's been cut in half and then reconnected through a hose at the bottom. The pipes took the longest to make and are a thing of beauty; an amazing job indeed.”

“Louis didn't want to go crazy with the paint job as it would have taken away from all the hard work and fabrication which he wanted as the first thing people noticed, so we chose a more vintage look instead of something too glam. As a finishing touch, parts of the engine and bike where taken for metal polishing and chroming. All up, it took about 4 months from start to finish.”

“I love riding this bike around town. It gets tons of attention, mostly because people have no idea what the hell it is. I'd love to have it at the Quail Motorcycle Gathering next year, since I'll still be stationed out in Monterey at the time. Riding with no instruments is hard at times - especially when I hit the freeways, so I just try to keep up with the other cars because I have no idea what speed I'm doing. That said, I don't spend too long on the freeways; this is a pure toy and intended for around town fun and short rides here and there - for my own pleasure.”

original article first published in