The Perfect Panhead | 1959 Harley-Davidson Panhead - Street Chopper Magazine
I’ve known John Edwards for close to two decades now. From what I’ve seen over that time John has always been the kind of guy with an eye for what looks right and a talented car, truck, and bike builder. He’s also one funny dude with a great sense of humor, so when he told me he was going to paint his next Panhead pink, I thought he was shitting me. Well, a few months later while we are sitting at a local bar in his hometown of Garden Grove, California, he shows me a picture of his sheetmetal fresh out of his Olde Tyme Custom Paint booth and damn if it wasn’t the sweetest shade of pink I have ever seen laid on two wheels.
John started this build with a Pan/Shovel in a Swingarm frame that he purchased from his good friend Chica of Chica Custom Cycles. After selling off everything but the engine John had a clear vision and a nice early ’50s wishbone frame that only needed a bit of straightening and minimal cleanup. John also reached into his magic bag of parts and pulled out a Knucklehead-era ELC H-D springer that was arrow straight and of stock length.
The powerplant is the heart of every bike, and John’s ’59 Panhead is a mixture of heavy detailing, vintage parts, chrome plating, and polishing. It’s a stock 74ci motor with Andrews BH cam, hydraulic lifters, Joe Hunt magneto, and Linkert carburetion. The exhaust is an old item John had rechromed topped off with a set of vintage cocktail shakers with fishtails. The engine shifts with the aid of a stock Harley-Davisdon four-speed transmission, and a tin primary gets the power to the rear wheel.
Speaking of wheels, John had the boys at Wheel Works lace up his highly polished Borrani WM0 21-inch wheel and pop on his rare 2.75 Avon Speedmaster up front. As far as the rear setup goes, a chrome star hub bolted to a mechanical drum with yet another mirror-polished high-shouldered aluminum Borrani in 18-inch with Firestone rubber.
Yes, John’s other bike the Honeysuckle Rose, or better known as “The Purple Panhead” (STC Spring ’09), also has a Bates p-pad, seat, and headlamp as well as Stelling & Hellings handlebars and risers. Though this bike seems to wear these similar parts in such a different way, it still possesses the signature “Edwards Look.” Adding to the look of the bike are the custom-bent sissybar with license plate mount and Harley Hummer taillight bolted to the vintage steel ribbed fender. Other sweetness includes a spoon air cleaner, original H-D oil bag, and custom foot clutch pedal.
After the bike was mocked up and deemed to be looking good and of correct mechanical nature, John blew it apart and took a truckload of parts to American Brightworks to be dipped in some triple-plate show chrome. While the metallic stuff was getting shiny John got busy with some finishing touches in molding the frame and tank to his liking. Once everything was baby’s ass smooth John locked himself in his paint booth and got busy mixing up a custom hue of House of Kolor’s Pearl Pink.
Once the painted parts were pinkafied and the accessories returned from chrome, John wasted no time in putting the bike together. With aid from Chica in the wiring department, the bike was together and ready to ride. Tip-to-tail John said the bike build took him 10 months. We say that’s not even a stitch in time when you are building the perfect Panhead.. STC