A favorite saying of mine is paralysis from overanalysis, as in keep it simple. Overthinking things can lead to a world of hurt as well as creating beautiful things, but it can also be the death of you! Add a solid winter of ice, snow, and frigid temps and you have a classic case of idle hands. As a longtime resident of Sioux City, Iowa, Bill Mize knows all too well what a long season of the fluffy white stuff can do to a man while putting together an old bike. This plus being fastidious about the bikes he has built over the years could put anyone in the nuthouse. Can you say, cabin fever?
After years of building bikes and searching swap meets across this great nation Bill had enough old parts to mock up a ’48 Panhead he was looking to put together. As fate would have it, all the old swap meet parts he assembled looked like they could belong together on the same sled as if it had been on the road for 40-plus yearsthis was a foreign idea to Bill as he usually settles for nothing less than full show and has had bikes in many magazines and countless shows. This found parts idea started to soak into Bill as he progressed with the build with nary a trip to the chrome shopbut keep in mind this is no fake patina B.S.!
Bill used to race road bikes as well as bicycles, and in Sioux City you can’t ride a bicycle on paved roads. Well, he still rides a pedal bike to stay in shape, and after pounding the icy, snowy, gravel roads on it last winter he thought what it would be like (cabin fever sets in) to ride an old chopper with the slipping and sliding in mind. So after disintegrating a few old Speedmasters on the gravel, Bill put a set of old trials-type knobbies to good use, not just dramatic effect.
This Panhead came together in a mere three weeks, but it took parts collecting from 14 states over as many years. Bill did the frame work and blended the front and rear of two different H-D frames. Tim Riste of Colfax Engine Co. did the 0.020-over Pan mill that has solid lifters and is fed by a requisite Linkert M-74B. Bill’s good friend Steve Uhl painted the tank with $3 spray paint, and Bill did the graphics. The seat is inspired by another of Bill’s longtime friends and Iowa legend Tom Fugle. Years ago Tom sold Bill the very first seat he made, and this gave inspiration to the seat you see here. Bill made the pan and Tom covered it in his patented style.
When it was all said and done, Bill has ridden this bike exclusively. He had a garage full of nice Knuckles and Panheads he’s built, but now he realizes he doesn’t need so many bikes to make him happy and has sold some of them with a clean conscience thanks to a dirty bike and Rod Reisdorph, Tom Fugle, Peg Leg Dave, and Moose. sc
For more in-depth photos and a complete build list of parts used on this bike go to: streetchopperweb.com.