For most people that are into old Milwaukee iron, Harley’s Knucklehead is “THE” one to have. The guys behind the Born-Free show are pretty well aware of this and in case you didn’t know, gave away a 1946 Knucklehead Chopper built by Kiyo at the Garage Company in Los Angeles at last year’s Born-Free 3. But how do you top that the next year? You really can’t. They came up with an idea for Born-Free 4 that might do the job. Here’s how it all started.
After a light conversation of what bike to build and giveaway for this year’s Born-Free 4, the decision was made was to do a real late ’60s-style Frisco chopper and the best, toughest looking motor for a bike like that is the slab side Shovel and let’s make it a 1969 just for fun. The guys searched around on the interweb and located a stock ’69 FLH in the Detroit area. The bike looked like the perfect donor to build our chopper, complete, titled and a runner. We got on the bat phone to our go-to man in the Motor City (Jesse) and before long, it was on the way. But when the ’69 showed up it had “Bobby’s Girl” painted on the fender. It was so nice and totally complete, so it would have been a sin to chop it up. It didn’t take long before the best idea Grant and Mike have had to date swelled inside their brains. “Two bikes! Let’s giveaway two 1969 Harley Davidson Shovelheads! One completely stock and the other a real simple and clean chopper.”
The idea was if you were around in 1969 and bought a new Harley, this stocker would be the bike to own or if the growing chopper scene was getting you hopped up, this flamed-out sled would be what you would have built. The best of both worlds really.
With the stock bike just needing a slight makeover and some minor engine work, the focus was on finding and building the chopper. The first stop was the Garage Company and after a meeting with Yoshi and his right-hand man, Kiyo, a deal was made to build one mean machine. It had to have a stance that would scare you, but a bike you could ride anywhere. A straight-leg H-D frame, 6-inch-over adjustable wide glide, a Frisco’d Hummer tank, dragbars, and a real 15-inch magnesium American Racing 12-spoke rear wheel would give that tough hot-rod look we wanted. Luckily a recent Street Chopper cover model, Dave Polgreen, had the elusive rear wheel and without hesitation donated it to the cause. Once all the hard parts were collected it was turned it over to Kiyo at the Garage Company to make this beast come alive. Kiyo went completely through the Shovel motor and early H-D four-speed trans. The whole drivetrain is now fresh back to the factory specs and could be ridden anywhere. Kiyo even dialed in a vintage Linkert DC carb to make things a little more unique, but still functional.
The only thing left to decide was the paint, and after a brief chat with paint master Sonny Boy, he laid down some of the nicest traditional flames you will see anywhere. He even found some ultra-rare real Murano pearl supposedly from Walt Pray’s (RIP) stash and mixed it into the flames, which are over a deep gloss black and outlined in blue. Sprinkled in between Sonny’s handiwork is a high-quality pleated leather seat and P-pad from Bear Parts that are a repro of the OG Bates stuff. Overall the bike looks amazing and hit the “tough as nails” look right on the head.
The stock FLH got a motor makeover, some 3.5-gallon tanks in favor of the big 5-gallon monsters, a deep cleaning, some mild tuning and adjustments, and a handsome classic black paintjob. This bike is clean as a whistle and its classic Harley good looks will make deciding on what bike to choose for the giveaway a very difficult task. Both of these bikes are meant to be ridden and on June 30, 2012, some lucky soul or souls will ride them away.
Better be at Born-Free 4 to find out if you have won it or log onto bornfreeshow.com to see who did! STC