I’m a dreamer. For me, getting my hands on a knucklehead was always one of those things that I thought would never happen. Not that it’s impossible or scary, it’s just that it’s kind of a bump up into the big leagues and I’ve always considered myself more on the slow-pitch girls softball level. So when I caught wind of this bike, I kept quiet for a minute trying to see if I could pull it off on my own. I then realized that I’m broke and it just wasn’t going to happen. That’s when I hit up one of my best buds, Craig. He’s the brains in the group and is also a money hoarder. It’s not that he’s rich, he just sucks at spending money. After some serious debating, Craig decided to just loan me the money so I could make my dream come true. Without a doubt, it was one of the gnarliest things anyone has ever done for me. Soon after the money made it into my hand, a plan was made and we all piled into my buddy’s van and drove to Arizona to check it out.
First order of business was to get the ’47 FL motor sorted out. Since I wasn’t planning on hot rodding this thing, I took it to Ralph at Mesa Cycles where he assembled the bottom end with stock parts while I got the heads all freshened up. I then had my friend, Mason, fill in the blanks on the 1943 knuckle transmission. He’s a bit of a parts wizard when it comes to that stuff. Next was the original 1947 bullneck frame. It wasn’t the most cherry frame so I didn’t have a problem hacking into it. I started off by sectioning an inch out of the rear and trimming up some of the neck forging for a slightly cleaner look. I had wanted to try and narrow a springer for a while, so I sidelined the tweaked original offset springer and went with a brand new V-Twin Mfg. repop. I reluctantly cut it up into 10 pieces and prayed it would all go back together, which it did, just 1-5/8 inches skinnier.
To match the slim stance of the forks, I cut up a couple of panhead star hubs I had laying around and machined two of the star side flanges to fit back-to-back on a new sealed bearing center section. After the front and rear hubs were powdercoated, I laced them to 18- and 21-inch Morad alloy rims. For the tires, a NOS Pirelli sits out back while a beat-up 2.75 Speedmaster provides minimal street cred up front.
For the tins I used an NOS Wassell smooth fender and a Hap Jones offset cap tank up that I pinched an inch in the rear. I then shaved down a stock springer top clamp and made the curved risers that hold the drag bars with a panhead internal throttle. Haifley Bro’s made me a bitchin little P-pad to match one of their ribbed solo seats.
Fashion over function is the truth when it came to the headlights made up of bullet guide lights with clear lenses. Besides the springer, one thing that was a lot of work was fabbing three taillights into the sissybar that match the headlights.
Once the motor was back in the frame, I made a set of upswept pipes that hug close to the bike. I also made the mids with a set of my own casted ATR mini pegs along with new brake and clutch arms. The jockey shift lever is also one of my creations. It’s topped it off with a killer knob from my friends at Born Dead made from recycled skateboards.
This bike was full of firsts for me, but the big one was the paint. I’ve never finished anything to this level before so I was relieved when my friend Max over at 4Q offered to give me a hand in that department. I pretty much gave the tins to him and said, “Surprise me.” That’s exactly what he did and I couldn’t have been more stoked. Thanks Max!
I also want to thank my good friends Nick and Craig for not admitting how much I cry in my garage, Big Scott Stopnick for being a positive dude, and most of all my beautiful wife, Laurel, who puts up with all this childish two-wheeled nonsense.