1926 H-D JD Chopper

A Simple Plan

“This bike is the brainchild of Kirk Sharp. Kirk talked about this bike for almost four years before we actually built it. His plan was simple: JD Motor, Paughco single-loop frame, and four-speed transmission.” —Jim Harper, August 2015.

Depending on who you ask, that “simple” task may or may not be as simple as builder Jim Harper describes. The frame—no problem. Four-speed Harley trannies—you can find one on Instagram with a few swipes of your thumb. A useable/runnable ’26 JD engine? Good luck.

1926 H-D JD Chopper

1926 H-D JD Chopper

By Rob Fortier | Photography by Greg Giannukos

Well, as it turned out, “Kirk bought this motor off eBay,” Harper says. It had been previously used to power a small aircraft. A local guy, John Newman, rebuilt the motor from the crankshaft up.

1926 H-D JD Chopper

1926 H-D JD Chopper

By Rob Fortier | Photography by Greg Giannukos

“The frame started life as the aforementioned Paughco single loop that is designed to use a 45-inch Harley Flathead motor and a Big Twin four-speed transmission,” Newman says. “I obviously had to modify the frame to work with the JD, but it provided a nice base to start with. I had to replace the lower loop and motor mounts with custom-fabricated parts to accept the motor. I also added a little up and little more rake to accommodate the 8-inch-over Ness springer.

1926 H-D JD Chopper

1926 H-D JD Chopper

By Rob Fortier | Photography by Greg Giannukos

1926 H-D JD Chopper

1926 H-D JD Chopper

By Rob Fortier | Photography by Greg Giannukos

“This bike is all chopper: 21-inch spool front wheel, custom pullback bars, Wassell tank, round oil bag, tiny seat, custom sissy bar, and beautiful paint by Chemical Candy Customs.

1926 H-D JD Chopper

1926 H-D JD Chopper

By Rob Fortier | Photography by Greg Giannukos

“The 1926 JD motor is fascinating to watch run with its exposed rocker arms and unbelievably loud exhaust. The bike handles great and has a surprising amount of power. Kirk can wheelie this bike with ease. What a sight to see: that old gray-bearded dude pulling the front wheel on a chopper powered by such a vintage engine.”

1926 H-D JD Chopper

1926 H-D JD Chopper

By Rob Fortier | Photography by Greg Giannukos

Indeed. While many (most?) would not hesitate a second to put a classic F-head twin back in its (stock) rightful home—Harper and Sharp are not most, obviously. They have balls and, more importantly, are not historical restorers. Besides, I think the 90-year-old 74-incher is much better suited in a chopped single-loop chassis than it is powering an old airplane!

1926 H-D JD Chopper

1926 H-D JD Chopper

By Rob Fortier | Photography by Greg Giannukos