Against The Grain & Never The Same | Editorial

hot bike jeff g holt shovelhead

Can you guess which model is older?

By The Hot Bike Staff

Sure, this old bike of mine has some dents, scratches, and leaves its fair share of oil wherever it’s parked. But mostly this motorcycle has character. Some would even call it soul, though both you and I know it is not, nor ever was, a living creature, so it never gave up any sort of ghost when it was blown apart and chromed—or even when the new top end was put on it a few years back. Regardless, this 1973 Harley-Davidson FXE Shovelhead has had a long life of being on the road and has undergone many modifications and upgrades depending upon who owned it.

As most vintage and custom bikes, this one has a long story of past owners who were all trying to make it a reflection of what kind of bikes they liked and who they were. And this bike you see here is no different.

This pile of parts apparently was purchased new somewhere in the Midwest United States at a now-defunct dealership. Shortly after its procurement this FXE was blown apart and the frame and swingarm were triple-plated in some really nice show chrome. It then went on the local circuit getting pushed around and not ridden as a showbike back in Ohio until the late 1970s.

Thirty-something years later it was found buried in somebody’s basement when my pal Mike Schrickel of Chop Machine Cycles in Toledo, Ohio, unearthed it. Mike dragged the Shovelhead back to his lair, removed a bunch of paint from the chrome frame, and ditched the funky baby and royal-blue sheet metal. He swapped out some parts, such as the carburetor, front end, handlebars, and some other ancillary accessories. He also painted the new tins black, cleaned up the motor some, and got it running in tip-top shape.

The bike then came under my ownership, through some cash and a lot of bartering, and once the bike made its way out West I rode it for month or two, and then I changed only a few small things up on it to get it to my liking.

Then one day I found myself at LA Speed Shop and the proprietor Chris Richardson hit me up about rebuilding and installing a Harley-Davidson Hydra Glide front end on it as a feature in our sister magazine Street Chopper. Now the bike looks much more like an FL than an FXE, which was my vision of it from the day I purchased it.

This bike just goes to show that every single person has their own version of what a custom bike is. It has gone through as many changes as it has owners. Shoddy workmanship and disco paint aside, I really relish how every person who built and/or rode the custom V-twin bike just wanted their personal vision to materialize on two wheels. And to think all it takes is just a bit of time, money, and know-how.