Zion Express | 1972 Harley Davidson Sportster

Pangea Speed's Handcrafted Ironhead

Zion Express | 1972 Harley Davidson Sportster - Hot Bike Magazine

Andy hand formed the headlight housing to hold the Dual Angel Eye Projector headlights mounted in a Bass wood hosing. He also hand formed the race-esque tail section and the Deco style sissy bar.

Editor's note: Back when I was a kid I remember watching TV, and every once in a while these old black and white clips from the 1950s would come on showing what people thought kitchens, houses, and cars of the future would look like. As soon as I saw an image of this bike I immediately flashed back to watching those clips. A little bit 1950s futuristic, a little bit art deco, this bike definitely has a lot of character, and craftsmanship.

The saying is as old as the ancient art of prostitution, but aptly sums up Andy Carter. "Never judge a book by its cover." Like the unique two-wheeled creations that roll out of the unusually large shop door (a private airport hangar) where he does his work, Andy is more than the sum of his parts. As the owner, builder, parts designer, head of shipping and receiving, accountant, toilet cleaner, CEO, CFO, and President of Pangea Speed, Andy is refreshingly unaware that he should have a much larger ego (or any ego, for that matter) to match his talent level. The enthusiastic way he greets everyone (an ear splittingly loud high-five and his classic shit-eating grin) is more little kid than arrogant artist.

Don't let the little kid persona fool you though, this little kid is well on his way to becoming a master craftsman and metalworker. At the age of 25, Andy has amassed more real world experience than a lot of people twice his age. From ALMS race teams, powdercoating companies, hot rod shops, and rapid prototyping firms (the family business), Andy has gained valuable experience. All of which has been integral in bringing about his latest endeavor, the aforementioned Pangea Speed.

"I always want our parts to not only serve a function on a motorcycle, but also have an aesthetic value as well," states Andy. To accomplish what the company set out to do, it incorporated techniques that vary from old-world to NASA-esque. Sand Casting, Stereo lithography, and Polyjet Printing are all used in one way or another in the course of a year at the hangar, and were put to good use on the bike you see one these pages.

The Zion Express, as Andy has dubbed it, came about as the result of some friendly bartering and a desire to "Andy up" an old Iron Head. "Andy-ing up" something is really the only way to describe what happens when he gets his hands on something pretty basic by nature and the gears in his head start turning. First on the agenda was chopping off the transmission to make room for the RevTech five-speed; yep, that's how the kid's mind works.

After completing the seemingly serious surgery that he made look easy, Andy moved onto areas where he could put some of his other acquired talents to good use, starting with the bodywork. Andy handcrafted everything (with the exception of the oil tank) by hammer-forming, planishing, shrinking/stretching, and English wheeling till his hands were nearly numb. Fuel tank, headlight cowl, tail section, sissybar, etc., all started life as raw stock and were worked into what you see here in a very traditional way by a dedicated craftsman.

Andy believes that it's the small details that make a bike like this different, and you can see that ideology at play all over the Zion Express. The headlight lens in and of itself was a process many would have just sent out for or bought something pre-formed and re-shaped to fit. Andy, with the help of his father Ron, built a solid wood buck that perfectly fit inside the cowl and then proceeded to soften polycarbonate in the oven at home and hand-laid piece after piece over the buck until it came out perfect. The exhaust system and air cleaner are also examples of the devil-in-the-details attitude taken with this project. The spent gases seemingly have nowhere to exit until you take a closer look and see the ingenious way they empty out the inside of the frame, preserving a unique look of the "tip." Hand-wired edges and detailed cutouts set off the air cleaner in a similar way.

The bike was set to makes its debut at the 2010 Born Free show, as the centerpiece of the Pangea booth, but one of the few complete ground-up builds Andy takes on each year took precedent over his own project and delayed the final details. With his client's build buttoned up and on the road, Andy turned his attention back to the Zion. The time away from the grueling hours he was putting into the project trying to meet the deadline may have been a blessing in disguise. Andy never wants to do anything rushed, and that's how it would have likely turned out. With the self-imposed pressure off, the bodywork got the final pre-paint prep it deserved along with several other details, such as the solid wood headlight bezel, shift knob, and foot control pads all hand-cut, shaped, sanded, and stained with care by Andy himself. He then added the final piece to the puzzle in the paint process that he, once again, handled himself.

Since the project wasn't able to hit the streets of Long Beach for Born Free, Andy felt it might as well make its official debut in the city he loves and calls home (Salt Lake City, Utah) and at an event he helped organize. The bike received its first shakedown test just 30 minutes prior to the start of the first annual Salt Flat Social, and after a few last-minute (second) tweaks, the unique project rolled into the event area. To call the bike different is most likely an understatement, but that's what drives Andy and Pangea Speed: doing things cleanly and in a sound way, but also with a healthy dose of imagination. By the time you read this there is more than a strong chance the Zion Express will have met the tarmac in one of the canyon roads or city streets surrounding Salt Lake (that's just how he rides) in a way that will inevitably undo some of the hard work he's put into this project. Rest assured, if and when that happens, Andy will get up, dust himself off, and greet whoever was with him and just witnessed it with the same high five and shit-eating grin that he wears everyday. That's just Andy being Andy.

SPECIFICATIONS
BIKE OWNER Andy Carter
SHOP NAME Pangea Speed
SHOP PHONE (801) 599-8956
SHOP WEBSITE pangeaspeed.com
YEAR/MAKE/MODEL '72/H-D/Sporster
FABRICATION Owner
ASSEMBLY Owner
BUILD TIME Six months
ENGINE
YEAR/MANUFACTURER '72/H-D
TYPE/SIZE Sportster Ironhead/1,000cc
BUILDER Owner
CASES H-D/Owner
CYLINDERS H-D/Owner
HEADS H-D
ROCKER BOXES H-D
CARB H-D
AIR CLEANER Owner
EXHAUST Owner
TRANSMISSION
MANUFACTURER/TYPE RevTech/Five-speed
CASE RevTech/Owner
CLUTCH H-D, FXR
PRIMARY DRIVE H-D, Shovelhead chaindrive
FRAME
MANUFACTURER Flyrite Choppers/Owner
RAKE 35 degrees
STRETCH 2 inches up
SUSPENSION
MANUFACTURER FRONT H-D/Owner
LENGTH 4-inches over
TRIPLE TREES H-D/Owner
MANUFACTURER REAR N/A
SWINGARM N/A
WHEELS, TIRES, AND BRAKES
MANUFACTURER FRONT/TYPE H-D/Cast mag
SIZE-HEIGHT/WIDTH 19x3.5
TIRE/SIZE Firestone/19x4
CALIPER None
ROTOR None
MANUFACTURER REAR/TYPE H-D/Cast Mag
SIZE-HEIGHT/WIDTH 16x4.5
TIRE/SIZE Firestone/16x5
CALIPER Tokico
ROTOR Ferodo
FINISH/PAINT
COLOR #36 Auburn, #815 White
PAINTER Owner
GRAPHICS '56 Star Chief Hood Trim
ACCESSORIES
REAR FENDER Owner
FENDER STRUTS Owner, Deco style
GAS TANK∩ Owner/'74 RD350 Hinged cap
OIL TANK Re-pop, w/handmade chain guard
HANDLEBARS Owner, Stream Liner Pullbacks
HAND CONTROLS Onwer, Eucalyptus shift knob
FOOT CONTROLS Owner, Eucalyptus foot pads
FOOTPEGS Owner, Berliner Pegs
HEADLIGHT Owner
TAILLIGHT Truck Stop Special
LICENSE MOUNT Owner
SEAT Owner, red leather tuck and roll