Leo Perez grew up watching many of his friends riding old Knuckles, Pans, and Shovelheads in the neighborhood of Northeast Los Angeles, better known as the Elysian Valley. He started riding minibikes, dirt bikes, and always had a strong passion for old cars: Impalas, Fleetlines, and old Chevy trucks. As he grew older, and more established, he was able to turn his childhood dreams and eventually own several of those dream rides.
For more than 25 years, Leo knew of this 1947 Knucklehead that was owned by one his friends. In December of 2002, thanks to his lovely wife and sons, Leo received the bike of his dreams as a surprise birthday gift.
Leo received the bike of his dreams as a surprise birthday gift.
When Leo first got the bike, it still had that ’70s chopper look with a 21-inch front wheel, apehangers, upsweep exhaust, and a ducktail rear fender with a ghost flame candy paint job. The bike had been sitting for years at the previous owner’s house and resembled nothing like it does today, and it took a lot of blood and sweat to get this Knuckle in running condition.
After it was cleaned up and running, he rode it for about a year enjoying every second on the road. After a while, Leo decided he wanted to tear it completely apart and do a nut-and-bolt restoration from the chopped-up version it had previously been. Leo searched for parts like the US looked for Bin Laden,
Leo searched for parts like the US looked for Bin Laden,
eventually finding fenders, handlebars, a seat, and a list of small parts to bring that original look back. Most of the work was completed by Leo in the course of six months and many late nights in his garage. After the pile of expensive parts was assembled, he then stripped the frame down to bare metal and got it as straight as when it left the factory before adding fresh primer and black paint. Rebuilding a Knuckle is not a job for novice motor builders, so Leo had John from R&J Motors in Tujunga, California, handle the duties.
Once it was finished, Leo took the freshly finished bike to one of the prestigious Grand National Roadster shows in Pomona, California, taking home the first-place trophy and confirming all the work was not in vain. But Leo hadn’t waited 25 years to let this bike sit in another garage to be taken out only for show and shines. Since then, he can regularly be spotted on the freeways and city streets on his bikes. By keeping the dream alive and on the road, Leo is setting up the next generation of dreamers.
By keeping the dream alive and on the road, Leo is setting up the next generation of dreamers.
Who knows? Perhaps 25 years from now, this same bike will be written about for a whole new generation.
|Bike Owner||Lionzo “Leo” Perez|
|Shop Name||Leo Perez|
|Shop Phone||(626) 674-1013|
|Build Time||6 months|
|Builder||R&J Motors, Tujunga, CA|
|Cams||Andrews “S” Grind|
|Air Cleaner||Original “J” slot|
|Exhaust||2-into-1 w/ old-school Dago fishtail|
|Year/Type||1947/H-D 4-speed jockey shifter|
|Primary Drive||Stock chain|
|Front End||Original Springer|
|Wheels, Tires, and Brakes|
|Brakes||Stock mechanical drums|
|Brakes||Stock mechanical drums|
|Plating/Polishing||Supreme Plating, Inglewood, CA|
|Powdercoating||Eastco Powder Coating, Montebello, CA|
|Front Fender||Original moldings and trim|
|Rear Fender||Original moldings and trim|
|Gas Tank||Original 3.5-gal. tank|
|Handlebars||Original Speedster handlebars|
|Foot Controls||Foot clutch lever|
|Floorboards||Riveted stock H-D|
|Seat||Stock Pogo brown leather|