Buddy Collins’ 1976 Shovelhead | Hot Bike
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Buddy Collins’ 1976 Shovelhead

Old Harley-Davidsons never die. They just fall back to the aftermarket and regroup.

Before I even start to talk about my Shovelhead, I have to first thank my good friend Justin Powers. He has taught and helped me with so much in the last few years. Without him this bike would probably still just be one of those never-ending works in progress.

I came across this bike while on a fishing trip with a friend. It was owned by a friend of a friend who intended to rebuild it for himself but hadn’t touched it in a few years. It was really just a frame and a motor. He told me he got the bike from the original owner and that the motor had not been run in many years. Needless to say, that meant it would have to be gone through thoroughly and most likely completely rebuilt. After making a trade that we were both happy with, I ended up taking the bike home with me! By the next weekend I had the motor apart and very slowly, week by week, I bought the needed parts and began to put together the bike you see today. The end result you see here is the second version of this project. The first version was just the “primer” stage, meant to ride it down the road.

My only intention was to build and enjoy a scoot that I was proud to ride. I think there is a driving force in all of us to create. The feelings and sense of accomplishment one can get out of starting with an idea and working hard to reach a goal is incredible. And for me that outlet came in the form of this bike. I just built my vision of a cool simple bike. I understand that not everyone is going to agree, and that’s fine. I don’t believe you can find a more diverse “group” of people who can all come together around a common theme or lifestyle as motorcycle enthusiasts! And due to that fact I am completely flattered that anyone would like or be interested in my individual idea of “cool.”

The entire bike, with the exception of a few things, was all powdercoated by Justin Powers. The frame, wheels, tank, rear fender, oil bag, springer, bars, and the rocker boxes—they all got coated. The Harley-Davidson logo was airbrushed onto the tank. We also split the rocker boxes and jumped the oil lines from one to the next. Also, I made some pushrod covers out of brass to keep with the combination of brass and chrome.

1976 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead

I started this project with the goal of building a bike that was truly mine.

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wooden air cleaner

The air cleaner is just one of those “things” that happens; I didn’t like the look of any off-the-shelf covers I put on it, and even after fabbing up a few, nothing looked right. One day I happened on this wooden bowl I made in woodshop back in high school. With a few changes and the right stain color, the problem was solved. And, yes, it is really wood!

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vintage cloth plug wires and connectors

Staying simple, I went with the vintage cloth plug wires and connectors. And of course an open primary on a four-speed kick-only trans.

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leather grips

The leather grips, seat, and belt were all hand-tooled, stitched, and stained by me.

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Drag handlebars

Drag handlebars looked and felt right for this bike.

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hand-tooled leather over the seat

Here you can see the hand-tooled leather over the seat, which has a steel pan.

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modified stock fender with a new strut over it

This is the modified stock fender with a new strut over it.

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1976 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead

The hardest part for me is going to be letting go of the bike so I can move on to the next one. Moving forward and making each bike “better” than the last is always going to be the biggest challenge.

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