Cycle West Nails A Shovelhead Chopper

Japanese Harley-Davidson customs never disappoint

Japanese bike builders are like no-limit poker games. They can get pretty wild and you never know what to expect. If you’ve been to the Mooneyes Yokohama show, you know exactly what I mean. For decades, Japan’s choppersmiths have run the gamut from bosozoku to gooseneck rigid to just plain great executions of choppers in the American traditions, all while making the bikes their own. To me, that’s a great strength in a custom motorcycle maker.

Hiromichi Nishiyama and Cycle West are behind this rigid Shovelhead seen here. Powered by a 1977 Harley-Davidson heart set in a rigid skeleton, this chopper is full-on custom but it also just looks like lots of fun to ride.

The bike’s Paughco springer front end brackets a 23-inch wheel and is set at a modest 30-degree rake, making for a snub nose look up front. Out back, a 19-inch W&W spoker completes the rolling chassis part of the job.

The artistry in this machine lies in, of course, the metal and finishes. What little bodywork there is on this chop (the back fender, gas tank, and oil tank) was made in-house by Cycle West, as were the headlight and pegs. The PPG burgundy and cream paint were laid down by 420 Kustoms. If you like the killer engraving on the top end and air cleaner cover, you can blame Cycle Works for that bit of awesomeness too.

rigid chopper

Snubby fork, knobby tires, and just enough seat to keep your butt off the rigid frame. That’s serious minimalism right there.

Michael Lichter Photography

prism tank

That prism tank rises up as it goes forward but stops just under the bend in the handlebars to keep it from sticking out like a sore thumb.

Michael Lichter Photography

cool japanese harley-davidson

Calm down, the bike’s not that cool. Oh, wait, yes it is.

Michael Lichter Photography

engraved tank

Even the tank has engraved inlay on it. No, I’m not calling this a dash. That’s a bagger thing and I don’t see any speaker lids in attendance.

Michael Lichter Photography

intricate engraving on fenders

Here, you get a good feel for the depth and intricacy of the engraving.

Michael Lichter Photography

engraved leather motorcycle seat

Teeny tiny fender with teeny tiny seat, and tons of detail in the leatherwork.

Michael Lichter Photography

fender and saddle

Which, by the way, matches well to the top end next door to the saddle.

Michael Lichter Photography

2-inch Primo belt drive

The 2-inch Primo belt drive is chopper proper.

Michael Lichter Photography

japanese harley-davidson chopper

If I had a bike like this, I’d be grinning too.

Michael Lichter Photography

skinny rigid chopper

If the profile were any skinnier, this bike would need a sandwich. As it is, this chopper is a lane-splitter’s dream.

Michael Lichter Photography