Danny Melillo's Custom Hardtail Chopper

Danny's Suicide Rigid

No matter how old you are, sibling rivalry never seems to end. Take the bike you see before you, which was built by Danny Melillo. Danny has an older brother named Nick, and up until about 2005, Nick was a partner in a custom bike shop in the SoCal area. Since the brothers are pretty close and have the same interest in custom motorcycles, it only made sense that Nick would hire Danny to help out around the shop. As time went on, Danny watched as Nick and the shop crew built custom after custom. Eventually Danny got a little green with envy and decided he wanted to build himself a bike.

Working on a very tight budget, Danny knew he couldn't get too crazy, so he made his requirements real simple: a light and tight bike with a suicide clutch/jockey shift and no front brake. Originally, Danny was building a bobber with a frame he'd picked up out of one of the shop catalogs. But then this rigid Diamond Chassis frame with 1 inch added to the downtubes and 3 three extra inches in the backbone came through the shop, and he just had to have it. After making a deal with Nick's business partner (the other shop owner), Danny tore all the parts off his bobber project and bolted them onto his new frame.

To keep the costs down, Danny went with an 80ci Evo from H-D but had Buzz, the ol' shop motor guru, go through the motor to squeeze a couple extra ponies out of it. The only suspension for the bike came by the way of a clean and simple Paughco Springer. A set of DNA spoked wheels also saved a few pennies and helped keep things light and clean.

Not everything was off the shelf. Danny turned to his friends and shop contacts to help him add some custom components. Travis at Diamond Chassis fabbed the oil tank, rear fender, and narrowed tank, while Jason at Sacred Steel relocated the petcock to the left side of the gas tank. Mike Sr. and Mike Jr. of Mad Mike's Fab took care of the handlebars as per Danny's drawing; Kyle Kirkman cut, bent, and welded the curved fishtail exhaust; Robby from RPM provided a hydraulically operated foot-clutch setup; and one of Danny's friends kicked down a headlight he'd picked up from Drag Specialties. Danny worked on his own fabrication skills by welding up the license mount out of an old motor stand, shaping the seat pan, creating the jockey shift out of a piece of steel he found, and capping it off with an old Peterbilt knob he got from Mike Jr.

Once the bike was ready for paint, Danny had Jeff Roberts hit the frame with several layers of gray, and the tank and rear fender with some flat black. Jeff then dressed the black up with a bit of flashy silver-leaf pinstriping for a vintage look. To get the bike wired and running right, Danny turned to his buddy and the shop electrician, Billy White.

Finally, after 10 long months of scrimping, saving, fabricating, and scrounging up parts from his friends, Danny finally had his own custom suicide speedster, which he's dubbed "Haggard."