Gettin’ It Hard!

Rigidizing a swingarm frame with ATR and the Haifley Bros.

rigid frame

Gettin’ It Hard!

Some folks just like the way rigid frames ride and look. I am one of them.

Words and Photos: Jeff G. Holt

rigid frame

Gettin’ It Hard!

  1. Here’s the front half of Craig’s Shovelhead frame waiting for the hacking to begin.

Words and Photos: Jeff G. Holt

rigid frame

Gettin’ It Hard!

  1. And here we have the new rigid rear end from the Haifley Bros. It is an exceptional example of a weld-on hardtail complete with forged axle plates for that OG look.

Words and Photos: Jeff G. Holt

rigid frame

Gettin’ It Hard!

  1. The Haifley Bros. hardtail section comes with slugs already welded into it, making it pretty easy to install.

Words and Photos: Jeff G. Holt

rigid frame

Gettin’ It Hard!

  1. Before any cutting begins, Jason follows the Hailey Bros.’s directions by measuring 7-3/4 inches between the front and rear of the transmission mount.

Words and Photos: Jeff G. Holt

rigid frame

Gettin’ It Hard!

  1. Jason must also measure the upper part of the frame from the head casting to just behind the seat casting and mark it at 25 inches.

Words and Photos: Jeff G. Holt

rigid frame

Gettin’ It Hard!

  1. Then the cutting begins with one of the coolest tools ever made: a Milwaukee portable bandsaw.

Words and Photos: Jeff G. Holt

rigid frame

Gettin’ It Hard!

  1. The first cuts are placed along the transmission brace tubing where Jason made his first measurement.

Words and Photos: Jeff G. Holt

rigid frame

Gettin’ It Hard!

  1. The second cut was made so that the transmission brace could be freed from the cross brace of the frame.

Words and Photos: Jeff G. Holt

rigid frame

Gettin’ It Hard!

  1. Here are the discarded sections of the swingarm frame that contain the shock mounts and other now-ancillary items.

Words and Photos: Jeff G. Holt

rigid frame

Gettin’ It Hard!

  1. Jason now preps all of the tubes inside and out for the new hardtail section with a file and grinder.

Words and Photos: Jeff G. Holt

rigid frame

Gettin’ It Hard!

  1. The tranny mount also needed a fair amount of cleaning up as well.

Words and Photos: Jeff G. Holt

rigid frame

Gettin’ It Hard!

  1. Measuring again, Jason had to take some more material off of the left side of the bottom frame tube.

Words and Photos: Jeff G. Holt

rigid frame

Gettin’ It Hard!

  1. Up top, due to the angle of the new hardtail section, the seat casting has to be cut away from the stock frame tubing.

Words and Photos: Jeff G. Holt

rigid frame

Gettin’ It Hard!

  1. The tubing then needed to be carefully heated and bent approximately 22 degrees down from its stock location.

Words and Photos: Jeff G. Holt

rigid frame

Gettin’ It Hard!

  1. Once the left side was correctly completed, the right side underwent the same transformation.

Words and Photos: Jeff G. Holt

rigid frame

Gettin’ It Hard!

  1. After the frame had cooled, Jason measured both sides to make sure they were even at a measurement of 17-3/16 inches.

Words and Photos: Jeff G. Holt

rigid frame

Gettin’ It Hard!

  1. The hardtail section was then test-fit to see what other alterations needed to be attended to before it was permanently affixed to the frame.

Words and Photos: Jeff G. Holt

rigid frame

Gettin’ It Hard!

  1. A clamp was needed to bring in the lower tubes of the frame inward a bit.

Words and Photos: Jeff G. Holt

rigid frame

Gettin’ It Hard!

  1. The lower part of the frame fit well, but the tranny cross member needed a bit of tweaking before the two halves were to become one.

Words and Photos: Jeff G. Holt

rigid frame

Gettin’ It Hard!

  1. A template consisting of a transmission plate (Haifley also supplies one in the kit) was used to correctly line up the bottom of the hardtail to the front triangle.

Words and Photos: Jeff G. Holt

rigid frame

Gettin’ It Hard!

  1. Before any of the welding began, we made sure the entire frame had the correct 1/4-inch holes where the slugs were to be slid in. This makes for much stronger adhesion when welding.

Words and Photos: Jeff G. Holt

rigid frame

Gettin’ It Hard!

  1. With the transmission plate securely bolted in and the bottom of the frame perfectly aligned, the bottom of the frame was ready to be welded into place.

Words and Photos: Jeff G. Holt

rigid frame

Gettin’ It Hard!

  1. Up top the Haifley-supplied slugs were inserted, but the tubing needed some additional alignment before the welding ensued.

Words and Photos: Jeff G. Holt

rigid frame

Gettin’ It Hard!

  1. Once the seat tubes were correctly aligned and measured to be straight, Jason tacked the two halves of the frame togeth

Words and Photos: Jeff G. Holt

rigid frame

Gettin’ It Hard!

  1. The same went for both sides at the bottom of the frame.

Words and Photos: Jeff G. Holt

rigid frame

Gettin’ It Hard!

  1. Jason took his time finish-welding the bottom of the frame to keep it from warping under extreme heat.

Words and Photos: Jeff G. Holt

rigid frame

Gettin’ It Hard!

  1. Returning to the top of the frame, Jason smoothed out the modified OE frame casting so it blended perfectly with the new rear section.

Words and Photos: Jeff G. Holt

rigid frame

Gettin’ It Hard!

  1. Jason then TIG welded the casting to the new hardtail section and smoothed out the rough spots with some filler rod.

Words and Photos: Jeff G. Holt

rigid frame

Gettin’ It Hard!

  1. And with a bit more metal finishing, the job was done. ATR’s Jason Webber indeed took a lowly swingarm frame and transformed it into a righteous rigid!

Words and Photos: Jeff G. Holt

Some folks just like the way rigid frames ride and look. I am one of them. The uncluttered look of a hardtailed frame is the sign of a true chopper. When our buddy Craig wanted to take his fully suspended late-’70s H-D Shovelhead a few decades back in time to when all bikes were rigid, many folks told him he must be dim-witted to do such a thing, but we at Hot Bike were all for it! So much so that we called up our pals, the Haifley Bros., and got a hardtail kit from them and then conned our bearded brother (with a massive meal of Jack In The Box), Jason Webber of At the Risers (ATR), to make all of Craig’s rough-riding dreams come true.

Jason is a professional-level bike builder who works out of his garage and has a day job like the rest of us, so we figured he could show us DIY folks how a guy with a TIG welder, a few tools, and a few hours’ time could tackle this task. Here’s how he did it.

Sources:

At The Risers

Haifley Bros.