Husband and Wife Custom Harley-Davidsons

Knucklehead and Shovelhead double feature

knucklehead chopper

The Beyers and their paired custom bikes.

John Zamora

A friend called me and said this guy was interested in trading his motorcycle for my 2012 Polaris Razor I had up for sale. I just happen to be in the market for another bike. He sent me pictures and details of a 2009 special construction hardtail with an Accurate Engineering Knucklehead motor and Baker Franken-tranny. The style of that motor was exactly what I wanted to use for my next build, so it was a no-brainer. I loaded up the Razor and made the trade. Looking at the bike in my driveway, I had a vision of what I wanted it to look like. I could picture myself in the near future on a bike that would be my own spin on new-school design, with an old-school soul.

knucklehead chopper

The couple that rides together, stays together.

John Zamora

With a smile from ear to ear I hit the internet looking for a pre-2000 Harley-Davidson Softail. I knew the motor would bolt right in with little to no modifications. After searching for a few days I found a 1996 Softail and nabbed it. I also found an original 1946 Springer front end that I thought would really connect to the old-school nostalgia of the Knucklehead motor. I spent a few months doing research and looking for parts and solutions to potential fitment problems I was anticipating. I was going to mount my springer front end with a 7/8-inch stem onto a frame with 1-inch cast neck cups. I really didn’t want to modify the original 1946 springer in any way. I wanted to use new-school tapered Timken-style bearings. Everyone I spoke with said there was no way it would work. Nothing alternative was available. Well, I hate being told that. I took the races out of my frame and headed down to a nearby tapered bearing distributor. It didn’t take me long to match up a set of bearings and races that would work beautifully with the 7/8-inch stem with no modifications.

knucklehead chopper

Both the Accurate Engineering Knuckle reproduction and the Softail frame are a tad more modern than a genuine Knucklehead.

John Zamora

One of my biggest disadvantages of being a “garage builder” is having limitations on tools and machines that a much bigger shop has the access to. But on the other side of that same coin, the friends and fabricators I have met over the years have all been able to fill those gaps. It gave me great pleasure to work alongside them borrowing their equipment to make fitment adjustments to my new-school parts that I was using.

I set out on this project not to be some showbike that gets trailered to the events and put in an air bubble in my living room. The bike was built with the purpose of being a rider. I did not want to have my art “hung on a wall.” I wanted to use this bike as a rolling art piece that even the non-bikers can appreciate.

knucklehead chopper

The pictures, stares, and appreciation as I ride down the road alongside my friends and family are what justify all the hard work and time I have spent on my dream bike.

John Zamora

Specifications
General
Owner: Brian Beyer
Shop: Urban Cycles
Shop Phone: (626) 272-7273
Year/Make/Model: 1996/Harley-Davidson/Softail
Fabrication: Chassis Design
Build Time: 1 year, 6 months
Engine
Year/Type/Size: 2009/Knucklehead/103ci
Builder: Accurate Engineering
Cases: STD
Cylinders: Accurate Engineering
Heads: Accurate Engineering
Rocker Boxes: Accurate Engineering
Cams: Andrews K grind
Throttle Body: S&S Super E
Air Cleaner: Bison Motorsports
Exhaust: One-off by Lone Wolf’s Chop Rodz
Transmission
Year/Type: 2009/Baker Franken-tranny
Gears: 6-speed
Clutch: BDL
Primary Drive: BDL
Frame
Year/Type: 1996/H-D Softail
Rake/Stretch: Stock
Suspension
Front End: 1946 H-D Springer
Length: Stock
Swingarm: H-D Softail
Rear Shocks: Works
Wheels, Tires, and Brakes
Front
Builder/Size: Ride Wright/23 in.
Tire/Size: Avon/130/60/23 in.
Calipers: N/A
Rotors: N/A
Rear
Builder/Size: Ride Wright/18 in.
Tire/Size: Avon/180/55/18 in.
Caliper: Brembo
Rotor: Superspoke
Pulley: Superspoke
Finish/Paint
Colors: Custom Blend
Paint/Graphics: Buck Wild
Powdercoating: Concept Powdercoating
Accessories
Rear Fender: Klock Werks
Gas Tank: H-D
Dash: H-D
Gauges: Dakota Digital
Handlebars: Silverback Moto
Grips: Jason Jessee
Mirrors: Bison Motorsports
Hand Controls: Exile Cycles
Clutch: Internal
Throttle: Internal
Foot Controls: H-D
Floorboards: H-D
Headlight: KNS Accessories
Taillight: Prism Motorcycles
License Mount: Chassis Design
Seat: Mother Road Customs
Shovelhead chopper

And now we move on to this killer Shovelhead custom.

John Zamora

I’ve always been interested in old-school bikes because the owners seem like they are in their own little cult. I never understood it; they stand around hovering over their bikes and won’t even talk to you unless you have a bike that leaks oil everywhere. Not having years of experience with old-school bikes, I thought I would start with a Shovelhead. All my friends said I was crazy. They always brake down leak oil and ride like shit.

I picked up a 1976 Shovelhead. The first time I fired it up chills ran through my body. It was at that moment I realized what those die-hard old-school Harley guys felt. The thump of that Shovelhead was unlike anything I have ever experienced. Excited, I brought it to my shop (my garage) and immediately stripped it down to the frame and motor.

Next ensued a self-inflicted crusade to learn as much as possible about Shovelheads and why they leak. With the help of Google and some close friends in the industry, I was able to devise a plan to stop or slow down any potential oil leaks.

I was determined to take my new old-school bike and put my new-school spin on it proving to these die-hard old school enthusiasts that you can have the best of both worlds. First, I purchased some O-rings and instructions on how to machine a groove in the transmission spacer from saddlebag rail. That, along with a James Gaskets super nut, sealed up my transmission. Next I installed a Rivera Primo belt drive and got rid of that oily chain-drive setup. Continuing to upgrade old-school with new-school technology, I added a wire-plus wiring system, 2000–later wheels with sealed bearings, and air ride suspension in the rear. I finished up the bike just before the Laughlin River Run 2014.

shovelhead chopper

Custom Candy Brown and Flat Black make for an interesting color combo you don't see too often.

John Zamora

In an effort to prove my industry buddies wrong, I rolled into Alloy Art’s booth at the Pioneer Casino. I remember rolling up dropping the air ride and turning around to see all their jaws wide open. After a brief bagging session, it was awesome for a garage builder like me to have these idols of mine truly appreciate what I had done.

The current owner Tracy Beyer—yes, my wife—basically took the bike from me. I guess I’m partially to blame because it was my idea for her to go through the motorcycle safety school and start riding. When she got her license, she went crazy trying to decide on what bike she wanted. I suggested riding the Shovelhead for a while until she got comfortable. Big mistake—it didn’t take long before she decided, “I’ll take this bike,” as she looked up at me with a big smile on her face. After all my hard work and busted knuckles, I was happy that she shared my love for old-school motorcycles. Now I have to go build another bike.

Specifications
General
Owner: Tracy Beyer
Shop: Urban Cycles
Shop Phone: (626) 272-7273
Year/Make/Model: 1976/Harley-Davidson/Shovelhead
Fabrication: Brian Beyer
Build Time: 6 months
Engine
Year/Type/Size: 1976/Shovelhead/80ci
Builder: Phil’s Speed Shop
Cases; H-D
Cylinders: H-D
Heads: H-D
Rocker Boxes: H-D
Cams: Andrews
Throttle Body: SU Carb
Air Cleaner: Bison Motorsports
Exhaust: Custom
Transmission
Year/Type: 1976/H-D
Gears: 4-speed
Clutch: Rivera Primo
Primary Drive: Rivera Primo
Frame
Year/Type: 1976/H-D
Rake/Stretch: 6°/0
Suspension
Front End: 41MM H-D
Length: Standard
Triple Trees: H-D
Swingarm: Early FL style
Rear Shocks: Arnott air ride
Wheels, Tires, and Brakes
Front
Builder/Size: Ride Wright/21 in.
Tire/Size: Avon/120/70/21
Calipers: PM Vintage 4 piston
Rotors: Cycle lounge
Rear
Builder/Size: Ride Wright/18 in.
Tire/Size: Avon/150/70/18
Caliper: PM Vintage 4-piston
Rotor: Cycle Lounge
Pulley: Super Spoke
Finish/Paint
Manufacturer: House of Kolor
Colors: Custom Candy Brown and Flat Black
Paint/Graphics: Paint by Bondo
Powdercoating: Concept Powder Coating
Accessories
Front Fender: Stock H-D
Rear Fender: Early FL style
Gas Tank: Stock H-D
Dash: Paughco
Gauges: H-D
Handlebars: Chassis Designs
Grips: Performance Machine Contour
Mirrors: Alloy Art
Hand Controls: PM
Foot Controls: 2009 H-D Softail
Floorboards: 2009 H-D Softail
Headlight: Headwinds
Taillight: Custom
License Mount: TC Bros.
Seat: Le Pera