Tag Archives: choppers

1941 Harley Davidson Flathead

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 11.50.36 AM Years back a friend decided he wanted to live “Off The Grid”, I think that at sometime in life quite a few of us have thought of that. Then reality hits. A wife, kids, going to PTA meetings, and how far away is the nearest grocery store? Dan decided to wait until PTA meetings were over and kids were off to college before he headed down the path of “Off The Grid”.
Dan had spent years planning this transition in life (much to his wife’s dismay and consternation) and then the day came…”Honey, I found us a piece of land in Arizona that would be perfect for getting out of the Rat Race.
Now I’ve known Dan for years and over those years he acquired quite a motorcycle collection, some were pieces of junk (we all have those) and some were very special. He sold ’em all to buy this piece of land and an Airstream trailer to plant on it. Again, his wife just sat there shaking her head and wondering what kind of medications could help her husband. Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 8.18.39 AM
Fast forward about a year…This “living off the grid” ain’t all it’s cracked up to be and more importantly Dan missed his motorcycles. Sell the land, the Airstream, move back to town and buy a motorcycle. This time he decided on a classic bike instead of something modern.
How ‘Vintage’ is vintage, how ‘Antique’ is antique? Dan opted for Pre-war American. Indian, Harley, Excelsior??? Dan found a beautiful Harley WL model Flathead that needed some love. A few months later, and about as much money as he paid for his Airstream he had a big smile on his face and his overly tolerant wife was happy to have central air conditioning.Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 11.50.24 AM
The ‘Flathead’ design motor was very common throughout motoring history. Dating back to the early 20th century it was used in cars, tractors, pretty much anything motorized. The design was simple, dependable and relatively cheap to manufacture. However, it’s design did limit its power output, there are always trade offs. The WL Model Harley Davidson was a 45 cubic inch model that eventually found itself doing service in World War Two for not only the US troops but also for the Russian Army, they bought nearly 30,000 of them. After the war, the WLA model (A was for Army’) was very popular with returning GI’s. There is a lot more history available out there about the Flathead Harley’s and it’s quite fascinating. When it comes to Flatheads though there is nothing like the sound of a Ford Flathead to wake up you soul!
Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 11.48.12 AMI found a really beautiful 1941 Harley WL model on Ebay this morning. Earlier in this story I talked about my friend Dan and his Airstream. He paid nearly $30,000 for that trailer, he sold it for about the same. After he finished all the work he had done on the 1940 Harley, he could have bought back his trailer and given his wife a dish washer and air conditioning. It didn’t matter, he loved the bike. The bike I found on ebay this morning is a deal!
It is ready to ride. It does show it’s age and that is just great. If you’re not the adventurous type or a skilled mechanic you may not want to ride the bike across the country, but for weekend outings, it’s perfect and well worth the money.
Click on the pics below for more info and pictures. There’s an old saying out there “God rides a Harley”…there is another one that goes along with it, “If God rides a Harley, God rides slow”. On this bike, slow is just fine.

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Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 5.31.19 PM1941 Harley Davidson Flathead

ED “Big Daddy”Roth

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 8.33.37 AMThe 50’s,60’s and 70’s was truly the era of customization. Cars, bikes, bicycles (the Schwinn Stingray…). In motorcycling it brought us everything from long legged choppers, to Cafe Racers, and everything in between. It was an era that said ” I can make that better, I can make that cooler, I can make that faster, I can make that weird. Well, Ed Roth did all of that, and with style.
Ed Roth was considered the ‘Mad Scientist’ of customization. Along with Dean Jeffries, Daryll Starbird, Von Dutch, Big Daddy Roth was the one of the founding fathers of The Kustom Kulture. These guys created the absolute wildest vehicles ever seen.Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 3.39.26 PM
And then there is ‘Rat Fink’. Now if you don’t know Rat Fink, your childhood was, well…lacking something. Ed Roth was the master of creating weird creatures and we loved them all, but ‘Rat Fink’ was King. At the time the motto was “Fink Differently” and that is how Ed Roth designed cars. The Beatnik Bandit was a car that ‘Big daddy’ designed that was driven by a Joy Stick instead of a steering wheel, all crazy stuff but so wonderful.Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 8.32.05 AM
So, today I found an Ed Roth designed trike on ebay. Basically you get the vehicle but you have to supply the power, a VW engine, no biggie. But…you get something designed and built by Ed Roth!! How cool is that?!!! VW engines are a dime a dozen at your local junk yard. It’s a bit on the pricey side but I guarantee you, you will never see another like it on the road and would probably be a whole lot of fun to drive around.
I have to add this, as I looked more into the history of Rat Fink and Ed “Big Daddy” Roth I got so hooked into the “Kustom Kulture”. Digging thru all my old junk, I found a Rat Fink model from Revel I built when I was a kid. I also still wear a Von Dutch T-Shirt and have a gas tank for my ’67 Bonneville pinstriped by him (courtesy of my stepdads brother). It was an incredible era. In some cases more creativity than practicality.
Click on the pics below for more info and pictures.

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Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 7.14.26 AMEd “Big Daddy” Roth

1968 Manco Mini Chopper

“Hey Ethel, look what I found at the swap meet today!!! I think Bubba Jr. is gonna love it! It’s a mini chopper, looks just like my real chopper!” “I know he’s only seven years old but like I’ve always said get ’em started early…kinda like me and you”

I remember riding Byron Snedakers homemade minibike as a kid, we’d blast that little thing all over the neighborhood (that’s back in the day when you could). His dad literally modified a Schwinn Sting Ray bicycle frame to hold a lawnmower engine and designed (or bought) a chain drive system and a throttle. It was waaaayy too much fun. We were nine years old and it was summer vacation. That next Christmas Santa brought Byron a genuine Taco minibike…he still believes it was Santa that brought him the bike. A couple other guys in the neighborhood had mini’s and as you can imagine, races became the norm. I rode the ‘Sting Ray Lawnmower’ a few times until the frame broke.

I found a Manco mini chopper on ebay this morning that just cracked me up. This guy some good money and time into and as mini choppers go, did a great job. Now, Manco, also known as Yellow Jacket, was actually better known for its 4 wheelers. Off road vehicles and go carts. The mini bikes it seems were more of a side business? They were powered by a 3 1/2 hp Techumsa engine and were pretty standard. But, a lot got modified…all minibikes back then did.

So, if you think Bubba Jr. at your house would love to be like Bubba Sr. then this is a perfect summertime play toy. Click on the pics below for more pictures and more info. Could be fun.

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Screen Shot 2015-07-11 at 2.02.43 PM1968 Manco mini bike

1952 Triumph Thunderbird 6T

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 8.19.56 AMThe first motorcycle I ever crashed was a 1952 Triumph Thunderbird. Well, wait…I did ride my fathers CB160 into the back bumper of his new Impala but all that was was an ‘OOPS’…no real damage except to my 14 year old pride.

The Thunderbird was my step dads pride and joy and I did a pretty good job of causing he and me quite a bit of work…and money. There went my next two months paychecks. Besides learning how to fix old British motorbikes (including how to cut your own cork clutch plates) I learned to love British bikes. I still have one.

After the crash my stepdad actually let me ride it again and again until I could afford my own Triumph. Over the next few years we went through a couple of Bonnevilles, a BSA or two and a T100R Daytona that I kept for years. He kept the Thunderbird until he passed away just a few years ago.Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 8.20.59 AM
The Thunderbird was a grown up version of the very popular 500cc Speed Twin. At this point in time Triumph was working hard at a gaining a marketing foothold in America. They had to compete with Harley Davidson and Indian. The 500 didn’t have the same ‘stuff’ the big V-Twins had. The down low grunt, the sound and the look.

When the 5T was pumped up to 650cc it gained enough horsepower to be quicker than the big twins and that was very appealing to the American market. Triumph was also using the ‘Sprung Hub’ rear suspension which was a huge improvement over the regular rigid frame that was common on most motorcycles of the time. Nowadays we are so spoiled with the suspensions we have available to us!Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 8.13.17 AM

Most of us of a “certain age” have seen the 1953 movie “The Wild One” with Marlon Brando. This movie was about a motorcycle gang that rides into town and wrecks havoc. All in good fun??? Well, in this movie Marlon Brando is riding a Triumph Thunderbird and it was the first time a motorcycle logo / brand name was shown in a film…pretty cool huh. Though it may not have been the image Triumph wanted to portray or maybe it was good marketing. Oh, here’s another cool thing. In the movie, Marlon was riding a Black Thunderbird, Triumph didn’t make a black T-Bird. After the success of the movie, for a very short run, Triumph made a black bike and called it the Blackbird. Always have throw in a bit of useless trivia. Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 9.15.17 AM

I found a 1952 T-Bird on ebay this morning that is going to require more love than God gave the Isrealites. I have shown you basket cases that I thought would fun to put back together and I’ve shown you bikes that just needed some simple love. But…to get this one rideable could take as Led Zepplin would say, “A Whole Lotta Love….” Now you can keep this bike as a ‘Bobber’ style, you can turn it into a very cool Cafe Racer or if you’re incredibly ambitious return it to stock. Good luck. I would imagine that finding an original headlight nacelle with the instruments in it would be , well difficult to say the least. Maybe not though?

I wrote about this today because of my personal connection to a ’52 Thunderbird. Click on the pics below for more pictures and a little info.

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Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 8.26.32 AM1952 Triumph Thunderbird

1947 Harley Davidson Custom

Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 7.33.48 AMThere are times you remember that are still stuck in your mind decades later. Some are good and some you regret. One that I regret was a first date with a beautiful girl way out of my league. I was a senior in High School when the movie Easy Rider came out. My car was all clean and shiny, the interior was vacuumed, and I was showered and shaved. I was ready!

Now here is the ‘DFU’ moment came in, I took her to the Sepulveda Drive-In theatre to see Easy Rider. I don’t know what kind of movie she thought it might be, but it sure wasn’t what she hoped it would be. The thought of any back seat romance went out the window (the one that held the speaker) and I took her home before the movie was over.

Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 10.41.21 AMI found an old school ‘Long Bike’ on ebay today and it is what brought back that memory. If you think Saturday Night Fever was the best movie made and the Bee Gees the best musical group..then this is the bike for you. If you love ‘Tuck and Roll’ interiors and metallic paint jobs on classic cars…this bike is for you. If you want a motorcycle that would be painful to ride but you look cool…this bike is for you.

A little history here…you knew that was coming. In 1936 Harley Davidson replaced the ‘Flathead’ motor with the new OHV (overhead valve) motor. An interesting part of this story is that development of the new motor was all done during the “Great Depression”. The Flatheads came in two sizes 74 and 80 cubic inches and produced between 30 and 36 HP. Not bad for the time.Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 7.35.37 AM

When the new OHV motor came out it was only 61 cubes but produced 40HP! Smaller motor but more power, what more could you ask for? Well, riders did ask for more so in 1941 it pumped to 74 Cubic inches and a bit more power.

The 1947 Harley Davidson was the last of the “Knuckleheads” It was called the ‘Knucklehead’ because of the way the head was shaped and the valve cover. Later on The Motor Company changed some components and put a different valve cover on and the bike became the ‘Panhead’. The thing is is that the Knuckelhead lasted only 12 years but the same ‘basic’ design is what still powers your new HD Ultra Glide CVO Classic today.

Now back to the bike I found on ebay today. You gotta dig metal flake, you gotta think long bikes are way cool, you have to be a massochist and more importantly, you want to look cool!!!
This is a bike that will draw attention no matter where you go. Because of it’s size, you will always a parking spot to yourself, you will get more attention than a Sports Illustrated bikini model (well maybe not that one…), and you’ll be seeing your Chiropractor on the Monday after riding on Sunday. But, it will be worth it.

This is a very cool bike just because. It’s had a bunch of work done on it and looks great for a period piece. Click on the pics below for more pictures and more info.

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Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 7.26.22 AM1947 Harley Davidson Custom

Vintage Harley Davidson Mother Lode

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 8.35.49 AMI don’t quite know where to start here…what an amazing collection of bikes and parts. I mean, really, if you are into old Harley Davidson’s either for your own use (now that requires a full psychiatric evaluation) or you own a motorcycle salvage business (which may also require professional counseling…my daughter is a licensed therapist her number is **&^%$U&% she can help she has been around this sickness long enough) or lastly you build custom Harley’s. I mean you get all these parts and complete bikes and the 20′ container they are stored in. It doesn’t get any easier.Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 8.37.25 AM

Honestly, it’s a lot of money to buy this container but from what I have seen on the market lately, so far, it’s a hell of a deal.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and more info. This really is somebody’s idea of heaven!

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Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 8.22.45 AMVintage Harley Davidson Mother Lode

1977 Yamaha XS650

Picture 12Is there a motorcycle in your past that you regret ‘not’ buying? Many of us have come home with a bike that once it is in our garage we asked ourselves “what was I thinking?” Worse yet is when your significant other asks you the same question, in a much different tone of voice. And then even worse yet is when you rationalize the purchase and start tearing it all apart to ‘restore’ it or ‘customize’ it and coming to the realization that you made a mistake. You DFU’d.

Next scenario…years ago you were choosing between two new motorcycles, your significant other had given approval for either one (he or she didn’t care which one you bought they just wanted you to stop asking them which one you should get, asking all your friends which one to get, because they were getting annoyed by you at this point as well, “Just flip a coin and buy one…”).

Picture 17Scenario number three…you bought one of the two but in the back of your mind you still keep thinking about the other one. Fast forward two, three, four decades and while driving home one day you see one parked in a driveway with a ‘For Sale’ sign on it. It’s the exact model you looked at all those years ago, color and all. You turn around, you write down the phone number and hurry home with your heart pounding. You run in the door, the S.O is there, you tell him or her about the bike, the checkbook is looked at, you get the green light and the phone call is made…the bike was sold five minutes ago.

This is a true story, mine. The bike was a Yamaha XS650. I have loved that bike since the first day I sat on one at International Motorcycles in Canoga Park. Having spent years on Brit Bikes, I felt right at home on the Yamaha.

The Yamaha was also a successful racer, it powered ‘King’ Kenny Roberts to the AMA Grand National Championship, when it really was a Grand National Championship but that’s a whole ‘nother story. The XS is still very popular in Vintage Flat Track racing.Picture 15

The XS650 is the perfect platform for any customization…cafe racer, street tracker, chopper, tourer, vintage flat tracker… it just plain ol’ works. The motor is gorgeous, reliable and easy to work on. The chassis lends itself to mods very easily and there are a lot of aftermarket suppliers that can help you make an XS the bike of your dreams. Now you just have to get one.

I found a really nice 1977 model on ebay today. It is a runner that has been gone through pretty well. It’s completely stock, which is always perfect in my book, that way you can customize it any way you want or just leave it as it is and enjoy it.

Oh, and did I mention it can be customized really well…
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Click on the pics below for a lot more info and more pictures. This is a really nice bike for the price.

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Picture 111977 Yamaha XS650