I’VE BEEN riding, building and repairing motor bikes for more than 35 years now, and got my bike license at 16, many years before my car licence. Even though I drove cars I didn’t bother getting my car licence until I turned 32, that’s when I was married with a baby on the way and we wanted more seats.
I’ve owned eight Bevel Ducatis, many Kawasakis, a couple of Trumpys, and heaps of other Jappas, but there’s something about a well sorted Shovel that I can’t resist.
I’ve owned seven Harleys over the years and this is my latest one. I came across this bike at a shop in Nerang in very different form than how it sits now! It was sitting outside in the pouring rain and I felt sorry for it really. I saw a lot of potential but the bike looked to me as if it had been thrown together by a custom shop or more likely built by a Staffy dog on heat with no thumbs!
The bike is registered as a 1957 Shovel. It started life as a ‘57 Panhead. As it sits now, it has a 1999 Softail frame.
Up until a year ago it had a ‘57 front-end on it and I changed it over to a late model 49 mm tube Wide Glide front-end which was pieced together from many different countries around the world. I really like the way the clamps grip the tubes both top and bottom and they are very beefy looking and strong.
I’m running a 200 rear swingarm on it now with a 17-inch Night Train wheel with a 200 tyre.
On the front is a 21 x 3.5 inch billet wheel from the States.
I put a set of Fournales air ride suspension on the rear to get it to handle, and it handles awesomely; well, a lot better than a standard slop-tail.
I fitted a set of Beach bars to it using 2012 Fat Boy risers.
The engine is a S&S, 93-cube, Genny Shovelhead stroker fuelled by a 42 mm Mikuni carb running a billet manifold. The High Flow air filter is a S&S Desperado that I adapted to fit the carby.
The pipes are LAF (loud as fuck) made by Twisted Choppers in the USA.
The engine breather is a one-way unit which is great for this style of engine.
The tranny is a Ultima six-speed.
The rear brake is a HHI Sprocket brake and the front is a twin disc with four-spot Nissin calipers that came from a Triumph originally.
The forward controls are BDL brand.
The seat is made from genuine crocodile skin hide.
It has taken me a while and 30 thousand miles to sort the bike to the way I wanted it. I really needed a bike that I could ride hard all day and remain reliable plus something that handled the twisties without the traditional Softail wallow. As I do all my own work and builds I wanted the bike to be mine, not looking like another late model black Softail.
Yes, I think I can safely say you won’t come across another Harley Softail with the same specs as mine.
Photos by Rod Cole
Story by Mark