1976 Harley-Davidson FLH Shovelhead Legacy

This Harley has been awarded 14 trophies ranging from Best Paint, Best Classic, Best Restoration to Best Dresser.

I FIRST saw Mathew Ridoutt and photographed his bike at the Tramps show in Wangaratta a couple of years ago when he won a trophy for Best Restoration. I made a mental note that it was a tidy machine—but didn’t get his phone number! I must have been into the Bundies and ambiance of the day! Eventually it was Mathew’s girlfriend who gave me the heads up.  

Mathew wasn’t all that keen when I contacted him, as a couple of other bike mags had made promises and used up his time and nothing had come of it. But after he realised what a good bloke I was, LOL, we were off and running. 

The Harley was previously owned by Col who had bought it off a bloke in Corowa. The bike sat in the shed for yonks, without too much happening while Col collected some parts.

Harley-Davidson Shovelhead
The bike sat in the shed for yonks, without too much happening…

“Mathew was among a few blokes we used to have a couple beers together on a Friday night in my garage and talk about cars and bikes,” said Col. “Mathew indicated he was getting rid of his Ducati and was interested in the project. One thing led to another and the deal was done.”

Everything was restored down to a complete nut-and-bolt refurbishment. The Super Glide frame was completely stripped and painted and Col welded on brackets for the running boards. Lowered shocks and front-end dropped the bike 1.5 inches and gave it a nice stance.

The original tanks were used, but new guards with the hinged rear guard being replaced with a one piece guard, at Mathew’s request, for cleaner lines. A ’49 era front fender tip was used.

It’s an 80 cubic inch motor with a Crane Hi 4 ignition with a late model CV carby.

The rebuild took place over two years of evenings and weekends at home in Col’s shed.

“It was built in memory of my grandfather who used to ride with a sidecar to ferry my Nan around in,” said Mathew.

Harley-Davidson Shovelhead
Col’s side-valve Harley.

The number plate bears his grandfather’s name, Roy, and the number 76—and it’s an appropriate coincidence that Roy died at 76 years of age and also that the bike is a 1976 Shovel.

Harley-Davidson Shovelhead

Steve Ortlip who paints Brad Jones V8 Supercars here in Wodonga did the paint job. The colour ‘green’ was his grandfather’s favourite, and the H-D birch white was selected as the contrasting panels. It is a really deep finish reminiscence of the classic enamel look. At first Mathew thought the colour looked ‘too’ green but with the addition of white on the tank, chrome on the bike and whitewall tyres, it has balanced out. In fact, Mathew says, “Most of the comments received, praise the colour scheme.” In the end Mathew liked the colour scheme so much that he has carried it through to a couple of his other toys.

Harley-Davidson Shovelhead
…Mathew liked the colour scheme so much that he has carried it through to a couple of his other toys.

Mathew would like to thank his mate Sean for helping out with a bit of muscle on the day. They’ve known each other that long that they both got their first tattoos together. Good looking Nicole supplied the eye candy.

All the original alloy parts were polished, not chromed, befitting the bike’s era.

New wheels were installed as the originals were a bit tired and proper whitewalls fitted.

Mathew replaced the original plunger seat with a lower, form-fitting one, to get him a bit closer to the ground. Late model indicators have been used—the front ones relocated from the bars to the head-stem. Little things, like having them line up when the bike is straight, add to the bike’s clean lines.

During the last couple of years Mathew has been enjoying showing the bike around the country including one of the biggest, Bankstown, and the bike has been awarded 14 trophies ranging from Best Paint, Best Classic, Best Restoration, and Best Dresser. 

Harley-Davidson Shovelhead

To make travelling life more comfortable for him and Nicole, Mathew has recently completed a transporter for the bike and has fitted it out like a caravan with plasma TV, double bed, cooker, and of course, the kitchen sink. Mathew and Nicole spent five days camped in the transporter at the last Wollongong Muscle Car & Bike Show where the bike was awarded Best Original.

Mathew still brings the H_D Shovelhead into Col for a service, so Col gets to ride it occasionally. In fact, they swapped bikes with each other on the recent Butterball Rally for classic bikes.

Some people ask Col, “How could you let go of such a choice machine?” but as he says, “That’s what I do for a living!” He did, however, make the comment after the birth of his son, that maybe he should have kept it in the family for the boy.

Harley-Davidson Shovelhead
The airplane is a DC-2, the same model as the Dutch Airlines one that made a forced landing during a storm at the Albury racecourse in 1934 during the London to Melbourne air race.

We’d been trying to get the photo shoot off the ground for a few weeks but the weather and work had thwarted our plans. Finally the all the planets lined up and I was able to get permission from the local airport for the location.

I’m sure that Mathew’s grandfather Roy would be happy with the end result and seeing that this old Shovelhead was getting a new lease of life. RIP Roy.

Harley-Davidson Shovelhead

Pics by Stewie of Albury.

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