Acid Drop Shovelhead

Like, wow man, here’s a bike that would have made Captain America and Billy the Kid look twice!

BACK IN the swinging 1960’s and psychedelic 1970’s things were very different to the ways bikes were being customised. Aftermarket custom parts and accessories were a rare commodity and names like Arlen Ness and Paughco were just starting to scratch the surface. The average bloke with a Harley-Davidson had to modify the factory fitted parts or fabricate better ones to suit his needs if he wanted a stand-out styled chopper. Accidents were also a common cause for custom styling and personalisation. A bent bike was usually bolted back together using various parts from other models that had been scavenged from mates or at swap meets, just to keep the bike in some sort of road-going incarnation. This bike is a lasting reminder of how things used to be done.

Which leads me to the story of Joseph’s Acid Drop Shovelhead. I bumped into a couple of mates — Paul ‘Tav’ Taverner and his son Joseph — a while back. Tav’s record-breaking, flat-black, Shovel drag-bike sat out the front of the shop in all its brutal beauty, next to another very tidy looking Shovel. It turned out to be a recent build that Joseph had just assembled and it was just screaming for a photo shoot by Ozbike. Joseph had a hankering to build a bike for himself, to showcase what Taverners Motorcycles was capable of in-house, and this was the finished product. 

A 1958 drop-saddle frame serves as the foundation of this cool looking chopper. A 1200 cc Shovelhead engine supplies the power with the help of some flowed heads and a ‘B’ grind cam.

A 1969, four-speed, ratchet-top gearbox with Andrews close-ratio gears is connected to the motor via a three-inch, open belt primary and delivers the ponies to the ’91 Fat Boy rear wheel via a chain drive.

Up front, a ’91 Fat Boy front-end with shaved legs and custom brake stop handle the steering duties and is topped off with 7/8-inch handlebars and British levers.

Front brakes are supplied by a Triumph hub which is laced onto the 21-inch alloy rim while a modified Shovel set-up handles the rear stopping power.

Other one-off parts include the custom oil tank, chain guard, top engine mount, speedo, ignition switch mount, and the sweet-sounding custom exhaust.

The Acid Drop also runs a custom wiring harness with the regulator hidden under the gearbox and the idiot lights tucked away behind the headlight nacelle.

The custom seat pan was upholstered by Lee Brothers.

That groovy looking Sporty fuel tank was painted by Brett’s Kustom Paint; and the other tinware consists of a modified front guard from a FLH that now resides on the rear. Very basic… but very effective!

All alloy polishing was performed in-house at Taverner Motorcycles. 

This bike and other one-off, high quality American and British motorcycles are available for purchase from Taverner motorcycles. These guys have been in the business for many years now and when it comes to building bikes like the one you see on these pages, well, to put it bluntly, they really know their shit!

Joseph would like to thank the following people: A massive thanks to my dad, Paul ‘TAV’ Taverner, for years of passed-on knowledge and guidance; Brett’s Kustom Paint (0429-367-569); Lee Brothers Upholstery (07-3262-2025); and Northside Powdercoaters (07-3353-1916).

Words & pics by Chuck U Farley

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