Harley-Davidson Knucklehead Board-Track Racer

They didn’t have Knucklehead motors in 1919 so I guess this board-tracker isn’t period correct—but, nonetheless, it certainly is original…

IT’S A bit different, this bike. It’s a copy of a 1919 board-track racer… well, that’s the theme. It’s not really copied off anything. The big wheels are what gives it the board-tracker look. I don’t know where I got the idea from. I’d seen a couple like this when I was in the States and I thought maybe one day I’d build one, then, probably 20 months ago, I was talking to a mate, Mike at Malibu Custom Cycles in the States, and he said he had a frame over there and sent it across.

The rest of the bike is stuff I’ve put together myself. It’s a S&S engine with Knuckle look-alike rocker boxes and an old Joe Hunt magneto, kick-starter, mechanical brake on the back, the top two zeros on the front race number are high and low beam, and the kill-switch on the handlebars. It’s different, all the little bits and pieces even down to the old earth strap on the battery.

I had a book with pictures of the original board-tracker bikes which I took to Auto Paint Suppliers in Fyshwick. They’ve got a digital reader they put on the colour in the book, and it gives them pretty much what paint I need to mix to get the right colour. It was a bit pale when we got it so we put a little red in and it ended up that green. It’s not olive, it’s not army, it’s a different colour.

The pin-strips were applied by Tony Marks who lives on a farm the other side of Goulburn. It’s all done free-hand; the guy is a master with a paint brush. One day he had a bit of a hangover, he was shaping like a leaf, but as soon as he picked up the brush and put some paint on it, he was as steady as a rock. it’s unbelievable to watch him.

The Board-Track Racer rides great because it’s got the same size wheels front and back, and they’re huge diameter things. It glides around the corners. It handles better than anything I’ve ridden or anything I’ve ever owned.

The wheels, frame and guard we got from the States; the rest of it we’ve made, like the mid-mount controls, handlebars, internal throttle, all that kind of stuff. We made the exhaust system; all the little bits and pieces. You can’t buy any of it so you’re not going to see anything like it.

The outfit the model Jenna is wearing is from the correct era and she does it all justice; it looks great on her.

The jacket is the canvas-type jacket they used to wear in those days, like if they fell off on the board-tracks they’s skid along and the canvas would stop them getting burnt.

The helmet is an original, old, World War One, leather pilot helmet which I’ve had for I don’t know how many years.

The little round goggles are what they used to wear when they raced these bikes.

I don’t have much time for myself— I get up at 6 am, have something to eat and feed the dog, and water me plants, then go to work and get home at 10 pm— but some days you wake up, go to work and just fiddle with one of your project bikes. This won’t be the last bike I’ll build but I think I might slow down a bit and just enjoy the bikes I’ve built.

photos by Julius Goboly; words by Peter Pulford

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