Harley-Davidson Powerhouse Panhead Chopper

This ride is not for the faint-hearted. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s just an old Panhead. Nope! When it comes to grunt, this bike has bigger balls than the chrome ones in Rundle Mall!

THERE IS a lot of history in this ride, stuff that makes its owner wear a badge of honour… and very proud to own! Over time it’s been a sand dragger and also seen plenty of bitumen at the drag strip. Here’s a question… “How many road registered bikes do you know have been in a world drag-racing championship?” Well many years ago this one was! 

It used to run 11-seconds through the traps @ 124 mph on the quarter-mile drag -strip. And just for some extra riding points… it’s foot-clutch and jockey-shift operated! That’ll give you an idea as to what this traditional styled chopper is capable of doing; be that on the strip or street! 

Freddy is the owner; he’s had it in his possession for some time now. He’s been around the traps for years. He’s a straight-up type without being arrogant and very content to throw the leg over and trundle around or go for a hard slog regardless of the roads and conditions… a real rider.

This hard-edged performance, old-school ride was put together over a period of time which Freddy eventually got on the road without too much stress attached… Yeah right! Any bike rebirth is never a stress-free situation. Regardless, when he purchased it, Freddy planned on getting it to a new level of performance with respect to its history not being forgotten. 

Freddy likes his rides hard and fast and expects his rides to be able to perform at peak performance without any excuses; this is no exception to that policy. He’s not a fan of the fancy street custom stuff but respects each to their own. He’s more of the go-with-a-little-bit-of-show; no saturation of bling or boutique eye candy! 

The engine was taken to H-D Development where Steve pulled it down and gave it a new life. It’s got 1958-62 genre heads that are as far away from stock as possible. Andrews hydraulic cams were married up to the Panhead barrels having a 4 1/2 inch stroke and 3 3/8 inch bore. Slotted in are the S&S slugs and crank. Cases are by House of Horsepower; valves and springs are by Black Diamond. Juice extractor is more from S&S in the shape of the E-series Shorty carby fitted with chrome tear-drop air-cleaner. Spark duties are fulfilled by the Mallory electronic distributor. 

The nitrous bottle is simply throttle-in-a-bottle. A good addition in getting there quicker when called upon. “It gets used on a regular basis,” says Freddy. “Keeps the Jappas honest!”

And emitting the spent gasses into the atmosphere is via the custom drag pipes. 

It all adds up to a 93 cube output which is an impressive figure for a Panhead powerplant.

The frame is a rigid H-D straight leg. 

The cog-cruncher is an H-D, four-speed, ratchet-lid fitted with a Pro clutch operational via a jockey shift; and it’s a kicker. 

Knowing the potential to bite back, Freddy is well aware of this engine’s demand of respect. He told me, “There’s a fine art to getting this bike ready to rumble and ride.” If the position of the lever ain’t at 9—10 (o’clock) then he could see himself becoming a human dart ending up in his roller door… head first!

An early H-D-type, open-belt primary-drive adds to the transferring raw power and presentation of this rigid chopper. Final drive is chain and sprocket. 

Rear rim is a Genuine 16 inch Centerline—now they’re hard to find—and it suits this bike to a T; and shod with Bridgestone 150/80 rubber. 

Above that is the modified H-D duck-tail guard fitted with a cats-eye tail-light. 

The Wide Glide front-end has several additions starting with the 6-inch risers that hold down the 70’s style, flat drag-bars. They’ve been accessorised with Avon knurled rubber grips and H-D levers. 

Headlight is a Bates. Nestled between the fork legs is a 21-inch, Akront, alloy, chrome-spokes-laced-rim shod with Metzeler rubber. 

Bringing this ride to a halt is where the twin disc brake set up earns its keep. The blackened calipers are PM four-spotters squeezing on the H-D discs; rear brake is the same caliper breed only single disc format. 

The old-school diamond-stitched seat is not much but it works for the owner.

The H-D, King Sporty fuel tank comes into its own while the oil tank is an H-D horse-shoe job; forward controls are also H-D. 

The final exercise was the paint. Freddy went to Mat Egan and he laid down some House of Kolor candy hell-fire-red flames over a high gloss black base. 

This really is a genuine, ballsy, traditional chopper from yesteryear with a shit load of mumbo on tap. It’s a genuine white-knuckle ride. And when Freddy rides it, it leaves him with a satisfying smile bigger than the one at the Luna Park entrance!

Words and photos by Knackers.

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