I BOUGHT this 1979 FXEF Fat Bob Super Glide in fairly stock condition. It had some updated parts like the rear brake, ignition and foot controls. I definitely had ideas of what I wanted to do with it, and who I wanted to do the work. The end result needed to be a reliable bike I can jump on a few times a week.
I was riding a very smooth, comfy, super reliable Evo Road King for the previous 12 months. I loved that bike but owning a Shovelhead was an itch I really wanted to scratch so I started to look around at what was for sale. There is so much about the 1970’s Shovelheads I love, like the battery cover, oil tank, chain drive, etc.
I was looking Australia wide and even started looking into importing from the States, when this Super Glide turns up for sale in the next suburb from where I live.
Dave from DB Kustoms here on the Gold Coast looked over the bike so I had a list of things mechanically that needed attention. The Road King had to be sold, knowing full well I was selling a reliable bike to fund a notoriously unreliable style of bike.
So I buy the Shovel, and things literally start falling off. While riding it home, and when I pull over to see what exactly has fallen off, the bloody thing wouldn’t start again. Not the best start to a happy relationship but kick, kick, kick , kick , kick, kick, fucking kick, kick, kick, etc, and I finally get it home.
I am no mechanic so in it went back to Dave at DB Kustoms for a good freshen up. The top-end got new pistons and rings, new lifters and pushrods, valve guides, new clutch plates, chain, sprockets, and a few other things I can’t remember that needed a tidy up. In the end the engine was running strong. I wasn’t really concerned with increasing performance, but more with getting a reliable Shovel I can ride whenever I need.
I’d been busy buying up parts for it. Some old; some new. Some skinny Biltwell bars with 2013 Heritage risers, lower rear shocks, new two gallon tank, tyres, single seat, and whatever needed replacing like the coil cover, pegs, nuts and bolts. I would have liked to have found some original foot controls but that proved difficult.
With the engine sorted I dropped it off to Luke and Nathan at Livin Loco Garage (again on the Gold Coast). Luke does the fabrication; Nathan does the paint.
Luke got to work fitting the tank and making the speedo bracket off the side of the frame (from some dodgy sketches I gave him). The original plan was to use the stock rear fender and update it later when the budget allowed, but a visit to the shop to check on progress had Nathan pulling out old fenders from on top of his spray booth, and Luke cutting things up right there to create a mock-up in about five minutes. So the decision was made to go with the custom rear end from the start.
That same visit I went through the paint ideas with Nathan. I wasn’t really happy with what I had come up with so he helped me come up with what you see now. I walked out of there stoked and couldn’t wait to see it finished.
These boys do great work and I am so happy with the results. Nathan nailed the paint, and everything Luke did, from the very obvious cuts to the primary cover, to the subtle trimming down of the air cleaner cover, just works so well. The hero piece is definitely the stainless exhaust that Luke built — it finishes the bike of so well and provides a really nice note and a bit more horsepower.
Since it was finished I have been riding it a few times a week. The four-speed box took some getting used to with all the hills around here, but it is starting every time and running really strong.
It’s still rough to look at in parts, it’s no show bike or total custom, but I think it’s a good example of how a non-mechanic can get a decent looking Shovel running well for a good price. As it sits now it has cost me about twelve and a half grand.
I’ve never named a bike, but I did toy with ideas with this one. With its 70’s heritage and slight Japanese influence, I looked up the Japanese word for disco (thinking that would sound cool). But the Japanese word for disco is disco so that idea went out the window and it is just known as the Shovelhead.
Photos by Rod Cole; story by Stew