Funky Panhead Part 5: New front wheel and disc brake

Okay, so the classic 19-inch spoked wheel rolled in from Black Bike Wheels, in Van Nuys. They have grown to build spoked wheels for every make and model in virtually every size. Too cool. If you need a spoked wheel give them a call and speak to Elliot or Eric. Tell them Bikernet sent you.

The wheel, with a tough used and stained aluminum racing rim, unpolished stainless-steel spokes and a blacked cast aluminum Black Bike hub painted and scratched by me looked perfect. It was shipped, carefully packaged with the machined center spacer, Timken bearings and new seals wrapped securely and separately.

At first, I thought I would haul it to the local bike tire repair shop on Western, in Harbor City. It’s a cool little gas station turned motorcycle tire repair shop. It’s a classic and they will replace and balance any motorcycle wheel on the planet. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like fighting traffic and I had a couple of other things going.

I crawled up onto our clean room, where I stash wheels and tires and dug around for 19-inch tires. I had two. One was a classic Avon Speed Master 3.00. The other was another Avon Tyre 100/90/19, a Venom. The rim was tough to measure the width, but it seemed to be 3 inches wide or slightly less.

Frankie was headed over, so I asked him to hit Cycle Gear for an innertube. As it turned out they had more than one size, so I went for the 3-inch job. I hadn’t mounted a tire in years but decided to go for it. I had several tire spoons and soapy water. The tube was called double tough and it was.

I took a large glass jar and pumped some dish detergent into it and water. I used the skull-faced pan brush to scrub the inside of the rim. I backed up the cleaning effort with a scotch-brite sponge. The used rim contained rubber residue, which needed to be removed. I scrubbed for awhile.

I slipped a couple of 2 by 6 boards under the rim, so as not to ding the hub or rim. I checked the rotation of the tire and the position of the rotor and popped the heavy bead of the tire over the edge of the rim. This was the easy part. Then I carefully worked the tube into the tire and against the wall already positioned over the rim.

The ultra-thick tube made the job tough, as if there wasn’t the space, I needed to feel the tube within the tire. I did my best to push the rim against the inside of the opposing wall of the tire.

The stem was interesting, and I made a special hook to help guide it through the rim stem hole. Also, a tricky maneuver.

I slathered the tire and the rim bead with soapy water and started to work the bead over the edge of the heavy rim with tire spoons. I had four. I tried to use the smoothest one and be careful not to pinch the tube.

Nervous but determined, it was a fight, but the tire bead finally popped over the edge of the rim. I added some air to the tube, but not a lot. I soaped the rim some more and bounced the tire around the shop and then added more air. It worked, amazing.

I put about 50 pounds of air pressure in the wheel and the Avon Tyre didn’t have a problem seating in its rim position.

Next, I greased the bearings and installed them on one side of the wheel and used a large socket and a rubber hammer to install the seal. The socket just barely fit into the hub, so it grabbed the OD of the seal and didn’t damage the seal mechanism. I tapped it into place and turned the wheel over.

I installed the carefully machined, by the Black Bike team, center spacer and the other heavily greased Timken bearing and seal. Then I turned the Black Bike Wheel over again and installed the rotor with the speedo drive spacer. I used 5/16 allens ¾ inch long. Ultimately, they were going to hit the caliper bracket, so I replaced them with domed stainless Allens and thin lock washers for more clearance. Damn, I still need to tighten them with blue Loctite.

Then I started to mess with the group of Paughco spacers I had. I put together the right grouping for the brake side on the right. This put both disc brakes on the same side of the bike. I liked that and that’s what Steve, from Paughco recommended.

With the caliper bracket race greased and in place on a special Paughco wheel spacer, I carefully measured for the tire to be centered in the frontend. This was a trick to determine the center of the tire and then the center of the front end and determine how much I needed to be machine off the spacer.

As it turned out it was about ¼ of an inch off caliper bracket spacer. I machined the spacer and tapered the spacer on the other side to allow it to fit properly in the seal. I put it together and dug around the shop for enough parts to make a brake system work. I found a front brake caliper for a Softail springer and Paughco sent me a right-side bracket, which I dunked in bleach to give it that patina look.

I sorta figured out how all the pieces fit together, and I had an 11.5-inch rotor. I also had a stock master-cylinder, which almost matched the stock (another year) clutch cable perch on the other side. Then I needed a brake line the right length and with Banjo fittings on each end. Amazing, I had one that reached with some slight modifications.

In this case, I just filled the reservoir with DOT 5 and started to pump slowly and watch for bubbles. Before I knew it, the damn thing was bled and we’re ready for a test ride. Hang on!


Funky Panhead Sources:


Biker’s Choice


JIMS Machine



Accurate Engineering

Bennett’s Performance


Departure Bike Works

Spectro Oils


Chopper Dave

Black Bike Wheels

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