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Harley-Davidson Top Chop Is a Panhead Ode to Copper, Brass and Nickel

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by Daniel Patrascu from

Nowhere in the transportation industry is metal held in such high regard as in motorcycle manufacturing. When it comes to cars we tend to cover metal in all kinds of colors and paints, as if to hide it, but motorcycles, at least from time to time, proudly display their metal parts with no shame.

Sure, there are custom bikes that get painted extensively to cover most of their bodies, but the engine, for instance, almost always remains exposed in its metallic form. And their a sight to behold, because what are motorcycles if not an ode to carefully shaped metal?

The build in the gallery above takes pride in the materials it is made from. Sure, paint was used on it, but we’re not talking about colors that remind us of trees or the clear blue sky, but ones that scream metal: copper, brass, nickel, and of course chrome here and there.

Initially a 1957 Harley-Davidson EL, the bike was modified at the hands of German custom garage Thunderbike and turned into something they call Top Chop. The idea was to have a motorcycle tribute to the “glittering choppers of the 70s,” and for the most part the Germans succeeded.

Just like when it comes to the rest of the shop’s builds, this motorcycle here is packed with custom made parts (that are also available for purchase), ranging from the handlebar to the fuel tank – it is the tank that gives the name of the motorcycle.

At the core of the Top Chop’s frame sits a Panhead engine with Shovelhead looks, and gifted with a Magneto ignition and a Mikuni carburetor. We are not being told anything about the bike’s performances.

The Top Chop is of course a one-off build (an older one made by Thunderbike) meant to advertise both the engineering prowess of the Germans, and the parts they have in their shop for Harley owners.

Big Dog K9 Is the Chopper-Style Cruiser Motorcycle Most Can Afford

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by Daniel Patrascu from

Generally speaking, custom bikes are not cheap. For one, there’s the wealth of parts that go into making one, then the hours of labor spent, and God what else. All that add up and reflects in the asking price for such a build.

Of course, most shops make custom bikes on demand, but even if they make one out of the blue, there’s still that only one. No series production means no standardized parts or assembly processes, and that means more money too.

Wichita, Kansas-based Big Dog Motorcycles is one of those few businesses that make series-production custom bikes. That means their products, although they have the look and feel of something unique, are priced to be more affordable than a one-off because there are more of them.

There are 4 bike models in Big Dog’s portfolio, and as part of our Two-Wheeler Month coverage we’ll talk a bit about each one of them over the next few days. And we’ll kick off with the K9, a “chopper-style cruiser with a strong silhouette, bold, cutting-edge style, and a killer sound.”

Built on a custom frame, it packs a 124ci (2.0-liter) S&S Super Sidewinder V-Twin engine tied to a 6-speed transmission. The frame rides on a swing-arm suspension and hidden adjustable rear shocks, and makes the connection to the ground via Avon tires.

Starting from $34,995 (the K9 is in the upper half of the Big Dog lineup price-wise), the engine is offered either carbureted or with fuel injection (add an extra grand for that), a price that is rather affordable, considering this is after all a custom motorcycle. Don’t expect that to be the final price, though.

There are 12 body colors to choose from, three types of wheels, two finishes for the engine (polished or black), and several graphics. Each, of course, could add more dollars to the final price.

Big Dog plans to make 50 of these, but we are not told how many of them have been sold.

Long Fork Harley-Davidson Chopper Has Fully Exposed Shovelhead Engine

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by Daniel Patrascu from

Because of the global health crisis, the world is missing out on all those extraordinary events it came to take for granted over the past decades. Since there is no end in sight to the scourge, we’ll probably not be back together at auto or moto shows until the end of 2020.

As chance would have it, the crisis came at a time when luckily we have alternatives. The Internet proved to be humanity’s best friend in these times, and has also become the place to go for concerts, movies, and more recently motorcycle shows.

Harley-Davidson, the supplier of so many motorcycles for custom builds that they’re impossible to count, is currently holding an online motorcycle show as a replacement for all those canceled live events.

Called The No Show, the event displays for a week, ending on June 21, the work of 60 American custom bike builders that were supposed to be featured in the flesh across America. As part of our Two-Wheeler Month coverage, we’ve already talked about a bunch of such builds.

None so far seems to be as extreme as the one here. Built for a 2019 custom show by a guy named Hawke Lawshe from Montana-based Vintage Technologies, the bike is a wonder to behold.

The first thing that catches the eye is the extremely long front fork that ends with a 17-inch wheel, the same size as the one in the back.

Then, the frame, custom-made by Lawshe from scratch, holding a 1981, fully exposed Shovelhead engine that has been stripped of the cooling and oiling components. The engine starts by means of an exposed kicker mechanism, is controlled by an EMF auto clutch, and breathes through an inverted fishtail exhaust.

Lawshe would have taken the bike to an auto show this year as well, but now he’s left with showing his masterpiece online (see the video below). We reckon his has a lot of chances at one of the three awards Harley will announce next week for the bikes in The No Show.


Weekly Dimebag Chopper Feature

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Dedicated to our friend Goodtime Charlie on

by Adam Croft

Adam Croft was kind enough to send us this very tough looking classic chopper built by Dan Starkey & Friends. Every custom aspect reminds us of open roads and the freedom to build something super cool for the summer ahead.



A Brother’s Decade-Long Seat Search

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From Los Angeles to Vegas and Back
By Gearhead with photos by Wrench

Story line started about ten years ago, during the bare bobber era. I was looking for a seat to go with an old school flat-tracker look. I had a pair of Flanders flat tracker bars, but it did not look right with the King/Queen seat. Remember, choppers were dead, done, caput.

I was looking around for that solo look, so when the wife didn’t want to ride with me, I had a solo way to go.


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A Hubless Harley-Davidson Chopper Is One Sure Way to Get Attention

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For most riders, a Harley-Davidson is beautiful on its own and, if you add the growl of the engine, there’s enough happening to get attention. But there are other ways you can stand out even more, should you be interested.

Hubless choppers are one such option. They are futuristic, almost alien-looking custom bikes built by hand around a Harley-Davidson frame, with wild-looking paintwork and at least one spoke-less wheel. Invented by Franco Sbarro and most famously used on the 1989 Sbarro Osmos, the center-less wheel is difficult to make, difficult to maintain and has many practical disadvantages.

But it’s bound to get you noticed.

Perhaps the first, most famous chopper to get international media attention is the Hubless Custom by New Jersey-based Howard’s Killer Custom, which was unveiled in late 2007 and is believed to have cost no less than $155,000. It is usually included on lists of most expensive motorcycles in the world.

It partially started out as a classic 1969 FL Harley-Davidson, which, in the hands of Howard Sofield, became the most famous hubless chopper in the world. Weighing about 700 pounds and able to reach speeds of 100 mph, the Hubless Custom took 4,000 hours to make and two full years of research and design.

According to Sofield, the Hubless Custom started out with a 1974 swing arm frame and a 21-inch front wheel, the 1969 Harley-Davidson Pan Shovel 80ci engine, 1969 & 1974 Harley-Davidson engine cases, and 1982 Harley-Davidson cylinders. The goal was to make the hubless wheel more practical and to create a fully functional bike in-house.

“Using my experience in drafting and automotive industries I was able to come up with a different way to make the hubless wheel work in a more practical way,” Sofield said upon the bike’s introduction. “Combining that with my Father’s extensive machining and fabrication skills, we are able to create our bike entirely in-house and do things that most every other builder would have to outsource. Over 4,000 hours of design and build time went into this project and we could not be happier with how it turned out. It looks and functions perfectly.”

The downside to this hubless chopper: it is difficult to handle.

Some years, later, in 2014, Ballistic Cycles unveiled their own take on the hubless chopper, this time with a spoke-less front wheel and a rear so low it almost grazed the ground. Called the Hubless Harley-Davidson Road King, it won several prizes right after introduction, including Baddest Bagger at Full Throttle Saloon, Deadwoods Nastiest Bagger and Best in Show at the Easy Rider Saloon.

Ballistic Cycles never went public with how much one such Bagger cost.

But the Road King is a stunner, as you can see in the gallery attached. Ballistic Cycles boasts of being the first custom team to put a 30-inch front wheel on a bike – and a spoke-less one, at it! Add the all-aluminum body with the wickedest paintwork and a twin turbo Harley-Davidson air / liquid-cooled engine, and you get yourself one visually arresting machine.

“Cutting necks and adding a few glass parts is one thing, but truly building a ground-breaking motorcycle takes a bit more time, effort, and a planning,” the official website reads. “The entire front end is completely one off and each and every part is custom for this feature. The hubless wheel is machined from a solid piece of billet, and the brake system is integrated into the wheel. The custom air cylinder is designed specifically for the load endured by the wheel and motorcycle. The mechanics behind the hubless wheel features all the latest technology and completely pushes the boundaries of what is possible.”

The good news: Road King was the first of a long line of similar projects, and Ballistic Cycles is still making and selling hubless Baggers. Any rider with deep enough pockets can get a chopper that will make them get all the attention on the road – and then some.

2007 Harley-Davidson Custom Bike Is a Throwback to the Bobbers of Old

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by Daniel Patrascu from

There are few things the name Harley-Davidson cannot be associated with in the world of motorcycles. From road-going bikes to custom builds, the name is present all across the board in the industry, and it has been so for a great number of years now.

There’s good reason for that, as there are few types of motorcycles today that don’t have a trace of Harley in them. Back in the 1920s, for instance, J-series Harleys gave birth to what today are known as bobbers. Seen by most as the less bling cousins of the choppers that have flooded the streets in times closer to our own, bobbers have been seen across the ages as signature builds of shops around the world.

Because there are so many Harley-based bobbers out there, it’s nearly impossible to say which is the best. Yet from time to time one really stands out, and it is worth a closer look.

Waiting on the list of vehicles that will sell at the end of the month at an auction in Salt Lake City is exactly such a build, simply titled 2007 Harley-Davidson bobber.

Built in the same city where the auction is set to take place, the motorcycle was designed in such a way as to bring back memories of the bobbers build back in the 1960s and 1970s: there is no front fender, the rear one is significantly shorter, and there are literally no other body part elements standing in the way of the exposed V-twin or the black frame.

Offsetting the metal look of the engine and exhaust and the blue tone of the limited bodywork is hand-crafted, brown leatherwork spread throughout.

The ones selling the bike say the entire build cost over $20,000 back when it was made, but there’s no estimate as to how much it is expected to fetch during the auction.

A book about Government controlling your life

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Fast-action fiction on two wheels! What does the future hold for rough and ready bikers? Discover how society eliminates motorcycles. Hold on as Sam “Chopper” Orwell fights to find freedom for the last remaining riders!


All 5-Ball Books will be signed by the Author and contain 5-Ball Bling—Amazing!

Chapter III Excerpt

The coffin hit the hard earth, split, and dumped Sam onto the ground. He gasped for air. The bright sun seared his clamped eyelids. He was covered with sweat and his body reeked from the confined, three-hour trek into the mountains.

Sam rolled over and pulled himself onto all fours, his lungs drawing in the hot air. Several men and a couple of women, their faces weathered from months in the desert, surrounded him. One raised a large, galvanized bucket and dumped several gallons of lukewarm water on Sam’s limp torso. His longtime friend and riding partner, Red, kneeled at his side and held him from trying to respond to the watery assault. – See more here in the Cantina – Subscribe Today.

About the Author

K.Randall Ball is an old biker and writer, who’s hung around with many of the greats in the custom motorcycle world. He’s written a handful of books, built a few motorcycles, set Bonneville records, and traveled around the world. He spends most of his time working in his Wilmington, California shop, writing for his web site,, and wondering why he’s so attracted to redheads.

Return of the Titan

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A Brother Brings the Giant Back to Life and Youth to His…

I had the wants for another custom bike but have turned into a cheap old fucker since getting SS at 62.

I’m still a chopper guy and decided a Big Dog or Texas Chopper was it. Limited funds had me loosing auctions on EBay. Up pops a ‘98 Titan with no reserve only 300 miles away.