How do you convert a 1979 Harley Sportster into an antique
style flat track road bike? That was the very question that we
pondered in late November of 2010. Ted Hector is the owner
and operator of Thunder Road Motorcycles in Winnipeg,
Manitoba and has loads of experience building custom
British and American motorcycles. As for me, Gary Macdonald,
I have built numerous flathead Harleys from the ground up,
including a 1933 VL that was a daily rider. Ted and I had just bought an Ironhead Sportster with the idea of creating a faux
antique bike. We didn’t want to build yet another boardtrack
racer (without fenders, lights or even a proper seat). We
wanted a fully functional street bike that was competent
and safe in both city and highway traffic. The bike would be
allowed to have disc brakes, electric start and modern
controls. But the overall look and feel of the bike would be
more reminiscent of 1919 than 1979.
This bike started on a whim: by gazing at a rear wheel and a gas tank. Richard of Moto Station Inc. decided to design and build a custom, a chopper with a “Pro Street” look.
“We made the rear fender ourselves as it isn’t easy to find a fender for a 230 mm tire. Reversing the handlebars and adding a smaller headlight gave the bike
a Pro Street look, said Richard. Richard
is a huge performance fan and for that reason the Pro Street look was enhanced by a super 120 cubic inch Jims engine. The motor balancing and head work were entrusted to none other than
Patrice Juteau of J. Precision, a true
specialist in this domain. The power is fed by a 48 mm Mikuni carburetor. In all it’s just a really “clean” bike with heart
(a lot of heart) boosted
There isn’t just rich history and good wine in Italy. A few fine custom motorcycle builders are also present. During
my visit to this beautiful country, I stopped in to visit the Garage 65 custom motorcycle shop. I had seen their
creations on a few occasions during the AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building in Sturgis and they impressed me greatly. The motorcycle shop is
located in the town of Viareggio, a few kilometers from Pisa. It’s a very beautiful mountainside resort area in
Tuscany where Italians go to relax and have fun during the weekends or vacation time, and it’s also a remarkable area for wine lovers. Before I left, our very helpful “Italian” colleague and good friend Sam Pileggi contacted the Garage 65 people to let them know I was on my way. Yes you guessed it, my knowledge of the
Italian language isn’t really up to par!
This bike came to fruition from a simple e-mail inquiring about a couple of bikes that we’ve previously built. However I guess this was the one-in-a-million e-mail, well just a couple back and forth e-mails and one phone call later, for this “John” guy from half way across the country wired a healthy deposit to our bank account. It turned out John was dead serious. He had sold his Street Glide, done his homework and was willing to put his trust in a couple rednecks that were 1500 miles away. Cool!
John had a good overall plan in mind and within a few days we had the complete parts list hammered out with only a little
persuasion on our part to make sure we were going to be as happy with the end result as he was. In our opinion that’s the hardest part of any order: we know what we like and it’s hard to detach ourselves from that.