At the beginning of the year, we told you we had some badass shit planned for 2017. Today, I’m pleased to unveil the shovelhead project.
WTF Am I Talking About?
I’m talking about getting greasy AF and attempting to build a motorcycle. Before you go and start thinking I’m cool as shit, let me go ahead and let you in on a lil secret — I have no clue what I’m doing.
The good news? That means you can work along with me. If you’re interested in building a bike or learning more about bikes, keep up with this site, ya dig? We’ll be posting photos and videos of the entire journey. AND I MEAN THE ENTIRE JOURNEY. You’ll see success, failure, blood, sweat and tears — if you’re lucky, maybe even me riding dis thing down the stairs. So let’s get started, shall we?
The First Steps
I love the look of Harley choppers, but admittedly didn’t know how to identify a pan from a knuckle or a shovel until the difference was thoroughly explained to me. When I first started riding, I had the notion that I wanted a chopper, but I never thought I’d be the one assembling one. After some encouragement from third parties, I came to the conclusion of WHY NOT? Other dumbasses build bikes all the time, so why not me? After I made that decision, I slowly got moving. Below is a general outline of the steps I followed to get me where I am today.
- Figure out what you want your bike to be when it grows up. No, you don’t need the whole concept defined, but there are a few key elements to consider. For example, swingarm or hardtail?
- Dust off your ol’ IG account and follow accounts posting parts like @chopperswapper, @shovelheadparts and @chopperpartsforyou. This will get you started in the parts department. I highly highly recommend that you follow these accounts as an observer at first. It’s important that you understand what pieces typically cost. This is your first step in understanding a good deal from a shitty one. Bonus: Follow @instakook_price_cop_nazi just for fun cuz some of these “custom choppers” are ridic. Once you have a good idea of how parts should be priced, start shoppin’ mama! Don’t forget to look up and attend area swap meets to see what kinds of deals you can score IRL.
- Prep your space. This is one thing I didn’t fully think through when I decided to buy an engine. I wanted my friends to help, but I didn’t really have a space to build. This lead to a lot of miscommunication and hassle in the beginning of this project, so be sure to give this part some brain juice. If you don’t have a garage or somewhere reliable where you can work on your own time for a minimal cost, build that shit in your house. Currently, my shovel lives in my living room. Kimmie and I took a little trip to Home Depot and bought a piece of plywood. I went with a 2′ by 4′ foot piece, but would definitely recommend 3′ by 5′ if you have space for it. After that, I snagged some Gorilla Glue and two pieces of some fake ass diamond sheet from Amazon (dumb lady brain couldn’t find the real shit). The goal of buying diamond sheet was to make cleanup easier. Real diamond sheet can be kinda pricey, but I promise it’s worth it. Next, I sold my coffee table and set up shop in my living room.
- Purchase your base. I started this project with the engine and bought a frame after, but you can really do this either way. However, I recommend buying one or the other (or both together). I wanted to build a shovel, but depending on the frame you purchase, your engine options may be slightly limited (and vice versa). Save yourself the headache and start with one of these two pieces.
- Get a few supplies. Check back for more on this one. We’ll be posting a video soon regarding tool selection and the basics of what you’ll need.
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