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WAYYY back (about one year ago) when this website was first born, I started talking about this shovelhead build. Since the initial post or two, it’s been pretty much silent. For the better part of 2017, I’ve been trying to figure out how to make this project fly. I FINALLY have some answer, updates, and info on this and I’m freaking PUMPED to close out 2017 with one last post about Harley Davidson and of course, about a shovelhead.

Why a Shovelhead

When I first started really looking at older Harley Davidson motorcycles (you know REALLY looking), I had no idea how to differentiate between a shovel and a pan. JUST when I thought I had the whole thing down, I discovered an engine could be a shovel and a pan.


I’m no expert here, but I will say I’ve come a long way. But when I started paying attention to bikes and styles, I was immediately drawn to the shovelhead. As I’ve shouted from the rooftops many times before, I’m from Wisconsin. There’s something about a shovelhead that reminds me of the city of Milwaukee. It’s gritty, dirty, a lot of people think it’s nothing special, but those who understand know it’s downright badass. There’s something to be admired about a pan or a knuckle, but I’ve always been drawn to the shovel.

When I decided to take on a bike build, a shovel seemed like the perfect option — a little older, so a bit less complicated than newer bikes.

Shovelhead Updates

Well, as many could have guessed, it’s not as simple as “hey, here are some parts and they just work together.” There’s a lot of elements that go into a motorcycle build.


The first mistake I made was probably listening way too much to everyone else. I took a lot of advice on what to buy and when to buy it when I should have spent a little more time researching and planning.

After buying the frame, I knew I had a few issues. The first being time. Building a motorcycle from the ground up is incredibly time-consuming. Finding the time to set aside and work on the bike was going to be a challenge. My next struggle was money. When you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, or exactly if something will work, buying parts becomes a costly hobby. My final big problem was knowledge. This would be the first bike I’d ever built and that could mean so many things, but a concern for me was missing something, doing something wrong, or straight up forgetting something.

Making a New Shovelhead Plan

For a while there, I felt really defeated, really stupid, really wanting to sell all the parts I’d accumulated. I sat back and made a new plan. I sold the frame I bought and stared at that damn engine for a few more months. I decided instead of getting rid of it completely, it was time to take a new approach. Instead of building from the ground up, I started looking for a roller. With a roller, I could throw the engine in and get going. Rather than sourcing all new parts, I could replace parts as I went AND have a running bike sooner.  

Welcome to Chapter 2

It’s with extreme happiness that I type “WELCOME TO CHAPTER FREAKING 2!”

After numerous months of looking and collecting pennies, I found this roller in Riverside, CA. This BAM is not up and running and not quite complete, but ain’t it progress?!?

Next up, I’ll be looking for a few key parts and hopefully get this lil guy operational.


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