A HARDTAIL XL MOTORCYCLE…..
By Buck Lovell Photos by Buck Lovell
Struts count as a rigid frame, at least as far as I'm concerned. Absolutely the quickest and least expensive way to lower your swing-arm motorcycle is to use struts to replace the shock/suspension units. This also immobilizes the swing-arm allowing the fender to be mounted very close to the tire with clearance problems caused by suspension equipment. The tire and fender always stay the same distance apart. The closer the tire is to the fender, the better the profile. In the way past days of yesteryear this was common practice among back-yard, shade-tree chopper builders. It is also the cheapest, least complicated way to get to rigid frame status, and you could conceivably be able to reinstall the suspension/shocks if and when your ass breaks along the fault line (everybody already has a crack).
American roads are some of the best maintained and smoothest in the country, but ya gotta have a robust spinal column to spend any real time in the saddle of a rigid. Ya just can't trust the road maintenance guys to keep the almost-invisible pot-holes filled-in. Riding rigid also requires you to keep your eyes peeled. When I first started riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles, the cheapest available frames were unwanted second hand rigids that had been superceded with "modern" swing-arm frames. I guess the grass is always greener on the other side.
The bike you see here has been over the high-side since these photos were taken. It seems Perry loaned the bike to a friend who was celebrating a birthday, and he managed to crash-land it without getting killed, although I imagine Perry was thinking about killing someone or something when he got the bad news. Perry's the kind of hard-core gotta go riding motorcycle rider that will have the bike up and running, and looking like new in as little time as possible, finances permitting.
Sportsters seem more often than not to get a bad rap from a lot of Big-Twin riders who should know better. Even extensively modified custom XLs like the one seen here. If you don't like Sportsters, look the other way fool! Perry's Silver 1970 900cc XLCH has more class than a truck load of Softails, (or should we say trailer load?) with a silhouette that says 1968. There's gotta be a butt-load of Ironhead Sportsters laying around out there waiting to be brought back from the dead. I saw a banged-up basket case the other day sitting on a furniture dolly in a guy's garage, and it looked like someone was trying to revive it but hadn't sober long enough to figure out which end was the front. Perry's Sportster was finished in just over twelve long months, with expert fabrication duties by Heavy Cycle Custom of San Juan Capistrano, California. Assembly was performed by Perry and Mike Maldonado. The slick silver paint and body work was done by Heavy Cycle Custom. The dual tail-lights are molded into the rear fender almost Cadillac style, as a matter of fact, 59' Caddy tail lights would look awesome!
There is a lot of little details and modifications that are worth mentioning that may not be readily apparent to a casual observer. Like the fact that the throttle cable, and clutch cable are routed/hidden inside the handlebars. No really big deal, but something you don't see everyday. Let's see ya do dat to a late model Evo or Twin-Cam 88. You couldn't possibly hide all the control cables and wires inside the handlebars, much less the switch boxes and modules.
The older the bike, the easier it is to chop, at least from a legal standpoint. In California, pre-1970 motorcycles aren't required to have turn signals.Front brakes aren't required on motorcycles built prior to 1965. So if ya own an old ironhead Sportster, don't even consider junking it until you've had a good look at this motorcycle. It started as a basket case. Choppers are coming back!