"Lately we've been hankering after a superbike. And we're not talking about the current crop of super-clean, electronically assisted appliances that stalk the streets and track-days of the English summertime. No. We're talking about a 1980s behemoth. One of those "
Jay Shepherd – Custom Bike Build
Custom-bike builds are well and truly on the up again.
The days of working on your own bike (or car) have been pretty scarce in more recent years, but custom-builds are gradually becoming more and more popular. Jay Shepherd tells us his story.
As a self-employed builder, Jay’s bike obsession and knowledge is purely hobby-based. “Cars and bikes have always been my passion, since way before I could ever ride or drive. I’ve had a few sports bikes in the past, but really got into the older Harleys after riding my dad’s a few times,” Jay told us.
The St. Albans-based builder stresses that older stuff is the way forward, saying they’re from a much simpler time and are much easier to work on than newer bikes, purely because of all the additional technology and features usually included on them. “I don’t need to mess about with a laptop, for example, if I want to set something up,” he said.
So, let’s elaborate on this stunning two-wheeler that you see sprawled across this page. The build is based on a 1972 Harley Davidson shovelhead with four-speed gear box. “I got the bike from Andy and Paul at Pacoima cycles about three years ago and it’s safe to say it was nothing like the bike it is now. Same motor, gear box and frame, but besides that it’s had a full rework about three times now,” Jay told us.
Besides that 1340cc petrol motor and the gearbox, there’s nothing else on this bike that has been left stock. Built around a reproduction of a 1950 hard tail frame, it features an 18-inch rear-wheel with drum brake and has a one-inch BDL open primary with foot clutch and hand shift, which has been built based on the idea of a skinny LA chopper.
In terms of aesthetic design, Jay says it only having a tank and rear fender makes it super easy for any quick changes. He’s had a few tanks painted throughout the bike’s life, and he’s always changing it up – well, if it’s that easy, why not, we say. Jay entrusts all of his tank-work to painters Chris, Lee and James from FTH. The front bars were done by www.mavenindustries.co.uk and everything else was pretty much done by Jay himself, with a little help from his dad and local parts shop Beans Paint and Parts.
Having a custom-build results in a massive sense of achievement. Not only is it completely bespoke to Jay’s requirements, he’s learned everything there is to know about his bike. He’s chopped the front springs himself to stiffen the front and the overall ride slightly. There’s no rear springs due to it being a hard-tail frame. Talking of the rear, Jay is running a brake called a juice, which is a hydraulic drum Harley used back in the late 50s to the 70s, laced into an 18-inch rim – all finished in black paint. The front features a stock front hub painted black, with 21-inch rim.
The solo seat is made from fibreglass, complete with mid-jockey foot-peg set-up. Modifications to its running gear include an internal throttle, with S&S super E-carb, BDL one-inch open primary and dry clutch, and foot clutch with suicide shift. The frame itself has been polished, but hasn’t been painted to keep a rustic charm. To the front, is a yellow glass three-inch head light. It also features one-off slash-cut pipes.
This bike is forever changing back and forth, which keeps Jay busy, while keeping things interesting. “As like everything in the custom-game, nothing’s ever finished. It stands out in a crowd and I love knowing it’s one of a kind,” he says, laughing. “I also love knowing most of the parts on my bike were made by me, and not from a shop,” he added. Jay told us he has a couple of other old bikes, such as a stock 1951 Pan, which he says would be wrong to ‘chop’, so he may end up getting something else in the future to play with, but, for now, he’s happy chopping and changing the Harley.
PHOTO CREDIT – MigPinPhotomedia and FTH
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