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  1. #1

    Default Help with possible shovelhead purchase

    I have an evo sportster I thought about chopping, but Iíve been mulling the possibility of getting a shovelhead. What are going rates for 70s bikes in decent shape. I found one locally thatís a 75 Fx for $3900 which seemed kind of cheap.

    What are the things to look for when I look at them? Mechanical ability is novice but I have the tools and at willing to learn

  2. #2

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    I love shovelheads, but you need to know going in that a forty year old motorcycle based in an eighty year old design will not be as reliable or user friendly as your evo XL (which are really good bikes).

    In my part of the South, shovels are still plentiful and prices are reasonable. Around $5K for a decent, presentable runner. Some people want as much for a rolling basket case, but good luck with that.

    KNOW THIS: You are spending a decent chunk of money for the opportunity to spend even more money, maybe more than the initial purchase price.

    I would look for a bike that is complete, and in service (current tag, good battery and tires, etc.) Any bike that is sitting unused usually has a reason for being out of service. That reason will usually require an expensive repair, that's why the bike is sitting.

    The motor should be (relatively) quiet and free of knocks and rattles. If it has drag pipes like so many do, you can hold rags at the ends of the pipes with it idling to quiet it, and listen to the motor. The motor should be free of bad oil leaks, but some seeping of oil will not be unusual. The clutch should disengage cleanly so it doesn't grind when engaging first, and the transmission should shift through all gears cleanly, both up and down. The brakes should operate normally, but may not be as good as what you are used to. The bike should go straight down the road and ideally hold a line with your hands off the bars, although most shovels I've had drift right or left, but not severely. On split tank models, look for tan stains on the rocker boxes, indicating a fuel leak from a cracked tank, which is COMMON. If you can bring along a voltmeter, check that the alternator is charging.

    And last certainly not least, if you are planning a chop or other configuration, choose a bike that is closest to your final vision. All components on shovels are easily swapped, but changing front ends and sheet metal, etc. adds to the project's expense.

    Jim

  3. #3

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    What are the reasons for wanting a Shovelhead vs a Blockhead Sporty? IMO too many people overly romanticized older motorcycles without honestly considering the pros and cons.

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    I don't disagree about overly romanticizing old bikes, but as a Panhead owner I have to say there is a certain visceral, primitive pleasure in riding these old bikes. Yes, you better be able to do regular maintenance, and either be mechanically inclined or have a pocketbook large enough to hire someone who is when they break.

    But riding an evo or blockhead is a totally different experience. I had on '08 Ultra and honestly really never bonded with it. The Pan(s) and Ironhead that I have owned on the other hand just felt right. The smell, the oil dripping, the kick start ritual, all of it contributes to being connected to the past. ( I guess, lol )

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    Whatever you buy, make sure it's titled and the paperwork is straight.

  6. #6

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    They can be a real money pit. Ive got more cash sunk into mine than what i paid for it. I knew going in it would be that way. These old shovels are a ton of fun but once you start modifying, rebuilding etc, you'll probably never get your money back out of it. Just something to be aware of...though I don't regret it in my case

  7. #7

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    Honestly, is there any bike that once you start plinking money into it your sure to get it back? Most of the people I know that have built cars and bikes sink way more into them than market value. For me its more of a project and something to keep a single dad busy during his free time

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    Quote Originally Posted by dnmccoy View Post
    Honestly, is there any bike that once you start plinking money into it your sure to get it back? Most of the people I know that have built cars and bikes sink way more into them than market value.
    It all depends on your level of skills and how much you can do yourself....... I can't remember any bike or car that I lost money on that I built or restored...... Now I'm not including labor cost just parts and the initial purchase price.............

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    Quote Originally Posted by dnmccoy View Post
    Honestly, For me its more of a project and something to keep a single dad busy during his free time
    That's what it's all about.......

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tattooo View Post
    It all depends on your level of skills and how much you can do yourself....... I can't remember any bike or car that I lost money on that I built or restored...... Now I'm not including labor cost just parts and the initial purchase price.............
    That is why I do not "build" motorcycles, in over 30 years in the business.

    Jim

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    Quote Originally Posted by JBinNC View Post
    That is why I do not "build" motorcycles, in over 30 years in the business.

    Jim
    I'm sure you have the skills.... Are you saying you don't restore or build basket cases?????

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tattooo View Post
    I'm sure you have the skills.... Are you saying you don't restore or build basket cases?????
    If you want to get paid anything for your labor, it's just not reasonable to do so. I help others with their projects, build motors and other bench work, do wiring harnesses, and other specialty work that requires the special tools, machining, etc. I used to do a lot of race prep as well. Keeps me plenty busy.

    Jim

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    Quote Originally Posted by JBinNC View Post
    If you want to get paid anything for your labor, Jim
    Yea I generally do make up the labor money in the end....... Like the bike below I kept up with every dime I spent on it.... In the end I figured up I had $4356.00 in it....... And to top it off that was in 2008 not 1985 LOL. It's for damn sure it's worth way more than that now....LOL
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 101_0471.jpg  

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by dnmccoy View Post
    Honestly, is there any bike that once you start plinking money into it your sure to get it back? Most of the people I know that have built cars and bikes sink way more into them than market value. For me its more of a project and something to keep a single dad busy during his free time
    I hear you, and Jim and Tattooo make good points. I was just saying its easy to tie a bunch dough up in a short time....i love working on my bike and dont regret a penny, but Ive spent a few...

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    Harley models exist to suit any desire. The early Evo Wide Glides are essentially Shovels with an Evo engine. Evo Softails can make very nice customs which have classic looks.

    I like my Shovels as secondary bikes but I bought an Evo first and would do so if I started over.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pliers View Post
    I was just saying its easy to tie a bunch dough up in a short time....
    Yes you sure can....... And I've seen many people do that day in and day out........ I'm a cheap ass I hate to waste money on shit that you don't really need just because someone says you need it..........

  17. #17

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    Id like to have a nice fx or fxe, have a hardtail welded on, and add a springer front end.

    This one is only about 4 hours away

    http://www.chopcult.com/classified.p...fied_id=154204




    I have a 98 1200 sportster I picked up when I split with the ex wife Ive been tooling around on. Im only about 30 minutes from Led Sled, Id even thought about going over and talking to those guys.There just seemed to be more possibilities with the shovel motor as far as performance than the sportster without dropping a ton of money, plus youve got the cool factor of the older motor
    Last edited by dnmccoy; 08-08-2019 at 5:54 AM.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by dnmccoy View Post
    Id like to have a nice fx or fxe, have a hardtail welded on, and add a springer front end.

    This one is only about 4 hours away

    http://www.chopcult.com/classified.p...fied_id=154204




    I have a 98 1200 sportster I picked up when I split with the ex wife Ive been tooling around on. Im only about 30 minutes from Led Sled, Id even thought about going over and talking to those guys.There just seemed to be more possibilities with the shovel motor as far as performance than the sportster without dropping a ton of money, plus youve got the cool factor of the older motor
    Ha! You can get 90HP out of a 1200 evo XL (or an 883 for that matter) without taking the motor out of the frame. Getting 90HP out of a shovel is a lot of work.
    Of course the Kool factor of a shovel is not to be denied.

    Jim

  19. #19

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    Ive never really looked into it, hows that? Ive seen the 88" and 90" kits but they both needed alot of machine work to make it work

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by dnmccoy View Post
    Ive never really looked into it, hows that? Ive seen the 88" and 90" kits but they both needed alot of machine work to make it work
    I did this on two different bikes that were street/strip pieces, way before newer companies came out with their kits.

    Evo XL 90RWHP (rear wheel horsepower) easy:
    10:1 or 10.5:1 forged pistons to suit the heads you are using. Squish set at .035".
    Edelbrock HP heads, or Buell Thunderstorm heads, or the stock heads reworked by Cyclerama, Branch Okeefe, or someone else that is familiar with porting these heads.
    Andrews #6 cam set.
    Super E or HSR 45 carb.
    Dynatek 2000i ignition module.
    Heavy clutch spring on the stock clutch.
    A decent pipe.

    If that combo won't make 90HP, you can't tune.
    I did one with the Edelbrock heads, and one with the Thunderstorm heads, which at the time could be bought off the shelf at HD dealers. The Edelbrock heads made more torque down low.
    These days, I think people believe the '04 or '05 and up heads are a better base for porting.
    Your motor needs to be in good shape to do this. The first one I did was an 883 fresh off the showroom floor. The second one was a Buell with about 20K on the clock.

    I can give you 90HP shovel recipes too, but the stack of money needed is MUCH higher.

    Jim
    Last edited by JBinNC; 08-08-2019 at 7:00 AM.

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