Dan Haines has been a ChopCult member since 2014. He builds and rides his motorcycles throughout the United Kingdom. If you happen to follow CC's Instagram feed, you’ve noticed that we share a lot of Dan’s imagery. Mostly because his builds are tight and he always seems to be having a good time. I thought you’d enjoy getting to know more about the man across the pond.
Photo by Maria Knight
Tell us a little bit about yourself: My name is Dan Haines, and I am from Southend-on-Sea in the United Kingdom. I live with my partner Gemma and our 2-year-old son, Sonny. My full-time occupation is as a Design and Marketing Consultant; it's a business which I set up and run myself, and has been going for 10 years. I also run a sideline business called Period Custom Cycles, which is effectively an online retail outlet for independently produced chopper-related products imported into the UK.
Photo by Maria Knight
When did motorcycles come into your life? My first encounter with real motorcycles was with my uncle, Bill Hiscox. It was probably around the late 80's, and he owned a service station in a small countryside village in Essex. He was a motorcycle collector and involved in the Isle of Mann Classic TT as a sponsor; he'd had a team of guys racing under his name. At home in his back garden, he had a row of shipping containers painted green and camouflaged by foliage, these were full of old British bikes; there were Triumphs, Manx Nortons, AJSs, BSAs, Matchless, Vincents; it was like a secret museum. This is where my love of brit bikes comes from for sure. Sadly he has passed now, and his collection was auctioned off by Bonhams, but a couple of bikes made it into the A.R.E Museum on the Isle of Mann.
Photo by Maria Knight
How long have you been riding? Riding motorcycles began for me in the mid 90's; it was when Crusty Demons of Dirt came out. As kids we were heavily into skateboarding and other extreme sports as they emerged, so motocross was a natural progression at the time, and I got my first bike in 1995, it was a 3-year-old KX125 with single radiator. We just wanted to be Seth Enslow; at the time I had no desire to ride on the road, we just used to visit old wastelands and quarry pits making kickers and free-riding basically.
Photo by Maria Knight
How would you describe a perfect day? A day out with my family (and dog).
Photo by Jonny Wilson
What is your favorite road to travel upon and why? I don't have a favourite road, but there is one road I tend to travel a lot on, and that's the main road from Calais, France to Bruges, Belgium. It's not an especially nice road, and it just means we are on the way to something fun, so I guess that's my favourite.
Looking at your Instagram feed, you seem to enjoy many shows - What are your top five must-attend events and why? The great thing about living in the South East of the UK is that we have quick and easy access to the continent, so it's straightforward to hop into France and onto European rallies and shows. The best on offer in Europe are "Chopperbash" and "Linkert Attacks."
We also have an abundance of shows here in the UK, but the best by far is "The Trip Out"; it encapsulates everything we love, not just bikers, it’s a show for Hot Rods, music, skating, cool trade stands, etc. I'm not talking commercial bullshit, these are real enthusiasts and people having a great time. It's the party of the year in the UK for sure.
There's also the "Hook Up" which is on a much smaller scale but has acquired quite a following, just 300 tickets available I think for this one. Also, London hosts the "Assembly" which is run by Dice and Great Frog; it's more of an exhibition of bikes, some USA guys came over with bikes last year, Jeremiah, the Stopnicks, etc.
When did you start building bikes? I built my first road bike in 2011. It was a 1973 Suzuki GT, which I turned into a scrambler-type thing. It wasn't until 2012 when I bought my first Triumph and built a chopper. I'm not a biker. I've been into custom culture since I was a kid, being drip-fed Californian lifestyle via US skate mags like Thrasher and Transworld, back in the days before internet, and living on an isolated island, magazines were our only source of inspiration really, and it was the likes of Jim Phillips and Vince Ray that drew me into the whole custom culture thing. In fact, Jim is the reason I went into the creative business field, too!
How did Period Custom Cycles come about and what types of services do you offer? PCC was a project I set up in an attempt to apply my knowledge of marketing and websites to something of my own rather than for my clients. I figured that setting up a second business in a market that I am passionate about will never really seem like work and might make the odd bit of money as a bonus, all the while learning more about my trade. Choppers in the UK is a very niche market, particularly when sticking to old-style values. It's a labor of love, but it's enabled me to meet some amazing people and opened up some great opportunities as well. The basis of the business originally was to supply vintage style parts, old and new, to guys building period style choppers and bobbers. It has now grown a bit, and a lot of my trade is from importing products from the USA to the UK, from independently "biker-owned" brands who are looking to reach out into UK and Europe. As well as the parts dealers, I carry products from Cycle Zombies, Prism Supply, Freedom Machinery Accessories, VARD Mfg, Stag Magazine, Dice Magazine, Emgo, Morad, VG Frames...
Photo by Maria Knight
What does WWNWW mean? Ahhh that’s Black Widows. Let's get one thing clear, we are not an MC club, and we are not hipsters pretending to be bikers. We are a rolling party. We ride miles on old bikes, we ride hard, and we party harder. We are a mess, but we are a family. Anyone who joins us on an adventure will know the meaning.”
Photos by Maria Knight
Owner name, location: Dan Haines, Southend on Sea, United Kingdom
ChopCult Member profile: Chopperdan74
Bike name: Mr. Pankle Head
Engine, year and make, model, modifications: 1952 FL Panhead, 74”, Andrews #1 cam and low compression pistons, Bendix carb with the modified intermediary jet to allow for fine-tuning.
Frame: Pre-war knuckle
Fork: Stock knuckle springer
Chassis mods: Frame tube lifted 1/4” and scooped to fit the rear head, seat post was angled back a degree or two, front rails are 1/4” taller so the angles would all work out. The frame was restored from a very poorly done chopper; you’d have to see it to believe it. Restoration and mod work was carried out by Toddy Stocker from the UK and included handmade replica axle plates, restored neck, and seat yoke castings with replaced various bits of tubing.
Tire/wheel size and style: 21” x 1.85 front with Avon Speedmaster 3.00 and 18” x 2.15 Dunlop rear rim with Firestone champ 4.00
Favorite thing about this bike: I love the fact that I didn’t go looking for it. It found me. I wasn’t looking to build another bike as I had just finished a Triumph show bike and needed a break, but the frame came up in a bizarre conversation for very little money, and I couldn’t say no. I bought it to put to one side and then soon after that the engine fell into my lap, and the thing just snowballed from there. It’s amazing what you can achieve if you haven’t set yourself a timescale, I find deadlines and impatience are the leading cause of over-spending. I just sat back and waited for the right bits to appear.
Next modification will be: Only minor things like seat, bars, and maybe a different tank to try something different and get more miles on a journey. This bike gets ridden a lot, so it's just a case of fine-tuning the comfort.
Other mods, accessories, cool parts, etc.: It’s mostly made from vintage parts, whether HD or old vintage aftermarket, which all have their character and stories to tell. I love using unrestored old parts; you can’t replicate that look with modern stuff. It has a Bates light, peep mirror, and some lovely old NOS Bates footpegs which I wanted to keep in the box, but decided he deserved to have them.
Special thanks to Toddy for the miracle frame restoration. Baz Church for putting together the jigsaw that was my engine.@saint_frankie13 for sending me some cool parts. Kicker Parts for the USA made sissy bar. Greasy Kulture for the features and of course Maria Knight. -Dan
Period Custom Cycles: Website / Instagram