Rob Watt's Panhead


When he isn't wrenching and riding his badass panhead, ChopCult member Buster68 serves in the Canadian military. Rob Watt as frogmen from the Great White North know him is a deep-sea diving expert, an improbable niche given Canada's perceived nonchalance on matters of military might. As I learned during lengthy and interesting conversations with my new friend at last month's Greasebag Jamboree, Canada is a world leader in oceanic military exercises. Obviously there is zero room for error in such endeavors, and Rob takes his responsibilities seriously. That seriousness is reflected in the attention to details that abound on Rob's hand-built hard tail. Follow us now as SCUBA Rob explains how he breathed new life into an old motorcycle in this edition of ChopCult Bike Feature.

I bought this bike complete with an airbrushed skull paint job and horrible '80s overstuffed king-and-queen seat from a buddy on Vancouver Island in ‘06. I switched out some of the parts and ran it as a half-assed bobber for a year or so, until I cracked the right-side case. It took me a while until I had the time and money to rebuild the bike. I am a Canadian Navy Clearance Diver—like an EOD Diver in the US Navy—so work kept me busy for most of the last few years.

After I came back from Afghanistan in 2010 I used some of my deployment money to start the rebuild. I hooked up with Lee at American Cycle Service, and engine builder Rob Kelly, and the bike started coming together. Initially, it was supposed to just be an engine repair, but it sort of morphed into a frame-off rebuild. Interestingly, the final look of the bike changed several times, in part based on feedback I got from a build thread I was running at the time on ChopCult. I had picked up a ’54 right side case which we were going to bore-match to the left, but when we got the bike apart we found out the left case had already been cracked and welded twice, so we played it safe and went with a new set of STD cases.

When I lived on Canada's West Coast there was a pretty healthy vintage and chopper scene, but now that I live in Ottawa, there is virtually nothing. I was super stoked to ride to the Greasebag and see the reaction my bike received, especially considering how cool so many of the bikes that showed up were. Getting a trophy at the bike show was just the icing on the cake. I was stoked just to talk to so many kindred spirits. No posing, no attitudes—just lots of sweet chopper love.


Owner: Rob Watt

Hometown: Ottawa, Canada

Bike's name: “Unforgiving” (based on the previous mechanical issues, the uncomfortable ride, and my wife’s attitude about the amount of time and money I’ve poured into this thing)

Frame make, model year and mods, if any: 1953 Harley FL, slightly raked and frenched at the neck

Motor make, model and mods, if any: 1953 Harley FL rebuilt by Rob Kelly; STD cases, 4-3/4” stroke; S&S cam, rods and flywheels; H-D pistons; Rowe valves; Super-E carb; solid lifters; Dyna electronic ignition

Fork make, model and mods, if any: 41mm H-D Hydra-Glide legs, Mullins Chaindrive narrow trees

Primary drive specs: BDL open belt

Tranny specs: H-D 4-speed, jockey shift, kick-only

Front wheel specs: 21” vintage Honda (only thing we could find that fit between the Mullins trees), Avon Speedmaster

Rear wheel specs: H-D 16” with PM rear disk, NOS Firestone tire

Custom-fabbed bits: Lots of custom stainless goodies: mid-controls, sissy bar, oil filter mount, fender and tank mounts, cool combined fork stop / headlight mount etc., plus a fender that was narrowed and reshaped to give it a Wassell look; all hand-fabbed by Lee Batchoun

Painter: Timmy “Toonz” Feher

Seat maker: Custom seat pan by Lee, tuck-and-roll by local marine upholsterer

Thanks: Lee Batchoun for overall bike build, Rob Kelly for putting together a bulletproof stroker engine, and Toonz for the jaw-dropping paint

Check out more of Lee's handiwork at his blog.

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Comment with Chopcult (22)

Commented on 8-15-2011 At 05:13 am

This bike has inspired me on my build. I would love to see it in person. Just a really well done little scoot.

Nice work, Buster!


Commented on 8-15-2011 At 05:42 am

Rob's bike was my hands-down favorite at Greasebag. Such a beautiful machine.

Commented on 8-15-2011 At 06:02 am

Gorgeous bike, absolutely stunning. Easily one of my favorites of the weekend, probably the best bike overall. From top to bottom it's perfect. Rob is a top notch dude and I was so stoked he made it to the GB. Great articles, great pics.

Commented on 8-15-2011 At 06:13 am

I had two of the most gorgeous panheads in my garage that weekend - two bikes so similar and yet so spectacularly different

and both now have had ChopCult features...

Commented on 8-15-2011 At 06:30 am

wow! clean, lean and a root beer dream

Commented on 8-15-2011 At 06:36 am

Looks great, flows well.

Commented on 8-15-2011 At 07:59 am

very sick bike! love the details! and that paint!

Commented on 8-15-2011 At 11:13 am

that thing is beautiful

Commented on 8-15-2011 At 11:38 am

I fucking love Van Halen...

Commented on 8-15-2011 At 01:37 pm

Great job, bike looks sick!!!

Commented on 8-15-2011 At 03:38 pm

nice pan, great bike.

Commented on 8-15-2011 At 03:42 pm

nice pan, great bike.

Commented on 8-15-2011 At 06:46 pm

Thats a great lookin pan!!

Commented on 8-15-2011 At 07:07 pm

If this bike had a salad, I would want to toss it.


I also read teh build thread from start to finish and was a great thread. super cool semi artistic feeling pics.

Commented on 8-15-2011 At 07:17 pm

never said this before, dont know if i'll ever say it again, " Holy Fuck! I'm Jealous" Goddamn sick ass bike. gotta find a job 1st, then my softie gets sold & i find me a diamond in the ruff

Commented on 8-15-2011 At 07:49 pm

dam! that is an amazing chopper! complex and simple all at the same time...awesome!

Commented on 8-15-2011 At 09:17 pm

awesome bike, i really dig the big rolls on the seat

Commented on 8-16-2011 At 08:07 pm

Man that stainless work is killer, And the choice of colors on the sheet metal
fits the bike perfectly.

Great job Rob.

Commented on 8-16-2011 At 08:25 pm

Superb! How could anyone not just love this machine?! Clean, simple and tasteful but with some nice detail work to set it apart. The controls and other little details make this one that you could just look at and study.


Commented on 8-18-2011 At 02:12 am

In my opinion, wideglides look better WIDE.....why do builders try to make their frontends look like they came off of a bicycle?? LOVE the pipes!! COOL Pan!! FTW, Shooter

Commented on 8-18-2011 At 05:36 pm

that air filter is too sick!!!

Commented on 2-5-2014 At 08:10 am

Sick bike dude, if ever down for a cruise round montreal hit me up

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