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  1. #1

    Default 83 FLH shovel, First chop. Tips?

    Hey, this is my first complete bike build ever, I have messed around with my 05 sportster and taken the motor apart and rebuilt it and it runs strong (1000 miles later) so I can somewhat turn a wrench. Finally ponied up and bought a shovel, I love the fucker. Any tips to somebody starting out on chopping bikes? My main questions are how to get a rotary top, battery, oil tank, and starter all crammed in a hard tail? ( Is it possible? I know it would be a tight ass fit?) I installed a kicker, is it possible to ditch the starter motor ? Can I run a smaller battery If I'm only going to run headlights and a taillight? Bought a manual and searching for a parts book. The bike was bone stock before tearing apart so It has solid bones and it ran strong. Any advice would be awesome. Thanks and cheers to all
    Last edited by Dirtybozo; 03-24-2021 at 12:07 PM.

  2. #2
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    Yes, you can eliminate the electric starter and then use a smaller battery. But the stock electronic ignition is not kicker-friendly as it is programmed for dead revs. And many of the replacement electronic ignitions are the same, but some may be programmed for ignition at first turn, for kicking. Personally, I like the FLH as is, but to each his own. There are plenty of them, so no big loss if you cut one up.

    Jim

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by JBinNC View Post
    Yes, you can eliminate the electric starter and then use a smaller battery. But the stock electronic ignition is not kicker-friendly as it is programmed for dead revs. And many of the replacement electronic ignitions are the same, but some may be programmed for ignition at first turn, for kicking. Personally, I like the FLH as is, but to each his own. There are plenty of them, so no big loss if you cut one up.

    Jim
    Awesome, Thank you Jim! I appreciate the help and knowledge.

  4. #4

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    I’d always suggest that you ride the bike as-is for a few weeks at least. See how you find it. See what suggests itself as an improvement. Customising bikes is a seriously bad investment, so be sure you will be happy with the outcome. I’ll follow the comment about “there are lots of them about, so it doesn’t matter if you cut one up” with “there are lots of chopped Shovelheads about, so you won’t be contributing anything original”.

    +1 about the kicker. I wouldn’t fit a kicker to any bike not designed to have one. The other thing about older Harleys is that they often have problems with starting hot, cold or warm; this varies wildly from bike to bike, but spinning the engine faster, for longer is ALWAYS the solution. That’s why the MoCo went over to electric starters in the first place. You can fit a smaller, modern battery, though.

    I’ve often thought that a late Shovelhead, with a more modern cv carb, less restrictive exhaust (something like a Supertrapp), lighter battery and mudguards, 4.00x18” rear wheel and 3.60x19” front, or Avon Cobra on the rear with a 4.09x19” front would be a really nice riders bike. Spend a bit on suspension upgrades like Ricor Intiminators and better rear units, lift it a little for an extra inch of ground clearance... update the brakes...

    Just a thought, anyway.
    Last edited by 45Brit; 03-24-2021 at 1:36 PM.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by 45Brit View Post
    I’d always suggest that you ride the bike as-is for a few weeks at least. See how you find it. See what suggests itself as an improvement. Customising bikes is a seriously bad investment, so be sure you will be happy with the outcome. I’ll follow the comment about “there are lots of them about, so it doesn’t matter if you cut one up” with “there are lots of chopped Shovelheads about, so you won’t be contributing anything original”.

    +1 about the kicker. I wouldn’t fit a kicker to any bike not designed to have one. The other thing about older Harleys is that they often have problems with starting hot, cold or warm; this varies wildly from bike to bike, but spinning the engine faster, for longer is ALWAYS the solution. That’s why the MoCo went over to electric starters in the first place. You can fit a smaller, modern battery, though.

    I’ve often thought that a late Shovelhead, with a more modern cv carb, less restrictive exhaust (something like a Supertrapp), lighter battery and mudguards, 4.00x18” rear wheel and 3.60x19” front, or Avon Cobra on the rear with a 4.09x19” front would be a really nice riders bike. Spend a bit on suspension upgrades like Ricor Intiminators and better rear units, lift it a little for an extra inch of ground clearance... update the brakes...

    Just a thought, anyway.
    awesome! thanks for the feedback and advice! I rode the bike for about a month or two before tearing apart and definitely agree on the brakes.whatever I end up doing, I will keep all of the stock parts so that it can be returned to stock.

  6. #6
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    The first big decision you need to make is whether you’re going to chop the stock frame or go with an aftermarket frame.

    Chopping the stock frame is technically much more difficult, and you might screw it up. This is especially so if you want to rake it or add stretch in the downtubes and backbone. An aftermarket frame, however, is drop-in.

    Chopping the stock frame is cheaper than buying an aftermarket frame. The cost difference really depends on your fabrication skills, but even if you send your frame out to get hardtailed it is still a little cheaper than most aftermarket frames.

    Chopping the stock frame allows you to keep it titled as a 1983 Harley instead of a special construction 2021. This may or may not be important to you, and titling a special construction motorcycle is more or less difficult depending on where you live.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TomK View Post
    The first big decision you need to make is whether you’re going to chop the stock frame or go with an aftermarket frame.

    Chopping the stock frame is technically much more difficult, and you might screw it up. This is especially so if you want to rake it or add stretch in the downtubes and backbone. An aftermarket frame, however, is drop-in.

    Chopping the stock frame is cheaper than buying an aftermarket frame. The cost difference really depends on your fabrication skills, but even if you send your frame out to get hardtailed it is still a little cheaper than most aftermarket frames.

    Chopping the stock frame allows you to keep it titled as a 1983 Harley instead of a special construction 2021. This may or may not be important to you, and titling a special construction motorcycle is more or less difficult depending on where you live.
    I agree with TomK. Hardtail your stock frame to keep registration easier. I've hardtailed a few bikes now and like the oem style kits with cast axle plates, they make life much easier in my opinion. They run $480 shipped without the seatpost or $790 shipped with the seatpost.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Companies like Voodoo Vintage make a nice fabricated hardtail if that's what you are looking for.

    I ditch the starter and run points or a magneto on all of my bikes to get around the issues with electronic ignition. Points are also alot easier/cheaper to replace on the side of the road than a faulty ignition module, but I'm just weird that way.

    You can also get shorter oil tanks to clear the starter, personally, I like Ricky Bongo's "Whoreshoe" tank on my builds.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Most importantly find some local folks to help you out, build a bike YOU like, and have fun!

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oxblood View Post
    I agree with TomK. Hardtail your stock frame to keep registration easier. I've hardtailed a few bikes now and like the oem style kits with cast axle plates, they make life much easier in my opinion. They run $480 shipped without the seatpost or $790 shipped with the seatpost.

    Click image for larger version. 

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Views:	1 
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    Companies like Voodoo Vintage make a nice fabricated hardtail if that's what you are looking for.

    I ditch the starter and run points or a magneto on all of my bikes to get around the issues with electronic ignition. Points are also alot easier/cheaper to replace on the side of the road than a faulty ignition module, but I'm just weird that way.

    You can also get shorter oil tanks to clear the starter, personally, I like Ricky Bongo's "Whoreshoe" tank on my builds.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	D8649FEA-24FA-4CFE-AEEC-3C4FA32CCB97.jpg 
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    Most importantly find some local folks to help you out, build a bike YOU like, and have fun!
    Awesome! thank you so much for the product names. I really do appreciate it. I'm definitely on board with hard tailing it because of the cost and title and looks of it. Also I agree with the points, nothing like a kick Harley chopper in my opinion. I am just learning to stick weld and their is a custom bike shop in my area so I will probably go down there for it because I will most certainly fuck it up if i try to do it now. I probably wont ad rake or stretch because I dig the look with over forks and the bike is titled. I know the handling is shit, but i want a chopper for fun not for practicality. Thanks for the info and knowledge once more!

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    Just peeped your profile and saw you are in boulder. There is a ton of knowledgeable people all up and down the front range who can point you in the right direction. I'm moving up to Black Forest Colorado in a couple of months and will help with anything I can also.

    --Matt

  10. #10

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    I don’t understand the “fun not practicality” part... an unrideable bike is no fun!

    I also don’t understand the “points, because they are easier to replace by the roadside” part. My 1992 Sportster still has its original electronic ignition, its done about 28,000 miles, 4,000 or so with me, and I’ve never even looked at it, or given it a thought. My 2013 Triumph Bonneville, I’ve never looked at the ignition system and I can honestly say that I don’t know anyone who has ever “replaced the ignition by the roadside”.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 45Brit View Post
    I also don’t understand the “points, because they are easier to replace by the roadside” part. My 1992 Sportster still has its original electronic ignition, its done about 28,000 miles, 4,000 or so with me, and I’ve never even looked at it, or given it a thought. My 2013 Triumph Bonneville, I’ve never looked at the ignition system and I can honestly say that I don’t know anyone who has ever “replaced the ignition by the roadside”.
    Like I said it's a personal preference. I love electronic ignition in my air-cooled Volkwagen and my 2007 Triumph Bonneville has never had an issue other than the crappy rubber they used for intake boots... My 2000 Sportster left me sitting on the side of the interstate in 115 degree Vegas heat and no local access to a replacement ignition module. My 1993 Evo chopper burned up its aftermarket Crane hi-4 in Daytona at 11pm. Both of them I swapped back to points for less than a replacement ignition module and if I ever have an issue I can go get $12 worth of parts from any auto parts store and be on my way. I have mags for my pan, knuck, and 45. I'll be swapping the evo chop over to mag here in a couple of of weeks also.

    Of course, I'm weird. In my travels, I have also replaced the hydroboost on my f250, a carb on my 78 fj40, a head gasket on my 1970 f100, and multiple starters on a variety of Vbubs on the side of the road and made it to my destination.
    Last edited by Oxblood; 03-25-2021 at 2:13 PM.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oxblood View Post
    Just peeped your profile and saw you are in boulder. There is a ton of knowledgeable people all up and down the front range who can point you in the right direction. I'm moving up to Black Forest Colorado in a couple of months and will help with anything I can also.

    --Matt
    Fuck ya! Colorado is awesome. the mountains are the best for riding in my opinion. I split my time between the springs and boulder. if you need any riding spots I let me know. Met a dude at my brothers wedding and he gets a lot of custom bikes from la fores bike shop. Told me to tell them I know him and I'll get taken care of. One of the workers there got a bike in the greasy dozen so must be a good place.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by 45Brit View Post
    I don’t understand the “fun not practicality” part... an unrideable bike is no fun!

    I also don’t understand the “points, because they are easier to replace by the roadside” part. My 1992 Sportster still has its original electronic ignition, its done about 28,000 miles, 4,000 or so with me, and I’ve never even looked at it, or given it a thought. My 2013 Triumph Bonneville, I’ve never looked at the ignition system and I can honestly say that I don’t know anyone who has ever “replaced the ignition by the roadside”.
    Not to be a broken reccord but its just preference. Had a person tell me to never put 6 over on stock rake because its terrible and I would regret it, I prefer it. I would love to buy a amazing ignition but I am a student so money is tight.and points is cheap. sounds like a good buy once finished and riding though.

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    The stock starter design was utter shit (the reason they later went away) but I'd save all the parts because time flies and old age doesn't care about kicker lust.

    Old HD brakes suck and big twins aren't light. Fortunately that is easily solved thanks to the huge aftermarket and availability of later four-piston stock parts.

    The cast axle plate hardtails look far more classic than cheapo flat stock. Pay once, cry once.

  15. #15

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    What he said.

    Electric start shovels aren’t the greatest design around but they have their uses. Fit a kicker if you like but keep the electric foot as well, you’ll be glad you did at some point.

    I do like those cast axle plate rear ends. Much better looking than the flat-plate ones.

    I could see a real “retro bike” here. Cast axle plate rear end, 4.00x19” or 18” rear wheel, stock rear disc. Later front forks with better brakes. Pogo seat, fatbobs, maybe a rocker clutch pedal and police type tank shift? Horseshoe oil tank and modern battery. Lighter mudguards and upswept fishtails.

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