Shooting bikes and contributing to ChopCult provides me the opportunity to meet a lot of dynamic and engaging motorcycle people. My pal Lemmy falls into both of those categories. I met him through my buds Rich and Pete at Roost Cycles a few years ago. He works at Revzilla, making videos, writing, shooting photos, and wrenching for them. Lemmy's a hell of an entertaining character — he'll ride dirt machines, choppers, or race-replicas; the guy just loves being on a bike. If he's not riding it, he's probably working on it to make it faster. Since no one can explain a build like the actual builder, I asked Lem-lem to tell me more about this Shovel, one of many in his collection. Below is his breakdown of the bike, and why it doesn't have a name. "I’m not bright enough to think up some catchy moniker, and I don’t live in SoCal so that pretty much ixnays any of those ultra-hip Spanish names everyone uses. I’m too fat and old to be chopular, so I just call it my Shovel, or my green Shovel if it’s near my other Shovelhead-powered wreck.
This bike began life as a pile of parts and good intentions. I set out by scarin’ up a pretty unique frame. It’s the front portion of a titled swingarm 4-speed frame married to the back half of an ‘37 EL or UL frame. The brake tab anchor was welded shut, a hallmark of that year. The Commonwealth of PA recognizes the bike as a ‘78, so that’s what I call it, too. It’s a stock dimension frame. As I have gained experience in the old bike game, I have come to determine that I personally go fastest on a bike built upon a factory frame, so a short chop was what I wanted to cook up.
The wheels are NOS catalog items from way back when made by “Henry Abe” in Japan. Hutch and Pete modified them pretty heavily by welding up the brake rotor mounts and milling the hub back down. Hutch beat it up with a needle scaler to clean ‘em up. You’d be hard-pressed to tell the front wheel wasn’t born a spoolie. Tires are ubiquitous. There’s an Avon Safety Mileage at the rear, and a Speedmaster up front. The wheels are definitely different than the ones on everyone else’s bike. I like fruitcake stuff, so they make me happy.
The engine is pretty vanilla. Rhett from the Butcher Chop needed an Evo crate motor, and I happened to have one. We struck up a swap deal on an engine he had built. He started with STD cases and loaded them up with stock Harley guts. It’s an 80” engine, J-grind cam, solid lifters. I pulled apart the motor out of paranoia. Rhett does nice work, and he’s an honest cat. I run Dyna S ignition and an S&S Super E carb. There’s nothing very special about the mill, but the bike is pretty light, so the motor feels peppy. I have a blast zipping around the Keystone State’s two-laners. Power goes to a skinny belt drive, and then through a ratchet top. The 35mm fork must be the ugliest front end ever to roll out of the MoCo. They’re cheap, though, and they work pretty well. After a shave and a polish and a set of Lowbrow fork covers, I think it’s at least passable-looking. The paint is actually not paint at all, but powder laid down by Ziggy at ZRZ Powdercoating in PA. (My good buddy Joel laid me down a kickass paint job, but I ruined it like an idiot. It was way cooler. It makes me sad it’s gone.)
As far as little stuff, there are some nifty bits here and there. Fab Kevin made the jock lever, and the seat and hinge are Biltwell items. I like the license plate surround; Nick Toscano gave me a sweet deal on that puppy. The brake light is a Cycle Standard repop I loaded up with a clear Guide lens and red LED. I don’t really want to die, so I ran a rear brake off a master cylinder on the handlebar. I tried not to overdo it on brass stuff. Half the time I think I did OK, and the other half of the time I think I used way too much. I’m more fickle than a teenage girl. Whatevsies, right?
I’d like to say this bike was a sweetheart because it didn’t cause me much grief, but I think I might just be getting a teeny bit better at putting these machines together. That, and I now know how much money to expect to throw at these projects. (Entirely too much.) They say it takes a village to build an idiot. Or it takes an idiot to build a chopper. Something like that; I forget the phrase. As such, I have so many people to thank. God gave me a brain and hands that work. My ever-patient wife, who makes me so damn happy, has suffered my idiocy for years. (Look, hon, I’m on the Information Superhighway!) I owe my kickass colleagues and the bosses at RevZilla, who sold me a gajillion parts at a steep discount. Pete and Hutch were a source of help and beer. There are a million friends I could never name individually, both from the infernetz and from real life. I owe ChopCult for puttin’ my stupid old bike on their site. I would also like to thank Dan Venditto for shooting this bike; he made it look like I know what the hell I am doing." - Lemmy
“Push it. Push it real good.” — Salt & Pepa, as quoted by Rich Hutchinson