#ThrowbackThursday The Sands of Time: Chopper Kulture’s 1965 Panhead

Chopper Kulture 1965 Panhead

Chopper Kulture’s award-winning Panhead “Just Add Violence.”

Text by Wayne Scraba / Photos by Mark Langello

Building a showstopper in the UAE has its challenges.

You think you have logistical problems getting parts for your build delivered on time? Forget it. You’re not even in the same leagues as Mario Kyprianides. You see, Mario is a Cypriot expat who now calls the United Arab Emirates (UAE) home. Mario runs Chopper Kulture, a custom bike-building enterprise in Abu Dhabi.

Chopper Kulture Pan painted by Robert Pradke

The killer paint and pinstriping on Chopper Kulture’s Pan was done by Robert Pradke.

Mario is no new kid on the block. He established Chopper Kulture in 1992, although he’s always been the guy who had his hands permanently on, in, and around bikes. According to Mario, he pretty much inherited his love of motorcycles from his late grandfather, who in the ’50s and ’60s built a number of Harleys, Indians, Triumphs, and BSAs. Mario’s father is also a skilled mechanic, so you can well imagine 50 weight runs through his veins.

But that’s not all. Mario isn’t exactly wet behind the ears when it comes to building highly detailed choppers for the world stage. An earlier build (Courtesan) nailed down the Best Bobber and Best of Show at Sturgis’ Rat’s Hole in 2010. Another build won First Place in Class at the 2009 European Bike Week, while still others grabbed awards in local events (Middle East Hog Rally, Dubai Bike Week). The bottom line here is that Mario is dialed in, and it’s not hard to tell when you check out our feature bike, Chopper Kulture’s Just Add Violence.

Chopper Kulture 1965 Panhead

Chopper Kulture rebuilt this ’65 Pan with Wisecon Pistons, an Andrews J grind cam, an S&S oil pump, Rowe valves and guides and hydraulic lifters from JIMS.

With his earlier bikes, the builds were based on ideas Mario had harbored for years. That wasn’t the case with Just Add Violence. Here, the only thing he knew for certain was the fact the bike had to be immediately recognizable as a Chopper Kulture machine.

Like many other builds, the project began with the motor. Mario had an old 1965 outside oiler Panhead freshly rebuilt and balanced by his pal Billy at B&B Racing in Metairie, Louisiana, sitting on a bench. Bingo. He had his motor. There was a catch. While it was a good piece, it wasn’t really a show motor. Because of that, Mario peeled it apart and rebuilt it with Wiseco pistons, an Andrews J grind cam, an S&S Cycle oil pump, Rowe valves and guides, and hydraulic lifters from JIMS. The cases and heads were blasted with a very fine glass bead to give them their distinctive sheen. A new aftermarket cam cover was sent out for (considerable) engraving. Mario added a new Morris Magneto G5 mag, along with an S&S Cycle carb, to the mix.

Chopper Kulture Panhead

Chopper Kulture used one of its signature frames for this build but revised the downtubes slightly.

One place where he really stretched the envelope was with the engine fasteners. The truth is, Mario didn’t like the stock hardware. On top of that, he points out old Harley-Davidson engines have an unusual thread size — 1/4-24 —that falls in the middle of coarse thread and fine thread. To add to the complexity, the bolts have an unusual taper of 82 degrees. Only a couple of companies offer hardware in this configuration, and they’re chrome plated. All of Mario’s builds receive stainless steel hardware that gives the bike a distinctive look, and, of course, they’ll never rust or corrode. The fix wasn’t exactly easy.

There’s plenty more to the story! Find out how Mario fixed it in the February 2012 Issue  of American Iron Magazine Issue. There’s also plenty of special issues and magazine bundles available at GreaseRag.com 

Chopper Kulture's Mario Kyprianides

Mario Kyprianides takes the custom 1965 Panhead chopper he built out for a spin on the beach.