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Nasty Knucklehead

Buzz Kanter Columns Harley Magazine Blog This Months Column

Nasty Knucklehead

Shifting Gears with Buzz Kanter
Shifting Gears with Buzz Kanter


SHIFTING GEARS, by Buzz Kanter, Publisher

It’s only $40,000 away from being a $35,000 bike

The weather is finally breaking—the riding season is here for most of us. As a motorcycle rider living in the Northeast, I have often wondered what it might be like to live where it is warmer year-round. Places like Florida, Texas, or Arizona. Unlike here in Connecticut. I enjoy picturing myself riding all year, the biggest question being whether I wear a long- or short-sleeve shirt under my jacket.

Since I have no current plans to move, I make the most of the offseason (I hate riding on roads covered in salt and/or ice) by reading and writing about motorcycles and, when I can, getting in some quality wrench time. Yes, I enjoy going out to the garage, turning up the radio, and working on my various projects. Some of them end up in American Iron Magazine or in our all-tech Garage Build magazine. But I must admit, I much prefer riding to wrenching.

Towards the end of last year’s riding season, I bought an old project bike, basically a mix-and-match Harley Knucklehead that was stored in a garage that had burned down. The previous owner replaced the burned-up components, like the wiring harness, tires, and rubber bits. He cleaned it up a bit and got it running. But it still needed a lot of work to get it dependable and safe. I got it home and up on the garage lift. And there it sat all winter. No matter how many times I planned to get to work on it, other projects and priorities came up.

So now that I’ve gone public and announced this bike, I hope and expect it will finally motivate me to start working on this old Knucklehead project. I know it’ll be a lot of fun and should be interesting enough to share on these pages. I own and love another Knuck, which is mostly correct and that I ride a lot. And I’d love to build a funky, old, custom one for riding—this one might just be the ticket.

Because this bike is so far from correct, a real mix-and-match bike from various years using original and aftermarket parts, I’m not going to try to restore it to correct. A friend described it as “only $40,000 away from being a $35,000 bike.” So, I need to decide how to build and customize it. I’ve never cared for long fork choppers, so am leaning towards a post-war bobber style for this one. Maybe pull the front fender, bob the rear one, and strip it of anything not necessary for some serious riding. Thoughts?

Speaking of riding, if you like to ride—and I’m guessing you do, or you wouldn’t be reading this—here are some great motorcycle events and places to check out in the next month or so.

If you enjoy bike rallies on or near the beach, check out the Thunder Beach Rally in Panama City, Florida, from May 1-5. A bit farther north and a week later is the Myrtle Beach Bike Week in South Carolina, May 10-19. I’ve never been to either of these rallies but look forward to checking them out sometime soon.

If classic, antique motorcycles is more your thing, I highly recommend three events along the East Coast. The classy and fun Riding Into History near St. Augustine, Florida, is May 10-11; their focus this year is American motorcycles. Another great event is the AMCA (Antique Motorcycle Club of America) swap meet and bike show in Denton, North Carolina, on May 17-18. And the third is the Greenwich Concours (which American Iron Magazine sponsors and supports) in nearby Greenwich, Connecticut, on June 1-2. I have been actively involved in this high-profile event for several years. Maybe I’ll see you there.

Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.


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