Red Shovel Holds Strong Sentiment
Long Island rider and builder Woody Pierre likes his custom Harley-Davidsons stripped down to the essentials. With a background in sport bikes, drag racing, and road racing, his focus when putting together a machine for the street is to keep it as light as possible with only the bare necessities required to make it go.
Woody Pierre goes by his last name, which sounds like a first name, so we’ll refer to him from now on as Pierre. He was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and moved here when he was four. His first Milwaukee-built ride was a 1991 Sportster that he customized to suit his tastes.
In building that first Harley-Davidson, he met Mario Braccio of M&D Performance in Elmont, New York. Pierre says he relies heavily on friend Mario’s assistance when it comes to technical matters, but when it comes to parts and design, he says, “That’s all me.”
A few years ago Pierre assembled a 1974 Shovelhead custom. He rode it and then sold it, and soon found himself missing the machine. That’s when a friend offered Pierre a 1978 FX Low Rider. Mostly a stock-looking motorcycle that had already been painted red, including the frame, Pierre set out to build it to his liking while working on something of a shoestring budget.
“When I asked him why he’d painted the bike red, my friend told me he’d originally bought the bike on the Fourth of July,” Pierre says of the ’78 Shovelhead. “Well, there are no better colors than red, white, or blue, and that date has meaning to me because my dad died on the Fourth in 2015.”
Pierre didn’t want to repaint the frame or the rear fender—those parts were going to remain the same. But he did make many other changes, and the first thing he did was remove the Wide Glide front end. In its place, Pierre added a Harley-Davidson Narrow Glide front end that Mario generously donated to the build.
They kept the stock trees, but together, Pierre and Mario shortened the tubes 1″ and installed new Progressive Suspension springs and shaved lower legs from Lowbrow Customs. Rolling stock up front is the Lowbrow Customs ‘Complete’ 21″ ribbed spool hub wheel. It comes from Lowbrow Customs with a chrome steel rim ready-laced with polished stainless spokes to an aluminum spool hub, and Pierre added a skinny 2.00-21″ Avon Speedmaster tire to complete the narrow look.
For more on this home built custom, pick up Issue 118 Of American Iron Garage, CLICK HERE.
By Greg Williams • Photos by Mark Velazquez