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Winter Motorcycle Projects

Chris Maida Harley Magazine Blog News

Winter Motorcycle Projects

TAKING AIM by Chris Maida, Editor

TAKING AIM by Chris Maida, Editor

“I built it with my dad”

it’s cold during the winter where I live, which makes it the perfect time for a ground-up bike project! This year I’m building a 45″ flathead-powered bobber with my youngest daughter. My first chop (back in 1971!) was a handshift 45 flathead. And while this engine is as dependable as a stone, it doesn’t make a lot of power. To me, that makes it the perfect engine for a low-dollar, first custom bike for a son, daughter, wife, — whoever. However, the drawback to using a 45 has always been the three-speed, handshift, foot-clutch transmission.

Thankfully, a few years ago Paughco came out with a hardtail frame that allows you to bolt in a Harley-Davidson 45″ flathead engine and Pan or Shovelhead four-speed, foot-shift transmission. That left one last glitch: how to connect them. BDL came to the rescue with an excellent belt drive system that does just that and gives you a modern clutch setup to boot.

Since Paughco has been a major player in the custom bike scene for decades, the crew there knew to design the frame so you can use Big Twin bike parts, of which Paughco makes many, to finish the build. We’re using a number of Paughco components on ours, namely 16″ chrome wheels front and rear, a chrome springer front end, gas tank, and oil tank.

What makes this build especially fun is that your son, daughter, etc. can do the build with you. This way, he fully understands how the bike went together. Of course, it also doesn’t suck that he’ll be able to say to whoever is admiring the bike, “I built it with my dad.”

Look for this build to start in a few issues. Of course, we’ll be showing you how to assemble the entire bike in our usual step-by step fashion. We’re also going to keep the sheet metal work to a minimum. After all, this is a beginner’s bike!


Chris’ Travel Tips
If you’re traveling without a full-face helmet on, a good set of riding glasses will keep dust and other minute debris out of your eyes. However, dust devils, strong crosswinds, lawn mowers, etc. can sometimes power past the best of eyewear. Whenever I encounter one of these common road hazards, I always close the eye on the side the blast is coming from. This protects me in two ways. First, it obviously protects the eye in the line of fire. Second, if stuff does get into my open eye, I can still see where I’m going with the one that was closed, so I can get out of harm’s way and stop in a safe location off the road to clean my affected eye.

See you on the road.

Chris Maida



  1. Patrick Kelly February 13, 2014

    Chris to make a long story short I built a basket case 45 back in the late 60s, I picked it up cheap and I had a good one, had the high finned 6 to 1 heads and a very large throated linkert. It ran great, then I met an old timer who told me to put a set a sportster P cams in it, I did and it was fast. The thing is that one of the cams has to have an oil drive gear pressed and pinned on, that is the only hard part. Now were I you I would also run a 39mm round slide mikuni and go with 12 volts from cycle electric. also unless you are trying to be a real purist I would also use that Paughco frame that enables you to run a four speed tranny! That three speed was what kept me from running away from everyone! Maybe if the gods smile on me I will get the chance to build that same bike I just described, till then I will keep riding my 63 pan and don’t get me started on all the things done to that! Good luck!

  2. Garrett April 24, 2013

    I have been following your 45 bobber family project, and I have a questions about it. I have seen a Avon MkII tires mounted on the front rim a million times, and once more on you family project. I have asked Avon about installing a MkII on the front like this and Avon is against it. Avon claims that it’s a rear tire only, and should not mounted on the front.
    You can read everything on the web from reverse tire direction rotation can peel tread off during highway speeds, braking force can peel off tread and various other problems.
    With that said, how do you feel about this as far as safety, tire wear, and any other concerns? Did you mount it with or against the directional arrow rotation?