Panhead Evolved | Custom 1953 Harley-Davidson Panhead
Like any other creative work, a custom bike is a snapshot of its creator’s mind and skill set—a rolling photograph of what that person was thinking and how capable they were of realizing those thoughts on two wheels in the real world. Line up all the custom motorcycles they’ve ever built, from first to last, and you get a rolling road map of the builder’s creative evolution. That first bike is usually much less polished than the most recent. This Panhead chopper is a perfect example of what I mean.
A few years back, Christopher Staab and Rudy Sedgewick met at the Smokeout West in Arizona. It was the start of a team effort that produced eight or nine ’60s-style choppers, the last of which sits before you on these very pages. Chris came up with the designs, and Rudy cut and welded them into reality. “He had some things he wanted to do,” Rudy says. “I threw in ideas along the way.”
Those first few choppers were Chris figuring out what he really wanted and how to get it. Trial and error was the name of the game, finding out what ideas did and didn’t work well together. Over time, the two guys narrowed their focus down until Chris knew exactly what he hoped to build: a straight-legged home for his Panhead motor. Only, Chris didn’t want to cut the frame to make it fit.
That was the real challenge here. Rudy told us: “This was the one where he sharpened what he wanted and was after. We couldn’t have built this one if we hadn’t built the others.” Compared to its older siblings, this chopper is a lot more put together and polished (execution-wise) than the rest. It took a while for Chris to find a frame that fit his bill, but in the end, he made it happen. The rest of the bike was made to work in and around that skeleton.
What really stands out about this chop is the sissy bar. It slides through the fender, and the top is removable while the bottom is stationary. That was pretty tricky. The guys created and used more than 20 pieces in the sissy bar alone!
From the sound of it, Chris couldn’t have pulled that off with chopper number one. Maybe, but not nearly as well as he and Rudy did with this here Panhead. Line them all up and I’d bet anything that while they’re obviously related, they get rougher the farther back in time you travel along the lineup. Each one, though, represents exactly what Chris was capable of doing at the time. The same holds true for any other creative work too.
RELATED | MORE CUSTOM PANHEADS
|Builder||Christopher Staab/Rudy Sedgewick|
|Carb||S&S Super B|
|Air Cleaner||Chopper Dave’s|
|Clutch||Primo Rivera Pro Clutch|
|Year/Manufacturer||1954/H-D Straight Leg|
|Wheels, Tires, and Brakes|
|Front||21 x 2.5-in. Honey Comb Spool Hub|
|Builder||Bob’s Cycle Supply|
|Tire||21 x 3-in. Avon Speed Master|
|Rear||18 x 3-in. Star Hub|
|Tire||18 x 4-in. Avon MKII|
|Rear Brake||Mechanical Drum|
|Colors||Blue and White|
|Handle Bars||Rudy Sedgewick|
|Foot Controls||H-D Forward|
|Foot Pegs||NOS Flying Wheel|
|Sissy Bar||Rudy Sedgewick|
|License Mount||Rudy Sedgewick|
|Seat||The Upholstery Shop|
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