1941 Harley Flat Tracker
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Flatheads Have their Place
Bill Bryant, the co-founder of Biltwell Inc, has been taking part in amateur flat track races for years. However, he himself admits to not being particularly good at it. Recently though, decided to put his TT500 on a stand and give tank shifting a go. Bryant had a 1945 Harley-Davidson a few years ago, and he was "never that into it," as it wasn't the most practical urban commuter. But there are environments much more suited to Harley-Davidson flatheads, as Bryant found out. "For racing other nerds around in a small circle, an old flathead is a great choice" he said.
Mostly Complete Basket Case
Bryant describes the WLA engine as being a "mostly complete basket case," housed inside an original, slightly raked frame. The engine was sent to Rico Fodrey at Hi-Bond Modified for a full rebuild. The frame, however, went to Mike Palazzo at 47Industries, New Jersey. There, Mike added rear WR-style braces, de-raked the neck back to stock geometry, and bored holes in the frame castings before straightening everything out. Once this was done, the flathead was really starting to take shape. But before taking it to the track, some more modifications were needed.
Bryant sourced WR gas and oil tanks, as well as the rear fender from W&W in Germany. According to Bryant, "There's no way I was gonna pay a fortune for real WR tanks and then go beat them up racing... these parts are of the highest quality and worked perfect with zero issues and look great." Foot controls were then sourced from Jeff Leighton at SLC, Utah. The new foot controls tuck up, making them less vulnerable than the stock controls. Finally, Bryant had bars bent to his custom specifications by Jason Ball at S&M in Santa Ana, CA.
Not Enough Time
Bryant started this project full of good intentions, but another project required his attention more urgently, leaving the flathead sitting in the workshop. According to Bryant, "The beautifully rebuilt flatty engine and frame sat lonely in the shop just mocking me and my poor time management skills." So, Bryant sent the bike to Born Free to finish the project. The 1966 VW Sea Blue and bright white paint job, along with the gold pinstripe and lettering, was all down to Pete at Hod Dog Kustoms. Speaking about the paint job Bryant said, "It definitely looks even better than I imagined and I'll probably cry when I lay it down for the first time."
More to Come
Bryant, like many custom motorcycle designers, just can't help but to improve upon his creation. He wants to add some sweep to the next set of bars and move the foot controls so he can reach the brake pedal, which seems like a good idea. He also wants to add a heat shield for the rear pipe. As good as Bryant's flathead looks now, this writer can't wait to see it after these modifications. And, for anyone who's wondering how Bryant performed at the Stampede, he said, "I sucked but didn't crash and wasn't last place, so I was satisfied."
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