Shovelheads have the reputation of being a real bad boy’s bike and they’re what I think of when I’m picturing a bad ass Harley in my head. They’re just lovely, archaically-mechanical beasts that have all the subtlety of a howitzer and that’s exactly what makes them so likeable. I’ve always thought of them as Harley’s hot rod equivalent of a 425hp 409 Chevy engine. They’re a bit of a repurposed truck engine too with the word raw always coming to mind. What Rev. Jim’s gone after here is a clean, show-worthy motorcycle with the heart from hell. One look at this bike and you know it’s fast. And, not just fast for a Shovel, but fast for a motorcycle.
Rev. Jim calls his bike OB$E$$ED and when you see all the handwork that’s gone into this build, for once a motorcycle with a name doesn’t seem so narcissistic. This 1978 Shovel has an obsession for detail that caused Rev. Jim to make every, not just one or two that needed to be made, nut and bolt in this bike. I’d say that borders on obsession, but I’m sure Rev. Jim can clearly lay out every reason why this monumental amount of machining had to be done. And, he didn’t just make a pile of new nuts and bolts to crow about, but every little one-off piece you see from the open belt guard to the fuel tank with its randy, inlaid giant Auto Meter tach with shift lights.
The perfect design and stance is definitely hot rod with a bit of dragster thrown in for the hell of it. OB$E$$ED looks ready to find a red light with unaware sportbike sitting there ready to become an afterthought. Clean, clean, clean is all that keeps coming to mind and that’s not something we see a lot of these days with custom baggers ruling the roost. Everything just flows uninterrupted from one end of the bike to the other with scenic stops along the way just like a great road with must-see vistas at every turn.
The bodywork is a shockingly simple design that’s shockingly pretty. The Sporty-inspired tank makes too much sense when you’re building a classic Harley hot rod much like a Deuce roadster is a perfect starting point for a hot rod. Rev. Jim took it up a notch or two with the big ass drag-style tach embedded in it that would normally be belly button approved for viewing, but the giant face makes it easy to instantly read even for a belly button. The machined-out pad on the top is the perfect place to lay down over while watching the tach needle do its thing and provides what is the spicy equivalent of mechanical graphics to the otherwise unadorned tank. The abbreviated rear fender is big enough to keep you on and keep crap off you while the mini front fender looks aggressively stylish, yet polished in a way that fenderless doesn’t. Same goes for the oval oil tank that looks like it has but one purpose in life and that’s to provide lots of oil to the engine. Not much to say about the V-Rod headlight other than it couldn’t be a better headlight choice for a speedy bike like this one looking laidback like it’s smoothly cutting the air ahead like a race bike fairing does.
Speaking of the engine, I don’t know all the details of the engine build or the dyno readings, but Rev. Jim is well known for liking his bikes fast as hell and this one’s right up there for hard hitting Shovels. If all of Rev. Jim’s engine work including head work by Dave Mackie Engineering in Ventura, California, is not enough, it’s also beautifully plumbed for a serious shot of nitrous oxide. If that’s not enough, Rev. Jim will just build a stronger motor, still a Shovelhead but even nastier.
The finish of the engine is fantastic with a polished block and various bits that Harley never dreamed off even in their wildest dreams. You name it and that part’s prettier than it ever was brand new. Aggressive is the first thing that comes to mind after checking out the short aluminum velocity stack equipped polished carb and the knockout twin stepped headers (those are just beautiful!). The view from the right side is mechanically busy, but in a good way. Same goes for the left side with the almost enclosed belt drive. All the power and all the glory of Rev. Jim’s Shovel makes its way to the chain final drive via a JIMS 6 in a 4 transmission. Oh, by the way, that tranny’s polished to a fare thee well too.
Wheels are a tri-spoke mag wheel design that isn’t trying to be a leftover remnant of medieval times or something that would hurt you cleaning it. Like the rest of the bike, it’s a clean and simple design that’s based on performance. Plus they keep the bike looking light and ready for a fight. Same goes for the disc brakes front and rear. Nothing crazy here, just exactly what’s needed when the shift light on the tach has flashed three or four times and maybe a bit more if Rev. Jim’s really out to explore the infamous “What’ll she do?” question.
Unlike a custom bagger that’s all about the paint, you’ll be disappointed if you’re looking for something similar. Black on black is what this hot rod bike calls for and it would be a travesty to load it up with graphics. Black paint is courtesy of Tibbey’s Auto Body while black powder coating was handled by Brothers Powder Coating in New Port Richey, Florida. What passes for the only graphics on the frame covers is by Liza the Pinstriper who just happens to be Von Dutch’s daughter. And just like that, all the color is done and done.
Rev. Jim has gotten a good reception to this bike first showing it at the Charlotte Easyriders Show where it took a second in class and that was fairly gratifying since it was entered in street custom. Street custom can be just about anything, but normally it’s a lot of extensive bodywork and paint so to place second in it is quite an accomplishment. But wait, there’s more. At the 2015 Daytona Rat’s Hole Show that just took place, Rev. Jim won first in class and to do that with a real crazy ass motorcycle and not just a pile of fiberglass and paint is saying a lot. Congrats to Rev. Jim and his crew for building one fine Shovelhead that will never look outdated or time-stamped, but a future Shovelhead classic template for the hot rod kid in all of us.
For more information on what Rev. Jim‘s preaching, take a walk on the wild side to http://preachershotrodcycledesign.com/ or visit his Facebook page.