The Count’s crew disassembled the ‘70s machine in order to start chopping the frame. Shannon Aikau, Count’s Kustoms’ head fabricator, had a 30”-over Sugar Bear springer front end sitting in the corner of the shop waiting for the right chopper. He planned to stretch the original frame in proportion to the length of the front end and dissected the neck, top motor mount, and the entire rear section of the frame. “I stretched the frame’s down tubes six-inches, the backbone four-inches, and set the neck’s rake at 50-degrees. Then I welded in a rigid rear section, and chopped off all the unnecessary tabs and mounts. The lower motor mounts, tranny cradle, and seat post were left in their original locations,” Shannon said. He didn’t stop there, though, instead of a typical top motor mount, he ran a tube along the bottom of the rocker boxes from the seat post to the left downtube, and chose not to run any kind of gusset within the angle created by the backbone and downtubes for a more skeletal look.
While Shannon was working on the fabrication for the chopper, his father, James Aikau, was rebuilding the motor and transmission. James took the dual-plug-head motor down to the cases and put it back together with all Harley parts except for the Wiseco pistons, Sifton cam, Dyna ignition, and S&S Super E carb and velocity stack. He also refurbished the four-speed, kick-start, Harley trans case with stock replacement gears. “I could never sell this bike because it was one of the last two bikes James put his hands on. He was a close friend and the bike reminds me of him,” Danny said.
As his dad finished up the driveline, Shannon began working with the essential tanks and rear fender. “We had this old Billy Lane tank stashed in the back of the shop that we were having a hard time finding a bike that fit it because it was almost too small to be worth anything,” Danny said. Shannon stretched the rear section of the tank a couple inches and ran the petcock through the backbone to use every drop the tank can possibly hold. Next, he bolted one of their round-style oil bags under the seat area and mounted a thin rear fender attached to the frame a hair’s width above the tire with a custom fender strut that wraps from one side of the rear-axle section of the frame to the other.
A period-correct paintjob was another requirement for the bike, executed by their acclaimed in-house painter, Ryan Evans. “One of my favorite colors is dark purple, but I’m not always into flashy paintjobs. Our goal for the bike was to grab a few more looks and to draw attention to the era-correct details. Ryan did a great job layering the purple base with black and silver pin striping,” Danny said. Once the final assembly was complete, Richard Ross, Count’s in-house upholstery guy, stitched a seat that hugs the lines of the frame and rear fender. A set of Count’s handlebars were attached to the front end as was the H-D brake lever and vintage-style white rubber grips that match the four white spark-plug wires on the left side of the motor. The only billet pieces on the entire bike are the Performance Machine caliper and caliper mount in the rear and a Jaybrake caliper and mount in the front.
“We felt that it was more important to stand out from the crowd with a bike built in a style that can be recognized as something that came from our shop,” Danny said. They didn’t win top honors at the show, but their goals were met; the bike didn’t look anything like the other builder’s creations. “The bike just sounds right; a Shovelhead motor sounding off through long, fishtail exhaust pipes. And it rides great, it’s no long distance cruiser, but it’s a lot of fun around town,” Danny said. “Purple Haze is easily one of my favorite bikes we’ve ever built.”