Jon did what any prolific and talented builder of show bikes would do with a brand new free engine and started to ramp up a ground-up board track/bobber build utilizing that 135hp SE Pro 120R engine for the next event. Talk about getting a head start! Needless to say, there was no teardown or hopping up involved with this engine that’s theoretically an off-road-only (yeah, right) race engine (the R in 120R stands for Race), but you know how that goes. Oh there were a few things he had to do like fit a carb big enough to handle the cubes, slap on some faux Panhead valve covers, install a wide open belt primary, and fabricate a fabulous 2-into1 exhaust that’s got a mind of its own. Or so it seems after you start following the convoluted path from the rear exhaust port to its eventual joining up just as the front one exits stage right. I dare say it’s possibly the most stuck out to the side exhaust I’ve ever seen on a bike. It’s just show bike wild.
Malibu Motorcycle Works in Westlake Village, California, provided the rigid frame for that free engine and it’s a work of art on its own. With the exposed, curved frame tubing lending an air of delicacy and whimsy to the board track inspired build. The graceful twin loops of tubing arching high over the engine mimics the shape of the wheels at each end and there is curved tubing everywhere you look. The only obvious straight tubing you see are the frame rails under the engine. Your eye doesn’t get stopped anywhere as it wanders over the bike unless it’s the very back and even then there are some simple and clean hidden axle plates to stare at.
It’s no surprise that Jon chose a springer for a board tracker and it looks right in ways that a telescoping fork would look silly. In true board tracker brakeless-style, there’s very little here also other than a sprocket brake out back and maybe this is too true to form for a newly-built board track-style bike. Remember, this thing has a 135hp SE 120R engine. But, we’re back to the show bike thing where all bets are off. Keep saying “Show bike – does not apply” whenever you get too logical.
Where Jon really comes into his own as a designer is in the lines, the details, and the finish in my opinion. The Hoosier Daddy porthole fuel tank sits high and curves its way back in almost a vertical drop on its way to meeting the forward mount of the shock absorber-equipped seat. Speaking of that seat, is that an absolutely gorgeous piece of leatherwork or what? Man is that pretty stuff going on there. Sitting in front of the curved downtube is another Hoosier Daddy’s gem in copper, the cylindrical oil tank with viewing ports at each end. Jon’s copper rear fender has that center rib and tail flip reminiscent of a Limey bike fender from the early sixties. The impossibly-thin, curved fender stays are lovely to look at too. Nice touch Jon.
Controlling this ride is courtesy of a set of Hoosier Daddy-fabbed bars that do their best to look like they’ve been ripped off an old balloon-tired bicycle from back in the day. Actually that’s not too weird now that I think about it as board trackers weren’t too much more than a balloon-tired bike with an engine, so it makes sense. A short hand shifter with a glass knob works in concert with the brass foot peg and brass handlebar grips to let the 120R have its head in case Jon ever finds an old abandoned wooden board track still standing. If he does, I want to be there to see this baby in action.
The Arctic White base paint and gold pinstriping by Brad Boles in nearby Terre Haute, Indiana, is a study in elegant simplicity while the white powder coated rims add to the theater of the stark white paintwork. Painting a bike white is definitely a risk unless you have everything in order from the lines to the finish work as nothing seems to be out of view. Obviously Jon is not easily scared as he pulled it off extremely well.
Matter of fact, he pulled it off so well that he dared to enter it in this year’s edition of the Harley Museum’s bike show. Lo and behold, Jon won again. I’m not sure how much the bike’s name, Free Willy, to honor the man, Willie G., who handed over that free engine to Jon last year came into play, but I bet it didn’t hurt. Did I mention that I think Jon is a smart and sharp man too? Just add that to the list of accolades and stay tuned to see if Jon can make it a three-peat next year.
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