Lowbrow Spotlight: Bill Bryant's 1957 Harley-Davidson FLH Panhead

Owner: Bill Bryant
Year/Make/Model: Which part? Engine is 1957 FLH.
Fabrication: Just making old stuff fit.
Build Time: Off and on for over two years.

Year/Type/Size: 1957 74” Harley-Davidson
Carburetor: S&S Super E.
Exhaust: Repop stock.
Air Cleaner: Irish Rich / Goodson.

Year/Type: H-D Wishbone.
Rake/Stretch: Stock.

Front End:
Type / Brand: H-D Wide Glide.

Front Size: 16” W&W timken star hubs, stainless spokes, powder coated steel hoop Bates Baja tires.
Rear Size: 16” W&W timken star hubs, stainless spokes, powder coated steel hoop Bates Baja tires.

Paint by: Natural patina
Plating/Polishing: haha, never!

Front Fender: found on Cycle Dope app.
Rear Fender: Got at swap from CZ Scotty.
Gas Tank: One from Atom Rotten, one from Walt Gemeinhardt.
Handlebars: Nor Cal Swap Meet.
Grips: Biltwell Renegade.
Mirrors: So Cal Swap Meet.
Hand Controls: Rico Fodrey.
Foot Controls: Trent Schara (plus brakes, floorboards and a bunch of other stuff).
Headlight: eBay.
Taillight: Nor Cal Swap.
Turn Signals: Hands.
License Mount: Nor Cal Swap.
Seat: eBay.

This bike is a total junk yard dog. I picked up the frame and basket case engine and trans about two years ago in San Francisco. The Haifley Bros straightened and repaired the frame and Rico Fodrey at Hi-Bond Modified in Pomona, CA rebuilt the stock 1957 74” and 4-speed. I started collecting parts from friends and swap meets with the intent of building something that looked like it evolved into it’s current state over a long period of time. I didn’t sweat things like an earlier frame, later tanks, or whatever so it’s completely “period incorrect”.

From going to swaps and pilfering a few friend’s stashes, the parts pile continued to grow until the bike basically just took shape on its own. I had to buy a few replica pieces to get the mechanical brake system to work and the exhaust is a reproduction. The wheels are made by W&W in Germany and look and work like star hubs but have timken bearings which is bitchin’. Otherwise it’s all Harley stuff or at least old aftermarket. I got the bike close to it’s current condition and then my buddy Rico finished it off. I love having him double check my work and I try to soak up as much of his knowledge as possible.

I’ve never built a bike that didn’t require fabrication so this was kind of weird. Of course, none of the old junk from a variety of sources fit together nicely, so that required plenty of work. It rides awesome. I got used to the giant buddy seat position more quickly than I expected and it’s a blast to jam around on. I got to ride it on the El Diablo Run this year. It was my first real trip on it, and I couldn't have been more happier with it! Thanks to all my friends that pitched in with parts, labor or knowledge!

Words by Bill Bryant
Photos by Geoff Kowalchuk plus a few by Mikey Revolt

4 thoughts on “Lowbrow Spotlight: Bill Bryant's 1957 Harley-Davidson FLH Panhead”

  • Anthony Greco May 23, 2019 at 12:14 pm

    Totally awesome machine. Love the vintage bike even if it is not 100% . As long as you enjoy and have fun with it, no one has the right to pass a negative comment. To get to ride the El Diablo !!! How cool is that !!! Thank you for sharing!!

  • Great build! Took me back to a ‘49 Pan build I did in the ‘70s. Thanks for the ride.

  • That is one fugly bike - I love it!

  • That’s my kind of build. Love it. I like the taillight assembly. One thing I might have done is sand the rear fender and spray it in Home Depot gloss black. Looks like you put in a lot work on it. Great job!

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