A while back at the So-Cal Cycle Swap I scored a peanut tank with the most bitchin’ Miami Vice looking paint job you can imagine. It was a subtle pink pearl with bright pink and teal accents. As I walked around the rest of the swap clutching my latest score an older gentlemen yelled from his booth “Hey, you know you’ve got a pink tank there right?” I looked down at my flamboyant purchase and then retorted “It takes a real man to rock a pink tank on his bike.” The gentlemen gave my words some thought and replied, “I guess that’s true.” So if it takes a real man to rock a pink gas tank, what does that say about Kelly Messia, a man with a whole pink bike… or is it technically salmon colored?
Owner: Kelly Messia
Year/Make/Model: “THE SMOKED SALMON” 1958 HARLEY DAVIDSON FLH
Fabrication: Tanks, Exhaust, Frame, Controls, Sissy
Build Time: 2 YEARS
Year/Type/Size: 1958 HARLEY PAN/SHOVEL 102ci stroker, Dual plug w/ Morris Magneto & MFS split wires.
Carburetor: S&S SUPER G.
Exhaust: Was built using exhaust bends I cut from some stock Harley Sportster exhaust pipes I got off na XL with cocktail shaker tips. I then had my good friend Evan Scott at Iron Cobra Fab weld all my pieces together.
Air Cleaner: Boyle Custom Moto - I’ve been friends with Kim since our days working for DC Shoe Co 16+ years ago. He did a cool run of 12 covers that were engraved by Denny's engraving.
Year/Type: HD Swing Frame
Rake/Stretch: 4” up in the front down tubes. Windowed and gusseted neck
Type / Brand: 5” over Harley Davidson 33.4 narrow glide with K-Model drum brake
Front Size: 21” wheel with Buchanans stainless spokes and Avon SpeedMaster tire
Rear Size: 18” Harley JD style hoop with Buchanans stainless spokes and Coker “Diamond” tread tire w/ Chrome HD Juice drum
Paint by: I did it myself. Rose coral pearl (from a 1987 Toyota Corolla) and have to give a special thank you to my good friend Joseph Jurado for introducing me to Spray Max2K Brilliant clear. (2 part epoxy clear coat) GAME CHANGER! Plating/Polishing: Clemente New Year Metal finishing in Santa Ana.
Front Fender: n/a
Rear Fender: Wassell Ribbed Duck Bill
Gas Tank: H-D 5Gal Split Tanks That I cut shaped and narrowed. Then once again my good friend Evan at at Iron Cobra Fabrications did an incredible job making the interior panels and mounts.
Handlebars: 8” Mini Apes Handlebars that I cut to run in a HD 2 piece style riser.
Grips: Lowbrow Customs Beck Grips (perfect color match!)
Mirrors: small 3” round I picked up at Long Beach Hotrod Swap
Hand Controls: Early HD.
Foot Controls: I had an idea to use early Shovelhead swivel kickers for my mids. Thanks to Evan it worked!
Headlight: S&M Lamp Co.
Taillight: Cats Eye “Flower Lens”.
Turn Signals: n/a
License Mount: Custom one I made.
Seat: River Seat Co Seat, Vintage P-pad
I first laid eyes on Kelly Messia’s beautiful chop the “Smoked Salmon” at the David Mann Chopper fest in January of 2018. I had taken a couple of photos when Kelly, who I already knew, came up and asked “How do you like my bike?” I had no idea that the bike was his. The last time I’d seen it, it was bare metal. The pearly pink complexion made all the difference. With plenty of period correct pieces and a few modern upgrades resting in a nice and narrow profile, it’s the perfect California lane splitting machine.
The “Smoked Salmon” is easy on the eyes. Every part on the bike serves a purpose or adds just enough character to make it unique. It doesn’t need a crazy long front end or a sissy bar that reaches for the heavens, the beauty is in the bike’s simplicity. A quintessential chopper that still manages to stand out from the crowd.
Kelly Messia: I decided to start building this bike when I was going through a big transitional period in my life. I had just gone through a divorce and not too long afterward I found myself being laid off from work due to a failing economy. Fortunately I was able to find work rather quickly but I knew an idle mind can be one’s worst enemy when going through tough times. I had a rigid EVO sportster chopper at the time but was always in love with anything slab-side so I figured what better way to keep myself occupied than with something constructive like trying to assemble a vintage chopper. It ended up being one of the best most satisfying decisions!
I think one of the best things about motorcycles are the countless hours spent in the garage with your friends drinking beers and talking shit while going over ideas. Moving a part 1/4” and then sitting there staring at it for hours! Waking up at 5:30 in the morning to go hunt for parts at the SoCal swap meet and everyone knows what everyone else is looking for.
I can say I have met some of the most genuine and stand up individuals through the process of working on this bike. I want to give some special thank you’s to a few quality humans that helped me with this thing when I didn’t have any idea what the fuck I was doing! First off, thanks to Evan at Iron Cobras for his help in taking all my duct taped and wired brackets and tanks and making sure they stayed where they were supposed to! His welding and metal smithing is second to none!
Also, a big thanks to my man Vince @MotorManVince for his help going through the motor which I was told was freshly rebuilt when buying it, only to find out that couldn’t have been further from the truth and would require a full rebuild. Thanks to Jerry Novak at Novak Cycles for his years of HD knowledge and willingness to help anytime I had a question or was stumped. Last but certainly not least want to thank all the Dead Squirrel Boys! Tony and Chops over at @landspeedmotorcycleshop for always having my back and just being good friends. Last and most importantly my family Meenzwell, Elron and MazzaBalls this shit wouldn’t be half as fun if it didn’t involve putting down miles and making memories with you guys!
Words by: Ryan Loughridge & Kelly Messia Photos by: Ryan Loughridge