Shopes Shovels

Article By: Will Ramsey

Photos By: Paul Morton

Originally Published In The October 2016 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

When you are a designer/ builder at the top of the custom motorcycle game, what do you give your 11 and 7-year-old sons as a gift? Well, if you are John Shope of Dirty Bird Concepts, you build them each a nasty shovelhead low rider, with a W bit of modern style. Now, John needs very little introduction as he has long been one of the premier builders of the industry. Currently known for his artistic baggers that seem to define today’s popular genre in Custom Motorcycles, it may come as a surprise to learn that Shope found his love for custom motorcycles through building old school shovelhead choppers. Growing up in Southern California with a club affiliated father, John Shope was immersed in the real motorcycle culture at a young age. His first bike was a Harley Davidson shovelhead, and he was unable to resist the temptation to make it cool.

His desire to redesign an existing bike soon grew into a passion and near obsession as John found himself on the leading edge of the chopper craze at the turn of the century. Old school choppers gave way to the new radical designs coming out of Shope’s mind with big inch motors stuffed into stretched frames with fire shooting out of the exhausts. As the industry reached maximum capacity for wild over built choppers and motorcycle shop after motorcycle shop went out of business, Shope found himself looking ahead toward the future of the industry. John’s ability to anticipate the change in popular opinion and his artistic vision, led to the rise of Dirty Bird Concepts in Scottsdale Arizona. In the middle of the recession Shope bought a brand new Street Glide and chopped the neck right off and built one of the first head turning big wheeled baggers on the road. This innovative thinking helped to blast the industry into another “lucrative fad”, and over the last decade his unique designs and parts have paved the way for the explosion of custom baggers around the world. This clairvoyance of John’s has certainly served him well in staying ahead of the proverbial crowd. And once again it seems his foresight has led him to design these two bikes for his son’s Cole and Cash.

When Shope decided he was going to build a couple bikes for his kids he knew he wanted to put a new twist on a classic style. Standing true to his own roots John snatched up a couple old shovelhead FLs. and headed over to Sideshow’s Cycles to start cutting the frames and redesigning the geometry to accept the Shope signature 26” front wheels. Having lived through the height of the chopper craze, John decided he wanted to go a different direction with these two bikes. Drawing upon his Southern California upbringing, Shope zoned in on the nostalgic design of the Lowrider bikes with a little Dirty Bird style thrown in the mix. 2” of frame stretch and 42 degrees of total rake allowed for the 26” Performance Machine wheel hugged tight with a DBC fender. The motors were pulled and hopped up to 80” along with a little head work to ensure that these bikes had some get up and go in them.

The transmission was completely rebuilt but remained housed in the original 4 speed cases to maintain the proper look. Replacing the front ends with modern Road King style set ups, slamming the suspensions, slapping on a couple sets of 16” ape hangers, and running a long set of up turned fishtail pipes pulled the lowrider style together and sparked a light in John’s mind and set him out to start producing a whole line of parts for the “Modern Lowrider.” From Old School Choppers to the top of the Bagger craze John has stayed focused on moving forward and innovating new products in the industry. All of his success can be attributed to a non-stop work ethic fueled by both a love for the industry and a love for his family. And now his son’s Cole and Cash have two bad ass old school low-riders just waiting to be ridden as soon as they are old enough. Can you imagine the cool factor of riding a bike like this to high school? Yeah, I’m a little jealous of their future success with the ladies. I’m sure it will follow closely to that of their father’s success in business. Keep a close eye on Scottsdale Arizona for these two little rebels rolling around town in a few years.

 

‘79 BRUSHED BIKE TECH SHEET

Owner: Colton Shope

City/state: Phoenix, AZ

Fabrication By: DBC & Sideshow Cycles

Year: 1979

Model: Shovelhead FL

Value: $40,000

Time: 3 Months

ENGINE

Year: 1979

Model: Shovelhead

Builder: Harley-Davidson

Ignition: Dyna-S

Displacement: 80 ci

Pistons: Wiseco

Heads: Ported

Cam(s): Big

Carb: S&S

Air Cleaner: Dirty Bird Concepts

Exhaust: Dirty Bird Concepts

Primary: Open Belt

Transmission

Shifting: 4 Speed

FRAME

Year: 1979

Make: Harley-Davidson

Rake: 42” w/ Trees

Stretch: 2”

Forks

Type: Bagger

Triple trees: Bagger

Extension: None

WHEELS

Front Wheel: Ride Wright

Size: 26”

Front Tire: V-Rubber

Front brake: Performance Machine

Rear Wheel: Ride Wright

Size: 18”

Rear Tire: V-Rubber

Rear Brake: Performance Machine

Paint

Color: Black

Type: Gloss

Graphics: None

Chroming: Kerr West

ACCESSORIES

Bars: 16” Apes

Risers: Bagger

Oil Tank: Harley-Davidson

Fuel Tank: Harley-Davidson

Front fender: Dirty Bird Concepts

Rear fender: Dirty Bird Concepts

Seat: Guy’s Upholstery

Foot controls: Harley-Davidson

Headlight: Bagger

Taillight: Old School

Speedo: Harley-Davidson

Photographer: Paul Morton

‘78 BRUSHED BIKE TECH SHEET

Owner: Cash Shope

City/state: Phoenix, AZ

Fabrication By: DBC & Sideshow Cycles

Year: 1978

Model: Shovelhead FL

Value: $40,000

Time: 3 Months

ENGINE

Year: 1978

Model: Shovelhead

Builder: Harley-Davidson

Ignition: Dyna-S

Displacement: 80 ci

Pistons: Wiseco

Heads: Ported

Cam(s): Big

Carb: S&S

Air Cleaner: Custom

Exhaust: Dirty Bird Concepts

Primary: Open Belt

Transmission

Shifting: 4 Speed

FRAME

Year: 1978

Make: Harley-Davidson

Rake: 42” w/ Trees

Stretch: 2”

Forks

Type: Bagger

Triple trees: Bagger

Extension: None

WHEELS

Front Wheel: Ride Wright

Size: 26”

Front Tire: V-Rubber

Front brake: Performance Machine

Rear Wheel: Ride Wright

Size: 18”

Rear Tire: V-Rubber

Rear Brake: Performance Machine

Paint

Color: Black

Type: Gloss

Graphis: None

Chroming: Kerr West

ACCESSORIES

Bars: 16” Apes

Risers: Bagger

Oil Tank: Harley-Davidson

Fuel Tank: Harley-Davidson

Front fender: Dirty Bird Concepts

Rear fender: Dirty Bird Concepts

Seat: Guy’s Upholstery

Foot controls: Harley-Davidson

Headlight: Bagger

Taillight: Old School

Speedo: Harley-Davidson

Photographer: Paul Morton

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