Cabana Dan’s 1956 FLH
Originally Published In The March 2020 Issue
Article By Milwaukee Mike Photos Courtesy of Drag Specialties
Milwaukee is a hotbed of bike and car shows throughout the year. One of the mainstays that always has a new project to show is my friend Dan Rognsvoog. Better known as “Cabana Dan” to the rest of the motorcycle world. Dan is a shining example of what a true garage builder is. In fact, he was one of our ten finalists in the Cycle Source Garage Builder contest a few years back. I have personally been wowed by his creations over the last decade that I have known him, and even for a couple of years before I knew who Cabana Dan was. He always sets out to build something. His Cafe racer in full 70’s style heavy metal flake was beyond fantastic. And the multi-engined Sprint dragster was imaginative and unique to say the least. So, when the chance came to build this fantastic machine, he had some great ideas and definitely had the raw materials ready to go.
Speaking of the opportunity to build this fantastic machine, it came by pure kismet. Dan happened to be down in the Janesville area of Wisconsin, the Midwest headquarters of Drag Specialties is also there, chasing some leads down on some parts. When a friend introduced him to a Drag employee who is integral in picking who builds the cover bikes for their catalogs and initiates a conversation about building a bike for the regular drag catalog. After the brainstorming ideas, they came up with a plan to build a bike for the Old Book instead. It made more sense to do that as Dan already had a good 56 Panhead power train in his possession. So, it was off to the pages to pick everything else to complete the build. With all the parts ordered, it wasn’t just a pull and put as you can see, it was customization time in the garage.
I was invited down to the inner sanctum to see where it all goes down when I had the terrific opportunity for this story. What a shop it is! Projects in every bit of space and not one, not two, but three drag bikes in the process of being completed. On top of all that, there are a bunch of vintage machines from the JD era to Evos. And of course, an absolutely kicking FXR that is built in the definite Hamster style which looks as fast as it is.
So, let’s get back to this Pan. It is built in the low stretched out style of the SoCal lowrider. The foundation is a stock rake and stretch Paughco frame sitting on a set of spoke wheels 21 upfront and 18 in the rear with Metzler skins on both. Dan went with a Paughco leaf style frontend for suspension. The power plant is a stock 1956 74-inch Harley-Davidson engine with an S&S Super B carb and a stock points ignition. A matching ‘56 4-speed transmission moves the power to the rear wheel. Exhaust is carried away by a one of a kind Cabana Dan Special from a Biltwell kit. The sheet metal is a combination of Klock Werks modified fenders and Drag Specialties oil and gas tanks, massaged to fit the lines correctly. The tins were expertly covered in sparkling blue hues and lines by Blue Moon Kustoms. Drag Specialties Seats upholstered the custom seat pan. The controls are from GMA and mounted on modified Biltwell bars set in a forward style. Headlight and taillight are again Drag Specialties and set off the front and tail just right. The Brite work was handled by 7 metal west and the polishing by Terry at Bert’s. All in all, it makes a hell of a good-looking bike and I can’t wait to see it greasing up the streets in the 414 in the near future.
I personally think that this bike is a perfect example of what can be done with the products in the Drag Specialties Old Book. And because their target customers are garage builders, it makes the most sense that it was built in a private garage rather than a bike shop. As I said earlier, I can’t wait to see what comes out of Cabana Dan’s bat cave in the near future and I’ll be happy to bring it to y’all!