‘78 Basket Glide

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Article By: Chris Callen

Photos By: Geno Stull

I can remember when I was a younger man and the entire local motorcycle community would get together when one of the cats we knew was starting to put a bike together. It was like a biker version of a barn raising and everything from parts to time, everyone gave something. The only thing that mattered was we had another brother on the road.

Tommy Leonard, the builder of this ’78, is exactly that kind of guy. You see, the bike shown here was one of those legendary bikes that makes its way through a community. It was originally owned by a local rider in Pensacola by the name of Sly Holley, who received it as a Father’s Day gift when it was new in 1978. Forward to a few years back, and a friend of Tommy’s, Jimmy Knotts, wanted a Harley of his own. Tommy tells me that Jimmy is the type of person who always does for other people and never has anything done for him. Well, Tom knew that Sly’s son had this bike and wanted a pickup truck. Jimmy had a pickup truckso a deal was only so far away.

When they got to the location of the bike, Sly’s son, Bones, showed them a pile of parts and boxes: a bottom end in a frame and the frontend not attached to it; it was a real mess. Tommy asked Jimmy how he liked his new Harley. Jimmy’s answer simply came as, “I don’t know. My truck was running.” Tom assured him that it was a good trade. He handed over the truck and they loaded up the parts of the ’78.

Back at Jimmy’s place, the bike, or the parts that would be the bike, sat in the back of the trailer until Tommy asked him what he was gonna do with his Harley? “What do I do?” he asked back. “Take it apart,” Tommy said again. “It already is,” was the reply. Since Jimmy was moving up from a Goldwing trike that was all in one piece when he got it, Tom was patient with his process and had already formulated a plan.

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He took the bike back to his spot, a little garage behind his buddy EZ’s house where he does bikes and hot rod customizing. He also does a ton of fab work for my boy Roadside Marty so I’ve known about this cat’s skills for quite some time, but I digress. At Tommy’s place, the pieces were sorted, and with some TLC the bike started to take shape. It’s a class act as it sits here; a classic build with a sort of Southern California ‘80s FL style. It has the small fishtails, small apes and a good rider to boot.

This isn’t the type of bike that you’d hang a bunch of off-the-rack store bought parts on. Instead, just like it’s always been, things are chromed, sandblasted and painted. When I look at that chromed out banana caliper on the rear wheel, I can’t help but be drawn back to my own days with my Shovelhead. Proper fenders and a comfortable position just make this a good looker. It takes a light touch to pull off a build like this and not have it look like a stock, plain ass bike with paint, and Tommy was just the man for the job. When he finally handed it back over to Jimmy, it brought tears to his eyes. He finally had the Harley he always wanted and now he knew what it really took to get it.

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‘78 Basket Glide Tech Sheet

Owner: Jimmy Knotts

City: Milton, FL

Fabrication By: Rods by Tommy-Tommy Leonard

Year: 1978

Model: FLH

Time: 7 Weeks

Value: Priceless

ENGINE

Year: 1978

Model: Shovel

Builder: Tommy Leonard

Ignition: Points

Displacement: 74 ci

Pistons: Keith Black

Heads: Stock

Cam(s): Andrews

Carb: S&S Super E

Air Cleaner: Ted’s Cycle

Exhaust: Ted’s Cycle

Primary: Stock Polished by Hot Rods

TRANSMISSION

Year: 1978

Make: HD

Shifting: 4 Speed

FRAME

Year: 1978

Make: HD

Rake: In The Yard

Stretch: When I wake Up

FRONT END

Type: FL

Builder: HD / Hot Rods

Extension: Like To Think I Don’t Need One

Triple Trees: Stock

WHEELS

Front Wheel: HD

Size: 16”

Tire: Used

Brakes: Stock Banana

Rear Wheel: HD Size: 16”

Tire: Used and Smoked

Brakes: Stock Banana

PAINT

Painter: Hot Rods By Tommy

Type: Matrix

Color: Jeep Pearl Green

Chroming: Everywhere

molding: None

ACCESSORIES

Bars: Mini Apes – Jimmy’s a Short Shit

Risers: Stock

Hand Controls: Stock Chrome

Gas Tank(s): Stock

Front Fender: Stock

Rear Fender: Welded Shut

Seat: Corbin Great Seat

Foot Controls: Stock

Oil Tank: Chrome Horseshoe

Speedo: CCI/Green and Gold to Match Taillight: Ted Cycle’s Tombstone Headlight: Stock

Mirrors: Late Model HD

photographer: Geno Stull

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