A Perfectly Built Harmon Panhead By Bones Legacy

Published In The February 2014 Issue Of Cycle Source

Article By: Chris Callen Photos By: Bart Mitchell

Feb '14 Feature 3A Kerri

I was first introduced to Paul Ponkow of Bones’ Legacy a number of years ago during Las Vegas BikeFest when we took a little fieldtrip, ending up in his shop. Once inside, it was like a time machine had taken us back to a day when choppers ruled the planet and bellbottoms were in and tight! I was in typical Chris mode so I paid little attention to the why and just gawked at the incredible bikes. Later on I would find out through a mutual friend that another one of my heroes from the day was also involved in this enterprise; Richie SEEN, the man they call “The Bronx Bomber,” and the Godfather of the graffiti art world. This was a story right up my alley and I was lucky enough to spend time with SEEN and Paul over the past year or so collecting the info on it. It all starts with Paul working with William “Bones” Coddington around 1990. Bones was just a character from the sixties, as Paul remembered, and the two hit it off fast. They would do shows together and compare bikes since they had a similar style, but Bones was a mechanical genius and Paul soaked up as much info from him as he could. In 2004, Bones ended up with brain cancer and was quickly taken from this world. He had left one of his bikes to Paul, and he eventually decided to carry on their style in his friend’s name. This is when Bones’ Legacy was born. He built and showed bikes for a few years, but around 2008 he decided to give it a break. The scene was blowing up and he just didn’t dig the vibe. During this time he sold some bikes to a few collectors and one in particular was a man from New York. Upon noticing the bike’s style, he asked where they were coming from and discovered Paul had been the builder of a few others he had acquired. The man was Richie, and he asked Paul about building some bikes for him; Paul wasn’t very interested. He agreed to help Richie find a few more of this style and he even helped him straighten a couple of them out. Through this process the two became friends and decided that they were on the same page with resurrecting this particular piece of Americana, and they relaunched Bones’ Legacy. They acquired a shop in Vegas and started to fill it up fast. Richie admits that he is just a collector of fine junk, art, toys, even lamps, but the chopper thing really started to go somewhere. It was only his private collection at first, but as the building was secured, it grew so fast that a plan was hatched to make one of the best displays of the ‘60s and ‘70s chopper period there ever was.

Feb '14 Feature 3B Kerri

This is a very special project since a lot of this stuff is disappearing. People die, things are sold or scrapped, some of it has been sent out of the country and will never be available again so their pursuit must be swift to salvage what I believe is a much looked over piece of our heritage. I mean, you can hardly deny, especially today, the influence the chopper heyday has had over our culture. As the collection grew, Richie decided that it would be too big to just keep to himself anyway. He could put it all in a giant warehouse and sit in a chair in the middle of it, spin around slowly and glaze over, or he could one day have something to share with the world. So eventually all this will be a public museum of sorts; a place where old bikes, parts, and I would assume all manner of collectibles from those periods will proudly tell the story of the evolution of the chopper. This is a daunting task, Richie told me, since when the phone rings and they get a chance to pick up an original bike or parts, the hunt begins. He will jump on a plane at a moments notice to not miss out on adding something rare. You see, for him, now this far into it, SEEN started to see that each period, hell each year, had perfect examples of the region it came from. The West Coast, East Coast and Midwest styles of that year were all very different. Even the parts that came from guys who were doing one-off hand built pieces are so dated they changed constantly. To have what they feel will be more or less a complete history, it all has to be represented, or at least as much of it as they can get their hands on. You can stay tuned to Cycle Source as we will bring you constant updates on their progress. So, what about the b i k e , you ask? Well, the bike doesn’t have a very long story because unlike some of the bikes they find, this one was in restored condition when they came across it. It was however a perfect example of an original Harmon Pan. Paul ran across the bike and they wanted it, did the deal, but only really knew that it was built by Paul Wheeler. Another man had bought it and took it to Paul to have it restored. Well as it turned out, Ponkow would run into Paul this year at the David Mann show. Wheeler had some bitchin’ parts and pieces up for sale and they talked about the bike. It was a perfect example of a seventies chopper: original Harmon frame and a Panhead motor. It’s an amazing bike that’s part of a collection you have to see to believe. Watch for more, and if you have anything that might help these cats reach their goal, get in touch with Paul at Bones’ Legacy.

Feb '14 Feature 3C Kerri

Bones’ Legacy Tech Sheet
Owner: Bones’ Legacy
City: Las Vegas, NV
Fabrication By: Paul Wheeler
Year: 1949
Model: John Harmon Panhead
Time: 3 Months
ENGINE
Year: 1949
Model: FLH
Builder: Ron Grygos
Ignition: Points Battery
Displacement: 74 ci
Pistons: Gary Bang
Heads: ‘56 Big Fin
Cam(s): Andrews
Carb: SU
Air Cleaner: Velocity Stack
Exhaust: Paughco MCM
Primary: Paul Wheeler
TRANSMISSION
Year: 1949
Make: H-D
Shifting: Foot
FRAME
Year: 1974
Make: Harmon
Rake: 45 Degrees
Stretch: 5”
FRONT END
Type: Internal Spring Girder
Builder: John Harmon
Extension: 20 Over
Triple Trees: Harmon
WHEELS
Front Wheel: 2.5”
Size: 21”
Tire: Avon
Brakes: Spool
Rear Wheel: 4” Star Hub
Size: 16”
Tire: Avon
Brakes: Mechanical
PAINT
Painter: Mark Cabrera
Color: Lime Gold Crushed Glass
Type: House of Kolor
Graphics: Silver Flake
Molding: N/A
Chroming: V&C Metal Polishing
ACCESSORIES
Bars: Combo Front End
Risers: Combo Front End
Hand Controls: Barnett
Gas Tank(s): Paughco
Front fender: Nope
Rear fender: Wasco
Seat: Danny Gomez
Foot Controls: Stock
Oil Tank: Paughco
Taillight: J&P
Headlight: Bates
Speedo: Nope
Photographer: Bart Mitchell

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