California Dreamin’ 45 Flathead

Article By: Roadside Marty

Photos By: Chris Callen

Originally Published In The June 2016 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine


When I first got in touch with Mike Harden, the owner of this sweet sled, he let me know right up front how happy he was that we were featuring his ride. You see, Mike had always wanted to build a bike like this because growing up in Pomona California in the late 60’s this was the type of bike that he saw riding and ruling the streets back then. He originally wanted to do the build with an Ironhead Sportster but ultimately he decided to go a different route. After being in production for over forty years, the longest engine run in Harley history, he decided that a 45 Flathead was going to be the heart of this build so he started searching W for a motor. As with the time honored tradition of building a bike from the ground up, Mike started hitting the swap meets looking for an engine that was suitable but he was having no luck at all…that’s when he went straight to the man that really took selling parts to another level, Buzz Walneck. He hooked Mike up with a few issues of his magazine, The Buzz Rag, which proved to be extremely useful. Mike eventually located the motor through the magazine from a guy named Fred who lived in Indiana. Mike bought the motor on Fred’s word and they agreed to meet in Clarksville Tennessee to do the deal. After he returned home to Oklahoma and took a good look inside he realized the motor was everything Fred said it was so he was finally good to go.

Next up on the list was acquiring a fram., Since he was really looking to build something special a stock 45 frame wasn’t really what he was looking for. He started saving his pennies and once he was ready he gave Paughco a call and as usual Jason hooked him up with one of their signature 45 frames that allow you to run a Harley 4 speed instead of the usual 45 transmission. Paughco has been one of the leading frame and parts makers for over 45 years so they definitely know what they’re doing! Once again it was time to hit the swap meets for a good used 4 speed but as luck would have it Mike ended up buying a new Rev Tech that lined up perfectly in the frame. While an enclosed primary always looks good a belt drive looks even better and since this was a one off build the fine folks over at BDL had just the right belt drive for this type of application! Nothing beats the look of a springer front end, especially a narrow wishbone springer from Acme Choppers so Mike went that route. He says that it’s one of the best springers that he’s ever owned. Mike has always been a fan of spoke wheels he went with a 120 spoke 21” front wheel with a 120 spoke 16” rear wheel for that classic combination that’s timeless for this kind of chopper.


His good friend Manny Seimens stepped up to help with the fabrication and he really took the build to another level with his fabrication skills. He came up with the idea of using a remote master cylinder from a BMW to keep the bars clean. He also fabbed up some mounts to install the forward controls and floorboards. Mike wanted to keep things lean and uncluttered so he went with the Morris Magneto to get rid of the battery and he went ahead and upgraded to a Mikuni carb instead of the stock Linkert. Manny also stepped in to lay down the frame molding and sprayed that beautiful paint job. The Root Beer Brown with Gold Leaf really makes the bike stand out! Mike went back to the guys at Paughco for a set of their classic fishtail pipes to finish off the build, which sound just as good as they look! This bike caught our Editor’s eye in Texas last year which is no surprise because Mike says that every event he rides it to it’s always the “Eye Candy” that everyone wants to take a closer look at. After 30 years of riding Mike says he’s really happy with way the bike handles, looks and rides. Top speed is about 70 mph, it’s geared a little high so takeoff is somewhat lacking but Mike says 25 HP is 25 HP!! Mike would like to thank J-Mac, Mike Antinoro, Manny Seimens, 45 Restoration Company, Freedom Cycles and everyone at Cycle Source! Thanks for sharing your ride with us Mike!!


Hardco’s Rootbeer 45 Tech Sheet

Owner: Mike Harden

City/state: Oklahoma City, OK

Fabrication By: Manny Seimens

Year: 1949

Model: Chopper

Time: 1 Year


Year: 1949

Model: Flathead

Builder: Harley-Davidson

Ignition: Morris Magneto

Displacement: 45 cu

Heads: Flat

Cam(s): Stock

Carb: Mikuni

Air Cleaner: Harley-Davidson

Exhaust: Paughco Fish Tail-Modified

Primary: 1 1/2” BDL


Make: Rev Tech

Shifting: 4 Speed, Hand Shifting


Make: Paughco



Type: Narrow Wishbone Springer

Builder: ACME Choppers


Front Wheel: 120 Spoke

Size: 21”

Front Tire: Avon Venom-X

Front Brake: Performance Machine

Rear Wheel: 120 Spoke

Size: 16”

Rear Tire: Avon

Rear Brake: Performance Machine


Painter: Manny’s Fine Line

Color: RootBeer Brown

Graphics: Gold Leaf

Chroming: Diversified Plating


Bars: Main Drive

Leather: Hix Drive

Oil Tank: Plymouth Hub Cap

Front fender: None

Rear fender: Rayz Rod & Custom

Controls: Custom

Headlight: Old

Taillight: Spar

Speedo: None

Photographer: Chris Callen

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