Texas Style Working Class Shovel
Article By: Mitch Modine
Photos By: Kerri Schindler
Originally Published In The April 2014 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
This is a working man’s Shovel. Bryan Cunningham lives in Lake Jackson, TX which is a port town south of Galveston. Bryan works as a journeyman electrician by trade so if you live in the Houston area and need some electrical work, go to Caliber Electrical Services. Bryan started building and modifying bikes over ten years ago. His first build was a Yamaha XS650 and he later progressed into Harleys. His first two Harley builds were rigid Ironheads and then a couple of rigid Shovels. After an episode of being “drunk and dumb” caused a broken leg, the Shovel was sold. When it came time to start looking for a new scooter, Bryan hit Craigslist and found this 1978 FX Shovel basket case a few hours down the road. He and his buddy, Tom Shelton of Phat & Nasty Cycles, took a drive to check it out. The seller was firm on the four thousand dollar asking price; Bryan only had thirty eight hundred so Tom ended up throwing in two hundred, and it was loaded up and brought back home. Bryan wanted to switch it up to a bare bones FLH style; he nailed it for sure.
For the following year, Bryan chipped away at the build as time and money allowed. He bought re-pop parts and searched out other pieces at After Hours Choppers. Bryan and Tom finished it up right before the Lone Star Rally in Galveston. On the maiden ride, Bryan actually crashed it. He got into a right hander a little too hot and dragged the pipes, that ended up spinning him around and he laid it down. No real damage except for a busted peg, a little road rash on the primary cover and some broken pride. Bryan hooked up with his buddy Clinton Wallace for the incident-free ride up to Galveston for the rally.
The highlight of this build is the motor. Bryan wanted it to have some big steam so he upped it to 88”. He started with some 80” flywheels and used S&S cylinders with Keith Black pistons. S&S Shovel heads were also chosen. All the machine work on the cases was done by Dunc’s Hog Shop in Angleton, Texas. Bryan got a cam from Leineweber cams. He went with the L3S grind because they told him it would make power from 1,600-6,000. Bryan said he hasn’t had it up to 6,000 yet, but doesn’t doubt it will do it. A Compufire single fire ignition is what lights this baby up. Bryan went with a tried and true S&S Super E carb and Gabe from After Hours Choppers fabbed up a trick copper air cleaner. The store bought exhaust was heat wrapped. The trans and primary both seemed to be in good condition, but they were both checked out anyway.
The all stock frame has a custom rattle can black paint job. All the chrome was done by…ha, just kidding, no chrome on this bike! Bryan found some ‘81 Wide Glide forks to give him the look he was after. A 21” front wheel was used with a re-pop front fender. Out back is a 16” wheel with a Performance Machine rear brake. To get the bike down in the weeds, Progressive front springs and Burley Slammer shocks were the way to go, lowering the bike about 3 inches. The oil tank is a Paughco piece with the spin on oil filter. Bryan says that the 18” apes have a little bend to them, but they work and are mounted to some brass risers. The headlight is a special small and dim model, and a side mount license plate/taillight deal was mounted up. The fat bob tanks are raw steel and are sporting a little bit of rust on them.
All in all, Bryan did an awesome job building this Evo. It has a killer stance and it is a great riding bike. He is looking forward to riding it up to New Braunfels, Texas in March for a vintage chopper show. It turns into Texas hill country on the way so it will be a great ride for sure. Bryan is in the process of scoring his next build right now; a gen Shovel he found. I can’t wait to see that when it’s done!
Evo Killer Tech Sheet
Owner: Bryan Cunningham
City: Lake Jackson, TX
Fabrication By: Bryan/Tom Shelton – Phat & Nasty Cycles
Time: A Year – Give or Take
Builder: Bryan and Tom
Ignition: Compufire Single Fire
Heads: S&S Big Bore
Cam(s): Leineweber L35
Carb: S&S Super E
Air Cleaner: Gabe of After Hours Choppers
Shifting: Four on the Floor
Type: ‘81 Wide Glide
Front Wheel: Metal
Tire: Found in Shop
Brakes: What’s That?
Rear Wheel: Metal
Color: Rattle Can Black
Bars: Slightly Bent
hand Controls: Throttle and Clutch
Gas Tank(s): Rusty Fat Bob
Front Fender: Off Some FL or FX
Rear Fender: Re-Pop FLH
Foot Controls: Yes
Oil Tank: Paughco
Headlight: Small and Dim
Photographer: Kerri Schindler