Article and Photos By: Joshua Elzey
Originally Published In The February 2020 Issue of Cycle Source Magazine
Seamus had grown up with motorcycles and custom cars. He even did dirt biking as a kid, so it was natural to for him to get in the scene once his license was obtained. Kneeland rode several street bikes and Harleys over the years but was always drawn to the look, sound, and culture surrounding old school bikes. He attributes this to the fact that his dad and close buddies rode them while Seamus was growing up. While stationed in Ramadi, Iraq, he and one of his NCO’s Tim Hillier from OH, would chat with about building old bikes. Tim would give Seamus stacks of motorcycle magazines. Cycle Source was in the stack and they would read, discuss, reread, etc. At this point, Seamus started planning the bike he would one day build. It became an escape for him to think about riding down some street somewhere in the future. Knowing a chopper would be his daily; he continued reading and researching in order to learn everything he could. Unfortunately, money was not right at the time, so the project was put on the back burner. Seamus deployed again in 2011 to Afghanistan, telling himself that if he made it through, he was going to build the bike of his dreams, no questions asked! This is exactly what he did when he came home; it was one of the best decisions he ever made.
In 2012 after he left the Marine Corps, Seamus Kneeland of Plymouth MA was searching Craigslist for a motorcycle, it was then that he discovered a 1971 Shovelhead with an Amen Savior frame. After his buddy Allyn sent a link with a video, Seamus knew he wanted it. The owner, Warren, ended up being quite a nice guy who was only one town over from Kneeland, so it was easy for him to take a look at the bike. The original build had been done in 1976 and Warren had it since. It had been sitting in his garage with about a half dozen other bikes. The price was right, so the chopper was bought on the spot, and Seamus rode it home!
With the bike at home and knowing the direction of the project, he spent a couple of months searching, planning, and acquiring. Once he was sure everything that was needed was available, the teardown began. The bike was apart in about a day and the frame was brought over to Tony at FCR. From there, it was cleaned up before moving over to Rahn Pelrin at Rahn’s in Abington MA for the rear axle. The rotor/drum was removed and replaced with discs. It was difficult to figure out how Seamus and Tony would make it work, but eventually, welded a bracket into the frame that would allow the disc to float up and down with the axle but not laterally with the rotation of the tire. After some shaping and cursing, they got the job done. From there, the tank and fender were fitted, and they started mocking up the roller. After Seamus sat in about a thousand seating positions, they had what felt right to him before breaking the chopper back down, they quickly set up the sight gauge for the tank and then painted it black along with the frame.
Meanwhile, in his basement in Dorchester MA, Seamus tore down the motor to the case and pulled apart the transmission for a good once over. It took quite some time before he could begin putting everything together. He wanted to take his time because he knew any mistake would be costly. Once he got the frame back, he was able to install the drivetrain, tins, new front end, and tie up a few other loose ends before wiring it. That’s where he came to a dead stop! After a lot of frustration, he finally caved and brought the Shovel to Jacob Cutler at Barnstorm Cycles. They did an amazing job of setting up a custom, simple wiring harness which included the C Cell Battery and tied everything together. Her maiden voyage was the hour ride back home from Barnstorm Cycles. Seamus had never ridden a foot clutch/ jockey shift before. On that first ride, Mother Nature saw fit to send a downpour ten minutes into the ride. This made the journey home interesting to say the least. Kneeland rode the bike with flat black tins and a black seat for the rest of the New England riding season.
Once the snow came, he gave his friend Tony the tins and Paul the seat. Seamus told Tony he wanted it HoK Organic Green Kandy and that he could do what he wanted with scheme. He told Paul he wanted brown leather with brass knuckles on the back of the seat. Because they were good friends, they knew he liked the old West Coast look. What both of them gave back was above and beyond his expectations. The only other modification was to take a boring square frame DNA and transform it with the Three-Two-Choppers wishbone that Tony painted to match the rest of the bike. Russell Wilder at Russell’s Repair in Plympton, who is also a former marine and genius wizard, got the bike retimed and running like a top. After getting many miles under his belt, Seamus finally learned to ride a foot clutch/jockey, which lead to a special time, the ride next to his father.
GREEN DEMON TECH SHEET
Owner: Seamus Kneeland
City/State: Dorchester, MA
Builder: Seamus Kneeland
Time: 3 Months
Builder: Seamus Kneeland
Ignition: Morris M5 W/ Clear Top
Displacement: 74 cu
Carb: S&S Super E
Cam: Andrews EV27
Air Cleaner: K&N
Exhaust: Drag Pipes
Primary: BDL 3” Open Belt /Kevlar Dry Clutch
(And Bits Of My Index Finger)
Make: H-D Ratchet Top 4 Speed
Shifting: Foot Clutch, Jockey Shift
Make: Amen Savior
Builder: DNA /Three-Two Wishbone
Wheels, Tires, Brakes
Front Wheel: DNA
Front Tire: Avon MkII Speedmaster
Front Brake: DNA
Rear Wheel: 2000 Fat Boy
Rear Tire: Avon Storm
Rear Brake: DNA
Painter: FCR Customs
Color/Type: HoK Organic Green Kandy
Graphics: FCR Customs
Bars: Biltwell Keystones -2”cut off
Risers: I Don’t Remember
Hand Controls: Biltwell Throttle
Fuel Tanks: 2.5 Gallon
Front Fender: Nope
Rear Fender: Narrowed/Bobbed
Seat: Dahigi Custom Leather
Foot Controls: Demon’s Cycle
Oil Tank: LedSled Customs
Headlight: Cycle Standard 5 .
Taillight: After Hours Choppers
Photographer: Josh Elzey