Article by Chris Callen, Photos by Michael Lichter
Originally published July 2019
Getting an invitation to Michael Lichter’s Gallery Show in Sturgis is a considerable honor and at the same time a little intimidating. Yes, you’re going to bring your best, but so is everyone else. Some of the cleanest machines on the planet are going to be in that room, right next to your work if you have been chosen, and that’s a fantastic sight.
Last year there were so many incredible bikes that showed up for “Passion Built” that we are still sifting through them, this month’s cover bike is no exception. It stuck out from the crowd in that room like a glowing light was above it. A 1947 Knucklehead built in the traditional speed freak traditions of post-war badasses that has now resurfaced on vintage racetracks. This offering was from Bryan Lane, gone as soon as it appeared, a beautiful bike he calls “Irish Goodbye.”
Bryan Lane owns and operates a construction company by day. A 42-year-old New York native who currently lives in North Carolina where he applies his trade, Lane’s real passion lies in buying, selling and restoring old motorcycles. He claims he builds a couple here and there, in a very casual manner that would not suggest the incredible weight behind the level of craftsmanship his bikes display. But it all started very humbly, a story of trash to treasure actually.
Bryan was raised in a very anti-motorcycle family. His mother, like so many, forbid him from having a bike. At the age of 14, he scored a moped, but as soon as his father found out about it, he promptly threw it out for the trashman. Of course, the first thing he did when he moved out on his own was get a bike. At first, he was kind of a non-Harley guy, but then some 18 years ago he found his way into a Shovelhead, and that would start to change his course. He knew nothing about these bikes at the time, but he dove right in. The Shovel turned into cool little chopper with a stroker motor and Lane was hooked. He found that Pans and Shovels are relatively easy to work on and he enjoyed it.
Last year he was asked to do the Lichter show and was already working on another Knuckle, so he borrowed some of those ideas and threw in a dash of his own. It would all start with a trip to Maine to score a motor. It’s hard as hell to find a Knuckle anymore and rather than get ripped off on a big ticket item like this he drove there in person to inspect the mill. It turned out to be an actual Pete Hill prepared mill that would be perfect for this project. From there it was a guy in Tennessee that he got the frame from, a springer from e-bay and the build was on its way.
The idea for the style came from Bryan’s love of the vintage race style bikes that run at The Race Of Gentlemen. That post-war, no frills, no bullshit attitude was precisely what he was after, and man did he nail it with the Goodbye. Keeping with the tradition of drum brakes really takes this thing back to the day, but then it’s modern in all the right spots with the use of chrome plating in parts and gloss black in others. Finishing it off as skinny as hell is the tiny ford spare tire cover fender wrapped around the giant Firestone tire. Of course, we can’t overlook the talented work of Jordan Dickenson for that perfect seat, truly a compliment to this style. Appropriately for a motor that should be a screamer since Pete Hill had a hand in its design back in the day, he used a quick megaphone style exhaust to get the lungs pumping.
As you might figure this was a crowd favorite at Michael’s Motorcycles As Art show, but just like an Irish Goodbye, it was gone before anyone knew it. Bryan didn’t even have a chance to take it around to any other shows before it was bought and off to its new home. That’s all good with Bryan though since he never lets things stay quiet at “Plan B.” That’s what he named the shop after his divorce; it’s literally his Plan B! In any event, Lane is on to his next project, and I’m sure it will be more next level work coming from this true artist. Stay tuned, and maybe we can get that one here too.