Long Ago & Far Away – A ’41 Knuckle

Featured in the December 2014 Issue Of Cycle Source

Article & Photos By: Chris Condon

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They say time never stands still, but if you’ve seen this Knuckle riding around NYC for the last 55 years you wouldn’t know it. Al Huang has been on the scene for a long time. I can remember him riding around the streets of NY on his rigid shovel back in the late 80’s. Although he had a nice sled, Al had always dreamed of owning a Knuckle. You know, the fantasy you have when you’re young and you want a certain bike to look a certain way. Don’t act like you were too cool to dream those dreams. We’ve all had them or we wouldn’t be riding. You see, Al was no different. He had no cash and really had no business looking but there he was with his nose in the classifieds. We all tease ourselves with things we can’t have sometimes. He was checking the ads and came across this Knuckle from a local 1%er we know. He knew he didn’t have the money, but he had to have it. He called a good friend who told him he’d float the cash for the bike. He flew over, struck the deal and returned home with this tasty knuckle for $4,200. That’s right, read it and weep. That was back in 1989. Once home he tore the bike apart. The bike was bad ass to begin with, but Al wanted to go through it, change a few things and make it his own. He had his dream, his vision of what it should look like. It wasn’t far off, but there had to be a few minor changes made. You see Al was no novice; he was an Airplane mechanic for Pan Am at the time. Being he was no stranger to the inside of an engine he took it apart. Al noticed that he had scored a nice little chopper with 74 inch shaved flywheels. He called up his good friend Fritz and the two got together at night and on weekends to get the bike together. Some of you old timers may remember Fritz from his days working with the old Iron Horse Magazine from the 90’s. Fritz is quite a talented guy himself and used to work with Indian Larry and Paul Cox quite a bit back in those days. So Al rebuilt the engine, went through the tranny and changed a few little things to make it his own. He and Fritz did the fabrication and Fritz added the paint. That was at the end of 1989. Once on the road, everyone notices a nice Knucklehead. You just can’t keep a low profile on a classy chopper. Al was used to getting attention with the bike and having to answer questions all the time. One particular night he was parked in front of a local biker bar and an old timer was eyeballing the bike hard. Not in the way of someone wanting to steal it, but in the way you recognize an old flame across the room from many years gone by. He was circling around the scoot taking it all in. Without looking at the number boss the old guy walked straight up to Al and recited the numbers out of memory.

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Al immediately freaked out having bought the bike from a club member. I can imagine the color draining from his face now. That sickening feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when something is just not right. Visions of losing his prized knuckle flood through his brain. Was it stolen? Was the hardened old bastard a club member? Did this guy want it back? Was he going to call the cops? Not knowing which direction this conversation was heading in Al summoned up the courage to ask “How the hell do you know the VIN to my bike?” He told Al without blinking an eye, “At one time that was my bike”! Turns out the old guy had bought the bike back in 1959 at the tender age of 17 and built it with a few friends. He proceeded to tell Al about the bike and of the shaved 74 inch flywheels in the engine cases, so Al knew this guy was for real. The old man told him how he rode the bike till around 1965 right when the Vietnam War started, then off to Nam he went. When he returned the bike was gone never to be seen again until now. Even though Al was interested in the history of his sled, he thought it wise not to ask too many questions since he bought it from a club member in the first place. The old dude didn’t seem interested in how he acquired it and that was ok with Al for sure. In life you need to know when to ask questions and when to listen. This time called for the latter. There are certain things in life that you just don’t need to know if you get my drift. When Al asked him how he recognized the bike he said “It hasn’t changed much and the rake on that old D&D frame gave it away.” They bullshitted a little and as fast as the old man appeared, he vanished into thin air and Al didn’t see him again for a few years. As fate would have it Al and the old man would later wind up working side by side at a local Harley dealer. They became friends and the guy never questioned Al about his ownership of the bike. Al has been riding this bike in the same configuration for the last 25 years. Everybody around here knows him. He is a good mechanic and helps many people in the greater NY area keep their bikes on the road. Al has built many hardcore bikes for many NY chopper jockeys over the years. So there you have it, a nice story with a fairy tale ending. Although Al is no rich prince or the ruler of a vast kingdom, nonetheless he and his ol’lady are still riding that Knucklehead chopper into the sunset. In real life that’s as good as it gets folks. Long live Choppers and the men who ride them and may this Knucklehead grace the streets of NY for another 50 years to come! Al would like to thank Fritz and Bob McQueen for their help with the bike over the years.

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Long Ago & Far Away Tech Sheet
Owner: Al Huang
City: Oceanside, NY
Fabrication By: Owner
Year: 1941
Model: EL
Value: What do you think?
Time: 1 Year
Year: 1941
Model: EL
Builder: Al Huang
Ignition: Points
Displacement: 74”
Pistons: TRW Forged
Heads: Harley
Cam(s): Andrews S
Carb: Linkert M748
Air Cleaner: Roth
Exhaust: Shotguns
Primary: Primo 3” Belt
Year: 1952
Make: Harley
Shifting: Jockey
Make: Early D&D
Rake: Yes
Type: Old Springer
Builder: Al Huang
Extension: 8 over
Triple Trees: Adjustaglide
Front Wheel: Star Hub
Size: 21”
Front Tire: Avon
Front Brake: Mechanical Drum
Rear Wheel: Star Hub
Size: 16”
Rear Tire: Avon
Rear Brakes: Mechanical Drum
Painter: Spritze by Fritz
Color: Blue
Graphics: Candy Blue Flames
Chroming: What You See
Bars: Baby Apes
risers: Dogbones
Gas Tank: Small Mustang
Front Fender: None
Rear Fender: Flat
Seat: Mustang
Foot Controls: Foot Clutch
Oil Tank: Unknown
Headlight: Yes
Taillight: Lucas
Speedo: None
Photographer: Chris Condon

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