Pandemonium Chopper

Article By: Chris Callen

Photos By: Kerri Schindler

Originally Published In The October 2013 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

Shovel Feature 1a Oct 13 Kerri

I’ve known Daniel Donley for quite a few years now. I’ve had the pleasure of calling him my brother, and working together on the magazine. He also was a huge part of building the ’49 with me a few winters ago. I have admired his style and approach to building motorcycles since the first one we ever featured here in Cycle Source, but I can truly say that what he h a s accomplished with t h e Shovelhead you s e e before you is just a new level. Daniel’s shop is called Pandemonium Customs; an odd choice considering this cat is one of the most laidback human beings on the planet. What you get to understand after knowing him for a while is that the name must be a result from the ideas that are constantly flying through his head. His shop has really gained some national and even international attention over the past three years that he has devoted his craft to customizing XS650s and developing a complete line of custom parts for them. Now, his girl Kerri has come on with him fulltime, a fact that he says made Pandemonium what it is today. The XS work has been so good they’ve had to add on to the shop, pick up extra help to keep up with the shipping and become creative with time management like you can’t imagine. All of this has been done in spite of their company being a “no bank loan” business model. He is truly a self-made man.

Dan’s roots go back to Pans and Shovels — hell anything with two wheels actually– and when he got the chance to build a showpiece for the shop, he threw everything he had into it. It all started when a man named Cory Miller called him up to talk about a bike he saw in a magazine. You guessed it, the mag was Cycle Source and it was named “Dirty Hooker.” It was the first one we ever ran of his. Cory went on to say that he was so into that bike, he wanted Daniel to build him one just like it. They talked for a while, kicking around ideas and stories, but Dan just chalked it up to good conversation. A short while later though, Cory called back and said he wanted to stop by and see the shop. It turned out he was in Cleveland which was only about two hours from their Defiance, Ohio home base; Daniel told him to come on by. The two men spent that day talking about ideas and builds some more, looking over Dan’s library of completed works. Cory decided to leave a deposit there with him on the spot. The great part for Daniel was that other than a few guidelines, the customer was open to giving him full creative reign. Daniel’s first call went out to Faith Forgotten Choppers’ Will Ramsey. Daniel had been planning out the perfect build in his head for years; he knew that it would start with one of Will’s frames. He ordered the frame and picked it up during Mt. Fest last year. He had just scored a ‘73 FX for a donor bike a short time before so he was ready for the build. When it came to that motor, Dale Miller of Miller Motors would be the man. H e was a national record holder in the AHDRA and is known for building the most reliable, gofast motors.

Shovel Feature 1b Oct 13 Kerri

Originally, the plan was to get Will to conjure up a bitchin’ Springer. Unfortunately, he got super busy with his own build for the Artistry in Iron show. Instead, Daniel would end up going to the cats at ACME Choppers. These guys can build an incredible frontend. It finished out the skeleton of this piece perfectly, or as Dan referred to it, “Super sweet shit!” One of the very cool aspects of this project, especially for us at the magazine here, is that from front to back Daniel set out to use all American made parts. Now, as it turned out, he would have a couple small pieces that couldn’t be sourced in the U.S., but it’s about as close as you can get. It cost a bit more, but the quality was well worth it. The list has some great products from U.S. based manufacturers like the open chain primary from Bare Knuckle Choppers, Led Sled fenders, a Red Tail Leather seat, S&S cylinder heads, and an Andrews’ engine and tranny internals. The big difference with the American parts, he told me, was that wait time. It definitely takes longer to get U.S. stuff, but the build was not to be rushed. You gotta love a good flame job on a chopper, and this one is the cat’s ass. Visual Impact laid down this high-gloss black with silver flake flame paint and turned it around for Pandemonium in just about a week and a half. Daniel could see how the bike was coming together and knew that it was gonna blow Cory’s mind. The whole time this build was going on, Daniel got to know Cory better. He seemed like a normal dude when he first visited the shop, Daniel said, but he learned that he is a chemist at his day job that does testing for a lot of the big automotive manufacturers.

He ended up being the best customer Dan ever worked with, but he is absolutely by the book when he does stuff on his own. Since he’s had the bike now, he apparently has started  to teach himself proper maintenance through reading the service manual. Now with tech tips, we always tell people to make sure the first thing they do is to buy a manual, but this guy had us both beat. When he showed up to get his bike from Daniel, he started going through a whole process of kick starting it. Dan asked him why he was doing it like that. It wasn’t that it was wrong, but he definitely seemed to have a formula, and as a basically new rider, that was kind of odd. He told Daniel that this is how the book tells you to kick start your Harley-Davidson Shovelhead model motorcycle … We both cracked the hell up ‘cause we didn’t even know that was in the book. You’re a better man than both of us Cory; you keep on doing it just like that brother! This was great for Dan since it makes him feel like he really started someone on the road of a lifelong passion for motorcycles. He can see how much Cory is diggin’ all this and he can’t wait to watch him grow into it over the years. So, they showed up at Mt. Fest this year, a full 12 months after the frame was delivered, and this is what Daniel has to show for his time. Not too damn bad. He took home the “Best in Show” pro division trophy and scored himself this cover shoot in the process. It’s a hell of a bike, there’s no doubt about that, but here’s what makes me so proud of him. I’ve seen Daniel take design cues from all the influences over the years from the bobber crowd to the XS guys. With this Shovelhead, he put a flag down and managed to convey his style and his personality into a bike that also reflected the trends of today. It’s an amazing thing to pull off and he did it — flawlessly.

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Pandemonium Shovel Tech Sheet

Owner: Cory Miller

City: Cleveland, OH

Fabrication By: Pandemonium Custom Choppers

Year: 1973

Model: Shovel

Time: 1 Year

Value: Priceless To Some


Year: 1973

Model: Shovelhead

Builder: Dale Miller – Miller Motors

Ignition: Points

Displacement: 80”


Heads: S&S

Cam(s): S&S

Carb: S&S Super E

Air Cleaner: Big Catcher

Exhaust: LAF

Primary: Bare Knuckle Choppers


Year: 1973

Make: H-D/Miller Motors

Shifting: Kick Only



Make: Faith Forgotten Choppers

Rake: 35 Degrees

Stretch: 5 up 1 Out Solid Rear Axle


Type: Springer

Builder: Acme Choppers


Triple Trees: Narrow


Front Wheel: 60 Spoke

Size: 21”

Tire: Metzeler

Brakes: Performance Machine

Rear Wheel: 60 Spoke

Size: 18”

Tire: Metzeler

Brakes: Performance Machine Sprotor


Painter: Visual Impact

Color: Black

Type: The Good Stuff

Graphics: Flaked Out Flames

Chroming: Browns’ Plating


Bars: Drag

Risers: Acme Choppers

Hand Controls: Hawg Halters/Avon Grips

Gas Tank(s): Pandemonium

Front Fender: Nope

Rear Fender: Led Sled

Seat: Red Tail Leather

Foot Controls: Pandemonium

Oil Tank: Mooneyes

Taillight: Pandemonium “A” Bracket

Speedo: Nah

Photographer: Kerri Schindler

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