Prudence ’72

Article And Photos By: Mark Velazquez

Originally Published In The January 2020 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

I will always be thankful to this crazy magazine for the people I have met over the years. I hope it is a never-ending ride where I continue to build a list of lifelong friends. The Father and Son team of Russ Jr (father) and his Son Russ III of Black Diamond Cycle, based in Coal Township, PA, have been on my lifelong friends and family list almost as long as I have been working for this rag. We met when I was asked to shoot one of their rides at an Indian Larry Block Party many moons ago. The rest has just been good times! I first heard about this bike from Russ’s daughter Heather, she sent me an almost finished image of the bike. I knew right away; this was going to be a great build and would give me an excuse for a road trip to see the boys! After talking to the team and getting some info on the owner Alex Grabiec, a proud member of our US Army, now back home and an avid rider, I was very much looking forward to making yet another new friend and seeing this Shovelhead up close and personal.

So, who is Alex Grabiec? Like most, he’s just a guy who loves to ride. His first bike was a Yamaha 80 Enduro at the age of 11 years old and his first road bike, a Kawasaki ZX6 in 1990 while stationed in Germany. It’s safe to say that Alex put in his fair share of miles tearing up the Autobahn. From there the transition was made to a H-D EVO Sportster which he brought back to the states in 1994. Since then, Alex has had a good dozen-plus Harley’s and even built a 1979 Ironhead chopper. As of today, his stable consists of a 1974 Honda CR450 chopper with girder front end and custom everything, the ’79 Ironhead, and a ’19 Electra Glide Standard. And of course, the newest edition, the ’72 Shovel chopper that graces these pages.

As the story goes, this build is just about how every Black Diamond build seems to start. A cold winter day and a few beers among friends sitting around Russ’s shop. But on this cold day, things, as expected, took a little twist when Alex saw Russ’s split rocker box Shovelhead sitting on a stand. It wasn’t long before Russ noticed Alex gazing at the engine, so of course he asked. “Nice motor, huh? Bet you wish you could have that one!” And at that point it was game on! It took a couple of weeks, but in the end, Russ agreed to sell the motor and ratchet top. He did it reluctantly but knowing that they are best friends and he’d do all the work on the build eventually, he agreed to sell what was to be his dream build.

After retiring from the Army (thank you for your service), Alex took a contract job in the Middle East to put together the cash for the remainder of the build and viola a year later he returned from the desert to retirement and his dream chopper! I guess when a best friend builds a dream bike for his best friend, things just work out. Alex was open to Russ’s ideas. After walking away with the motor, he returned and dropped off a filthy rolling chassis with a crooked sissy bar and wanted Russ to just install the engine and trans. NOT! After a total redesign, corrections, modifications, and re-engineering, it was more than one could imagine. From shaved Zel Cylinders, Split and Chrome Plated Rocker Boxes, Chrome Cases, Heads/Cases Modified for Custom External Oil Returns, Wheels Balanced, 4 Speed Polished by Russ with Custom Foot Shift, this list could go on for more pages than I’m allowed! The bike was entered in the Appel Mountain East Coast Sturgis Rally bike show, and it took best of show.

The reactions were mostly from other builders and machinists, who were amazed at the detail in the shaved heads, oil return lines, rocker boxes, risers, handlebars, and all of the meticulous detail that went into this project. Of all the bikes Alex has ever owned, he says that this is his single most comfortable bike. Pulling the front wheel off the ground coming into 2nd is a regular occurrence and hammering the twisty country roads in the coal region and Appalachia is a genuine joy – especially knowing no one else can keep up! The day of shooting was a long day with a long drive, but it was perfect. That day my journey was filled with hope. I was surrounded by old friends and made new ones. For that one day we took a step back in time and relived the basics of the American dream in a small town with different people from different walks of life. We talked about life, the struggles, the joys of just being able to be, we talked politics like our parents did, and in the end, it was ok to agree to disagree. And in the middle of this perfect day, sat the ’72 Shovel that brought us together.


Owner: Alex Grabiec

City/State: Coal Township, PA

Fab. By: Russ Nahodil

Year: 1972

Model: Chopper

Value: Yes

Time: 400+ Hours


Year: 1972

Model: FXD

Builder: Russ Nahodil

Ignition: Dyna

Displacement: 1200

Pistons: Wiseco 10:1

Heads: H-D Modified

Carb: S&S Super E

Cam: Andrews .485

Air Cleaner: S&S Cycle

Exhaust: Paughco

Primary: Open, Evolution Diamond Terminator Clutch


Year: 1972

Make: Harley-Davidson

Shifting: Custom Foot


Year: 2013

Make: CDC, Gardena, CA

Rake: 38

Stretch: 4”


Type: Slider

Builder: Russ Nahodil

Extension: 4”

Triple Trees: H-D Modified

Wheels, Tires, Brakes

Front Wheel: Bob’s Cycle Supply

Size: 21”

Front Tire: Avon Speedmaster

Front Brake: None

Rear Wheel: H-D Dyna

Size: 18”

Rear Tire: Dunlop K70

Rear Brake: Performance Machine


Painter: Dave Stuck & Scott Capps

Color: Metal Flake, Black

Type: Shiney

Graphics: AMF HD

Molding: Respective Painters

Chroming: Librandi’s


Bars: Russ Nahodil

Risers: Russ Nahodil

Hand: Built-rite

Fuel Tanks: Sportster

Front Fender: None

Rear Fender: Russ Nahodil

Seat: Unknown

Foot Controls: Russ Nahodil

Oil Tank: Horseshoe

Headlight: Swapmeet Special

Taillight: HD molded to fender

Speedo: None

Photographer: Mark Velazquez

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