Shovel Love

Published In The January 2014 Issue Of Cycle Source

Article By: Chris Callen Photos By: Ryan HK

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It’s always a pleasure when I get to catch up with Dale from Mad Jap. Every time we get on the phone, an hour is gone in a flash. When he is not solving  the world’s problems over the phone with me, Dale Yamada goes quietly about his craft in a shop located in Calgary, Alberta. Far from the h u s t l e and bustle of the hipster scene, he has created some of the most amazing motorcycles of our time. It was recently that I sat at my computer watching a video link that Dale had sent me of a bike he’d just finished. It was so well produced and such a great piece from the heart, that I watched it through to the end. It featured Dale and this Shovel, alone at night, riding all over town. It instilled in me the same kind of feelings that I used to get when I rode my ’81. It featured a hip music soundtrack and left me wanting more. I had to know the story of this bike and bring it to our readers. It started out as a build for a customer. Over a three year period, this cat would come in and put some money down, talk about all kinds of ideas he had, but then tell Dale to hold off because he was outta money. Months down the road, the same thing, then again he’d call up and have no money. The bike kept getting put on the back burner; a good thing since originally it was to be an Evo with a Springer and a six speed. On one of the last rounds, the customer made the decision to move up to a Shovel with a four speed and Dale was on lock. Unfortunately, the man still wasn’t, and before long was out of money again and called it off; this time he was going into rehab. At this point, Dale lost it and told the man he was gonna finish the build and sell the bike. Now the rest was up to Dale. He originally wanted to do something that was not over the top. With most of his bikes being very flashy and bright, this one would go in an entirely different direction. His love affair with cone Shovels propelled him to go the tried and true route of a basic Shovel with a Super B. Dale still loves this combination because it’s just so easy and cheap to boot, in spite of some of his buddies telling him to stop working on those old four doors. The fact is that in the late seventies and early eighties this was pretty much all he remembered a bike to be; it gives that classic potato sound and they run forever. Since the bike build wasn’t far along enough for paint the last time the guy called, Dale decided to ditch the shiny paint and just go with basic black. He’d never done a black bike so this would be a welcome change . Everything on Shovel Love was done in-house, partially from Dale’s need to create, but also because of the cost of importing swap meet parts into Canada.

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It’s a very expensive proposition and one that he told us was just not a road he wanted to go down. So instead, he takes it into the shop and makes everything for his builds himself. In the end, this is something that gives Dale’s builds a real unique set of features. Specifically on Shovel Love, he came up with great little mini apes that have integrated risers built right into them. This practice is carried out all over the bike. Hours were spent on the shifter alone, and all this went on without wanting anything to really stand out. It’s much more complicated to build under the radar like this. In the end, the overview of the bike was very soft and perceivably simple: a classy looking bike. Each time there’s an opportunity to make a bracket or design an item that gives it a little more personality, that’s what he does. It’s that mentality that drew him and Ryan, the man behind the camera, together. Ryan was just getting into bikes. He had spent a bunch of time all around town getting the runaround about what he wanted to do to his Sporty. Apparently, a bunch of the places he had been visiting were making him feel like the thing he needed to do was ditch the Sporty and get on a Shovel or some other Big Twin. All they wanted to do was bolt-on import trinkets. And then he found his way to Mad Jap. Dale explained to him, knowing that he was not in a great position with money that they could just work with what he had. They would make the most of what they needed and the bike would be bitchin’. In the time they spent working on the bike, Dale would explain to Ryan the difference between doing this thing to be seen and look cool, and to just do it for the love of the bike and to hell with what anyone else thought. They became fast friends, and with Ryan’s ability behind the camera, the two set off to capture their love for motorcycles. The video – Shovel Love Nights – can be seen at https://vimeo. com/76650995, and this is just the beginning. They are now set upon the task of developing a full feature film that showcases East Coast and Midwest builders. The project is slated for a year of collecting media and another year of development. Be sure to keep your eye on the Mad Jap Facebook page since they plan on constantly releasing shorts based on the stuff they will be creating for the feature film. Until then, Dale tells me he has about six more bikes to build over the winter so we can’t wait to bring you what he’s working on next. This cat and the bikes he builds are always a great way to start off the New Year.

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Shovel Love Tech Sheet
Owner: Mad Jap – Dale Yamada
City: Calgary, Alberta Canada
Fabrication By: Mad Jap Kustoms
Year: 1977
Model: Hardtail
Time: 2 Months
Year: 1977
Model: Shovelhead
Builder: Mad Jap Kustoms
Ignition: Magneto
Displacement: 80”
Pistons: Cast
Heads: H-D
Cam(s): B
Carb: S&S Super B
Air Cleaner: Stack
Exhaust: Mad Jap Kustoms
Primary: 1/34 H-D And A Mix
Year: 1969
Make: H-D
Shifting: Hand
Year: 2013
Rake: 30 Degrees
Stretch: None
Type: Shaved Sportster
Builder: H-D
extension: 2” Under
Triple Trees: H-D
Front Wheel: 40 Spoke Spool
Size: 21”
Tire: Avon Speedmaster
Brakes: Ha Ha
Rear Wheel: 40 Spoke
Size: 16”
Tire: Goodyear Replica
Brakes: Mad Jap Kustoms
Painter: Mad Jap Kustoms
Color: Black
Type: 2 Stage
Graphics: Gold Leaf
Chroming: What A Pain In The Ass
Bars: Mad Jap Kustoms Stainless
Risers: Mad Jap Kustoms – Built Into Bars
Hand Controls:
Gas Tank(s): Mad Jap Kustoms
Front Fender: Nope
Rear Fender: Heavy Mod Flat Fender
Seat: Mad Jap Kustoms
Foot Controls: Mad Jap Kustoms
Oil Tank: Pan
Taillight: Mad Jap Kustoms
Speedo: I’m Not Sexy Enough – Boxers!
Photographer: Ryan HK

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