Sturgis Best Of Show 58′ Pan

Article By: Matt Reel

Photos By: Chris Callen

Originally Published In The November 2012 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

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I would like to start this article off by saying how honored I am to be writing it. First off, the bike featured here is a beautiful 1958 Pan. Secondly, this bike won the “Best of Show” award at the Cycle Source nighttime chopper show in Sturgis, and is this month’s cover bike. Lastly, but by no means least of all, the owner, Leonard Rickerman, has spent his career defending you, me, and this great country in the U.S. Army, 5th and 7th Special Forces Group. So as you can see, this motorcycle and its owner have a lot going on. Leonard has been riding and working on motorcycles for many years now. His first was a 1972 Sportster that he bought when he was in high school and fixed up with the help of his father, Jack. As a matter of fact, Leonard’s father was a mechanic and had built many “basket case” bikes. Leonard says he learned some things about working on motorcycles from his father and wishes he could have learned more, but sadly Jack passed at a very young age and is greatly missed to this day. After the Sportster, Leonard bought, worked on, and rode several other bikes. He says the one thing about all those bikes was that they were bought as fixer-uppers. They were always simple builds, and the repairs were done with only the help of a service manual. The one thing he had never tried was a complete ground-up build. That was until about 3 years ago when his brother convinced him they both should build and eventually head to Sturgis.

So, Leonard came up with a basket case Pan complete with busted cases and a fairly decent frame. The cases were welded up and polished while Irish Rich at Shamrock Fabrication replaced the neck in the frame. With those items taken care of, it was 3 years of “Sunday Zen Time,” as Leonard put it. Working in his garage with basic hand tools, a hand drill, Lincoln flux core welder, sander, polisher, and a grinder, Leonard went to work building the bike he had already designed in his head. As the build went on, a lot of Leonard’s projects oddly corresponded with similar tech articles in Cycle Source (strange how that works sometimes). He also loved being able to make his own “service manual” from those tech articles, Harley manuals, and catalog adds. Leonard said another new thing with the build was changing from a “will this fit” to “how can I make this fit” way of thinking. No more looking to see if something would work, if he wanted to use it, he would make it work.

As the build went on, Leonard scoured the swap meets for parts and worked on the assembly. With the freshly welded and polished cases, the engine was assembled to basically stock 74” specs, while adding an Andrews AB grind cam, a set of STD heads, and an S&S Super E with a Thunderjet. The Pan was then tied to a rebuilt and polished ratchet top 4 speed by way of a belt drive with a fabricated belt cover. A Mallory electronic ignition was then added along with a set of Paughco squish drag pipes. The drivetrain was now complete; time to get it rolling. With the new neck in the frame, the W & W reproduction inline Springer had a perfect place to hang. The Springer was then topped off with Paughco mini Z bars and dog bone risers. A CC 21” star hub wheel was then added with an Avon Speedmaster tire and a 1948 mechanical brake set up. On the rear, an original 16” Harley-Davidson star hub wheel was used, complete with loose bearings. A 1955 Harley-Davidson mechanical drum brake set up was chosen for the r e a r along with a Safety Mileage tire. With the bike rolling and powered, it was time for some finishing touches. A narrow alien gas tank was placed on the frame for fuel supply. A horseshoe oil tank was then added with custom bent hard lines. The horseshoe tank gave enough room inside to hide the fuses and a 12 volt gel battery. The rear fender was sourced from Gas Box Customs and is attached with Fab Kevin mounts and stainless struts. An old Bates’ seat was scored from Mike Davis to add that finishing touch to the bike.

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With everything together, it was now time to pull the sheet metal off and get it painted. The paint duties were handed off to Ryan Litjen of Bad Kompany Kustoms. What better choice for a classic styled little hot rod Pan than gloss black with some old school flames and hand done pinstripes. After the paint was back and reinstalled all the original chrome was then treated to a good polishing. Now with just a couple weeks until Sturgis, the bike was together and running. Leonard didn’t have the time to build the forward controls he wanted, so a set of aftermarket ones were temporally added. It’s now time for Leonard and his brother to load up and head for Sturgis. Before they can get on the road, their mom (Judy) gives them both money and tells them to have fun (No matter how old you are, you are always mom’s boys). Leonard’s mom and dad always talked about going to Sturgis, but never got the chance. Once Leonard and his brother arrived in Sturgis, they set up base at the Buffalo Chip and commenced to riding their bikes and riding them hard. The Pan performed great only requiring a minor repair to a push rod tube leak, an oil line leak and a quick re-torque of the head bolts. Now it’s lucky for us and Leonard that he stopped the Pan long enough to attend the Cycle Source show. While it was there, it caught the attention of all of us. You can actually see Darren checking it out on Rally TV. As the evening went on, it was time for the awards to be handed out. Roadside Marty took the stage and introduced the winners as only he can. When the time came to announce the “Best of Show” winner, Marty called out Leonard’s name. Leonard said he actually stood there wondering where the hell this guy was before he realized it was him.

As the winner, Leonard received some great prizes including a rolling chassis from Sucker Punch Sally. When asked what his plans would be for the chassis he replied, “I hope you guys don’t mind, but I wanted to pass the good luck to my brother (Jack) so I gave him the Sucker Punch Sally roller.” Jack always wanted a custom Shovel so Leonard gave him a start. The roller now sits in Jack’s living room getting mocked up. After the Sturgis show, Leonard had to ride the Pan back to the Buffalo Chip in the rain and then through the mud at the campground. He then had to get up the next morning and figure out how to clean it so it would be ready for the photo shoot. He and his brother used crushed beer cans to scrape the mud out of the tires and washed it in a mud puddle. Not bad work; I’d like to see what they could do with soap and water. With all the things that came with winning the award, one of best was that Leonard’s teenage sons (Cole and Jake) think he is pretty cool for getting his bike in Cycle Source magazine. How many things can you name that will make your teenage kids think you’re cool? In closing, just remember it doesn’t take a ton of money and a garage full of high end tools to build a nice bike. All you need is an idea in your head, the desire to build it, and the support of family and friends. So get in your garage, get to work, ride that thing and we will see you on the road.

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Best Of Show ‘58 Tech Sheet

Owner: Leonard Rickerman

City: Monument, CO

Fabrication By: Owner

Year: 1958

Model: FL

Time: 3 Long Years

Value: More Than The Life Of Anyone That Messes With It

ENGINE

Year: 1958

Model: Panhead

Builder: John Beauchamp – Frontier Cycles

Ignition: Mallory Electronic

Displacement: Stock 74

Pistons: Yes

Heads: STD Dual Plug Pan Heads – Polished

Cam(s): Andrews “AB” Grind

Carb: S&S Super E w/ Thunderjet

Air Cleaner: Mooneyes

Exhaust: Paughco Squish Pipe Drags

Primary: Open – Fabricated Belt Guard

TRANSMISSION

Year: 1974

Make: 4 Speed Ratchet Top – Rebuilt

Shifting: Stock

FRAME

Year: 1952

Make: H-D Wishbone Rigid

Rake: Stock

Stretch: None

FRONT END

Type: Repo Inline Springer

Builder: W&W

Triple Trees: H-D Fork Bracket w/ “Ears”

WHEELS

Front Wheel: CC Star Hub w/ Timken Bearings

Size: 21”

Tire: Avon Speedmaster MKII

Brakes: ‘48 H-D Mechanical

Rear Wheel: H-D Star Hub w/ Loose Bearings

Size: 16”

Tire: Safety Mileage MKII

Brakes: 1955 H-D Mechanical

PAINT

Painter: Ryan Litjen – Bad Kompany Kustoms

Color: Gloss Black w/ Flames

Type: Old School w/ Hand Striping

Molding: Tank and Fender

Chroming: Original Chrome

ACCESSORIES

Bars: Paughco Mini Z-Bars – Narrowed

Risers: Dog Bones

Hand Controls: H-D Aluminum

Gas Tank(s): Narrow Alien

Front Fender: None

Rear Fender: Gas Box Custom w/ Fab Kevin Mounts & Struts

Seat: Bates Scored From Mike Davis – Born Loser

Foot Controls: H-D Rubber

Speedo: Calculated Wind Velocity

Taillight: Cat’s Eye

Headlight: Bates w/ Internal Switch

Photographer: Chris Callen

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