The Blown Knuck

Article By: Chris Callen

Photos By: Michael Lichter

Originally Published In The January 2019 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

A late 60’s/early 70’s style trike built from a knucklehead by JP Rodman. Photographed by Michael Lichter in Boulder, CO on July 18, 2016. ©2016 Michael Lichter.

Few people can deny the powerful images of Big Daddy Roth’s monsters and the vehicles they drove or rode as we were youngsters. These characters were not only representatives of actual custom vehicles of the day, but they were also an expression of the gearhead mentality that surrounded the culture. For some of us, Roth’s artwork inspired our own characters from the tip of a pen, for others, the machines were the focus and this beauty right here is a way back machine to take a trip right back to that place and time.

A late 60’s/early 70’s style trike built from a knucklehead by JP Rodman. Photographed by Michael Lichter in Boulder, CO on July 18, 2016. ©2016 Michael Lichter.
A late 60’s/early 70’s style trike built from a knucklehead by JP Rodman. Photographed by Michael Lichter in Boulder, CO on July 18, 2016. ©2016 Michael Lichter.

This story starts with JP Rodman as a young man who worked with his old man on ‘55 and 57 Chevy’s growing up. His dad was an auto body instructor, and they spent a lot of time at car shows where JP would get great exposure from the hot rod scene, but also take in a lot from the motorcycles that were there. Around ‘92 when Rodman got out of the Navy, JP was riding bikes but nothing real custom. He said he was still figuring out how to keep them running, for him it was mostly Kawi’s and CBR’s then. Fast forward to 2004 when JP scored his first Harley, he was in Salt Lake City riding around with a bunch of guys. Some of the older cats would regale him with chopper tales of the stuff they built back in the seventies. That’s where his obsession with customizing old iron began. He got himself an old Ironhead and started honing his skills

A late 60’s/early 70’s style trike built from a knucklehead by JP Rodman. Photographed by Michael Lichter in Boulder, CO on July 18, 2016. ©2016 Michael Lichter.
A late 60’s/early 70’s style trike built from a knucklehead by JP Rodman. Photographed by Michael Lichter in Boulder, CO on July 18, 2016. ©2016 Michael Lichter.

About six years ago now Rodman was custom painting and pinstriping a lot. He was learning to shoot flake, and a ton of people were starting to ask him to do tanks for their bikes. At the time he was happy to do panels because it gave him practice on pinstriping, but when he began to get some tutoring from Aaron Lobato out of Albuquerque, he really started to fall in love with panel work. His break and the beginning of this bikes story started with Born Free 6 when he was invited to build as the People’s Champ. Of course, he would do a long-molded chopper with metal work and the lot. Having the ability to go back, JP said, he may not have done as much molding as he did. Still, he managed to finish on time and with a clean sixty days in just the bodywork, it was worth the time since it got him a proper invitation the following year.

A late 60’s/early 70’s style trike built from a knucklehead by JP Rodman. Photographed by Michael Lichter in Boulder, CO on July 18, 2016. ©2016 Michael Lichter.
A late 60’s/early 70’s style trike built from a knucklehead by JP Rodman. Photographed by Michael Lichter in Boulder, CO on July 18, 2016. ©2016 Michael Lichter.

Rodman had an old Choppers Magazine cover that featured an illustration of a trike with a body like the one you see here by Ed Newton. It was beyond cool, and the Born Free invite gave him the motivation to go after it. He had an old miss matched Servi-Car to start. Part Servi and part Shovelhead. He started by cutting everything away from the frame except the cradle. The rest was mostly bent, crooked and in need of rehabbing anyway so he would just hand fab it from there. After getting a good deal on an S&S Knuckle from Chopper Swapper, the plan started to become a little clearer. He had a Servi rear set, the engine cradle from a Shovel and an S&S Knuck. After getting those components lined up to fit together, he began building the sheet metal tub that would hold the body. The tub would fit to the fiberglass body by a lip at the bottom so that it would lift on and off. Now, all he had to do was fab up a quick form to make the fiberglass body from. With some 2, 4 and 6-foot sections of foam blocks JP made a giant brick of foam, then simply sculpted the form of what he was after. A full month went by by the time he had the foam complete and finished the fiberglass form.

A late 60’s/early 70’s style trike built from a knucklehead by JP Rodman. Photographed by Michael Lichter in Boulder, CO on July 18, 2016. ©2016 Michael Lichter.
A late 60’s/early 70’s style trike built from a knucklehead by JP Rodman. Photographed by Michael Lichter in Boulder, CO on July 18, 2016. ©2016 Michael Lichter.

With the body complete, he went back to the drivetrain. You see, JP had his mind set on a blower, and he would now have to figure out how to make all the parts for that fit into the design he was after. He ended up getting the huge intake system to fit nice and tidy within the confines of the fiberglass body. Once it all started to look like it would work, he moved on to fit and finishes. With 14 days left until Born Free, JP took the bike out to Speed Metal where Dave Baker and Mike Cecil would help him finish it. Rodman lived on the floor of the shop cranking out parts and finishing up the details to get it ready to fire. I mean, it’s a Knucklehead, kick only, with a blower… Yeah so, they ended up tow starting it for the first fire, but they did get it dialed in just in time for Born Free.

A late 60’s/early 70’s style trike built from a knucklehead by JP Rodman. Photographed by Michael Lichter in Boulder, CO on July 18, 2016. ©2016 Michael Lichter.

Since the unveiling JP has removed the blower portion of the bike, just to make it a little more rideable. He’s had it out to some events like the Shed Run and says that for a three speed with reverse it gets up and goes a good bit. You do have to make sacrifices for a look like this, however, and sometimes you have to stick your head out of the side, so you can see good enough, but that’s not the point. The challenge for JP on this build was to make a physical embodiment of a Roth-like cartoon vehicle. In that, he killed it and created what will surely be one of the most iconic builds of our time. Currently, JP is involved in several customer builds with a Triumph and a Sportster that both need finished before he can jump back on his next personal project which is a VW Trike. This one will be built for Born Free but then will be a give-a-way for the next Run To Raton. As I finished the interview, I had to apologize to JP for the time it took to get this in, I explained that I wanted it on the cover, and during the winter months when I knew I’d have your undivided attention. After all, a bike like this only comes around once in a generation, and I didn’t want anyone to miss it in our pages!

A late 60’s/early 70’s style trike built from a knucklehead by JP Rodman. Photographed by Michael Lichter in Boulder, CO on July 18, 2016. ©2016 Michael Lichter.

THE BLOWN KNUCK TECH SHEET

Owner: JP Rodman

City/State: Raton, NM

Builder: JP Rodman

Year: 2016

Model: C-Cab

Value: $100 Or Best Offer

Time: 1 Year

ENGINE

Year:

Model: S&S Knucklehead

Builder: Randal Nelson

Ignition: FHP

Displacement: 93cu

Pistons:

Heads:

Carb: Dual CV

Cam:

Air Cleaner: Vergaser Velocity Stacks

Exhaust: JP Rodman

Primary: Open 530 Chain / Lakeside

TRANSMISSION

Year:

Make: V-Twin

Shifting: 3 Spd W/ Reverse

FRAME

Year:

Model: Custom Servi Car

Rake: 55 Degrees

Stretch:

Forks

Builder: Mick’s Chop Shop

Type: Springer

Triple Trees:

Extension: 30 Over

WHEELS

Front Wheel: High Shoulder Aluminum

Size: 21”

Tire: Firestone

Front Hub: Apollo Hub / Flying Weasel

Rear Wheels: Cragar Keystones

Size: 15”

Tire: M&H

Rear Brake: Drum

PAINT

Painter: JP Rodman

Color: Lots

Type: HOK

Graphics: JP Rodman & Beth Kearny

Poweder coat: Al’s Plating

ACCESSORIES

Bars: JP Rodman

Risers: None

Hand Controls: Biltwell Whiskey Throttle

Foot Controls: Pangea Speed Arc Pedals

Gas Tank(s): Moon Eyes 3 Gal

Oil Tank: JP Rodman

Front fender: None

Rear Fender:

Seat: Foam & Fur

Headlight: Perlux Fog Lights

Tail light: Turkish Lantern

Speedo:

PHOTOGRAPHER: Michael Lichter

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