The Good Die Young

Article And Photos By: Mark Velazquez

Originally Published In The May 2019 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

Only the good die young” and “friends till the end” have to be two of the most understated sayings I have ever heard, and still today I have yet to understand the true meaning of either. Some of us are lucky enough to still have our childhood friends, and then there are those who have had to say goodbye way too early. To me, early can be at the age of 17 or the age of 95. Do the math, it never works out nor should it. Doug Walter of Bellport New York happens to carry both of those thoughts with him every day through the memories of the life and times of his best friend Bob and his 1950 Panhead. I first ran into Doug at a local art show as I was showing at he blasted by on this very cool 1950 Panhead you see before you. As I watched him upset the “elders” with the roar from his pipes my first thought was, killer bike… shame he didn’t stop. An hour later he was in my booth, and we were talking bikes. I mentioned to him a killer Pan I had seen earlier, and to my surprise, he proudly told me that it was his.

As we continued to talk, we both found out we were from the same town and had never even crossed paths. Not wanting to let a good bike go, I told him I wanted to shoot his ride and the deal was done. Time would pass after a very good shoot, and like all features, the story behind the bike would now need to be told and shared. All our rides have beauty and secrets of their own, but oh my just imagine the stories could all be told…

This story is short and sweet but packs a punch to remind us that through good times or bad, all things happen for a reason. As we talked, Doug told me of a 20-year friendship that he and Bob shared. Many a day was spent together on the road. Life was truly good. Bob was like that older brother kind of guy and for Doug, that was just fine.

Like all of us that ride, that one project bike always seemed to come along. For Bob, it was a 1950 Panhead he had gotten a hold of that he wanted to restore to look like the “Billy Bike” that Dennis Hopper rode in the 1969 classic “Easy Rider.” Doug watched Bob struggle with trying to make this happen. Going from builder to builder on the Island for help, it seemed that Bob just kept hitting a brick wall with no success. It was then that Doug suggested that Bob bring the bike to a guy named Charlie who ran a shop called, you guessed it “The Bike Shop.” Charlie took in the project but within a month’s time Bob lost his life in a fatal bike accident.

Now a labor of love, Charlie continued to work on the bike, knowing this bike just had to get done. And on just about what would be the first anniversary of Bob’s passing the bike was complete. During this time Doug had taken ownership of a Fatboy that Bob had owned and to be honest really did not see much of the Pan at all after it was completed, for Bob’s wife took the bike and tucked it away. Five years would pass, and Doug was now about to turn 50, and just before his birthday, he received a visit but from none other than Bob’s wife! It was told to Doug that Bob’s son was about to have a baby and funds were needed, so the Pan was going up for sale. Knowing how close the two men where, she asked Doug to make her a fair offer knowing that he truly was the only one that should own this bike.

Well, the offer was made, and call it magic, karma, a little bit of 50/50 luck and a little help from his Mom with a very special birthday gift, the bike was now Doug’s! With other bikes now in his stable, this will always be Doug’s feel-good bike. For him he knows this is the one that put him on a better path, or should we say the road in life. If you noticed we have said very little about the build, sometimes it is what it is. Sometimes the moving parts are just what they are, moving parts, just know that these parts move with the best of them. So maybe not your normal feature story but hey this is not your normal story period. For better or for worse all of stories come with lessons to be learned. And for Doug Walter and Bob, we will let them keep this little mystery ride and story between them. We have shared enough.

 

THE GOOD DIE YOUNG TECH SHEET

Owner: Doug Walter

City/State: Bellport NY

Builder: Don T.

Year: 1950

Model: Panhead

Value: Priceless

Time: 6 Months

Engine

Year: 1950

Model: Panhead

Builder: Don T

Ignition:

Displacement: 74”

Pistons:

Heads: Harley-Davidson

Carb: Bendix

Cam: Andrews B

Air Cleaner:

Exhaust: Open Shotgun Drags

Primary: Closed Chain

Transmission

Year: 1950

Make: Harley-Davidson

Shifting: Mouse Ttrap Clutch

Frame

Year: 1950

Model: Straightleg Harley

Rake: 35°

Stretch: A Little

Front end

Builder: Harley-Davidson

Type: Wide Glide

Triple Trees: Harley-Davidson

Extension: 4”

Wheels

Front Wheel: Spoke

Size: 21”

Tire: Avon

Front Brake: Single Piston Harley

Rear Wheel: Spoke

Size: 16”

Tire: Avon

Rear Brake: PM Dual Piston

Paint

Painter:

Color: Root Beer / Yellow

Type:

Graphics: Flames

Chroming:

Accessories

Bars: Drag Bars

Risers: 6”

Hand Controls:

Foot Controls: Harley Forward

Gas Tank(S): Peanut

Oil Tank: Chrome Horseshoe

Front Fender: Chrome

Rear Fender: Flat Trailer Chrome

Seat:

Headlight: Chopper

Tail Light: Tombstone

Speedo: None

Photographer: Mark Velazquez

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