The Rusty Clown – Re-Birth Of An Old Pan

Published In The January 2014 Issue Of Cycle Source

Article By: Chris Condon  Photos By: Mark Velazquez

Feature 2a Jan 14

I guess it’s fitting that since I’m writing again that it starts with one of my old motorcycles. The R u s t y C l o w n Bike, as  people called it, was built in July of 2004 by my good friend James Best of Dudley’s Basement here on Long Island. I had a lot of fun on that bike riding around with Indian Larry, Paul Cox and Billy Lane in Sturgis and on The Biker Build Off, but as we all know, time changes things. Don Rose, the current owner, has been a friend of mine for the last 15 years or so. We train in the same gym and we’d run into each other at various events. He has been riding and building bikes out of his garage for the last 25 years. Don always liked my bike and said if I ever sold it, to give him first shot. I gave him my word that I would. At the end of 2010, a kid from Laconia called me and wanted to buy the bike. I called Don and told him the situation, but he was just starting his business and decided to pass on it. So the bike went to New Hampshire for 2 years. Then earlier this year, Don calls and wanted to know what ever happened to the bike. He asked me to call the kid up to see if he wanted to sell it. It turns out that Luke had fallen on hard times and needed cash. They struck a deal and now the bike resides back here in NY where it was built. Don also knows Billy Lane and has been using Billy’s parts on various bikes he has built. Don sites Larry, Paul and Billy as his biggest influences. Of course it’s no secret that Larry and Paul were not only my friends, but my greatest inspirations  as well! So of course the bike is styled in true NY fashion. Don has great respect for these three builders. He hopes that borrowing the styling of these guys comes off as flattering and not as an insult. I would have to say he pulled it off with flying colors.

Feature 2b Jan 14

He wanted to keep the bike functional and be safe as well since our area is very congested with traffic. Don wanted to keep the original lines and look of the bike, but at the same time make it his own. James had handmade the pipes, sissybar, rear fender and handlebars that were on it back when I owned it. Don wanted a little different look. He handmade the gas tank and seat pan then reworked the existing pipes and sissybar. Then he decided to toss the baby apes and put a set of speedster bars on it. He welded up all the tabs and brackets for the gas tank, shifter linkage, and motor mount. He also mounted a chain tensioner and steering dampener. The engine was still running, but was a little tired after I beat it hard for 7 years, and who knows how young Luke rode it. So, Don took the motor to Andrew Rosa in Huntington Village, NY to go through it again. While down in Huntington, Don stopped in to see Scott Mathieson of Huntington Village Leather. Don had him tool up a seat, saddlebag and tool bag for the bike. Back when I owned it, the only things painted were the gas tanks. Don liked the look, so he took the frame and tin to Mike Calderone [known as Michelangelo in these parts] for the reclaimed paint look.After the paint was applied, Johnny A did the striping job. So, my old Pan has had a fortunate rebirth and has a new home. I guess the old girl has some good karma because in the end, it all worked out and I know it’s in good hands. I’m glad to see the bike still on the road, and Don is enjoying riding it hard the way it was meant to be ridden.

Feature 2c Jan 14

Rusty Clown Bike Tech Sheet
Owner: Don Rose
City: Patchougue, NY
Fabrication By: Don
year: 1948
Model: Panhead
Time: 6 Months
Year: 1948
Model: FLH
Builder: Andrew Rosa – Rosa’s Cycle
Ignition: Morris Magneto w/ Auto Advance
Displacement: 89ci
Pistons: Wiseco
Heads: STD
Cam(s): A Grind
Carb: S&S
Air Cleaner: Goodson
Exhaust: Handmade
Primary: None
Year: 1948
Make: H-D
Shifting: Hand
Year: 1948
Make: H-D
Rake: None
Stretch: None
Type: 1946 H-D Offset Springer
Builder: H-D
Extension: None
Triple Trees:
Front Wheel: Late Model
Size: 21”
Tire: V Rubber
Brakes: PM w/ H-D Floating Rotors
Rear Wheel: Late Model
Size: 16”
Tire: V Rubber
Brakes: PM
Painter: Mike Calderone
Color: Reclaimed Rust
Graphics: Johnny A
Molding: N/A
Chroming: N/A
Bars: Speedster
Hand Controls: Kustom Tech
Gas Tank(s): Handmade By Don
Front fender: Nope
Rear fender: Jesse James/Mods By James Best
Seat: Scott Mathieson
Foot Controls: Choppers Inc.
Oil Tank: James Best – Dudley’s Basement
Taillight: Choppers Inc
Headlight: Painted Stock
Speedo: None
Photographer: Mark Velazquez

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