POWERPLANT’S PANHEAD RACER
Powerplant’s Panhead Racer
Creative freedom is a double- edged sword. An unrestrained idea can grow into greatness, like Led Zeppelin, chocolate- chip cookies, or the first Star Wars trilogy. Other thoughts, left unchecked, mutate into boy bands, fruitcake, or the second Star Wars trilogy. Luckily, when actor Scott Caan gave Powerplant Choppers the go-ahead to indulge themselves on his next custom bike, he knew they’d give him a Luke Skywalker and not a Jar Jar Binks.
On second thought, luck didn’t have anything to do with it. Scott has known Powerplant owner Yaniv Evan since high school. That, and the Hollywood, California, shop built a bike for him previous to this one. Yaniv’s creations are handmade and use genuine classic parts. He puts function slightly ahead of form; above all, it has to be fun to ride. Powerplant’s not concerned with chromed iron. It’s all paint and polish with these guys, with as much done in-house as possible. That’s why Caan gave Yaniv free rein to indulge himself on this one. He liked the first enough that he had no problem giving them creative carte blanche on the sequel.
Powerplant didn’t disappoint him. They spent a year creating a ’52 Panhead based on a 1920s/1930s racer they had sitting around the shop. The reason it took so long? All the handcrafting. Any parts he can make in-house, Yaniv does, due to the fact that he grew up around old
hot rods and he comes from the school of oldworld craftsmanship. His bikes feature a good deal of brass, be it the pegs or on accents throughout the machine.
It’s not all about the trimmings though. Yaniv’s shop also made the tanks and fenders by hand. We said earlier this ride’s based on an old racer of his, but he took a little liberty with the peanut tank. It’s not quite what you’d find on a vintage racebike, but it’s definitely classic chopper. Like the racers of old, he ditched the front fender as extra weight.
Yaniv created 90 percent of this bike in his shop, and those parts he didn’t make are mostly the original articles from back in the day. The shop rebuilt the ’52 motor, adding in S&S pistons and cam for extra oomph, and restored the matching transmission.
As far as the chassis goes, Powerplant stretched a ’56 Harley frame 3 inches out to bring the stance in line with that of the old racer. They then mated it to a ’47 springer fork set and XX spoke wheels. They kept the tires at a modest 3 x 21 inches and 4 x 18 inches for deep leaning in California’s twisty canyons.
Twelve months after Scott gave Yaniv the green light, he got his finished ride. Evan took the spark of an idea and through his considerable skill reincarnated some old parts as a new chopper. Sure, it took a year, but I’m willing to bet Scott thinks it was worth the wait. SC