KLASSIC KNUCKLE

CHRIS HUBER’S 1947 HARLEY-DAVID­SON

Street Chopper - - Contents - WORDS: CHRIS HUBER

Chris Huber’s ’47 Harley-david­son

Here’s the story as best as I can re­mem­ber it. I heard a friend of mine had come across an old Knucklehead that was on the cover of a pop­u­lar chop­per mag­a­zine in the 1980s. He had bought the bike with a few other friends as an in­vest­ment and was un­sure of what to do with it. I had been look­ing for a Knuckle mo­tor and fig­ured I bet­ter go take a look since I was told it was pretty sweet.

The bike was orig­i­nally red in color and put to­gether in the San Fer­nando Val­ley of Cal­i­for­nia sometime in the late ’70s or early ’80s. It was built to cap­ture the look of the bikes that were be­ing built and rid­den in the Los An­ge­les area and sur­round­ing val­ley in the late ’50s and early ’60s.

The bike rolled on a 21-inch wheel up front with a 16-incher in the rear. It was also run­ning some early ’50s Pan­head tanks be­fore most guys switched over to the smaller peanut tank look.

Over the years some­one had painted it yel­low and stashed it in their garage. And there it sat in its co­coon of lone­li­ness. That was un­til I got my mitts on it. The bike hadn’t run in 20 or so years when I saw it, but it was all there and it was all in re­ally nice shape for how many times this thing had changed hands. The 1947 frame was un­cut and in ex­cel­lent shape, and it had a very nice orig­i­nal XA springer up front. The Knuckle mo­tor had good com­pres­sion and looked like the last guy who had it back in the day had re­built it and never rode it. With that said, the guys who cur­rently had the bike got it run­ning, and af­ter some slight tun­ing it worked and sounded great! Shortly af­ter that I made the deal and rode it home.

Over the years some­one had stripped off some of the nicer parts it had when it was a cover bike, so I set out to get it back to the way it should be. A set of Flan­ders ris­ers and bars were mated back up to the springer. Then I added an orig­i­nal Bates seat and P-pad. If you are go­ing to know one thing about me, it is that there is noth­ing I like more than to take a bike camp­ing into the Cal­i­for­nia desert or up in the Sierra moun­tains, so I needed some­place to strap a sleep­ing bag and some gear. My friend Grant Peter­son helped me fab­ri­cate a nice lit­tle sissy bar, and I was good to go.

I rode the bike around like this for a year or so but knew I wanted to get it painted just about any other color than yel­low. Over the years Har­poon has painted a few bikes for me, and I knew I for sure wanted him to paint this one. We went back and forth for a while but agreed that what it needed was a tra­di­tional flame job via the Pete Chapouris­built “Cal­i­for­nia Kid” 1934 three-win­dow Ford Coupe hot rod for in­spi­ra­tion. Har­poon is a mas­ter of cap­tur­ing those early flames, and I couldn’t be hap­pier with the new paint.

As I am writ­ing this, the bike is sit­ting in the garage packed with my camp­ing gear and ready to roll. It’s al­ways been a dream of mine to have a bike like this, and I still trip out ev­ery time I look at it or kick it over. Huge thank-yous to Har­poon, Grant Peter­son, Jeff Leighton, Mike Davis, Dave Pol­green, and my gal Tif­fany. You may rec­og­nize a few of those names if you like chop­pers, and, yes, I’m ex­tremely for­tu­nate to have some very tal­ented friends to help me with this Mid­night Ram­bler project. SC

PHO­TOS: ED SU­BIAS

1947 KNUCK L EHE A D

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