CHRIS HUBER’S 1947 HARLEY-DAVIDSON
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