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Sunrise Cycle’s 1936 Knucklehead

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Words: Jeff G. Holt Photos: Subias Photo

The history behind this bike is already a pretty crazy one.

it all stated with a Japanese-born bike builder by the name of Kouske Saito. He started Sunrise Cycles and Chopper Fever when he came to the USA following his dreams. Kouske built some very wild and rad custom bikes in the first few years of being in So Cal. In doing so he built a large following of customers and fans in a short period of time.

One of those people was Bill Buckingham. Bill is a wild guy who loves bikes. Well the two of these attributes combined when in 2012 when bill threw a leg over his stock 1929 Harley-Davidson JD and raced it coast to coast in the Motorcycle Cannonball Endurance race. After crossing the finish line he heard that the race organizers would be letting ‘newer’ bikes in the race, so bill was dead set on building a rigid racer in the from of a 1936 Knucklehead chopper. And he wanted Kouske to be the builder.

It was also at this same time that Kouske was invited to build a bike for the Born-Free show. With the chopper gods looking down paths collided and a deal was stuck to use the bike for both Born-Free and the Cannonball.

After bill hunted down the parts which consisted of a 1936 motor and tranny as well as a set of hubs and other ancillary `36 only-parts Kosuke hand built the frame and finished the bike just in time for the show.

And lucky he did as the bike won the top honors of Born-Free as well as a trip to the Yokohama Mooneyes HRCS show (where these photos were taken). After all the hoopla of judged contests and international travel, Bill slapped some number plates on the bike and ended up doing pretty damn good racing the cannonball on a chopper in a field of over 100 antique and priceless motorcycles for thousands of miles. That’s a story of a custom bike build that you cannot make up. Nice work gents.

it all stated with a Japanese-born bike builder by the name of Kouske Saito. He started Sunrise Cycles and Chopper Fever when he came to the USA following his dreams. Kouske built some very wild and rad custom bikes in the first few years of being in So Cal. In doing so he built a large following of customers and fans in a short period of time.

One of those people was Bill Buckingham. Bill is a wild guy who loves bikes. Well the two of these attributes combined when in 2012 when bill threw a leg over his stock 1929 Harley-Davidson JD and raced it coast to coast in the Motorcycle Cannonball Endurance race. After crossing the finish line he heard that the race organizers would be letting ‘newer’ bikes in the race, so bill was dead set on building a rigid racer in the from of a 1936 Knucklehead chopper. And he wanted Kouske to be the builder.

It was also at this same time that Kouske was invited to build a bike for the Born-Free show. With the chopper gods looking down paths collided and a deal was stuck to use the bike for both Born-Free and the Cannonball.

After bill hunted down the parts which consisted of a 1936 motor and tranny as well as a set of hubs and other ancillary `36 only-parts Kosuke hand built the frame and finished the bike just in time for the show.

And lucky he did as the bike won the top honors of Born-Free as well as a trip to the Yokohama Mooneyes HRCS show (where these photos were taken). After all the hoopla of judged contests and international travel, Bill slapped some number plates on the bike and ended up doing pretty damn good racing the cannonball on a chopper in a field of over 100 antique and priceless motorcycles for thousands of miles. That’s a story of a custom bike build that you cannot make up. Nice work gents.

 

 

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