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Three 54’s

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BY: RYAN LOUGHRIDGE

Tony Nguyen of LandSpeed Motorcycle shop had the idea of getting a few of the other 1954 Panheads he knew of together for a shoot. That idea seemed to fade into a pipe dream until that dream became more of an awakening once Tony was selling his ‘54. Slated to have the bike shipped off, Tony rallied Mike Caviston and Steve Motta, the two other owners of the 50th Anniversary pans. Luckily everyone’s busy schedules were able to fit the scheduling of the last-minute shoot. We met at LandSpeed in Fountain Valley, CA. Steve rode down from Burbank and Mike came up from Corona Del Mar.

Once all three bikes were together, the comparisons and contrasts became obvious. It was amazing to see what 63 years, a number of different owners and then the visions of the current owners will do to a vintage motorcycle. Although the year of the drivetrain is the same across all three bikes, the attitude of each machine was as unique as the identity of its owner.

Mike Caviston’s ’54 was built by Michael Barragan of Evil Spirit Engineering in Los Angeles. Adorned by many period correct and original parts, the patina heavy FLH looks like a survivor from the early 60’s. When asked about how his quest for this bike came about, Caviston explained: “A 50’s Panhead, yeah man, that’s what I was looking for. But how, how could I make that happen? The parts, the fab, the motor, etc. where do I start? How does it all come together? A Nightmare at best, I didn’t want some half-ass bullshit bike. I questioned all of that until I met Michael Barrigan from Evil Spirit Engineering. We spoke about the concept for hours on the phone, then we talked about it at his shop, he listened to what I was looking for, something rusted and mean; yet OEM on everything, down to the spec. Once we locked that in, I gave him the opportunity for the real artist to shine. This is what he designed, and I can’t imagine anything better.” 

Steve Motta’s bike on the other hand is a direct extension of his personal style. With the 19” rear wheel paired with the 23” front, the stance is similar to that of a board tracker with some early chopper styling for good measure. Much of the fabrication and metal work was done himself, adding to the unrepeatable look of the bike.  “I saw this pan on Craigslist for quite a bit more than I would pay. I talked to the guy a bit but didn’t make a move because he was still a bit high on the price. The ad expired, fast-forward about 4 months I hit him up and we talked price again. I drove down to San Diego, talked a bit more, negotiated and the rest is history. He gave me boxes upon boxes of stuff, which I didn’t foresee being part of the sale and ended up making this a super score. I didn’t touch the bike for some months until my slate was clean. I was going to build it more like a traditional bobber, bobbed hinged fender/pogo seat, tank shift, etc. Ultimately, I ended up going this route since the frame was a little more chopper-ized than I liked for the initial plan. Being my daily rider, I’ve done changes to it as I found a few more choice parts here and there.” 

I remember the day Tony scored his 54 Pan; he sent me a picture of it in the back of his sprinter, having paid a ludicrously small amount of money for it. Relatively unchanged since the late 70’s Tony took it upon himself to bring it up to his own standards. “I’d do little changes on it here and there, but always ride-able at the end of the day. One day, while at work, I decided to have a quick peep inside the primary cover. I pop the outer primary cover off, and low and behold, it had a chain drive primary. It was so frozen, kinked and dry, I couldn’t believe it even spun! Luckily, I had a new Primo clutch at the shop, so I did a quick swap. Once I got the primary off, I figured I’d change the counter sprocket to a 26t for highway speeds. Since I had that off, I’d replace the main-shaft seal. Well shit, if I’m doing the main-shaft seal; why not replace the 4th gear spacer with a leak proof one? There’s a guy in Canada that machines out a groove on the inside of the spacer, keeping oil from leaking out of the splines on the 4th gear. So yeah, since I’m in that deep, why not switch it out to jockey shift? It all snowballed into an all day project, in the middle of the workweek. Zero dollars made that day.”

“It’s a ’54 Pan.” Clearly a weak descriptor when it comes to the machines at hand. Three 1954 Panheads owned by three one-of-a-kind individuals who created three very distinct rides. The power of imagination is awesome when no two people have the identical approach.

MIKE CAVISTON

GENERAL

OWNER: MIKE CAVISTON 

SHOP: EVIL SPIRIT ENGINEERING 

SHOP PHONE: [email protected]

WEBSITE: EVILSPIRITENGINEERING.COM

YEAR/MAKE/MODEL: 1954 FLH PANHEAD 

FABRICATION: MICHAEL BARRAGAN 

EVIL SPIRIT ENGINEERING  (E.S.E)

BUILD TIME: 9 MONTHS  

ENGINE

YEAR/TYPE/SIZE:  1954 PANHEAD 1200CC

BUILDER: MICHAEL BARRAGAN E.S.E

CASES: ORIGINAL HD 54 CASES 

CYLINDERS: HD

HEADS: HD 

ROCKER BOXES: HARLEY 

CAMS: 1 CAM B GRIND 

THROTTLE BODY:S&S

AIR CLEANER: S&S

CARB: S&S SUPER E  

TRANSMISSION

YEAR/TYPE: 1954 HD 4 SPEED 

GEARS: STOCK HD 

CLUTCH: PRIMO RIVERA 

FRAME

YEAR/TYPE: 55 HD STRAIT-LEG FRAME  

RAKE/STRETCH: STOCK DIMENSIONS PROBABLY 30 DEGREE NECK

SUSPENSION

FRONT END: SPRINGER HD 

LENGTH: STOCK 

TRIPLE TREES: N/A 

SWINGARM: N/A 

REAR SHOCKS: N/A 

WHEELS, TIRES, AND BRAKES

FRONT: 21”

BUILDER/SIZE:

TIRE/SIZE:

CALIPERS: STOCK HD DRUM

ROTORS: NONE

REAR:

BUILDER/SIZE:

TIRE/SIZE: 16”

CALIPER: STOCK HD DRUM 

ROTOR: NONE 

FINISH/PAINT

MANUFACTURER:

COLORS: BLACK 

PAINT/GRAPHICS: BILLY RICK N ROLL RELICS 

PLATING/POLISHING: ASTRO 

POWDERCOATING: ASTRO 

ACCESSORIES

REAR FENDER: E.S.E MODIFIED PAN FENDER 

GAS TANK:  E.S.E MODIFIED HUMMER TANK 

HANDLEBARS:  E.S.E MODIFIED HD BARS 

GRIPS: STOCK HD 

HAND CONTROLS: STOCK HD 

FOOT CONTROLS:  E.S.E MID CONTROLS 

HEADLIGHT: BATES 

TAILLIGHT: STOCK HD 

LICENSE MOUNT: STOCK HD

SEAT:  E.S.E MODIFIED HD SOLO SEAT 

STEVE MOTTA

GENERAL

OWNER: STEVEN MOTTA 

SHOP: MOTTACYCLES 

SHOP PHONE: 310-623-0188

WEBSITE: N/A
YEAR/MAKE/MODEL: 1954 HARLEY DAVIDSON FL

FABRICATION: MOTTACYCLES 

BUILD TIME: ROUGHLY 1 MONTH BUT SLIGHT CHANGES ONGOING SINCE IT’S A DAILY RIDER 

ENGINE

YEAR/TYPE/SIZE: 1954 PANHEAD 74″

BUILDER: MOTTACYCLES 

CASES: HD 

CYLINDERS: HD

HEADS: HD

ROCKER BOXES: HD

CAMS: H-CAM 

THROTTLE BODY: N/A

AIR CLEANER: STOCK

CARB: LINKERT M74-B

 TRANSMISSION

YEAR/TYPE: HD 1954 4 SPEED WITH RATCHET TOP

GEARS: STOCK 

CLUTCH: STOCK 

FRAME

YEAR/TYPE: ORIGINAL HD 1954 WISHBONE RIGID 

RAKE/STRETCH: STOCK 30*/NO STRETCH 

SUSPENSION

FRONT END: HD FLATHEAD 45 SPRINGER 

LENGTH: STOCK 

TRIPLE TREES: SHAVED WITH LATER 2 PIECE PAN/SHOVELHEAD RISER 

SWINGARM: N/A

REAR SHOCKS: N/A

WHEELS, TIRES, AND BRAKES

FRONT

BUILDER/SIZE: MOTTACYCLES/ 23″ SPOOL WHEEL WITH BUCHANAN SPOKES AND ALUMINUM RIM

TIRE/SIZE: BRIDGESTONE 3.00-23

CALIPERS: N/A

ROTORS: N/A

REAR

BUILDER/SIZE: MOTTACYCLES/STARHUB LACED TO 19″ ALUMINUM RIM 

TIRE/SIZE: DURO 4.00-19

CALIPER: HD MECHANICAL DRUM BRAKE 

ROTOR: HD 51T BRAKE DRUM/SPROCKET  

FINISH/PAINT

MANUFACTURER: N/A

COLORS: BLACK/PRIMER

PAINT/GRAPHICS: FRAME WAS SLIGHTLY MOLDED AND PAINTED BY WW CUSTOM CYCLES 

PLATING/POLISHING: N/A

POWDERCOATING: N/A

ACCESSORIES

REAR FENDER: UNKNOWN CHOPPED AND SHAVED FRONT FENDER 

GAS TANK: NARROWED FAT BOBS 

HANDLEBARS: HD BUCKHORNS 

GRIPS: COKE BOTTLE STYLE 

HAND CONTROLS: HD INTERNAL THROTTLE 

FOOT CONTROLS: TOE-HEEL CLUTCH WITH HAND SHIFT/OEM MECHANICAL BRAKE. HIGH MID PEGS MADE BY MOTTACYCLES 

HEADLIGHT: ORIGINAL HD GUIDE SPOT LAMP 

TAILLIGHT: S&M LAMP CO. 

LICENSE MOUNT: CUSTOM MADE BY MOTTACYCLES 

SEAT: RICH PHILLIPS LEATHER BELT 

TONY NGUYEN 

GENERAL

OWNER: TONY NGUYEN

SHOP:  LANDSPEED MOTORCYCLE SHOP

SHOP PHONE: 714-983-6196

WEBSITE: WWW.LANDSPEEDMOTORCYCLESHOP.COM

YEAR/MAKE/MODEL: 1954 HARLEY DAVIDSON FL PANHEAD

FABRICATION: LIGHT FABRICATION, ALL DONE INHOUSE AT LANDSPEED

BUILD TIME: 1 YR

 ENGINE

YEAR/TYPE/SIZE: 1954 PANHEAD 74CI

BUILDER:   TONY NGIUYEN

CASES: 1954 MATCHING HD CASES

CYLINDERS: 74CI

HEADS: 1950 HD PANHEAD HEADS

ROCKER BOXES: CHROMED STEEL COVERS

CAMS: STOCK CAMS

THROTTLE BODY: N/A

AIR CLEANER: LINKERT BIRD DEFLECTOR

CARB: LINKERT M-74B

 TRANSMISSION

YEAR/TYPE: 1954 4 SPEED JOCKEY SHIFT

GEARS: STOCK 4-SPEED

CLUTCH: RIVERA PRIMO CLUTCH

 FRAME

YEAR/TYPE: 1954 FRAME CODE 3G (3= 1953 G=JULY, CORRECT FOR 1954)

RAKE/STRETCH: STOCK RAKE, NO STRETCH

 SUSPENSION

FRONT END: RL I-BEAM SPRINGER FORKS

LENGTH: STOCK LENGTH

TRIPLE TREES: HELLING STELLING RISERS

SWINGARM: N/A

REAR SHOCKS: N/S

 WHEELS, TIRES, AND BRAKES

FRONT

BUILDER/SIZE: OEM 21” STAR HUB WHEEL

TIRE/SIZE: 3.00 SAFETY STRIPE TIRE

CALIPERS: N/A

ROTORS: N/A

REAR

BUILDER/SIZE: OEM 18” STAR HUB

TIRE/SIZE: 4.00 AVON MKII

CALIPER: MECHANICAL BRAKE

ROTOR: DRUM BRAKE

FINISH/PAINT

MANUFACTURER: WHITE FRAME, UNKNOWN PAINTER

COLORS: WHITE FRAME, DARK METALLIC BLUE TANKS, AND BLACK FENDER

PAINT/GRAPHICS: HARLEY DECALS

PLATING/POLISHING: NOPE

POWDERCOATING: NOPE

ACCESSORIES

REAR FENDER: WASSELL FENDER

GAS TANK: HARLEY PANHEAD TANKSHIFT 3.5G TANKS

HANDLEBARS: SWAPMEET 16” APES, SHORTENED AND NARROWED

GRIPS: PANGEA SPEED RONALD GRIPS

HAND CONTROLS: N/A

FOOT CONTROLS: FOOT CLUTCH, JOCKEY SHIFT AND MECHANICAL REAR BRAKE

HEADLIGHT: UNKNOWN CRUSTY PANCAKE STYLE HEADLIGHT

TAILLIGHT: PIG TAILLIGHT, AT ONE TIME OWNED MY MR. DAVID POLGREEN

LICENSE MOUNT: BUNGS WELDED TO KICKERPARTS DYI BAYONET SISSY BAR

SEAT: BATES BABY, BATES…

 

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