The Hammer Of God | 1976 Harley-Davidson FLH

Few motorcycles I ever see really evoke emotion. You might see a killer chopper and it might give you the inspiration to get yourself in the wind, rollin’ down a long highway without a care in the world. You might see a race bike that makes you want to take on the world in the twisties or the straightaway. Maybe it’s because I spent a good few years of my life working on beat-up shovelheads that it takes a hell of a shovelhead to throw me for a loop. Well this is that bike.
Jeff Wright is the owner/operator of Church of Choppers in Des Moines, Iowa. Since it is 2011 and everyone is connected to the internet, you might have seen his blog, churchofchoppers.com, it’s one of the best sites on the web for choppers and all kinds of killer motorcycle-related stuff. Yeah, he also runs the two best bars in Des Moines: Kung Fu Tap and Taco and the GT bar. He is also one of the three guys behind FTWCO, clothing and art collective of sorts. When it comes down to it, none of that is what really matters to Jeff. What really matters to Mr. Wright is motorcycles.
This is his shovelhead. When this bike gets ridden anywhere, it doesn’t matter what YOU are riding, no one is going to notice, ’cause this thing is overshadowing. Sure this is just a standard ’76 Harley Davidson FLH, but it’s an FLH done by Jeff Wright, and that takes it to whole other level. Jeff isn’t one of those guys who decided last year that he wanted to get into the custom Harley game; he has been building custom bikes since the early ’90s, but Jeff is a guy who rides it all. Japanese, British, American…you name it and Jeff has built it. From a long-bike Evo to a streetfighter Kawasaki ZX-10, he has done it. This kind of experience doesn’t lead everybody where it led Jeff; he has a knack for taking the best from anything and finding a way to make it work on whatever he is building. Sportbike parts on a chopper? Why not? The stuff WORKS. Therefore it gets used.

Ok fine, the bike itself. An average person would look at a stock shovelhead frame and want to throw it away for a rigid, but not for this bike. This frame, while dimensionally stock, has some extremely high-performance chassis components. Yup, we have some beautiful gold anodized Sun rims stuck inside the JMC aluminum swingarm with eccentric axle adjusters out back. But when you move forward, that swingarm is attached to the frame with honest-to-god Ohlins shocks. I suppose that that might be enough chassis mods for some people, but why make the back work if the front won’t? The forks themselves are Ti-Nitrate–coated wide glide tubes with high-performance internals custom-built by Hickman Racing in Des Moines. Ok, so it will actually work on a bumpy road and might handle as well as it could. No stopping there, except if you mean brakes, yeah they stop. Two Tokico two-piston calipers in the back and one Tokico four-piston up front makes it stop on a dime. All run with Brembo masters, front and rear. A Mooneyes oil tank and a tail section that Jeff fabbed by hand to match the sporty tank tail round out the chassis nicely.
Yeah, and I bet he just stuck a stock shovel and four-speed in there too, right? Uh, no.
That motor is a twin-magneto-fired, S&S-flywheeled, hot-race-cam-timed monster. It’s right around 100 inches; yup in a chassis with just a kick-starter. That motor has some neat parts in it: cams made by some racer in Iowa and a set of special-order-only 4 13/16 S&S flywheels really make this motor a handful. Think it might be loud too? Yeah, it has short megaphones on it. Short LOUD ones.
Behind that we have a Baker six in a four transmission so he can go really fast with a motor that can really pull the overdrive. It’s finished off with some high mid-controls that he dubbed “barstool-styled,” as they are in different positions on each side, and a set of Renthal bars. Is it fast, you ask? Every time you throw a leg over this machine you are ready to ruin people’s day. Just ask the guys in the tuner car that I walked away from when I was riding it. Yeah, it’s fast.
Something about this bike just begs you to get on it as much as possible. The sound of the motor as you gain rpm seems to do a really neat thing: it starts to drop in tone so at speed it sounds like a top fueler. It’s built for one thing: to get you there fast and make everyone know it. Ok, that’s two things, but you get my point.
To say that this is an epic shovelhead doesn’t do it justice. This is the bike that single-handedly changed the way some people look at what’s possible. The seamless mix of parts and the to-the-point styling gives it that kind of recognition, and it deserves it.
Once you see it on the road or get the rare chance to ride it, you will agree that if god had a hammer, it just as well might be this bike.

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