Shovelheads Of Japan

2017 Mooneyes Hot Rod Custom Show Shovelhead gallery

Hot Chop Speed Shop’s pinked-out Shovelhead
Hot Chop Speed Shop’s pinked-out ShovelheadJeff G. Holt

This story originally appeared in an issue of Street Chopper.

Our final Yokohama chopper gallery is all about the Shovelheads. The Mooneyes Hot Rod Custom Show had its fair share of them, including a nice, wide range of chopperized Shovels. These motors bridged the gap between the pre- and post-AMF years for Harley-Davidson; a burden not easily borne to be sure. Although AMF ownership almost destroyed the company in the 1970s and early ’80s, Harley-Davidson survived and thrived in the years afterward.

Throughout the Shovelhead’s run, the engine had many changes made to it to improve power, cooling, and oil consumption. In the end, though, aggressive competition from Japan and Europe forced Harley-Davidson to scrap the aging, problematic Shovelhead design in favor of the Evolution motor, which had aluminum barrels and heads. By 1986, Shovelheads were completely out of production altogether.

They weren’t out of style though. In the decades to come Shovelheads, like the Pans and Knuckles before them, lived on as custom bikes, including choppers like these.

Redneck Kustoms shovelhead
Redneck Kustoms did a terrific job on Hiroshi Tomotsune’s 181 FXE chopper.Jeff G. Holt
kicker rigid
How about this kicker rigid?Jeff G. Holt
Yellow shovelhead
Them pipes, though. Notice how they offset all that yellow paint?Jeff G. Holt
Navy’s Custom Shovelhead
Navy’s Custom Cycle brought the prism action to this long bit of darkness.Jeff G. Holt
shovelhead chopper
Man, this snubby chopper was a real beauty. Everything just goes together perfectly.Jeff G. Holt
dragon chopper
Enter the dragons: The intricate engraving on this chopper’s motor covers took serious work but the dragons shown are worth it.Jeff G. Holt
snubby chopper
Another snubby chopper but the tank’s position on the backbone is kinda funky…Jeff G. Holt
shovelhead chopper
…As opposed to the profile of this Shovelhead chopper, where the gas tank, seat, and rear fender are nearly flush to the backbone.Jeff G. Holt
Ultimate Motori Garage
Ultimate Motori Garage might have pulled the idea for this bike straight out of the 1970s.Jeff G. Holt