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Tuesday 18 January 2022

Drag Specialties

What Was Once Old is Now New Again
Builder & Painter: Mark Shadley, Shadley Bros. Motorcycles

The 2022-23 Drag Specialties OldBook features a 1967 Harley-Davidson FL customized by Mark Shadley of Whitman, Ma. based Shadley Bros. Motorcycles as its cover bike.
The Shadleys are lifelong enthusiasts and fulltime custom bike builders and well-known for their many high quality, strong running custom bike builds.
"I had this bike on hand when the conversation started with Drag Specialties about a cover bike build," Shadley said. "The bike is a generator-model Shovelhead motor, these were only available in a four-year period: 1966 through 1969, so it is a somewhat rare bike to start with, so it was a very good candidate for the build."

"The stock displacement was 74" - this one has been punched out to 93" to give it a little more wind," said Shadley. It is modified with S&S Super Stock cylinder heads and an S&S flywheel to give it the added cubic inches and power output.
The transmission gears are a close-ratio four-speed set from Andrews. "I got the transmission kit right out of the Drag Specialties catalog," Shadley said. A stronger clutch setup and transmission sprockets also went into the improved, rebuilt drivetrain.
Shadley added an electronic ignition system and a later-model style starter. He also upgraded the charging system, the wiring and used LED lights for the signals and brake lights.
"When you build a bike for Drag Specialties, you focus on what is available in the catalog," Shadley said. "Why not? There is so much in there! The idea is to make the build accessible, not stray too far. I wanted to add some modern touches, but still keep the build looking correct for the time period."
The rear end features a "juice brake" setup. "It is a drum brake, but it is hydraulic powered," Shadley said. "And it is all on the left side. The front rotor is also on the left side, so when you park the bike on the side stand, you get a really clean, uncluttered look."
Being a builder, he did customize or modify some parts to fit his ideas. "The exhaust system I built," Shadley said. "I started with a Paughco exhaust pipe and modified it to be a 'crush pipe' (a system that has a header run inside the frame) and added a bit of a kickup at the end. I did some work to shape the oil tank - extensions and length to the sides." He also made the center tank panel that runs the length of the tank and houses the gauges. The chain guard brackets and ignition coil cover also got some custom touches.
"I am really, really happy with the look of that front end," Shadley said. "I really wanted that cleaned up, to get away from the style of a bike that has that heavy front headlight nacelle cover with the fork tins, a different set of triple trees and a custom headlight to clean up and give the front end a more open, narrower appearance.
"I also changed the angle of the brake pedal a bit, so it sat with a better line. And I made modifications so I could install a set of later-model floorboards on the bike and get a more interesting look and style," he said.
The paint scheme was inspired by the Drag Specialties blue. "I chose colors that would complement that blue, the classic Drag Specialties color," Shadley said. "The silver is real silver leaf inlay to give it some added pop. And the logo on the tank was inspired by the Drag Specialties logo I saw on an old original business card."
The best part? "I get to keep it, it's mine!" Shadley laughed. "I built it like all my custom bikes - to be a bike you can ride. Once it is returned from being shown by Drag Specialties, I look forward to being able to put some miles on it."