Put on the spot and asked to describe a traditional American custom motorcycle, this is exactly what I’ve always had in mind. But for a brief and frightening period it seemed that over the top, theme style choppers were going to take over. The last time we touched base with North Carolina’s Prism Supply Co. we wondered out loud if, “maybe, just maybe, the general public is moving away from God awful, OCC-style abominations and starting to appreciate classy, traditional-styled customs.” Seven years on and the maybes are now most definitely and this perfect 1955 Panhead goes to show that Prism has won the war and the true American V-Twin lives on.
Still in their 20s when we last caught up with brothers Zach and Jake Hindes, they’d burst onto the scene with a style and talent level that defied their age, to produce a host of classic customs, built to the highest of standards. Since then it’s only been fast forward progress for the pair who now base themselves out of a retired Model A factory in the heart of Charlotte. What hasn’t changed is their passion to design, create and fabricate timeless, quality parts for timeless, quality machines, just like the building’s predecessor.
But as they churn out those brilliant parts it’s barely left them any time to work on their own bikes, let alone full custom builds. But when a friend from California, Ryan, reached out to share his vision of his dream Panhead build, the boys were all too eager to take the time to bring his idea into the real world. For me, the Panhead has always been a quintessential mile-muncher, and while this build has plenty of custom touches that don’t tick the touring box for many people, this is a bike to ride when crossing middle America is your idea of a true adventure.
The base for the build is a ’48 wishbone frame that has been left relatively original, with plenty of the stock tabs and brackets left in place. This not only helps retain some of that old-school style and charm but gives the bike a timeless appearance that makes the design impossible to date. The paint on the frame also wears a patina that lets you know this old girl has seen many a mile and she’s got a few stories to tell; it’s all part of the charm. Bolted to the front is the unmistakable sight of a springer front end, but that’s where the Hindes’ genius starts to take over.
The bars are high, really high, but the proportions are so good that they never for a moment look over the top. With a custom set of risers added, they’re brazed and welded so that you get a single piece with ultra-clean lines. Diving into their incredible catalogue of parts they chose a “Super Prism” throttle, throttle stop, and cable and paired it all up with their own classic grips. It is all high-quality stuff, like everything they produce, and finishing out the front end is an FnA 3.25″ Pancake Headlight that is machined from 6061 aluminum and utilises LED lighting for the best of old and new.
A set of star hubs front and rear are painted white before being laced up to new rims, a monster 21in in the front end and a traditional Avon treaded tyre in the rear. Taking pride of place on the backbone is a truly old school Hap Jones Wassell tank, with the twist-style petcock mounted on the top of the tank, with the fuel flowing out the bottom tap via a hard line to the carb; the sort of details that traditionalists fall in love with! Then you have the clever custom touches from the brothers, like the coil being mounted inside the oil tank and the lines passing through for an ultra-clean finish.
You have to look twice to realise that they’ve also moved the oil lines to the left side of the tank, then body worked the right side for a clean finish. An old leather Bates seat gets the call up and is matched to a P-pad, both showing they’ve been around the block but still with plenty of years of service left in them. The big Sissy bar starts with a pair of Prism’s own DIY 1/2″ bungs, perfect for those without a lathe, and then the bars are bent, shaped and slugged together, with a Flat Taillight coming out of the Prism catalogue, that is able to run a single cloth-covered wire thanks to their “Magic Box” that makes wiring a breeze.
Last but not least is the ’55 Pan, still running the stock primary cover, it looks right at home with the big kick-pedal on the other side giving all the clues to exactly what period this piece of mechanical purity comes from. The boys fabbed up a slick exhaust system that looks as good as it sounds and then jumped back to their catalgoue of parts to finish out the build. A jockey shift conversion is made possible with their shifter plate. While their Sling Shot Clutch package and mechanical brake conversion pulls it all together. There are a host of other little touches to enjoy, but the end result is Ryan’s rolling pride and a thunderous example of the way the Prism parts catalogue flawlessly integrates high-end new products into that old school American dream machine.