Broken down by the side of the road, oil splattered all over your leg, most who pull over to render assistance will enquire as to why you ride a bike that’s so ancient. It’s the life of most who ride a vintage motorcycle and yes, you could own a newer, more reliable bike that is faster, stops better, and handles well too. But there is something about the spirit of the raw mechanical experience of a machine that has truly lived a life of its own. But a new wave of builders and parts creators are ensuring you can have the best of both worlds, and few do it as well as Prism Supply. The North Carolina based outfit’s latest is this 1948 Harley-Davidson Panhead, a true American masterpiece.
Brothers Zach and Jake Hindes are the young guns behind Charlotte’s Prism Supply and all things mechanical have been pumping through their veins from a very young age. Their facility is a retired Model A Factory and the guy’s affinity for the place tells you a lot about the way they work, “What hasn’t changed is our passion to design, create and fabricate timeless, quality parts for timeless, quality machines, just like the building’s predecessor.”
As a ’48, this model is the first year of the Panhead, the engine that delivered a number of WW2 innovations into the Milwaukee drivetrain. That engine with its alloy heads and hydraulic lifters has been hotted up with a Darlington air cleaner adapted for the Linkert Carb. The pans are polished up a treat and there is no missing the handmade exhaust, with individual pipes stretching rearwards with aggressive slash cuts to finish.
Making the ride a truly more manual process, the guys converted the bike with their Psychic jockey shifter, that’s a brilliant piece of design with an incorporated shift knob and capable of running with the stock primary cover. The rear brake is a HD juice item, and the controls all come from the company’s Slingshot line. There is a set of Classic grips and Super Prism throttle, all with an excellent quality finish and the pegs are 4in mids.
The custom work on the ’48 is just as impressive as the Prism parts, with the fuel tank a one-off creation for the build. “The tank was a set of 5-gallon Shovelhead split tanks that we chopped, channeled, and tunneled to make the tank you see on the bike.” While the rear end has some slick touches too, “Two weld-on flat tail lights welded together underneath a ‘hood’ which is made from exhaust tubing cut lengthwise, joined together, and shaped to match the soon-to-be lines of the exhaust.”
This was done in order to create an inverse line of the tank. Which itself is fitted up with a Prism petcock and fuel line. There is very little for your HD the boys don’t make! The old-school feel continues with a high handmade sissy bar that really helps to balance the bike out. And it needs that rear-end feature with the front a whopping six inches over. It’s a “35mm front end modified to look like a 33mm front end and adapt to fit a hamburger drum.”
The bars are handmade Z’s and the bike rides on a 21in front and 18in rear wheel and tyre package. The finished look is made that much better without any over-the-top paint job or wild graphics. The Panhead frame is chromed out and the timeless colour scheme was expertly laid down by Brother to the boys, Caleb.
To finish out the Panhead a Bates style seat was beautifully stitched together by Adam at River Seat Company. Now all that’s left is for client Sid Tangerine to enjoy the ride, old school custom cool, without any of the downsides. It’s simply a beautiful thing.