Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Joey's ironhead chopper

Got a nice message from Joey, that he recognized his cool gas tank from a weekly "Tuesday Tankday" from a while back. It became the crown on his bike, and it even matched the fender pretty accurate! The tank couldn't have bolted to a better bike. Love it!

Nearly 50 years ago, the owner of this 1970 Harley-Davidson XLCH came back from Vietnam and decided he wanted a chopper, NorCal-style. A machinist by trade, he bought the candy blue Sportster new and outfitted it with extended Franks forks, a 21-inch front wheel, a 16-inch rear, Avon tires, sizable risers and a bunch of other ’70s touches in his garage in Amador County, California. He rode it for decades (the original Cal black plate has the pile of registration stickers to prove it) and eventually sold it to a nice couple who lived nearby.

I picked it up in Gold Country in the winter of 2017 and proceeded to make it my own. It now has earlier HD buckhorn bars, covered rear shocks, a wild, cracked lacquer tank with a mysterious cityscape on one side and a beach scene on the other (a la Tank Art Tuesday), and a custom stainless sissy bar by RetroFit Cycleworks to round out the tail. A lot of stars had to align to get the bike to the state it’s in now, so I’ve named it “Astro.” It was invited to the One Motorcycle Show in 2018, and I ride it whenever I possibly can.

You don’t see many swingarm Ironhead choppers on the road these days, and after riding this one around the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond, it makes me wonder why. It doesn’t matter if I’m cruising the coast, weaving though San Francisco traffic or camping out in the redwoods, there’s nothing quite like an old XLCH.

Keep the spirit alive Joey! Thanks for keeping it on the road and sending some pics!
Norcal style

Judging from the red oxide paint ; this must be the Frisco bridge!?? Nice one!

Cool "looks old" polaroid!!!

The cityscape mural!

Joey is still holding on to those bouncing gauges!
And a nice view of that ribbon paint on top of the tank

Paint by "Smiley" and a nice clean original engine too

Great stance

California black plate bike

Takin care of business!
Love me some swingarm choppers. If you want to see your bike up on this here little blog, send some pics here


  1. Great photos and write up! Thanks for the mention on the bar Joey!

  2. Holy shit. Me and my girlfriend went to California one week ago. I saw a lot of new Harleys on our trip through the northern part. When we went back to San Francisco to take the plane to Germany there was a Sportster Chopper in front of us. I thought, yeah man, nice moment at the end of this vacation. I could only see the bike and rider from behind, because he was leaving the main street (think it was hwy 1 or 101) to the right. It was a blue Sportster with a sissybar. I dont think, that there is another one on the road in San Francisco. So it maybe was you! Nice to see more, details and the story of the bike! Crazy world!!!