Bike of the Month

April 2021

1952 Harley-Davidson RL

By Kelly Hogan

During one of my usual Craigslist searches, I found a mid 90's Harley Road King listed in Carson City for a "steal" of a price. Of course, with cash in hand, I went to meet the owner. While poking around the owners garage and shooting the breeze, he informed me that the next day he would be listing his Panhead on Craigslist. At that time I had no knowledge of old bikes, but I had a good friend building a shovelhead, so I called to tell him. Before leaving with my new Road King I assured the owner that I would return the next day to get the panhead, saving him the trouble of having to list it for sale. I don't think I slept much that night, but the next day, we loaded into the truck and went for the score. Turns out "the Panhead" had a seized engine and was in a Shovelhead frame, however he had the original wishbone frame and many other parts to go with it. Not knowing the difference between Panhead or Shovelhead at the time, wishbone frame, etc... I relied on my buddy's guidance. By the way this "friend" of mine would go on to become a founding member of the Comstock AMCA and master builder of old Harley choppers, Knuckleheads, etc...... None other than Mark Lobsinger.  This spark lit my fuse for what may now be an obsession for old Harleys. As time went by, I ended up piecing together a Shovelhead out of that deal. My first bike build was a steep learning curve, but thankfully led me to meeting another Knucklehead, I mean rider, Napa Dave Mull. Long story short on how I met Napa Dave, I attempted to ride the Shovelhead from Carson City to L.A. My bike building skills provided me with many learning opportunities (aka BREAKDOWNS). Fortunately, one of those opportunities took place at the Lone Pine, California Napa store. With inspiration from these great dudes, I got the bug to go "all in" and build a Panhead. This 1952 FL started as a set of engine cases. I scoured swap meets and Ebay to find many original parts and after a couple years was able to get this baby on the road. Today, I have over 10 thousand miles on the Panhead, but still enjoy the occasional roadside "learning opportunity."