Bike of the Month
1977 Harley-Davidson FX
By Mark A. Lobsinger
“Gallo Del Cielo was a rooster born in heaven, so the legends say.”
This motorcycle was the first antique Harley-Davidson I purchased. It was listed on Craigslist up near Shasta. The owner knew very little about it, and said he obtained it in trade for some land. It had a clean title and was mostly complete, but was missing fuel tanks, therefore, it had not ran in the time he had it. I threw some tools and a single fatbob tank into the truck and Kelly Hogan and I made the 4-hour trip. After some wrenching, we were able to get it running and I took it for a spin around the neighborhood. Little did I know that this would be the beginning of a life-long obsession with old Harleys.
I cut my teeth with this motorcycle, as far as motor wrenchin' and fabrication goes. I tore the motor all the way down to the cases and found out it had a new S&S 93" stroker hot setup. I hardtailed the frame and "attempted" to paint the tank, made my own sissy bar and mounts, rebuilt the top end and transmission, etc. The end result was a rough-looking hot rod bobber thing. I loved it though and it took me to multiple Born Free shows in southern California and up the coast, as well as a trouble-free trip to Mexico and back on my first El Diablo Run.
Fast forward a few years and I was deep into various vintage panhead and shovelhead projects. The shovel was being neglected, just collecting dust in its portion of the garage. Then, in 2018-2019, I was in need of a motorcycle project for my high school engineering class to build. Also, another El Diablo Run was coming up in the spring. I decided to use the motor and frame and build a well-built chopper ready to tackle the Mexican highways, 2.1 gallons (around 112 kilometers) at a time. This was my first complete school build, and we had a great time with it. We opted for a panhead hydra glide front end, with 6" over tubes, 16" rear wheel, 21" front wheel, hand shift (of course), small sprung seat, tall enough sissy bar to strap Mexican Doritos to, 4-piston Tokico brake setup, etc.
We finished the build with less than a week to go before my Mexico trip, and I only had time to put a couple of short rides on it. I was confident the motor and transmission were good to go, but a little uneasy about all the nuts, bolts, fasteners, brackets, etc. that teenagers had their hands on. Surprisingly, the bike had zero issues during the entire Mexican trip. The only thing I had to do was tighten one of the solo seat nuts that had wiggled loose.........that's it.
Oh.........I almost forgot. Gallo Del Cielo is one of my all-time favorite songs. I was riding my knucklehead through Oregon the summer we build the chopper and I could not get the song out of my head. When it came time for paint, it just sorta happened.