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Steve D's 1958 H-D Panhead


Looking at the world through a modern biker’s eyes…. 45dgree.com is an online showcase that presents the newest and best of what interests Bikeriders. We ride our machines and travel, we listen to music, we appreciate great photography, a wonderful meal and a good story –  the finer things in life, like food, family and friends.


Telling a friends story is a funny thing to try and do – especially when there are three Steves involved and you’re one of them. It‘s about as tough to do as to hold onto a bike like this 1958 Pan for more than 37 years, staying the course to bring it back to stock, resisting the urge to hack it up and follow the circuitous route of trendiness. A total rat bike when he got it at the ripe age of 15, a bad bondo’d chopper with a grasshopper springer, no front brake and a host of OSHA, non-compliant behaviors, this machine was a real far cry from the stock appearing mild performance sweet heart you see here.

The rolling rat trap was given to Steve and his cousin by a guy who used to ride with a genuine NY tough-guy and this bike is reputed to have come from that mans collection of machines. Steve’s first challenge was to get the beast running – the bike had sat for about 15 years when it was gifted to the two intrepid know-nothings  – but getting it running was not as big a challenge for a kid who was as determined and somewhat talented mechanically as our hero. This was not rocket science technology; this was a Pan, and a ratty one at that.  Back in the day, there were people around who had the necessary expertise and they were happy to help. The bike got ridden like this for a while.

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Some time later, Steve started to rip the bike apart to get it solid and safe, and slowly but surely wound up taking it down to the bone.  The bike needed to be rehabbed, he wanted to be able to ride and not fear for his life. One thing led to another, and I can speak from some long personal experience with our hero,  he is one anal guy. If it isn’t “right” it isn’t “right, know what I mean? Every nut, bolt, washer and connection was replaced and made “right”, in many cases better than stock.

The motor needed to be rebuilt. Dragonman did the initial rebuild, the job was fine.  Steve had started this adventure thinking he’d want the FL to be a custom, but the more machines he saw on the street and in magazines, the more he realized the bike would be happiest brought back to a stock “type” configuration. Steve was in his 20’s at the time.

Enlisting help in areas he’d not achieved a high degree of proficiency, like wiring, had friends participating in the rebirth of the Pan. Steve Nar, a particularly good friend who was both a talented tech, hot rod and bike enthusiast, helped Steve button up some of the malingering details. Steve Nar was a great guy, a good father and passed at all too young an age just a short few years ago and so this bike is in great part dedicated to him. **clink** He was truly a good guy and one of “us”, in every sense.

Appreciate please that nearly all of the work during this rebuild was done in the discomfort of his own small backyard garage – all the while sharing space with a muscle car, also in the process of being reborn!

A lot of swap meets were attended; a lot of parts were procured, a lot of time was spent running parts here and there.  Living in NYC, Steve wanted to be able to get on the highway and do 65mph without the machine coming apart and he needed to be able to stop. That meant he had some work to do and some upgrades to perform. Andrews gears in the trans meant he’d be able to shift smoothly, the ratios helped him keep up and a new/ modern front end meant he’d have decent suspension up front.

Tractor technology, nothing fancy at play here, tried and true parts and some smart updates. 12 Volt charging and electrical system updates and upgrades courtesy of Cycle Electric, an electronic ignition replaced the point’s setup he ran for years. The GMA brakes although they work are aesthetically not the smoothest units in terms of flow, but at the time, the aftermarket didn’t offer us the fancy fare and diversity it does now.

How a kid kept himself so focused that he stayed the course and completed a project like this in the first place is pretty rootin’ tootin’ amazing. As an adult, Steve took his time getting it to the super reliable, one-kick state it is in here. No, it not a 100% true to the bone OEM stocker, nor is it a full out custom, but who cares, it’s real runner, a definite looker and the culmination of a 37+ year journey few of us would be patient enough to take.

In closing SteveD asked to make a dedication: to the loving memory of Steve Nar, a true friend & a great wrench who was respected by all his friends especially this one…”

Amen brother Amen!

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