Monday, April 11, 2011

Chop Cult Article

Leo Tancreti's Panhead


I'm not sure what they're putting in the water in the Northeast, but it must be good stuff. Long winters, an education in engineering and a heavy dose of creativity helped one motivated citizen of this region craft a fine looking motorcycle. Leo Tancreti of Leo Speed Shop built this machine with help from his buddy Lock Baker. It's pretty easy to build a "formula" bike with all the right parts scavenged off eBay. It's quite another to build a monoshock panhead. Here's Leo's personal backstory on his awesome motorcycle.


Growing up I started riding motorcycles at the age of five. I raced for a while but that lost its fun as I got older and it was obvious that the only thing people cared about was winning. Friends weren't really friends and since I knew it wasn't something I wanted to make a career out of, the plug was pulled. In the following years I continued to ride off road but when I would bore of that; taunting the local law enforcement down the main strips of my town would always leave a shit eating grin on my face.
Owning race bikes requires owning tools and knowing how to wrench on your own shit. However, it wasn't until my first year in college when I was introduced to the amazing world of machine tools that the fire to machine and fabricate parts was lit. Living at school in Boston didn't afford me much time to ride and by that time I was ready to get a more street legal bike anyways.
Growing up I hated Harley's but that was because none of HD's heritage was ever made clear to me; all I knew were the lawyers and old guys on their baggers passing me on the highway. This may sound lame but it wasn't really until I watched the first Motorcycle Mania and the Biker Build Off series on Discovery Channel that my eyes were opened to the world of choppers. Keep in mind that the Internet became available to the public when I was maybe in 6th grade with wide spread home usage by the time I was 15. Anyways, I spent a lot of my down time in College researching and discovering this world and by the summer of 2006 I had my first Harley. In its newly purchased form, this '62 Pan was some guy’s version of what I would now consider a quick throw together "bar hopper." I wouldn't tear it down and embark on what is now the "Steel Panther" until about one year later when I met Lock from Eastern Fabrications.
Lock and I have a similar way of approaching, designing, creating and finishing things and he picked up on that right away. I took my time with the build mostly due to the fact that I was funding the project myself but it helped create what I consider a mechanically and aesthetically sound vehicle. The lack of funding paired with the amount of time I was willing to allow for the build had other positive outcomes as well.
The rear brake configuration which is completely unique to this bike was hatched from an idea I had to use the existing mechanical drum which was equipped when the bike was in rigid form and adapt that to the newly acquired swing arm frame. Lock and I brainstormed and created a couple crude sketches to get our ideas out (the only time a sketch was drawn during the creation of this bike) and a solution was born.
As a mechanical engineering major in college I learned a lot of things but one thing they couldn't teach me was where to apply my knowledge. With a strong passion for motorcycles and a great friend willing to help me along, the answer was clear.
This year I decided to go into business for myself and I created Leo Speed Shop LLC. It's tough to be your own boss at times but at the end of the day it's rewarding to know that I am in control of my success. I am working to create hand made parts which are made in my shop in the USA and have just launched a line of tail lights.

Owner/Builder: Leo Tancreti
Location: North Haven, CT
Bike name: Steel Panther
Engine, year and make, model, modifications: Panhead, 1962 Harley Davidson, FLH, 3 5/8” Bore, KB 9.5:1 Pistons, STD Heads/ 3 Bolt Flanges, Crane 308B Cam, Solid Lifters, Lightened and Balanced Flywheels, Mallory Electronic Ignition, S&S Super B/ Thunder Jet, Leo Speed Shop Special Rocker Box. S&S Reed Valve Breather Gear.
Frame: 1975 H-D swingarm
Fork: Repop H-D springer
Chassis mods: Round swingarm, gusseted and set up to run mechanical H-D drum brake; monoshock accommodations
Tire/wheel size and style:
Rear: 16” H-D star hub and steel rim, Coker Classic tire, Buchanan stainless steel spokes
Front: 19” Triumph conical hub, anodized alloy Sun rim, Firestone tire, Buchanan stainless steel spokes
Favorite thing about this bike: People can’t figure out why the bars are purple.
Next modification will be: It’s finished
Other mods, accessories, cool parts, etc: Mechanical link drum brake through swingarm pivot; Ohlins monoshock; LSS original air cleaner, headlight, mid controls and pegs, gas tank and tail section. Heyltje Rose seat, LSS SS exhaust, handlebar, aluminum rocker boxes and taillight
Any building or riding story or info you'd like to include: Last year in Sturgis I ended up locking up the motor due to the combination of a faulty spiro-lock install and a missing breather screen preformed by a local shop. The bike was hauled home and there it sat until about three weeks before this year’s Daytona. I needed a bike to ride and this was as good a time as any to repair the case and fix the seized breather gear. I ended up having to bore the breather pocket to 1.5” and machined a sleeve to fix the damage caused by the spiro-lock embedding itself in the case and blowing it to pieces. With a little modification to an S&S reed valve the job was finished and the motor ran strong. Now that the nightmare is over and I’m confident in the job I can relax and enjoy riding 

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