BMW Motorrad Spezial

1951 Harley Panhead

Harley-Davidson panhead
Milwaukee’s current offerings rarely get my motor running, but I find it hard to resist a good Panhead. And this one is an absolute knockout. It’s owned by Troy Critchlow of the Chico Moto blog, and it’s the quintessential vintage Harley, as seen through a 70s lens. Troy has an eye for a good ride and he’s an inveterate fiddler when it comes to mechanicals—so it’s not surprising his own bike looks like a million dollars. His Panhead is something of a hybrid, with a 1951 FL motor (74ci, high compression) connected to a 1939 EL transmission case with Pan gears. It’s all sitting in a 1949 wishbone frame with an offset Springer fork—“Bed springs on a pogo stick,” says Troy. The carburettor is an authentic Linkert, the magneto is a Morris, and there’s no battery—just a Cycle Electric generator and an Electric Franks regulator. Troy himself made the sinuous, stainless exhaust with the perfectly-judged upkicks, along with the sissy bars, and he also modified the tank to hold a little more fuel. And as you can see, he’s pretty handy with a camera too. Close to Harley perfection, don’t you think? [Check out Chico Moto for more vintage chopper goodness.]

Harley Davidson Panhead
Harley Davidson Panhead
Harley Davidson Panhead

  • that give me an idea. i think we should see more night pictures.. that can be good dimension for us..

  • s0crates82

    everything about the bike is fantastic, gorgeous, and wonderful, except for the tank. frisco/peanut tanks are stupid beyond comprehension. there’s no better way to screw up the lines of the bike while limiting fuel range at the same time!

  • David Enfield

    socrates82 got that right . Has to be a better way to minimise a fuel tank than this . It’s just crude looking after all that good work . And whassat over the rear wheel , a helmet stand ? Otherwise , yeah . All good .

  • Leston C

    Love the bike. Maybe im wrong but doesnt it appear that in picture 1 and 3 the tank is a silver/gray color while in picture 2 there appears to be a 2 red parallel stripes on the tank.
    Also, sissy bar angle and tail light changed in these pictures too.

    I wanna see day time photos of the bike in picture 2.

  • Leston C had a good eye. and Nazmi was right; night pics are interesting, and novel.
    it’s a nice bike. it’s tempting with nice bikes to add ‘but…’
    but… i’d rather break that habit and just enjoy.
    …i will say i prefer the picture #2 version. (and i think the handlebars are different on it as well.)
    i love that it’s all of old parts from different years. and so very old at that.

    i enjoy this site tremendously. well done.

  • ducatiJim

    I’m also w/ Socrates… I think the sissybar is pretty cool, and that little tail ligtht is cool, and the exhaust is way cool, and the whole build level is stupendous, but that tank looks ridiculous perched up there. Would it really kill the look to have a three inch longer tank that covered up the top tube a bit?

    Totally agree w/ the night shots. Challenging but awesome results can be had.

  • Dave

    honestly, Id rather swing my leg over yesterdays rebel.

  • There are slightly different components in some shots — Troy changes things out now and then.

  • Laran

    How does he get that slight golden color on the pipes?

  • Nice piece of work, if it were me though, id get rid of that bar over the rear wheel, change the fuel tank and maybe lower the handlebars. But that’s just me.

  • Guzzi Rob

    The golden color of the pipes happens naturally when the bike is used (pipes heated) … I agree about the tank. Some like it perched up on top ‘peanut’ but I prefer it to compliment the lines of the bike and cover the top tube at least at the headstem end ;-)

  • Guzzi Rob

    … II should add, Bloody nice bike!!

  • Brendan Ibbett

    the bike in the night time shot is almost completely different to the rest of the shots. different tank, seat, front wheel, sissy bar, brake light, handle bars….hmmm, something’s fishy. sweet bike though, peanut tank and all!

  • Troy is a great guy who rides the snot out of his bikes. One reason the bike looks different in that night time photo is he constantly upgrades and modifies his rides like a true hot rodder does. If you look at his blog you would know that’s why his bike evolves. I’m surprised no one has realized that in the night shot it has two headlights;) The tank and sissy bar are personal preference so they are an easy target for ridicule. I love this bike and everytime he changes something it makes it that much more fun to see the next time. Keep it up Troy!

  • Steve

    I gotta say – I like the tank perched high up like that, really exposes the engine and frame. As Speed Shop says, follow his blog; always interesting stuff there and you can watch the bike evolve.

  • That hat rack should have more hooks for more hats. Peanut tank? A peanut jar holds more gas than that. The bikes gay as all hell and that’s the only good thing about it.
    Hated it. two snaps with a twist down.

  • Leston C

    after seeing this i went an viewed his blog, its fanastic. go check out how his bike continuously changes.
    the blog is full of all sorts of classic motorcycle/bicycle pictures.