BMW Motorrad Spezial

Harley Panhead by Matt Machine

Harley panhead
Last month, I had the privilege of meeting one of Australia’s most renowned custom bike builders, Matt from Machine. This Harley Panhead is his latest creation, and it’s just made it onto the cover of Greasy Kulture magazine.

Matt built this bike for his good friend Joe, and its styling takes a little “from all the bikes we’ve loved and owned between us.” The base was a 1950 Panhead that Matt found on eBay in the USA, and as you might suspect, the bike wasn’t quite as described in the ad.

Harley panhead
“The frame was so full of cracks that I had to TIG over every single weld to repair it,” says Matt. “I have 40 hours in the frame alone.” The engine was in better shape, having already been rebuilt. “You could see the hone marks in the bore, it was all pretty new. I only had to fit new valves, guides and hardened seats… And repair one of the exhaust ports.”

Harley panhead
Everything else was handmade or modified to fit, in Matt’s workshop in the rural New South Wales heritage town of Braidwood. The tank is a Kawasaki item, the fender is from a Yamaha, and the front end was taken from a Harley Sportster. The front brake is a Kawasaki twin leading shoe unit, and the fairing is a heavily modified aftermarket piece. Matt also made the bars and the pipes, plus the manifold for that crazy looking S&S Super E carb with the velocity stack. He even laid on the stunning paint.

Harley panhead
He’s a talented guy; as well as building bikes, he’s an architect and furniture designer whose work can found in leading Sydney restaurants. As this Harley Panhead shows, Matt has an architect’s sense of line and proportion.

Thanks to Guy Bolton of Greasy Kulture: order your copy here. Images by Matt and Kelly Sturgiss.

Harley panhead
Harley panhead

  • _dan

    Holy velocity stack batman! Very cool bike and sick execution.

  • _dan

    Holy velocity stack batman! Very cool bike and sick execution.

  • RobL

    Very attractive bike. As I think he intended (the fish scale theme, for example), it’s very organic in form. Much more integrated and smooth than the typical panhead hardtail. Interesting that the performance updates are also vintage.

    Hardtails aren’t normally my thing, but that one I’d like to try out!

  • Snujj

    Looks good, sure, but I’m not sure how many miles a bike with an open air intake and drive belt is getting ridden on a dirt road…

    • Maybe not a dirt road, but the owner Joe rode it to the Deus Boundless Enthusiasm Bike Build Off with no problems whatsoever. It’s obviously not a long-distance tourer or dirt road bike, but around the city and on open roads it’ll be a blast.

      • Septic the Sceptic

        Really, what was he doing when I saw him fruitlessly trying to bump start it up and down the road?

        • Joe

          hey septic, didnt want to kick it with an audience standing around so just moved off down the hill (did you see me push it UP the hill??) and bumped off politely…i picked up my shopping on the way home by the way…

          this bike is like a vespa compared to my knuck.

  • Love it. I’d like a primary cover–That looks kinda scary.

  • KIK

    NOW THAT’S ART !!! finally someone nails it ! a functional art bbike.

  • Rocky0

    A panhead with a flavor of it’s own.Fantastic job!

  • great job. the scale finish tank, somewhat miss-fit fairing and over sized velocity stack are my favs and work so well. guys like this have more original talent in their little finger than the OCC discovery channel types.

  • Lew

    Love it. I’d like a primary cover–That looks kinda scary.

  • Lew

    ooops, meant +1 to Tom Etten

  • Fuckyou

    ..every goofy trend on one bike..yuk

  • Sinproph

    an awesome bike. I like everything about it. I really love the fairing.

  • Kerry

    Dunlop K180s . . . my favorite tire.

    • elven

      K180’s are designed for lightweight 125’s, 200cc’s ???

      • and dirt track maybe?

        • elven

          Originally they were designed by Dunlop for the Suzuki VanVan 125.

          • Kerry

            They are being used on all sorts of bikes these days . . . cafés, street trackers (see the two Cobra Honda Magnas), plenty of custom Flatheads and Knuckles on JJ.

          • elven

            So being used purely as a fashion accessory ??? No respect there.

  • ddrew

    tasty work MATT, proving once again that the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts. You were a poet and a painter, William Blake. But now, you’re a killer of white men.

  • baader

    I love those fairings, and I love that bike, but the fairing doesn´t fit here. Looks like an afterthought.

    • elven

      I’m with you, it looks like the guys thought “stock Bates Rep light, let’s hide it!”

  • Andrew

    Cool bike. Well done. If they are fish scales, they are running backwards. That would put the head of the fish at the back… hum. Admittedly a nit of picks.

  • Anonymous

    The combination of an open primary belt and the left footpeg mounted within the loop scares the shit outta me. Otherwise an interesting combination of elements; sporty clipons and flyscreen and drilled front hub matched with a skinny rear tire… so much detail! If I saw this motorcycle in person, I’d probably sit and stare for a half hour.

  • Jaydonkle

    damn…. thats all.

  • HATER 2.0

    The bike is awesome. The fairing is a cool touch you almost never see on these types of bikes. I gotta say though, I’m surprised at how few people commented on this post like “this bike is unrideable, why is this on BikeEXIF? blah blah blah”.

    • elven

      That’s ‘cos unlike so many show-only bikes on here it has working front suspension and a brake, it has sufficient ground clearance, the rake allows the bike to steer and stop properly, the tyres are adequate but probably pushing the load limit and the lights are probably legal if the bike is registerd on the age of the motor and frame.
      That combination with a low-power pan motor makes it rideable.
      Don’t be prejudiced against people who prefer a motorcycle to a pretty 2-wheel toy.

      • K180s are rated about the same as anything else load wise, and importantly for us US guys, they’re DOT rated. There are two primary reasons a lot of us are using them; they’re sticky as HELL on asphalt, and less importantly they cool looking. Based on those two factors they actually make a lot of sense for bikes like this or the ones I build….you can run “vintage” looking tires like a K70 in back and a Speedmaster on the front, neither of which are known to be overly grippy, you can run modern tires that work well and look totally out of place, or you can run K180s.

        • elven

          Agreed on the K70’s and the Avon Speedmaster/ SM, even with modern compounds they don’t grip or handle like today’s tyres.
          In Spain I’ve only ever seen K180’s on lightweight commuter bikes. Different markets demand different tyres?

  • Badams

    Its bitchin. All the elements of a Sixties drag bike. LIKE.

  • Septic the Sceptic

    Seen it. Like it.

  • RobL

    Matt, your bike makes all the right sounds. That video should be gold standard for the classic V-twin sonic experience. Exhaust, valves, gears, it’s all there.

  • matt @ machine

    oh..yeh…and the paint..more the hills around my house than any fish…

  • Mule

    What’s the front brake off of? Looks like it would work pretty good! And I like the sandcast sort of finish on it.

    • elven

      Early Kwak Z400?

      • Mule

        Too big for a KZ400 and it’s a dual leading shoe. This is a quality brake he using, not a budget commuter set-up. Looks Japanese and probably off an early 70’s big bike of some sort. I’m thinking Yamaha XS650? 70-ish?

  • Dodgsun

    well good ‘ol Braidwood eh. whodda thunk it! well done guys, i like it!