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S&S Panhead

  • Motorcycles
  •  | 
Stretched Chopper From the Cipoletti Brothers
Words by Kurt Diserio — Photos by Hunter Norman
The last time we checked in with Ryan and Nathan Cipoletti they had put together their first chopper from the frame up, a slick black 1975 Harley-Davidson FX. Since then, they’ve been quite busy collecting more pieces and building or modifying numerous choppers in their spare time. If you wander into their workspace, you’ll see that it’s filled with different length springer front ends and an assortment of parts all waiting to be used on a proper build.
We all know these bikes take time. Luckily, their latest project was well worth the wait. The long S&S panhead chopper was a hit at Glory Daze, so we reached out to Ryan to fill us in on what the brothers have been up to and how this chopper came to be.
You and your brother, Nathan, seemed to have caught the chopper bug over the past few years. What projects have you been working on since the last feature?
Ryan Cipoletti: Since the shovelhead, there have been a few different projects. We picked up the wishbone frame and motor to start putting together this long panhead. I found a 1969 shovelhead that we plan on building a 60’s style short chopper with. We also tore down Nathan’s 1986 Sportster 1100 and redid the whole bike from the ground up.
Harley-Davidson S&S Panhead Vintage Custom Motorcycle Pittsburgh
What sparked the idea for this long chopper?
RC: After building our daily riders, we wanted to do something along the lines of a show bike. The idea was a 1970’s style long chopper, so we collected parts and planned it out for over a year.
How did it all come together?
RC: We came across the 20 inch over springer front end years ago online from a guy in Ohio and had to have it for this long build. The gas tank was acquired during Fuel Cleveland 2018 from Chemical Candy Customs. After we started collecting some more parts, we came across the 1948 frame on Chopper Swapper for a killer deal and picked it up. It needed some work, but we couldn’t pass it up.
Where did the motor come from?
RC: We found a guy outside of Columbus, Ohio selling a complete 1949 bike on Craigslist. He had the S&S panhead motor in a wishbone frame as well as the original panhead motor sitting in his garage. I got ahold of him and asked if he’d sell one of the motors, and he agreed to sell the S&S that was in the bike. After a couple of days he called back and changed his mind, saying that it was a package deal only. Eventually after a couple of more weeks he agreed to let me buy the motor. He didn’t know how to pull it out of the frame, so Nathan and I went there and took the motor and trans out ourselves that day. It was a full running bike that morning, and after a few hours we had it torn apart with the engine in the back of my car.
Harley-Davidson Panhead Vintage Custom Motorcycle Pittsburgh
Is there a certain piece of the build that you were most excited about?
RC: It was a goal of ours to have a tank painted by Scott at Chemical Candy Customs. I was at Fuel Cleveland this past year helping to set up a friend’s vendor spot before the show, and my brother told me that Scott had a tank for sale at his booth. So I started talking to him about it and bought it within the first two minutes of walking around the show.
You’ve definitely progressed since the first build. What stood out this time around?
RC: We were happy to do more metal and fabrication work on this bike compared to our previous bikes. The frame was pretty chopped up with a bunch of holes drilled in it and tabs cut off, so we had to fix a lot of parts of the frame, make new sissy bar mounts, and reshape the neck. We cut out the mechanical drum cast piece in the axle plate to fit the 16 inch mid star juice drum. All of the spacers and tabs we used were machined on our lathe.
You narrowly finished this bike in time for Glory Daze. How close was it?
RC: We started on it the first week of June, and every minute of our free time went to working on the bike. The week before Glory Daze we both called off work to get it finished, and we ended up wrapping it up the night before it had to be dropped off for the show. The bike was completely done, all wired and running. It was great making our dream build a reality.
Harley-Davidson Panhead Vintage Custom Motorcycle Pittsburgh
Harley-Davidson Panhead Vintage Custom Motorcycle Pittsburgh
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  • Featured in Issue 007
  • Words by KURT DISERIO
  • Photos by HUNTER NORMAN
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