Monday, August 30, 2010

Leaf Us Alone

One of the (true), Myths in Chopper History

I remember lores like this being told more than once in the chopper magazines of yesterdays. Then, one day while checking Kid Duece's Flicker album (linked from Nostalgia on wheels blog), I found this news clipping among the old chopper photos.

Just too far out. Did any of you notice this? The address is the first clue, then check the blacked out name carefully. Richard.... I'll let you figure out the rest.

I like that they also included a description of the vehicle.

The guy just couldn't get a break.

Friday, August 27, 2010

"Little Stevie" and "Coffin Pete" by David Mann

I especially love David Mann's early work, and love seeing artist's work that I've never seen before. So, when Joe Hurst first told me he had a original David Mann painting, I immediately thought, I can't wait to see it.

I was totally jazzed when he brought it along on our visit to the Wailing Wall.

Stevie is on the left and Pete is on the red bike. It's Pete of Pete's Panhead of Choppers Magazine Feb '69. Stevie made a deal with the devil and the devil cashed in early. Joe and his buddy Nez asked Dave to paint it.

I really dig Dave's work from this period. 1971 was the same year he started doing illustrations for Easyriders.

The painting has endured some stains over the years and Joe hoped it could be cleaned. I told him it was very likely painted with gouache (pronounced "gwash"), and since they are opaque watercolors it would probably bleed if any attempt at cleaning was made. I then added, if it can't be cleaned, it's still a totally cool piece to own.

Later, I suggested he contact Jacquie Mann to find out the media Dave used. He immediately called her and she confirmed it as gouache.

I can't leave things alone, so as an exercise/challenge , I did some Photoshop retouching.

I love night scenes. This is now one of my favorite David Mann pieces.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Award Winning Motorcycle Blog?

About a week ago, I got an email saying I was voted a Top Motorcycle Blog. I don't know how it happened or how legit it really is. I since noticed that some of the other winners have posted a badge.

I myself joined in and posted the award only because some good blogs were on the list and doing it. That made me think just maybe, the award had the possibility of validity.

I've revised this post and removed the badge since I've now heard some not so great things about the folks giving out these questionable awards.

I really wasn't so naive that I didn't suspect it was likely just a way for them to get a link. after all, every week I probably receive
1 or 2 emails that are basically trying to do the same thing.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Why White Bear?...

I always wondered?

One of Joe's favorite shots.

Before we met in person, I asked Joe, why was such a colorful bike, named White Bear? He told me, but before I let on, check this out.

From Joe's wall of fame.

When I met Joe at the Wailing Wall, he had some goodies in the back of his SUV. Joe had told me about his collage. It's is made up of friends and their bikes from over the years that were featured in magazines. I was really glad and surprised he also brought his David Mann painting along, but more on that later.

Here's another good shot of the top of White Bear's tank. The Model 'T' Hot Rod in the background was Dick Allen's at the time. He got it in trade from Jim Andrews. Jim hounded Dick for the Cobra Trike so Dick traded it plus the chromed frame from his earlier bike for the 'T' and a bunch of bike stuff.

Joe told me White Bear was named after the Funny Car that inspired the paint job. I did a Google search, and at first, all of the results didn't quite add up.

Definitely somethings amiss.



Then I stumbled on this toy car. It turned out that Tom Hoover had several Funny Cars and they kept getting wilder paint jobs. White Bear appears to be a Dodge dealer and sponsor.

Not the best shot, but The Real Deal.

Right in the middle of the collage is the very photo that inspired Joe.

Bruce Parrish, who painted the bike, at first asked, "How am I supposed to do that car's paint on a bike"? Joe told me they spent about every waking hour for an entire week masking and spraying. It was first painted a base of pearl white and after the first color (gold), was sprayed, he said it looked horrible. Good thing they kept at it.

One bad ass machine. I guess it's fitting that a bike that looks like a Dragster, was inspired by a Funny Car.

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Vist to the Dick Allen Wailing Wall

Joe Hurst called me up yesterday and suggested we meet at the former location of Dick's shop in North Redondo.

Dick Allen worked out of several shops over his illustrious career, but the most well known was his shop on Artesia Blvd. in Redondo Beach CA. This old photo is from that location. When I was a kid, on our way to and from the beach, I always craned my head , hoping to get a look at some choppers as we drove by.

Today at the corner of Artesia Blvd. and Flagler Lane, there's a Starbucks almost where his shop was.

The Dick Allen Wailing Wall is Joe's name for the shop's former location. Where it goes up was actually the start of the back wall of the building. You can still see some marks along the top and bottom of the fourth blocks from the top. Possibly where the former roof's rafters were hung.

The protrusion at the rear wall is where the building's front would have ended.

Looking out across the street you can see the building with arches as in the old photo at the top of the post. With a little imagination you might even think you can still see Dick.

You may want to make a pilgrimage to these sacred grounds yourself. Perhaps, you can find a crack and leave a prayer note to one of the Chopper Gods.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Dick Allen's Loco-Motion, Knucks are Cool

Because you guys are probably hungry for them, here's a couple more never before seen photos from Joe Hurst.

Dick loved Joe's bike, White Bear. That's why the overall configuration is nearly identical. Even the peanut tank has indented side panels. Dick's springer at 22" over stock, was two inches longer than the Bear's, and Loco ran a spoked wheel up front. It appears that White Bear was basically the mold for what would become the South Bay style.

Look Doc... even the same shifter knob, and Noot... you can just make out that clutch pedal. I'll have to ask Joe more questions about some of the details of Dick's bike. I did asked him, "since Dick was so into performance, why did he go from Pan to Shovel to Knucklehead?" Joe's answer, "Because Knuckleheads Are The Coolist"!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

This Month's Header, Wowed by Joe Hurst's White Bear

This is a tale that spans decades and could only have happened with the advent of the internet. It's also a tad lengthy to properly explain.

Joe Hurst's White Bear. Definitely one of my all time favorites. The mag wheels, the metal finish, and the length reminds one of the purpose built machines built for drag racing.

Certain bikes strike a nerve with each of us. That being the topic, not long ago, Chopper Dave asked his readers, "what bike did it for you"? Almost all of his respondent's comments cited recently built bikes. I added my two cents, listing only older builds. The first one's that came to mind were, Sonny Barger's yellow panhead, Roth's Oink, Dick Hirshberg's '69 shovel, and Joe Hurst's White Bear. Now, over the years "the list" might have been different, but Joe Hurst's White Bear would always have been included and somewhere at the top.

I first saw Joe's bike many years ago. I vividly remember the place but am still not 100% sure the month and year (71-72?). It was at a Custom Car and Motorcycle Show that was held each year at the Sports Arena in Los Angeles. My memory says it took place sometime around November or December and I keep thinking it was called the L.A. Winternationals. Yes, I know that's a Drag Race, but it's also a show mentioned on the cover of the Feb. '69 issue of Choppers Magazine. Anyway, at the time, I didn't know anybody else interested in Choppers so, I asked my dad if he would take me.

A somewhat disappointing spread from Street Chopper July 1973

It's one of my fondest memories but, I only clearly remember two bikes from the entire show. The bike that just completely blew me away was Joe Hurst's White Bear chopper. After walking through the show a couple of times I kept returning for another look.

I remember at one point, Joe kicking it to life and then pulling out a giant screw driver in which he proceeded to check the spark by arcing each plug as the engine roared inside the arena. I was already a fan of Dick Allen, so that combined with his forks, the paint, bead blasted engine, pipes, dual carbs, mags, the sound, plus seeing that fully chromed open chain drive primary whirling was more than my adolescent mind could handle. It was akin to standing next to a Top Fuel Dragster on the line at Lions.

This photo can't do it justice. It was the early '70's and I had never seen anything quite like it. All the aluminum of the engine and trans was bead blasted. The matte finish contrasted nicely with every nut and bolt being chromed. This reinforced the competitive look that the stainless lines, headers, Posa carbs, and Joe Hunt magneto, brought to life.

Afterwards, I remember describing Joe's bike to anyone who would listen. Surely a bike that cool would be featured in one of the upcoming magazines. With that in mind, each month, I went to the news stands hoping to see it featured. I knew it would take awhile since in those days it was months between production and sales. It seemed like 9 to 12 months passed when White Bear finally showed up in the July '73 Street Chopper. Boy was I shocked and disappointed to find my favorite bike wasn't on the cover, no color photos, only two pages, and the last bike featured in the back! To add insult a Honda was on the cover. I didn't understand it and hoped it might show up in another magazine, but it never did. I figured I'd never see that bitchen paint job in color ever again.

Fast forward to 2006. I stumbled upon Jesse James' History of the Chopper program on Discovery and low and behold, there's Joe Hurst being interviewed for the segment on Dick Allen. I thought, wow, he's still around (possibly still local), how cool it would be to someday somehow talk with him.

Forks is a 20" overstock Dick Allen springer. It was shown with one piece pullbacks instead of risers and z-bars.

Summer 2008. On a mission to find vintage chopper photos on the net I find these dang blogs and in September decide it's time to jump in myself. One of the best blogs for chopper history and info is Irish Rich's Applied Machete and on January 19, 2009 Rich does a post on Joe's bikes titled, "More Dick Allen goodness". This prompts me to leave the following comment: Damn, You beat me to it. I've been planning a post on Joe and his bike. I was wild for the White Bear version, saw it at a show about 9 months before it was in St Chopper magazine. The paint was unreal. I was shocked and pissed they didn't run it in color. I'll still do a post on it anyway.

Open primary is chain drive, Joe mentioned it featured chrome primary and drive chains for the show. Belt drives didn't exist yet.

July 2010. One day I dig out that Street Chopper so I can finally do the post and the very next day I get an email with the subject, Joe Hurst Rode with Dick Allen. He tells me how enjoys the blog and wonders if I'm interested in some old photos of his and Dick's bikes? My response, WOW!

The issue that featured Joe's bike. That's One Wild and Crazy Honda. Joe really felt strongly that his bike should have be in Hot Bike and be feature on the cover, and told them so. Hot Bike was relatively new and catered to the performance scene. I know there are fans and friends of Jim Noteboom out there, but I still would have much rather seen White Bear on the cover. I was even less tolerant of Honda's then.

After a few days Joe sent some photos but, I wanted to wait until I had talked to him before posting anything. After a brief call, he calls me back Saturday evening and we spoke for about an hour and a half. It was a lot of information to digest. He told me how he thought of Googling "Dick Allen Biker", wondering if anything would even show up, then re-thought, why not try "Joe Hurst biker"? To his surprise he finds Rich's post with my comments, and thought to himself, he's pissed?, it was my bike, how the hell does he think I felt?

It's only been 38 years since I've seen these colors. Joe says this is from that show. He said the show was put on by the Tridents Car Club. I recall their name but not sure that's what they called the show. He mentioned a Honda won first place at the show too. He's also a little unclear what month it took place. He thought it was in the spring of '72 as later that summer he rode it cross country with Dick Allen. This and the photo below were photoshoped to bring back their faded colors.

It was always a mystery why this colorful bike was named White Bear? That will be revealed in an upcoming post. Those living around the South Bay (Los Angeles), should recognize this green belt under the power lines.

It's a real honor for me to hear, and share this historic stuff. Over the next few weeks I'll be posting more of Joe's awesome photos and info. I am really looking forward to more chats with Joe. We'll likely be meeting soon with maybe a visit to the Dick Allen Wailing Wall.