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Dale McMahon contacted the National Motorcycle Museum a few years ago to see whether we’d be interested in receiving his custom bike as a donation. The Museum is interested in presenting the creativity of custom builders; on display there are about 20 full customs among over 500 “stock” machines and race bikes.

When we received Dale’s photos, we were introduced to a very unorthodox sort of custom build as you can see in these studio photos. The longer we looked at the photos, the more we said “wow” as we scratched our heads!

For example, a simple 1942 Harley WLA (A for Army) 45 motor is mated to a Revtech 5-Speed transmission through an Evil Engineering open belt primary; the basics meet high-tech, high performance. Yet the carb is a traditional Linkert with a couple of trick fittings to put it into the wind, and check out the throttle linkage. In fact both the left and right twist grips operate through a rack and pinion setup on the steering head. Throttle, right side. The left twist grip heads down to the clutch release and operates a hydraulic slave cylinder to disengage the clutch! Left footboard is the shifter, right is the rear hydraulic disk brake. There are no traditional coaxial cables as used on millions of motorcycles.

Note the spine frame construction cradling the engine. Low seat height and hand made, but pretty normal, except for the rear suspension. The fabricated tubular swing arm uses a link to a fixed leaf spring mirroring the front suspension. And if you look closely a tiny hydraulic caliper grabs the rear sprocket, the only stopper on the bike. The seat is suspended by a small air bag and beside it the teardrop oil tank incorporates a nicely detailed sight glass.

Fasteners are always important on a custom car or bike. McMahon’s great care brings together the hand made burnished solid copper fasteners and fittings, yet also stainless cap screws. The headlight grill is 3D milled, uses a Lexan lens. The tail light is sculpted and incorporates a bank of LEDs. Then there’s the tour de force stainless exhaust and custom Extreme Machine wheels shod with, front and back, low profile 130/60R23 tires. The fuel cap is very aviation looking in its design with a trick safety latch mechanism, but its a vintage race car replica, one of the few sourced components.

Topping off all this great detail is the satin olive drab paint, very understated, until you get to the  brilliant nose art on the fuel tank paying respect to those in the American military. Lady of Liberty was featured in HOT BIKE in 2012 just after it was completed.

We called Dale to figure out how he conceived, designed and fabricated some of components. In the end, I asked him about his life’s pursuits and his day job. “I’ve built quite a few custom bikes, but more recently I received a patent for a machine that artificially inseminates honey bees, the queen bees. As in cattle breeding we are working toward more disease and chemical resistant bees. My company is Apis Engineering, apis is greek for bees. American Bee Journal will run a story on my work in coming months.” Wow!

When you visit the National Motorcycle Museum you can take in Dale McMahon’s fine work in Lady Liberty, see other great customs, thousands of pieces of memorabilia and more. We hope to see you soon. Here’s some help in planning a trip, remember we are open every day but the four big holidays, and feel free to call anytime; 319 462 3925, or check out the website: https://nationalmcmuseum.org/plan-a-visit/.

2 replies
  1. David Van Grinsven
    David Van Grinsven says:

    It’s easy to see that a lot of imagination went into the construction of this fantastic motorcycle. I also think the brake will be imaginary as well when it gets coated in chain lube. Don’t ride it any faster than you would feel comfortable jumping off. It’s great that it is in the museum and not on the road. Props to the builder though.

    Reply

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