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by Genghis


MABEL'S SHOVELHEAD HEART: 86 cubic inches of love


"I'm always on the lookout for a shovelhead, Scott....but the price has to be right"



This was the year I met Patty, when she became one of my students in my martial arts class. By the time this bike and hotrod show rolled around, she'd moved into my apartment in the Lower Beast Side of NYC. At the show, I folded myself into the saddle of a Harley FXS Low Rider. I put my hands on the handelbar grips, and was transformed. My absolute need for a shovelhead was officially out of control. It was as if an electric shock ran through me, originating inside the motor and terminating in my nerve endings. I lifted the bike off the kickstand and centered her.

It felt so right.

I glanced down past the fatbob tanks at the shovelhead motor that shone with an inner beauty so radiant, that my internal eyes were blinded. I told Patty, "I've gotta get one of these!" The desire for a shovelhead was so palpably hot in my head, that it could be accurately described as febrile. After all, I wanted a shovel so badly for years now, but didn't have the means to the Ecstatic End. I had some money saved, but it would be another three long years until my dream was to fulfilled.

For the moment though, I beamed in total satisfaction as I sat on that Low Rider, imagining how it would feel to wheel this baby on the mean highways and byways of NYC. In my head, I was twisting the throttle and making this Beautiful Beast leap and obey with torque thrust and Iron Horse Power, man! It felt so substantial compared to my '68 Sportster, so omnipotent on a class level. The XLCH had for years by then, felt too small, both in dimension and in presence. The shovel in this classic four speed frame I was sitting on in the New York Coliseum, was the platform descended from the FLs that provided so man bikers with the magic formula to the Outlaw 74. As Snow would call it, the classic formula for cool. This historic distinction of the four speed frame did not escape me, as I felt the ballast of the bottom end of the Low Rider's motor acclimate itself to me. Sterotypical man and machine were we, I was meant for a shovelhead.

The mystical mating of this chassis with the shovelhead motor, was more than the sum of its parts. This Magical Mating produced a progeny that had a distinct resemblance to the shovel's panhead and knucklehad ancestors, but with renewed vigor, looks and sound. It was to my biased eyes, the Best of All Possible Harley Worlds. It was the ultimate. The Harley shovelhead motor has always spoken to me in a spiritual manner, like the small block Chevy does, just in the way that it sounds. The RUMPITY....RUMPITY....RUMPITY... cadence is shamanistic in its power. It is animalistic, primal and seemingly rooted in an antiquity that we in the biker subculture instinctively know. H-Ds and SBCs---they have a captivating resonance. There is something to the theory that certain motorcycles with certain motors, resonate symbiotically with certain bikers. It is said that it takes a man and a woman one-fifth of a second to fall in love. Something similar happens to bikers when they hear a shovelhead motor.

The looks of the shovelhead mill has a lot to with the fascination that Shovelnatics have with this powerplant. Those Twin Towers of Power, topped off by those massively imposing silver rocker boxes that look like they were carved out of granite, exude power and authority in a way that no other Harley motor can. The presence that the shovelhead and four speed frame combination radiates, is nothing short of breathtaking to me. Light amplified emissions radiation was never this powerful. A four speed frame cradling a shovelhead motor, puts the "right" into "righteous." Hey man, call me biased, but don't call me convictionless. Also among the shovelhead motor's strengths, is precisely that: Strength. Here's what Andrew Rosa of Rosa's Cycles had to say about the shovelhead....

"Scott, the shovelhead motor is the strongest motor Harley ever made, not in horsepower but in structural strength."

Is it any wonder that Shovelnatics want no other motor rumbling under 'em? There may be panhead fans out there, but they can't match the sheer fanaticism and loyalty of the Shovelnatic. Followers of the shovel are religious acolytes, man. They are True Disciples.

Photo by Genghis

INTERVENTION: Does anyone have a decent shovel to sell to Snow?

It's been 14 long years since Snow left the swinging doors of Iron Horse magazine, and longer since he rode his shovel-powered Super Glide from Arkansas to NYC, to find his fortune. He's gone through Change City with bikes ever since. He stroked his shovel, and rigidized her. He traded in for his Evo-powered Harley Wide Glide "Rebelene." Then came the S & S powered F.U. Chop until he wrecked her after he moved back down south. Now, he's on non-Harley wheels. Man, this calls for an intervention! Hey loyal IH readers, we've got to save Snow and get his ass on another shovelhead! He deserves nothing less.

This life saving intervention is as critical as an intervention for a bro addicted to oxycontin! We all know that the non-Harley that Snow's on now, is a mere painkiller to dull the ache, until The Cure comes along, and that cure is a shovelhead, baby! You heard the man. He's looking for another shovel, but at the right price. Can anyone give a good deal to the best biker rag editor and writer of all time ? Be like Bill Cullen and make sure that The Price Is Right! Later.