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Monday Edition

THE McQuiston K

The Street Chopper Builder Steps Up

By Bandit with photos by Markus Cuff

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Ryan McQuiston is living the biker dream. He rides, wrenches, snorts 20/50-weight, and does it every day on the industrial west side of Long Beach near the Port of Long Beach.

He’s a builder’s builder. He does it all, from carb rebuilds to engine work. He fabricates sheet metal objects, machines shit, welds and custom paints his bikes. And he’s making a living. Since the last time I saw him, he’s become a family man with a woman whom he’s been with for eight years and doesn’t want any bikes in their pad, not even this one.

I don’t get it, but maybe I do. There’s a jealous, controlling streak deep in the genes of the evil nesters. They don’t want other broads around or motorcycles, the mechanical representation of a babe. Yep, more than one motorcycle took me away from a spouse. I left the rest when another broad came into the game. Never a pretty picture. But Ryan is doing his best to keep the nest secure and at peace.

His shop is hidden off a small side street behind locked iron gates and he’s been hammering out rough old school choppers for seven years. But the kid next door, Andrew, who we’ve featured a couple of times, is a longshoreman who has built several world-class customs, one a year. I’m sure his extremely lavish bikes have rubbed on Ryan’s street acumen and challenged him.

When this 1941 WR flathead fell into Ryan's lap, he decided to go for it and build something top notch. He even decided to build the engine into something wild, like a magnum with a KHK top-end. He dug around and found a Triumph 4-speed transmission to connect the engine to the rear wheel. Sounds familiar, so similar to our Bonne Belle for Bonneville.

Ryan dug in and started to make shit, including the engine sprocket to connect the metric transmission to the standard Harley shaft. He built the frame, made the pipes, all of the controls, handlebars, grips, you name it. He even D-raked the frame, but he didn’t make the Voodoo girder, which looks cool, but he wasn’t happy with some aspects its construction.

Installing the intake manifold was a nightmare. He had to lift the entire top end to align it and drop the whole tamale into place. Months and months slipped by.
“I took it apart and put it back together hundreds of times without gaskets,” Ryan said.

“Sometimes it hurt my pride,” he said of the challenges he faced.
Usually Ryan won the build battles, and this project kicked his ass a number of times. But he stuck with it, while keeping the shop alive with customer bikes. “Lots of trial and error,” he said.

More than once his mentor Pat Leahy, who cruises Long Beach in my hearse, an all-black Buick Road Master station wagon, pulled Ryan out of trouble spots.
“I traded a daughter for a 103-inch Shovelhead and rode off into the sunset,” Pat said and I wasn’t sure what he meant, but he’s been riding Sportsters since ’64 in Falls Church, Virginia. He escaped to the west coast and worked at Long Beach Harley-Davidson when I returned from Viet Nam and tried to buy a new ’69 XLCH on a Monday in the rain. The shop was closed. I was an anxious kid.

I’m watching a lecture series on inventions. Did you know batteries were invented first regarding electricity, and then generators, way before Edison and Tesla fought over AC and DC currents. These guys were like highly educated bike builders, trying out anything that came to mind to build something cool or that worked better than the last gadget.

Ryan gave it hell with this project. It kicked his ass is some respects and he mastered a batch of bike building elements he hadn’t tried before. It’s all about the creative and engineering challenge and late nights in dimly lit shops making it happen.



Owner: Ryan McQuiston
Bike name: 45 Magnum
Builder: Ryan McQuiston
City/State: Long Beach, CA
Company info: McQuiston’s Chopper Design
Address: 2033 W. Gaylord, Long Beach
Phone: 562-277-7219
Email: Ryanmcquiston@yahoo.com

Fabrication: McQuiston’s
Welding: Ryan
Machining: Ryan


Year: 1941
Make: Harley-Davidson
Model: 45 Flathead/KHK Sportster
Displacement: 45 cubic inches
Builder: Ryan
Cases: Stock, heavily modified
Case finish: Polished
Barrels: KHK
Bore: .020 over
Pistons: Wiseco
Lower end: 45 flathead
Stroke: Stock
Rods: Stock
Heads: KHK
Head finish: Powder
Valves and springs: KHK
Pushrods: KHK
Cams: WR
Lifters: WR
Carburetion: Linkert
Air Cleaner: Bird Deflector
Exhaust: Custom 2-into-1 by Ryan
Mufflers: oops


Year: 1956 pre-unit
Make: Triumph
Gear configuration: 4-speed
Clutch: Triumph
Final drive: Chain
Kicker: Triumph


Year: 2016
Builder: Ryan
Style or model: Bobber
Modifications: D-Raked, downtube hand made


Make: Voodoo Vintage
Model: Relic
Year: 2016
Length: 4 inches over


Tanks: McQuiston’s Chopper Design
Fender: Ryan
Oil Tank: Ryan
Everything: Ryan


Sheet metal: Targino & Two Thumbs Peewee
Molding: Ryan
Base Coat: Ryan
Graphics: Targino


Make: V-Twin
Size: 21-inch
Brake caliper: Performance Machine
Brake rotor: PM
Tire: Speedmaster/Avon

Make: V-Twin
Size: 16-inch
Brake caliper: Performance Machine
Brake Rotor: PM
Sprocket: Biker’s Choice
Tire: Avon


Foot Controls: Ryan McQuiston
Finish: Chrome
Master cylinder: Performance Machine
Brake Lines: Bakers Performance
Handlebar controls: Ryan
Finish: chrome
Clutch Cable: V-Twin
Brake Lines: Bakers Performance
Shifting: Ryan
Kickstand: Ryan


Ignition: Morris Magneto
Regulator: Cycle Electric
Wiring: Ryan
Headlight: Ryan
Taillight: Ryan


Seat: Pan by Ryan
Pegs: Ryan
Fuel petcock: Pingel from Biker’s Choice
Throttle: V-Twin
Throttle cables: Barnett
Fasteners: GSA


Biker’s Choice



Morris Magneto
Click for a fast response.
Click for a fast response.

Performance Machine

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