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The Art of Buck Lovell

Behind the Lense Of A Camera For 35 Years

By Bandit With Buck Lovell Photography
3/12/2009 12:11:14 PM

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The dangerous Buck Lovell.

We recently discovered an old magazine editor in the corner of the Kendon Trailer and Lift manufacturing shop. He was sweeping up lathe shavings and filtering old cutting oil to be reused. Buck’s been around the business since Ed Roth published his miniature chopper book in the ‘60s.

37 Dash
Buck knows how to capture mechanical art.

” I’ve been riding American motorcycles since 1968 when I purchased a 1947 Indian Chief with sidecar from a CMC prison guard who lived in Shell Beach, California.”

He started rambling on about his old motorcycles before I could explain why I was sneaking through the Kendon Manufacturing facility. Actually I was there to see about some side panels for my light portable Kendon tubular lift I purchased recently. One of the employees told me I might know the old fart in the back sweeping up.

03 indian motor
A true history piece on a ’03 Indian motor.

”The Chief had a Harley-Davidson style mousetrap and hand clutch assembly installed with the Indian rocker foot-clutch pedal attached to the shift tower. This was supposed to give me a foot shift mechanism on a motorcycle that was originally sold with foot clutch hand shift.”

1916 Excelsior Twin with Sidecar, a classic.

I recognized the long frizzy hair and massive beard immediately, but I couldn’t tell if he recognized me. He seemed to glance up, but then stared back at the metal-shaving laden concrete deck and continued to sweep, carefully. I remembered his photography from his years at HOT BIKE. He was good and knew a classic scooter when he spotted one. He went on about his first motorcycle as if I was interviewing him for a Bikernet profile article. I wanted parts for my Kendon lift.

Bike Washers
A photographic classic.

“I rode the motorcycle home to Santa Maria, California running on one cylinder and in second gear. It was 19 slow miles of spitting and popping. When I arrived in Santa Maria, I took the bike to a gas station where a friend of mine was working as a mechanic, he cleaned the points and spark plugs and the motor started running on both cylinders.

” Some Indian riders from Ventura hunted me down, three weeks later, having heard about my Indian purchase. They took the mousetrap off the bike and scolded me, ‘Don’t ever put Harley-Davidson parts on an Indian.’ They attached the rocker clutch pedal correctly and reattached the hand shift lever to the shift tower, and I was in business. I was now a biker. I extended the front fork 14 inches. The front end was so long the kickstand wouldn’t hold the bike up. I had to lengthen the kickstand.”

Black pan chopper
The main-stay of the chopper world for years as the bobber became a chopper.

“Shut the fuck up, Buck,” I shouted. “I came here for parts, goddamnit.”

Friday Night
”Friday Night” by Buck Lovell.

“Here me out Bandit,” Buck said and his eyes slammed into mine. “I got invited to a biker wedding in Lompoc, California sometime in 1974. There was a big biker party in the local riverbed after the wedding.

And after all was said and done I was charged with 15 counts of assault with a deadly weapon and one of attempted murder. What a fucking party huh?

Hot Rod Pan
Rivera Engineering partner’s classic Pan.

”What’s the fuckin’ point, Buck,” I said beginning to pace the well-swept deck?

Hot Rod Panengine
Shot looks like an Eric Herrmann painting.

“I need a favor,” Buck said, “so listen up. I rode Indian motorcycles for many years before switching totally to Harley- Davidson. My first H-D was a 1949 EL with 74 inch flywheels, and an M-74 Linkert carburetor. I bought it from a biker type dude in 1976 in Petaluma, California after seeing an ad in the local paper. When I went to see the bike the transmission was gone. The owner had taken the trans to the local Harley- Davidson shop for repairs and didn’t have the money to retrieve it. I went the Harley shop and paid the bill, got the transmission and took it back to the owner. He installed it, the inner primary cover, primary chain, and outer primary cover. I paid $1500 for a rigid frame, 1949 EL (stroked to 74), with jockey shift (jockey top on the trans, no ratchet top) no front brake (21-inch wheel out front), 15-over wide glide with about a half-inch rake. The foot clutch pedal was in reality a foot shift lever. Even though I had lots of experience riding foot clutch, I damn near hit both sides of the owner’s gate when leaving his yard.”

lolo's knuck
Lolo’s Knuck engine. I like the riding crop dangling off the bars, a threatening jesture, especially to the girls.

“I rode this machine from Petaluma to San Jose, and ran out of gas only once. The Linkert had no air cleaner, and it kept sucking my bell bottom pant leg into the venturi causing the motor to quit. After three or four stops and kick starts, I caught on. It had a 2.5 gallon Sportster tank mounted on the top rail, Frisco style. The reserve was broken on the petcock. The Linkert carb provided about 45-50 miles to the gallon, but riding was such a blast that occasionally I forgot to get gas.”

Purple Pan
Another classic, the “Purple Pan”.

”That’s cool, Buck, but what’s the deal,” I stammered trying to get to the point? “We’re burnin’ daylight.”

Real Deal
Tough looking Shovelhead, “The Real Deal” according to Buck. Shovels represent tough times for me. I grew up with the bastards. They were tough on the factory.

“I started taking pictures of motorcycles and motorcycle events long before motorcycling was considered acceptable by most citizens of this fine country. I became a freelance photojournalist and made prints of parties I attended and other events. Iron Horse Magazine published my first motorcycle magazine article in 1979. It was a multi-photo feature-bike layout of Stan Dishong’s 1941 Crocker motorcycle.”

Rick's chopper
Pans are my favorite, but Evo represent all the best in the V-Twin era and Harley-Davidson. The stand for freedom, reliability, performance and the good times. This is Rick’s Chopper and a salute to Jesse and WCC.

“Yeah,” I said?

Rogers shovel
Roger’s Chopper will ring a bell with Bob T. and all the old school guys.

I recently published a police motorcycle photographic history book titled American Police Motorcycles. I have always been an Antique and Classic motorcycle fan, and police motorcycles have traditionally been the least preserved of all American motorcycle categories. I decided about 25 years ago to start collecting photos to be used as a historical perspective of the way the motorcycle was used in traffic law enforcement and as an emergency response tool. The book displays the bulk of those collected photos.”

”What’s that got to do with me,” I said? I respect cops, but I’m not a fan. You want to sell me a book? I came here for lift parts.”

”Hold on goddamnit,” Buck snapped. “I’m getting close. I only recently started selecting images to display and sell. I haven’t yet dug into my black & white photo archives. Motorcycles have always been works of art to me, art that is both functional, as well as something to enjoy looking at, either in motion or on display. While building custom motorcycle with originality is becoming increasingly difficult these days, I’m never tired of looking at all the different machines produced by today’s creative builders.”

“My only caveat, when photographing a motorcycle, is that the machine must be a rider, or was a rider in the past. If it can’t be ridden, it ain’t a motorcycle. I’ve always said, If it has a radio, a radiator, a windshield, and cruise control, it ain’t a motorcycle--it’s a car. “

I started scratching my head in wonderment. He had some goddamn angle up his sleave.

Swedish chopper 36 over
Classic Swedish Chopper with a 36-over springer.

”Come on,” Buck said. “Take a look at my motorcycle photos; I had a lot of fun taking the photos during the last 30 years. Maybe sell some of my prints on Bikernet. I still commute 80-90 miles round trip to work and back on a motorcycle, and will continue to do so as long as I can.

Riding a motorcycle is the last American freedom.

Riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle is still the most fun one can have with our clothes on!

”So that’s it,” I said. “Why didn’t you say so. No problem. Let it be written, let it be done.” We’ve selected three that are featured In the Gulch or Bikernet Black Market . Check ‘em out, but if you’d like one of these just drop us a note. They’re signed limited edition archival quality prints.

“So how about the parts, Buck,” I said? Actually Buck is the marketing guy for Kendon. We will run some article on Kendon’s newest lift in the near future.


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Reader Comments

I was just thinking of past adventures and Buck came by for a visit in these memories of a time when life was a little newer and me and my ol’ Knuckle met a man with a camera good dude hella great times just wanted to share and yes I am still ridin ??

Wildomar , CA
Saturday, November 11, 2023
Editor Response Well done, and thanks for remembering Buck!

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