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The David Mann Chopper

Old School Chopper Built with Today’s Resources and Time-Honored Work Ethic

By Bandit with photos by Peter Linney

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I’ve known Micah for maybe 45 years. He still rides daily and looks like a man who was made for his motorcycle. He fits like a glove and rides like the wind in a desert, after a storm instigates a low-pressure zone whipping the loose sand across the highway.

He owned Micah McCloskey’s Custom Motorcycles on Sherman Way in the San Fernando Valley for 34 years, from ’79-‘13. Before that he worked at the same shop for Joe Scarber and before that for Gary Bang, before Gary became a major distributor of custom motorcycle parts. He’s an active member of the Ugly MC and the pilot for our 5-Ball Racing Team Salt Torpedo effort for Bonneville this year.

When I met Micah he rode a ’40 Indian Chief. It was his daily rider from ’72-’91 and he still has it. I featured it in Easyriders Magazine in ‘76. He rode it during his wild times, when he peeled through the San Fernando Valley leaving a trail of empty Tequila bottles, sparks and burnt rubber. They were wild, simple times, when most of us could care less about most possessions aside from one chopper and a $100 car to use to get parts.

Micah sold his shop in 2013 and went into semi-retirement, but soon after the new owner killed the shop the landlord called, “Come and get this shit.” Micah was able to score most of his old equipment including an old hydraulic floor lift. It had been around the shop for 30 years and he finally installed it in his home garage.

So, for the first time in decades Micah could build a bike comfortably in his home garage, while working with his brother (the nicest guy you could ever meet, who passed not long ago) building spec homes. The home business slipped and a brother, Tony Dee called. He rode Knuckleheads and had a friend who had a car and motorcycle collection. Tony, Tom Whiting and Micah had lunch. Tom Whiting wanted to augment his collection with some classic choppers, a Captain America Panhead, a David Mann styled classic Panhead and a Shovelhead. “Micah is your man, “ Tony said.

Micah worked extensively with Ron Paugh at Paughco to build an accurate Captain America reproduction, then he turned to this classic David Mann styled stretched Panhead. Micah grew up in the era of the Panheads. They are his favorites. “You need to be rich to mess with Knuckleheads now,” Micah said. Next he will build a ’66 Shovelhead for Tom. “This is the perfect pace to build bikes without the pressure of a shop,” Micah said, “and Tom is excellent to work with.”

He got the engine, frame and transmission together. The stock front frame section had a stock Knucklehead rear section attached. He worked closely with Dr. John to have the frame stretched to fit Sugar Bear’s classic, 18-over springer.

Micah has several codes, when it comes to building bikes, “I wanted to build a very original, classic chopper for Tom,” Micah said. “I would require a genuine H-D motor, frame and transmission. One of my Ugly brothers, Leroy Dwight, had passed from Parkinson’s Disease a couple of years back. He had a ’65 Panhead motor with mostly original frame, rigid oil tank and transmission sitting on an open-air bench since 1978, in the Gold country, off highway 49 below Sacramento, CA. As far as I was concerned this was gold!”

The code requirements continued. “I made a deal with Leroy’s son and drove to the Gold Country,” Micah said. “The icing on the cake was a solid California pink slip registered as a ’65 H-D, no Special Construction. These elements are required to build the foundation or a pure original chopper.”

Micah is rebuilding a couple more Panhead engines now.

“Building bikes is a lot easier today,” Micah said. In the early days only Paughco and Flanders made parts. “Our equipment was lousy and resources were seriously limited. Choices are now endless.” Everything was stick welded or brazed in the ‘60s. The workmanship is still the same, but the tools are much improved. Hell, he won the David Mann Memorial Award with this hot-looking Panhead at the recent Ventura Chopper Fest.

Micah will continue to build engines and bikes into the future, after we’ve finished the 5-Ball Racing streamlined trike called the Salt Torpedo, which he will pilot this year on the Bonneville Salt Flats. We pour over the project three times a week. He rides to the Bikernet headquarters on his blacked-out and flamed, FLH, 50 miles from home through LA traffic to give us a hand. We’ll keep you posted on his and our progress as the year screams along.


Supreme Bikernet Tech Sheet

Bike Name: the David Mann Chopper
Owner: Tom Whiting
City/State: Reseda, California
Builder: Micah McCloskey
Year: 1965
Model: Panhead
Value: Priceless
Time: 1.25 years

Year: 1965
Model: FL
Builder: Micah McCloskey
Ignition: Points
Displacement: 74 cubic inches
Pistons: Wiseco 9.5:1
Heads: Stock

Carb: Dellorto dual throat
(It has the Dellorto for show and the S&S Shorty for go)

Cam: Andrews A
Air Cleaner: Stacks

Exhaust: Paughco/Fabtech
Primary: Open belt drive (BDL)

Year: 1960

Make: H-D 4-speed
Shifting Hand/jockey

Year: 1965 Front H-D
Type: Rigid rear section (Knuck)

Rake: 45 degrees
Stretch: 1-inch out, 5 inches up
Mods: Dr. John

Builder: Sugar Bear
Type: Springer

Triple Trees: Mr. Bear
Extension: 18 inches over

Front Wheel: Spoke
Size: 21-inch
Tire: Avon Speedmaster
Front brake: none

Rear Wheel: Spoke
Size: 16-inch
Tire: Avon MKII

Rear Brake: ’63-‘66 drum juice

Painter: Vince, Conejo Valley Auto Body
Color: Red
Type: Metalflake
Graphics: Gold Leaf
Chroming: Supreme Plating

Bars: Fabtech
Risers: 4-inch Paughco
Hand Controls: Throttle only

Foot controls: Fabtech
Gas Tank: Paughco
Oil Tank: H-D
Front Fender: none
Rear Fender: ribbed
Seat: JP Seats

Headlight: Paughco
Taillight: MC Style
Speedo: none
Sissybar: Fabtech

Photographer: Peter Linney



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Reader Comments

Lets give credit where credit is do DICK ALLEN PRODUCTS. Congrats to Micah on Induction SMHOF.

Tiverton, RI
Thursday, January 21, 2021
Editor Response Dick Allen was the classic builder. Dave created artistic inspiration.
That chopper is fk'n RIGHTEOUS!!! Micah did a helluva job!!!

Shannon "Freebird" Hayes
Winnfield, LA
Saturday, June 15, 2019
Editor Response You'll make his day.
This bike is perfect and takes you back to a great time in biker history!

charlotte, nc
Wednesday, April 3, 2019
Editor Response Thanks Mike,

You made Micah's day.
Always good to see an ol'school chop, very tastefully done.

central square, NY
Tuesday, April 2, 2019
Editor Response Micah did a helluva job.

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