Bikernet Blog Search Bikernet
Ride Forever -
Sunday Edition

U.S. Chopper Board Track Panhead

Vintage Style for an Afghan Vet

By Keith R. Ball, Photography: Markus Cuff

Share this story:

This is an amazing vintage-styled bike with an equally amazing story behind the build. Rick Krost developed a special board track platform eight years ago, after building bobbers, and restored bikes for a couple of decades. He had a plan, a vintage notion for a product line of components designed around his board track platform.
He developed this chassis around his US Choppers business. He doesn't consider himself to be a for-hire bike builder, but the boss of a parts/ chassis component company. But he does build a ground-up bike or two each year, either for a customer, or to sell. What sets Rick apart from any other builder is his proclivity for vintage styling and components, then his board track chassis backed his historic direction. In this case, he was approached by a young Navy fireman who was in Afghanistan at the time. 
"I've been saving for four years," Gabe Wingard said to Rick. "I'm now ready to order a bike built by you."

Rick was honored to be the chosen builder by a veteran and a passionate enthusiast. Gabe recently left the Navy after 8 years. He spent one nine-month tour in the Afghanistan theater aboard the USS Comstock, an LSD, landing Marines, tanks and Humvees on the shores of Kuwait. During his tenure as a Navy Fireman, he was assigned to over 150 Iraqi ship boarding parties searching for guns and drugs. After his duty overseas he spent four years in Camp David, Maryland. He recently took a job as a fireman at the Kennedy Space center. When Gabe first met Rick, he was given an assignment, to take images of all of Rick's recent creations into a Photoshop program and pick the components he wanted incorporated into his one-off build. 
"A commission was borne from the desire to provide a bike commensurate with our name and image while providing a smaller bike to rail turns with and afford the ultimate riding experience, while incorporating a vintage drivetrain, all the while emulating the board track bikes of the teens," Rick said. "We love vintage stuff!" 

The young Gabe, fresh from the Middle East, flew to Southern California from Pennsylvania to discuss the project.  

"Given the fact that we wanted this bike to be comfortable and manageable for Gabe, it had to have a lower seat height," Rick said. "Traditionally, to accomplish this, bikes are lowered to the point that frames smack the pavement in curves.  We wanted to express the speed and sport of board track racing while being streetable, so low frame rails were not a consideration!"

Rick lowered the rear axle height by 2 inches, effectively raising the bottom single-loop cradle, while providing almost 5 inches of ground clearance under the motor.  

"Anyone who has built frames knows that this is a real feat to accomplish," Rick said. "This bike would feel at home on a nasty hill climb as much as on the board tracks, and laughs at tall speed-bumps or steep driveways."

"Secondly, we wanted a short wheelbase. We arrived at 58 inches, which is 4 inches shorter than our traditional board track frame, manufactured by Paughco, which have been clocked at over, a very stable, 150 mph.  Going shorter than 58 is not advisable in our opinion with a Harley.  A Hayabusa is at 58.5 inches while a GSXR is 55.5 inches with very advanced wheels and suspension."

Rick left the rake at 30 degrees, which should allow stability at both higher speeds and enough balance for drop knee cornering, given the shortened rear end.  With the lack of modern suspension and elevated weight of the Harley drive train, de-raking further would provide a dangerous experience and not be confidence inspiring.  With this blend, Rick could create a bike that is a sheer blast to ride and won't suffer from road limitations, nor end up being a bike that is only looked at and not ridden.

"Gabe paid us the ultimate compliment when commissioning us," Rick said. "I wanted to pay him back with a bike that said 'thank you for your service to our country'."  The real trick was to create a compact, uncluttered machine without gaps, while still housing modern amenities such as disc brakes, road lights, a battery, etc.  There are a lot of parts, but they had to fit into a chassis that averaged only 10 inches wide and just over 6 feet in length.”

The front end is a late '30s-early '40s Harley- Davidson hill climb fork that came from an old codger Rick horse-swapped with.  He only had to fab reverse rockers for it and add his subtle touches, like squeezing the Performance Machine two-piston caliper and bracket between the wheel and fork rails.

"We even had 1/16 of an inch to spare after milling the bracket," Rick said.  

The U.S. Chopper frame was lowered 3 inches in the back bone and shortened 4 inches in the rear. A support tube was welded to the backbone due to the 3-inch chop drop.  The tanks were relieved over the top of the Panheads and provided plenty of clearance to prevent hot rocker boxes from touching the cold gasoline.  The oil bag was fashioned by hand to fit this shortened and lowered frame, and it accommodates almost 5 quarts of Kendal Golden Nitro 70 wt. which he runs in all U.S. Chopper old bikes.  

The rear fender was hand-pounded by Dan at 7 Metal West out of 0.125 aluminum and shows a tortoise shell pattern underneath.  Rick's hallmark rear fender struts use 1936 Harley saddlebag mounting accessories to give it a fine appearance and finish.  

"I am a stickler for using all authentic OEM vintage drive trains," Rick said, "so what you see are tried and true original OEM parts for the transmission, clutch plates, clutch basket, primary chain, engine and engine components, etc."  

This classic would not be complete without genuine floorboards to set boots on.  U.S. Choppers manufactures a bar that holds the OEM foot controls to their frames, so that the frame can handle OEM shifter and brake sides or a plethora of aftermarket components, depending on your fancy.  When riding the streets, nothing is more comfortable than floorboards that matches the 1915-styled U.S. Chopper chassis for that period-specific look and feel.

"How does one accomplish all this?" Rick said. "I have great friends and business partners.  Without help from Rick Pruess at Performance Machine, Ron Paugh at Paughco, Keith Ball at 5-Ball Racing/, Mike O'Brien at Pacific Coast Cycles, Oscar, my production welder; Jim, my production machinist; Fat Paul, my old mentor (RIP) and the rest of the guys, I would not be able to build a bike like this.  It takes the hard work, experience and effort of a lot of great people who form lifetime bonds with each other as they take on these two-wheel, masterpieces."

Gabe can't wait to receive his bike. He's excited to be working in another creative nerve center. Although the Shuttle program was shut down, Kennedy Center action is hot and non-stop with a recent Mars Rover launch to set a remote controlled Rover on Mars, and a new rocket system is in the works to carry folks into space.  There is a connection between custom motorcycles and rockets. It's all about functional creativity. 

Name: US Choppers 1915 SWRT
Owner: Gabe Wingard
Builder: US Choppers

Year, Make & Model: Factory Board track Platform
Assembly/Builder: US Choppers
Timeline: 3 months

Year/Model: H-D Hillclimb
Builder: H-D
Type: Reverse Trail
Triple trees: N/A
Extension: 0”

Year/Model: 1954 Panhead
Rebuilder: Pacific Coast Cycles
Displacement: 74”
Lower End: Stock
Balancing: Fast Eddie
Pistons: 40
Cases: Stock OEM
Heads: 1964 Outside Oiler
Cams: Sifton
Lifters: Solid

EFI/ Carb: Edlebrock
Air Cleaner: US Choppers
Pipes: Paughco
Ignition: Delco Remy

Year/Modifications: 1954 OEM H-D
Engine sprocket: Stock
Trans sprocket: 25 tooth
Wheel sprocket: 50 tooth
Secondary drive: Sprotor

Year: 1915
Designer/Builder: US Choppers
Rake/Stretch: 4.5” short wheelbase (58”) Frame height shortened 3”

Bars: US Choppers
Risers: N/A
Fenders: 7 Metal West
Gas Tank:  US Choppers/Paughco
Oil Tank:  US Choppers
Headlight/Taillight: West Eagle Japan
Speedo: Ha-Ha
Pegs: OEM H-D 1930
Electrics: Delco
Seat: US Choppers

Front/Size: 90/90 21 Rear Size:90/90 21
Wheels: Performance Machine Spun Rims
Front/Size: 21 2.75 Rear/Size:  21 2.75
Hubs: Performance Machine
Rotors: Performance Machine
Brakes: Performance Machine

Bodywork/Molding: None
Painter: US Choppers/ Striping by Ken's Pinstripe
Color: OD Green w/ clear
Powdercoating: None
US Choppers
8941 Atlanta Ave #266
Huntington Beach, CA 92646 <>


Share this story:

Back to Bike Features

Reader Comments

Hi guys.
I saw an article of yours that mentioned you were making the gas tanks for the Paughco framed boardtracker that US Choppers made? Indian Giver was the build, I think. Link referring to this is here:

Are you guys making these tanks? Could you build one to just be for fuel? Can I buy a few of them?


Sarasota, FL
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Editor Response Hey, I believe Rick Krost of U.S. Chopper reached out to you. Paughco is making the tanks and they'll make all you need.

Your thoughts on this article

Your Name
Anti-Spam Question:
Please enter the words you see in the box, in order and separated by a space. Doing so helps prevent automated programs from abusing this service.