Mad Knucklehead

Like many young custom shop, Mad Jap Kustoms is a small one man operation with no big fancy equipment in his shop, no CNC machines, no show room, just a nice place to work with one bike lift and a sweet ass heater because man it gets extremely cold up there in beautiful Calgary, Canada. I met for the first time builder Dale Yamada & a couple of his traveling helpers during the 2010 Sturgis edition. At the time quite depressed because he was participating to is first Black Hills Rally and didn’t know he need a vendor permit sell his bikes bikes, parts and even tee shirts. A round trip to South Dakota without making one dollar and spending a bunch can easily mean professional death for a young builder… Well, this year things went much, much better for Dale the MAD Boy. Back this year in Sturgis, he had 2 locations, one on Lazelle Street where he could do business and one with the Limpnickie lot, a cooperative of “tomorrow’s builders” that he recently joined. And between both locations he was riding this “Knuckle”, a bike that you will probably never find displayed in a Vintage Meet.

But first, I asked Dale “Why the name Mad Jap Kustoms?” He told me ” It was my late father nickname. Way back in the days my father Bobby Yamada had some Club friends and they nicknamed him Mad Jap due to his larger than life nature. I guess that it was a nice way of saying he was a raging and out of control large Japanese man. So when it came time to actually start my company and give it a name, it was a no brainer…” About Dale’s background? A mechanical past building full tube chassis race cars, working in a ton of shops on heavy-duty machinery, big rigs, cars and bikes. None of his former jobs fulfilling his aspirations, starting his own shop was the only way out of a boring professional life.

Since then, Dale Yamada didn’t stop “freestyling” bikes, not taking himself too seriously, just doing what makes him happy, without a real plan when he starts a new project, working sheet metal following his impulsions and emotions, never thinking about how a Knuckle, a Pan, a Shovel, etc should look. Just doing his thing because in terms of custom building there is never an absolute right or wrong as long as a bike can take a long beating on the road. Dale even went to tell me “My best memories of a ride is in crapy weather and with mechanical break downs! Your bike is down on the side of the road and all your buds get together and help you fix it. Man I love that shit! There is something about riding bikes like mine. You experience so much more…”

Customizing? Of course there are no rules. A good example is this very Mad Chop powered by a 40 EL Knuckle (88″) using twin super G carbs coupled to a 4-speed Panhead transmission (Foot clutch shifting, driveline 24 tooth front 47 tooth rear.) with MAG ignition. Rigid frame has a 30-degree rake. Rolling on 40-spoke wheels (21″ front, 16″ rear) with suspension provided by a modified Sportster front end. Both gas and oil tanks are hand made out of copper, not copper plated. Rear fender out of a dumpster at a swap meet. Sport bike calipers found at a bike wrecker, etc. Worship the Chopper Gods… Mad Jap Kustoms.


17 Responses to “Mad Knucklehead”

  1. 1 zyon Sep 8th, 2011 at 8:08 am

    A bit busy for me but I love the whole rear end. I’ve been thinking about changing by bicycle style fender to one of these for a while now.

  2. 2 Larry R Sep 8th, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Great work! I love the bike. It flows! L&R……Larry R

  3. 3 Shifter Sep 8th, 2011 at 9:23 am

    Irreverent as it should be from time to time. Very good chop to scare the old ladies.

  4. 4 bigalyts Sep 8th, 2011 at 9:24 am

    This is Dynamite. This Bike looks like he invested his entire Check Book in this Build. That means this Bike must be very pricey. I think that this Bike is Built for Bike Shows and looks like a Best in Class in most shows and a Best in Show in one Show as well. Love the Tank and all the Plumbing as well.Eh!

  5. 5 Bruce Stemley Sep 8th, 2011 at 9:26 am

    A Knuckle with bad attitude. Excellent…

  6. 6 Pat Sep 8th, 2011 at 9:29 am

    Very different and provocative work with some humor in it.. So very cool.

  7. 7 yank Sep 8th, 2011 at 10:13 am

    What a cool ass bike! love it.

  8. 8 Dave Blevins Sep 8th, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    Waaay cool. Very nice.

  9. 9 Steve Carr Sep 8th, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    Nuff said above…..

    Just simply bad ass…

    Steve Carr

  10. 10 hk Sep 8th, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    pretty much perfect ,awesome ride

  11. 11 Fender Bender Sep 9th, 2011 at 7:35 am

    The best bike at the Limpnickie Lot in Sturgis. The other bikes at the Limp Lot are all looking the same since several years and are quite boring.

  12. 12 Kustoms and Choppers Sep 9th, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    It looks like a cross between a bobber with a Frisco style Gas Tank and a very busy paint job.

  13. 13 Three Two Sep 9th, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    We had a chance to meet Dale in Sturgis while hanging out on Lazelle.
    He us a super cool guy. Good luck to you man.


  14. 14 Kirk Perry Sep 11th, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    Unique. A single rear motor mount connected to (what I presume to be) a misplaced early-V-Twin knuckle frame. Well done!

    A note to all stock-type top motor mount Knuckle & solid lifter Pan head owners.
    “There was never an OEM advisory for re-torquing the cylinder head a single time after fully heated and then allowed to cool to absolute cold (ambient temperature”.
    If you feel the need to re-torque the heads, be certain that ALL the fasteners described on page 83, in Vol. 1, under the title “Initial Starting of Rebuild” must be loosened – or your torque wrench will be pulling the inserts out of Pan heads – and also changing the existing push rod lash on Knuckle & solid-lifter Pan motors – if the heads move downward even a little bit. And, put stretch-tension on the head bolts and possibly bend a push rod (or two).
    Heed or suffer, imo & Stett’s opinion. [ – a fantastically tooled mechanic.]
    “All the fasteners” would include gas tanks and top motor mount bolt on knuckles, and the intake manifold loosened. Solid lifer push rods will need to be turned CW to shortened. Exhaust systems need loosening at the frame so headers can be rattled.
    If, after the heads are re-torqued, there’s a measurable gap under a Panheads two motor mount fingers (that lay on the head), or a gap at the knuck’s top mount’s washer-shimmed bolt, then all (4) motor mount bolts need to be loosened and the motor re-positioned.
    Then, re-torque the cold heads to 65 ft. lbs. (one time), criss-cross using a Snap-On® 9/16×3/8 drive foot (FRDH181).
    Don’t torque a warm motor. Ever.

  15. 15 black sunshine Sep 12th, 2011 at 8:42 am

    The bike has amazing craftsmenship. I got to hang out with dale at Sturgis this year and a few other places. Dale is a great guy and builds very nice bikes.

  16. 16 CafeSportyTC Sep 12th, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    I like most Mad Jap creations , the one thing i cant get behind is the bars. But thats what makes things interesting is that everyone has a interpretation on what looks good. Very nice bike, i like the use of copper on the tanks , and oddly enough it works with the green. very nice very nice!

  17. 17 Kirk Perry Sep 12th, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    Note to E. Tenn. Joe,
    Put your wrenches down until Vol. 1 arrives.
    We’ve selected you as our test builder. You have the application knowledge, and deeper than basic fundamentals of the 4-speed transmission, and you work fast which keeps people interested. Now available to you, an uninterrupted builder’s web-platform and we’ll all know more than today about the rigid frame Panhead work of American art.
    The other site has today’s valuable information about seat post spring replacement, what’s good, what’s not. That’s important too. But motors are in a class by themselves. It’s all in-line machining and hand-fit on the motor’s builder’s level. Not ours. Many that try end up with a 5,000 mile motor at best. Been there. Hated it.
    Most often, wives appreciate our site, because you’re no longer dragging your bike problems into the house.
    We don’t allow unanswered “74 cubic inch questions” to linger w/o an answer. 🙂

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Cyril Huze