Skinny Panhead Bagger By LA Speed Shop.

LASpeed1LASpeed2LASpeed3LASpeed4Last January, I published my 5 predictions for 2014. Among them I wrote “I expect a new customized bagger trend to emerge (in contrast to fat baggers overloaded with multiple gizmos) with lighter, more nimble, streamlined, naked machines.” And I am glad that Chris Richardson from LA Speed Shop is one of the first custom builders going in this direction with this slick and elegant bagger using a 1953 straight leg Harley-Davidson frame, a 1959 Panhead and a 4-speed tranny as its platform main components. A new “old” skinny bagger that you preview just before it is officially introduced to the public during the upcoming Las Vegas BikeFest “Artistry In Iron” competition (Oct.5-7), a custom builders championship that Richardson already won in 2010 and 2011.

LASpeed5LASpeed6Although Chris Richardson admits that he doesn’t plan very much in advance each of his builds, in this case he had a very clear vision of what a skinny bagger should look like. Evidently, a narrow front end, narrow bars, a narrow gas tank and even more important, super skinny bags that had to be fabricated from scratch. A bigger challenge than most can imagine because when you build on a custom frame, probability is that each side of the bike is going to be different, implying different custom brackets and building 2 different bags while making them look as duplicates. …“If I knew before I started what a complete pain in the a** these bags would be, I probably would have never made them…” told me Richardson. Made of 16 gauge steel this custom set of bags consumed 25% of the building time, to which you can add the trials and errors to figure out the correct lids and hinge system to make them open & close as they should.

LASpeed7LASpeed8Back to the 1954 Harley frame, its geometry was was way too short to offer enough room to accept bags. So Richardson stretched it by 3”. In the front, he narrowed a vintage Springer front end and went with a 23” spoke wheel with a spool hub and Firestone tire. In the rear, a 19” spoke rim with a star hub and Coker tire was fitted. Both tall wheels bring their contribution to making this bagger look extremely lean. The rear fender is an old hinged piece narrowed by 2”, the maximum he could do to have it work with the rear tire. The flowing custom fairing, one-off gas and oil tanks link front and rear with very simple and  clean lines.

LASpeed9LASpeed10Chris Richardson fully rebuilt both the 1959 Pan engine (80 cubic inch) now fitted with an Offenhauser turbo balance control air cleaner & the Harley factory 4-speed transmission now working with a Rivera Primo clutch and 1 ½” open belt drive. For paint, Richardson called over his good friend Buck at Buck Wild Brand in Covina, CA and gave him a very simple briefing: make the bike look even slicker than it is with a timeless paint job. Mission accomplished using mostly accent lines and pinstriping in House of Kolor Kelly green candy, cream and lime green. So, will Richardson regain his championship title in 2 weeks in Las Vegas with this new skinny bagger? Doesn’t matter too much to him because he is rightly proud of it, and already passionately invested in another creation. LA Speed Chop. (photography copyright John Zamora for Cyril Huze)

35 Responses to “Skinny Panhead Bagger By LA Speed Shop.”

  1. 1 Sheridan Sep 22nd, 2014 at 8:05 am

    Outstanding! I love it

  2. 2 Greeko Sep 22nd, 2014 at 8:11 am

    Refreshing to see a skinny bagger with the bare essentials.

  3. 3 P. Hamilton Sep 22nd, 2014 at 8:14 am

    Like it very much. Only critic, the lower part of the bags should be rounded in the corners for a more retro look.

  4. 4 Rodent Sep 22nd, 2014 at 8:15 am

    And it’s even rideable!

  5. 5 JohnyLetGo Sep 22nd, 2014 at 8:17 am

    Great custom.

  6. 6 Jeff Duval Sep 22nd, 2014 at 8:23 am

    At bleedin’ last; and it looks like a bike too 😉 !

  7. 7 ColoradoKid Sep 22nd, 2014 at 8:28 am

    A ‘ Skinny ‘ Bagger ? Either thats the motorcycling oxymoron of the decade : or April Fools snuck up on us early somehow . A bad joke that at best would of been better off left in the builders imagination than ever reaching fruition . Definitely a case of a step ( or 10 ) too far and ” Just because you can doesn’t mean you should ”

    Having said that though . Strip all that extraneous and irrelevant ‘ Bagger ‘ stuff off this bike and you’d have yourself a pretty fine little custom here 😉

  8. 8 morpion Sep 22nd, 2014 at 8:42 am


  9. 9 smithncustom Sep 22nd, 2014 at 8:43 am

    now now…. Am I looking at the right website. I’m used to seeing 2 wheeled clown cars on this site… “baggers” with 30″ + wheels and “choppers” with 2 foot wide rear tires, both are useless to me. Now here is something that is done right. I usually look at this website as a guide on what NOT to do to a motorcycle but this is nice!

  10. 10 Jack deagazio Sep 22nd, 2014 at 8:46 am

    Now that’s a bagger I can get into. Nice job chris. Good luck in Vegas

  11. 11 Drake Sep 22nd, 2014 at 8:53 am

    ColoradoKid. Explain to us why a Bagger has to be synonymous with obese? Because you have seen only fat baggers? Bagger means equipped with bags, nothing else.

  12. 12 Brandon. Sep 22nd, 2014 at 8:57 am

    Colorado Kid. There is no contradiction between skinny & bagger. Only in your mind because it’s a public perception to think that baggers are cumbersome. They don’t have to be.

  13. 13 BobS Sep 22nd, 2014 at 9:36 am

    The Emperor is naked…

  14. 14 BigWave916 Sep 22nd, 2014 at 9:37 am

    Wow! I love it. Always liked the look of the panhead and the design of this bike really shows off the engine. The way the bullet nose fairing covers the top of the springer front end but leaves the bottom half of the springs showing really looks good to me.

    The bags look good to me and being squared off somewhat looks good to me. It turned out to be a good thing that the frame had to be stretched. 3″ makes the bags look even better since their length is in proper proportion to the total length of the bike, and the bike overall just looks better with the extra length.


  15. 15 Greeko Sep 22nd, 2014 at 10:05 am

    The kid from CO should email Cyril pictures of the bikes he has built to show us how he does it better…

  16. 16 Early Iron Motorcycles Sep 22nd, 2014 at 11:34 am

    Wow a rigid framed barge with no seat springs or pogo, you wont be touring on that one vary far.

  17. 17 BigIron Sep 22nd, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    Ugliest custom I’ve ever seen. Wasted effort.

  18. 18 richard Sep 22nd, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    Air cleaner cover…”OFFENHAUSER”!!! The famous race engine of days past. Indy cars (“roadsters) , and “conventional” dirt track open cockpit. NOTHING sounded like those engines. I spent a lot of time at the old Langhorn Pa. dirt track (before they paved it) watching and listening to Indy carts roaring aroung that perfect circle, broad sliding at 112 MPH. Perfection….

  19. 19 P. Gallhager Sep 22nd, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    BigIron. Show us your bike that we laugh!

  20. 20 Ron Sep 22nd, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    Great bike.

  21. 21 Zipper Sep 22nd, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    Bagger? Isn ‘t that what you build to carry yourself and maybe a friend on a cruise? This thing doesn’t even have a front brake. Don’t get me wrong,I Appreciate the fine craftsmanship involved with building beautiful machines such as this , but give me a break. Bagger? We used to call them dressers but I guess that is a term of the past like me.(Geezer). Please don’t throw me in with your catch all group HATERS, you seem to use that definition when someone disagrees with your opinion. The really cool baggers of today are the people who wear back packs and ride. ..Z

  22. 22 badams Sep 22nd, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    This shop does nice work. This is a testament to that.

  23. 23 Homer Sep 22nd, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    Love it ! Great work !!!!! 👍👍👍👍👍👍

  24. 24 nicker Sep 22nd, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    Does it really need the “bags”……???


  25. 25 Will Dowty Sep 23rd, 2014 at 3:10 am

    It always takes time for the masses to adapt to change. What’s new and ‘out there’ today is old school tomorrow. Personally, I like it – especially the fairing. Top job!

  26. 26 A1 MIKE Sep 23rd, 2014 at 9:03 am

    its called..ARTISTRY IN IRON”…WITH THAT BEING SAID ITS A BEAUTIFUL BIKE..this web site is just getting so sad..that most industry folks dont even comment anymore…sorry cyril..used to be my first stop..i read the feature then stop..the comments are just useless now

  27. 27 martin twofeather Sep 23rd, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    Absolutely beautiful………………..

  28. 28 Greg Montierth Sep 23rd, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    I think the narrow and skinny bags look great.
    They are different and different is good.
    The standard HD style bags on most bikes are all the same give or take the stretch.
    The aftermarket bags otherwise available look like a pill bottle or some goofy bubble mess.

  29. 29 skinny denny Sep 23rd, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    The article called the straight leg frame a 53 then a 54. Wrong on both years. Straight legs were 55-57. Gorgeous bike, but that “fairing” looks ridiculous.

  30. 30 Mack Sep 23rd, 2014 at 11:06 pm

    Just plain COOL….love it ….don’t give up A-1,,,,if you dig thru it ,still some good guys on here

  31. 31 Wilhelm Sep 24th, 2014 at 7:20 am


  32. 32 JackS Sep 24th, 2014 at 9:59 am

    I respect the work–the craftsmanship looks superb–but I don’t see this as a road bike that I would throw a leg over, except to see how it rides and perhaps show it off to 100 of my closest friends. From my perspective, it is a concept bike; I get the concept and it looks cool! Great job Chris!

    A general note to all builders: A few minimum requirements for any custom bike should include being able to stop as well as it goes, track well in turns, not pogo or wobble, and handle potholes on the road. Ultimately, a road bike still has to be ridden. And a custom bagger still has to be able to do all that while loaded down and looking cool too — regardless of how skinny it is.

  33. 33 laurence zankowski Sep 24th, 2014 at 11:25 pm

    this is really making me rethink what I want/ hope to do with my road king. got to figure out how to get it on a weight loss program. this puts ideas into motion….

  34. 34 BCinSoCal Sep 25th, 2014 at 5:09 am

    Very clean piece, personally i think a set of FXRT bags would go well with the rounded theme. Sorry
    If you big fat bagger fans get offended, big fat baggers make it easier to haul big fat chicks around, but to each his own. A front brake would be wise. Chris does nice work.

  35. 35 live2rideaglide Sep 26th, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    I am so done with the skinny designs.

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