A 1956 Harley Panhead Crafted By Bill Dodge

1dodgeblack2dodgeblack3dodgeblack3bisdodgeblackIn 1948, during its introduction, who would have thought that the Overhead Valve (OHV) Panhead model would still influence motorcycle styling, would remain one of the most desirable machines for custom builders’ work, and even push third-party engine manufacturers to produce upgraded Panhead-styled engines in bigger displacements than the Harley original.

In addition to its beautiful aesthetics, some may argue that The “Captain America” chopper used by Peter Fonda as well as “Billy Bike” ridden by Dennis Hopper’s character in the 1969 movie Easy Rider, both using a Panhead engine, have largely contributed to the its iconic status. Immediately popular with bikers who bought one of the Panheads produced until 1965, year after year the legend grew and this model continues to be one of the most sought after classic Harleys.

12dodgeblack8dodgeblack7dodgeblack5dodgeblackRestore and preserve one, or customize it, but only if you don’t betray its soul… When builder Bill Dodge found this 1956 Panhead, he was in shock, horrified to see it turned into a very poorly re-built chopper. So, for his client/buddy James Chase, he did what a good professional is supposed to do. To return the Pan, if not to its original appearance, to the 50’s era original spirit and to the motorcycle original persona.

9dodgeblack13dodgeblackFirst task was of course to return the Pan to its original rake and stance. Second, to proceed to a meticulous motor rebuilt with the help of Austin based DC Choppers. Then Bill preserved all oem parts still belonging to the project for which he was commissionned. When it was time to customize it, he replaced the missing ones with Harley parts from different models, making sure that they all fit the the original Panhead spirit. Of course, it implied many mods and adaptations. To this, Bill added his own personal touches and custom parts to make it a “Dodge Signature Panhead”.

10dodgeblack4dodgeblackThe 56 Pan now rolls on a 19 x 4” front and 18 x 4.5” rear Akron set of spoke wheels that he laced himself into star hubs, and then dressed them in Firestone Champion rubber. Springer front suspension comes from a 1945 three-wheeled Harley Servi-Car. For rear fender, Bill modified and adapted a 68 Sportster model. Floorboards are original Harley models. All the custom work, including all what is missing on purpose on this correctly chopped Pan is visible to your eyes in this set of pictures. Bill told me, and insisted on the fact that it is probably one of the most simple, fun, bitchin’ Panheads he has ever rode. Owner James Chase agrees…Bling’s Cycles. (photography @ H. Roesler for C. Huze)
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25 Responses to “A 1956 Harley Panhead Crafted By Bill Dodge”


  1. 1 Paul Hemsley Jan 9th, 2017 at 9:07 am

    As always, great job by Dodge.

  2. 2 RBinTEX Jan 9th, 2017 at 9:09 am

    I had a ’57 pan head FLH with tank shift and suicide clutch back in the late 60’s….
    I sure wish I still had it!

  3. 3 seymour Jan 9th, 2017 at 9:18 am

    That’s a yes

  4. 4 P. Hamilton Jan 9th, 2017 at 9:24 am

    Another great feature for Bill by Cyril. Well deserved!

  5. 5 Gina Woods Jan 9th, 2017 at 9:30 am

    Bill Dodge ROCKS! He knows his craft!

  6. 6 D. Edwards Jan 9th, 2017 at 9:42 am

    great looking bike …………congrates to mr dodge

  7. 7 Nils Jan 9th, 2017 at 10:01 am

    This bike is so cool as it’s builder!!🤘👊🚀

  8. 8 Jack Jan 9th, 2017 at 10:02 am

    Wished there was a before/after to the list of pics
    Othersise a legit looking pan

  9. 9 Hotrod Jan 9th, 2017 at 10:03 am

    Thank you for not putting dirt bike tires on it.

  10. 10 Boots Jan 9th, 2017 at 10:50 am

    Mr. Dodge, Job well done!!

  11. 11 Charles Erickson Jan 9th, 2017 at 10:50 am

    EEYowww!!! Love it!!!

  12. 12 chuck Jan 9th, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    great job again on a pan an your always thinking out side the box with the pull switch

  13. 13 domino Jan 9th, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    ………………… As it should be …

    ………………… Domino Dave ….

  14. 14 Brad Trenz Jan 9th, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    C. Huze is very intelligent.

  15. 15 Clarke Ahlers Jan 9th, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    Beautiful bike! Love it.

  16. 16 kees hoekstra Jan 9th, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    Beautiful bike. Who needs a front brake?

  17. 17 Vincenzo's Ghost Jan 9th, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    Now THAT ! Is how a Bobber should be done with nary a modicum of pretense to be found from stem to stern ! Stunning sums it up nicely

  18. 18 cooldaddy51 Jan 9th, 2017 at 3:11 pm

    Flashback. 1967 looked at a 1949 all original true barn find 2 miles from my house with my father.
    Being 16 years old had saved the $500 the farmer wanted for it. Kicked it over ,started 3rd kick. All excited about the purchase until my Dad said there is no way in hell that you are going to spend $500 of your hard earned money on a 1949 Harley Davidson. Whatsthemattawichu.
    True story I’m sure we all have them. Will never forget it as the one that slipped away.

  19. 19 KIrk Perry Jan 9th, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    The epitome of hard tail. The knuckle and pan motors are tucked ONLY beneath OEM fuel tanks. It still amazes me how Frank L. Wright can be known for the architecture, or Oster for their blenders, but nobody can put a name on the “designer” of the 1936-1964, 3.5 gallon tanks. 28-years of American art-history lost. It’s there in front of you, but no one can take responsibility for it’s timeless design. The company in general, but not one group of designers has every been recognized.

  20. 20 JohnnySpeed Jan 9th, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    Nice classic custom. Simple and well done. If it was mine I’d put a sprung solo seat with a bit of padding on it though!lol

  21. 21 Iron Horse Jan 9th, 2017 at 6:19 pm

    Another really nice build by Bill Dodge.

  22. 22 Blackmax Jan 10th, 2017 at 6:59 am

    Mr. Dodge always puts out a quality product
    If you claim to love cycles, of ANY kind, you have to admire this build !!!

  23. 23 Zundap Jan 10th, 2017 at 10:52 am

    Cool ride, would enjoy watching him start it.

  24. 24 hacksaws garage Jan 10th, 2017 at 11:14 am

    nice machine. i love the style .
    sorry i dont care much for no front brake. one would get killed around here in ct without one. one can get killed round here even with one.
    thats a trend that should go away. just because they did it in the 60’s doesnt mean it was a good idea today. the seat sucks too imho. but so what? lol.
    its a nice bike. the way it should be. basicly free from gimmics. !!!!!!!!

  25. 25 NoH2oh Jan 12th, 2017 at 11:42 am

    This will still be cool 50 years from now. Timeless.

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