Feature Bike

Story by Marcus Martellacci// Photos by Jeremy Woolsey
April 1 2014

Panhandling is a crime in some places. Particularly at big bike shows, where the length of your front fork has at times been related to the number of trophies in your case. Thankfully, this Pan handles very nicely as a result of some thoughtful design and a lesson in geometry.

Sam Henderson knew what kind of bike he wanted to build – but cool can cost. Owning a small motorcycle shop and building expensive customs to showcase your work sounds like great fun, but it doesn’t always help the bottom line. Years of collecting parts had given him a place to start, but he would need some extra cash to get things going. The much-needed funding would come from an unlikely source; Sam’s apprentice recognized a good investment and put his hard-earned dollars into the hat to help make this happen.

The inspiration for this bike was based on the “straight-leg” Panheads of the 1950s. This refers to the downtubes at the front of the wishbone frame. They are straight instead of dog-legged, giving the front of the bike a slender profile. Much thought was put into the geometry of this bike in order to avoid the lazy feel of many raked-out customs. You won’t find this ride sitting on a corner looking for spare change; the Panhandler was designed to take a turn without asking for anything. A 2-inch up, 34-degree Kraft Tech frame with a 3-degree offset in the triple-clamps give a 37-degree rake allowing the bike to sit level with the 2-inch over Big-Un front forks. This combination maintains the handling characteristics that the creators were striving for. These carefully planned dimensions also give the bike that perfect show stance.

April Feature BikeThe centrepiece of the design is a 93 cu. in. S&S Panhead motor putting out about 90 hp. The flat finish of the cylinders and cases nicely offsets the chrome accents. This classic design breathes through a custom-made 2-1-2 exhaust system manufactured in house by Sam. Several nice touches, such as routing the front header between the engine and frame, as well as the flex pipe coverings, give a nod to the 50s-era design theme.

The bare controls and uncluttered cockpit might lead you to think something was left out, but you would be mistaken. Just inboard of the foot pedal are not one, but two master cylinders. They are both operated by the brake pedal, and in turn activate 4-piston calipers front and rear.

The clutch lever has been replaced by a foot-operated unit linked to a fully automatic “ball and ramp lock-up clutch.” This allows you to come to a full stop and then pull away again, without having to use the clutch. Why, then would you need a foot clutch when you have an automatic one? Have you ever tried to do a big smoky burnout for your buddies with an auto? That’s right, the best of both worlds. Running through the gears is accomplished by rolling off the throttle and grabbing another gear with the hand shift, mounted low on the left side. To keep things tidy up top, the electronic speedo and tach are mounted on a custom-made bracket beside the brake pedal.

PanhandlerI - Sam Henderson

The small touches make all the difference in a quality build, and Eyecandy Customs obviously took every opportunity to put their stamp on the bike. Sam even enlisted his wife to help create the rear fender support, which was made by braiding red-hot 3/16-inch steel rod. The seat also wears braided trim around a Burmese python leather covering. In keeping with the super-clean design concept, all sheet metal was modified to hide any mounts, and a black satin base coat was applied as the backdrop for silver-on-blue flames done in the traditional style.

Sam and his dedicated staff had the goal of creating a Panhead that can handle as good as it looks. Their “modern-classic” showcases design and balance over a fat wallet and a parts catalogue. The Panhandler proves there are certainly no handouts needed here…

Owner: Sam Henderson
builder: Eyecandy Custom Cycles
Name of bike: Panhandler
Year: 2008
Builder: S&S Cycle Inc.
Type: Panhead
Displacement: 93 cu. in.
Exhaust: Eyecandy Custom Cycles
Type: Rev Tech 5-speed Kicker
Clutch: BDL and auto clutch
Primary Drive: BDL 3-inch belt
Builder: Kraft Tech
Type: Rigid 200
Rake: 34-degree
Front End  
Builder: Big-Un
Modifications: Lengthened 2″
Triple Trees: 3-degree offset
Builder/Manufacturer: 18″ DNA custom black spoke
Front tire: 150/70-18 Avon
Rear tire: 200/55-18 Avon
Painting: JB’s Custom Colours
Seat: Leather by Shannon
Strut: Eyecandy Custom Cycles
Calipers: Hardbody 4-piston
Sprocket: Hardbody sproter
Riser: Eyecandy Custom Cycles
Foot controls: Eyecandy Custom Cycles
Pegs: Battistinis oval hole
Hand shifter: Eyecandy Custom Cycles/Battistinis

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