A redemption machine from Nigel Mount, just in time for Laconia’s 100th…
Back in 2020, we featured a radical Buell Thunderbolt street tracker from Colorado-based builder Nigel Mount (@nigelmadethis), who built the bike for the 2020 Greasy Dozen, an annual build-off, fun run, and bike show in which sponsors help a dozen garage-builders kick-start their projects a few months in advance, giving them a deadline to compete their builds.
Nigel worked on the bike in 30 minutes stints during his lunches, breaks, evenings after work, and weekends. Considering the tight time frame, the modifications were staggering, including a fully-adjustable swingarm, one-off welded aluminum tank, Fiat Fulvia carb, one-off billet intake manifold, six-piston rear caliper, and more. We weren’t the only ones who loved the build. Says Nigel:
“After the Buell build for the Greasy Dozen, I won a category in Sturgis that led to that bike being invited to the Cycle Showcase St. Louis, which is a show that I revere at the highest level.”
Unfortunately, fate intervened during the weeks leading up to the show, when Nigel was struck by an oncoming car, which totaled the Buell and did serious damage to Nigel’s foot and lower leg:
“The bottom of my foot was torn off, and the Achilles completely severed. I was laid up for three months (as soon as they told me I could walk, that week I was on a bike to Sturgis with my crutches strapped to my bars haha).”
As soon as he was back in the saddle, he tried to rebuild the totaled Buell for CSSTL, but a whelm of obstacles, including an upended personal life, kept the rebuild from happening. Nigel said that was one hard pill to swallow, but that’s life at times.
Fast forward to late 2022, and Nigel’s longtime friend Braden (@nampsha91) from his home state of New Hampshire had a Shovelhead bobber he wanted rebuilt before the 100th anniversary of New Hampshire’s legendary Laconia Motorcycle Week (June 10-18, 2023), which was just eight months away. Soon the ’79 FLT arrived at Nigel’s shop with a broken frame, ready for a full transformation:
“Braden wanted a bike that felt like a show bike, but was a serious rider. “
In terms of the design, the biggest influence would come from the existing tank and rear fender, as painted by Ronnzoni’Z (@hatemgraphics) in 2019:
“Braden told Ronnie to just go buck wild on the tins, and in person they look soaking wet. And all the paneling and scallops are just wild… It really set the bar for the work I was going to do.”
Nigel would completely transform the bike during the next eight months. Highlights include a new Paughco frame, inverted Buell forks with six-stage sand and polish, hand-built sissy bar / oil tank / fender mount / top engine mount, 70s funny car-inspired B-side stainless exhaust, 88″ Shovelhead motor with 3″ belt drive, and much, much more.
However, this bike is as much about love, redemption, and family as steel and chrome. First there’s the nickname, “Natty Daddy,” a tribute to Braden’s daughter, Natalie:
“Sam, his wife, calls him the ‘Natty Daddy,’ since his daughter’s name is Natalie. As soon as he said it, we both knew that it had to be the name. It just fit the build, but most of all it fit the family…. We started only a few months after Natalie was born, and he knew this bike would stay in the family, so in many ways Braden built this bike for her. This project truly was a labor of love.”
At the same time, the bike became a kind of homecoming for Nigel, who finished just before midnight on the day before leaving for the 100th anniversary of Laconia in his home state:
“The first time Braden and Sam saw the bike was at the Gunstock Hill Climb show at the 100th of Laconia. It was also the first time my parents saw something of this caliber that I built… So this build was a big time personal redemption piece to get it done in time, bring the bike back to my home state and the rally where I built my first bike; it was a really proud moment considering all the things surrounding it.”
We can’t think of a better homecoming, nor a more perfect redemption machine. Here’s to Nigel, Braden, Sam, Natalie, and all the folks who know that love and family, though largely unseen, are often the most crucial elements of any “show bike.” Such ancient materials of the human spirit — “love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice,” as William Faulkner once named them — are what give a motorcycle its soul.
“Natty Daddy” Shovelhead: In the Builder’s Words…
About the bike…
Me and Braden (@nampsha91) are long time friends from NH. Shortly after moving to Denver Braden wanted to repaint and freshen up his Shovel bobber. After finding out the frame was broken, the project ballooned and started falling behind.
One day we were talking about the project, and I told him if he could get me the bike, I’d build it for him. Sure enough he slapped it on a pallet and got her to Denver. With only eight months to get it gone through and built before the 100th anniversary of Laconia Motorcycle Week, it was certainly a crunch to get it done. It threw up all kinds of problems all the way up to making parts at 11pm the day before leaving for the east coast. But we made it!
What’s the donor engine and/or the frame builder?
The original bike was built off a 1979 Harley FLT, with a DIY hardtail and narrow glide front end. It’s now an 88″ shovel with a 3″ belt drive and the original frame was broken in multiple places, which is what grew the project. The frame was replaced with a Paughco frame.
• Were there any design concepts or ideas that influenced the build?
The biggest design influences came from Ronnzoni’Z (@hatemgraphics) — he painted the tins back in 2019 when the owner Braden (@nampsha91) first tore the bike down. It really set the bar for the work I was going to do.
I had my Buell front end sitting in the shed and decided to see how it fit. And once that was on, it really set the theme for the bike. Braden wanted a bike that felt like a show bike, but was a serious rider. So that combo of inverted forks with a 14″ rotor and 88″ motor on a slimmed-out bobber really fit that bill.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
So Braden told Ronnie to just go buck wild on the tins, and in person they look soaking wet. And all the paneling and scallops are just wild.
The inverted front end is off a Buell S3; I machined the cast risers off the top tree so that we could run standalone risers, then did like a six-stage sand and polish on the trees and fork sliders.
My cousin Ian (ACSIS Systems) machined a beautiful stainless axle to convert the Buell forks to the Harley 3/4″ bearings.
The biggest challenge was building a sissy bar with an already painted fender. It was nerve-racking to say the least. But the sissy bar, oil tank / fender mount, and top engine mount were all fabbed from raw to draw in elements from the paint. I also knew I wanted to do a one-off B side stainless exhaust. That drew its influence from 70’s funny cars, practical but tough.
Then a lot of the work was just fitment. Narrowing the bars to the width of the trees, fabbing brackets for the oil tank and seat, tons of spacers and brackets, the shift assembly, brake deadman, doing all the internal wiring. A lot of the parts used are from the original bike, just polished up or made to fit the new build.
• What’s the story behind the nickname “Natty Daddy”?
I can’t recall the exact conversation, but one day I was talking to Braden and we were talking about his daughter, and somehow it was brought up that Sam, his wife, calls him the “Natty Daddy,” since his daughter’s name is Natalie. As soon as he said it, we both knew that it had to be the name. It just fit the build, but most of all it fit the family.
I’ve known Braden for close to 10 years now and he’s one of my greatest friends, his wife as well because her brother is another one of my greatest friends. That’s a whole story in itself (I’m originally from NH where we all became friends).
From the get go, Sam has been fully supporting this build. We started only a few months after Nat was born, and he knew this bike would stay in the family, so in many ways Braden built this bike for her. This project truly was a labor of love.
The first time Braden and Sam saw the bike was at the Gunstock Hill Climb show at the 100th of Laconia. It was also the first time my parents saw something of this caliber that I built. So realistically the weight of how special this all is, is hard to describe and hopefully when I finish the documentary on it, I might do it justice (haha).
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
Besides building a bike for the people I love, there are two things I am very proud of:
1) The reception to the build and how everyone could see how clean and flowing the bike is. It’s not this over-the-top show bike that is impractical. A lot of the time I was just trusting my experience to make this all come together. The deadline was so tight at the end I couldn’t really change direction; so to see that I didn’t botch it was a great feeling.
2) After the Buell build for the Greasy Dozen, I won a category in Sturgis that led to that bike being invited to the Cycle Showcase St. Louis, which is a show that I revere at the highest level. This was the end of 2020 so Covid was still messing with scheduling events.
During the postponed time of the show I was out riding the Buell through Denver in May 2021 when I was hit by an oncoming car. My foot ended up getting mangled in the chaindrive when it was pinched between the car, then throwing me over the car. The bottom of my foot was torn off, and the Achilles completely severed. I was laid up for three months (as soon as they told me I could walk, that week I was on a bike to Sturgis with my crutches strapped to my bars haha).
But the CSSTL was now happening in Feb 2022. So I now had less than six months to rebuild the totaled Buell. Many things happened that hindered that rebuild, but at the end of January my personal life was upended and mentally I just couldn’t finish the build and quit. That was a hard pill to swallow for a long time.
So this build was a big time personal redemption piece to get it done in time for the 100th Laconia Bike week, bring the bike back to my home state and the rally that I built my first bike at; it was a really proud moment considering all the things surrounding it.