Magic Carpet Ride: Shovelhead Chopper

Shovelhead Chopper

One Special Shovelhead from Citizen Build… 

By the 1960s, the Harley-Davidson Panhead was growing obsolete, with dealers and owners beginning to demand an updated engine with more power. In 1966, the Motor Company unveiled the Shovelhead, which boasted 10 more horsepower along with better porting and stronger valves and pistons. It quickly earned its nickname from the rocker covers resembling (slightly) a pair of upward-pointed coal shovels.

Shovelhead Chopper

While the early Shovels certainly weren’t without their problems, they gave Harley a much-needed sales boost, and they would remain in production until 1984. It’s possible that no other Harley engine had such an impact on the culture at large.

“For the record, I think the sound of a cone Shovel motor with straight drag pipes tuned properly sounds like no other. It’s just pure, raw energy and for any of you brothers that have owned these things where the fall nights get cool, tell me there’s anything that feels like a Shovelhead with cool nights’ air pouring into it! This engine family truly marked the beginning of what would give Harley that hot rod feel and attitude.” -Roadside Marty, Cycle Source

Shovelhead Chopper

Enter our new friend Oliver Adamson, who owns and operates a metal fabrication shop, Citizen Build, just north of Tucson, Arizona. While the shop mainly focuses on custom work for residential properties, Oliver’s passion is building and working on motorcycles. The Shovelhead chopper you see here has to be the most special Citizen Build yet, given the inspiration:

“The bike is themed off the pattern from the rug my wife and I got married on.”

Shovelhead Chopper

Oliver built the bike to ride, so he wanted the stance to fit him well. He started with a ’79 Shovelhead frame, hard-tailing the rear and windowing the neck. A four-over front end and 18-inch rear wheel round out the stance.

Shovelhead Chopper

The motor is an ’81, outfitted with a Baker N1 transmission, which puts neutral all the way forward — a big convenience when running a foot clutch and jockey shifter. Other highlights include the chrome oil hard-lines and shotgun pipes.

Shovelhead Chopper

Then there’s the paint, laid down by @joel845 and patterned directly from the aforementioned matrimonial rug — a design that looks dead-perfect set against the high desert of Arizona.

B&C Cycles made up a seat to fit the same theme, and the kick pedal and points cover also carry the same designs.

Shovelhead Chopper

All in all, this is one of our favorite Shovelhead choppers we’ve ever come across, even more so given the story behind it. We wish Oliver and his wife many miles of marital bliss on their custom Shovel.

Shovelhead Chopper: Builder Interview

Shovelhead Chopper

• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.

I run and own a metal fab shop in a small town north of Tucson, AZ. We fabricate custom pieces for residential homes. In the evenings and weekends my passion is working on motorcycles.

Shovelhead Chopper

• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor frame / engine?

It’s a 1981 shovelhead in a 1979 shovel frame. I hardtailed the frame and windowed the neck.

• Why was this bike built?

It was a personal goal of mine to build a shovelhead chopper.

Shovelhead Chopper

• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?

The bike is themed off the pattern from the rug my wife and I got married on. As far as stance, I wanted something that was going to be comfortable for me. It has a 4 over front end and an 18-inch rear wheel.

Shovelhead Chopper

• What custom work was done to the bike?

Pretty much everything on the bike is custom made. I love the seat as it matches the pattern theme. It was made by B&C Cycles.

• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride?

It’s awesome to ride! I really dig the stance, it’s not too squatty and the bars sit at the perfect height. I’m running a Baker N1 transmission so neutral is all the way forward, which is super nice.

Shovelhead chopper

• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?

I really like how the pipes came out and the chromed hard-lined oil lines. I also like the custom points cover to match the theme.

Shovelhead chopper

Follow the Builder

Instagram: @citizen_build
Paint: @joel845
Seat: @bnc_cycles


  1. I totally agree with Roadside Marty .
    Shovels are the sweetest !

  2. Martin Breakwell

    I hate to bring up the elephant in the room but why does it not have a front brake?

  3. Mike Marcell

    Sweet paint work. Nicest chopper I’ve seen in a long time!

  4. Chente Franco Jr

    My deceased dad’s custom candy apple 750 Honda chopper has the iconic window necked suicide front end (aka no front breaks) chrome dual twisted Springer forks with an extended cantilever mounted chrome 19+” four spoked front rim. It is a crazy, all chrome fitted, candy apple with gold flaked custom paint, neck breaking head turning build..
    Straight glass packed shotgun pipes, oversized sissy bar, coffin shaped gas tank fitted with a chrome spiked gas cap, narrow buckhorn handlebars with 4″ circular mounted low profile mirrors, 8 guage single strap leather saddle bags with a king & queen diamond tucked cobra head shaped leather seat, 4 carb electric kick start

  5. Tom Verderamo

    This bike is just a show queen no one in their right mind would actually ride an open primary death trap as pictured in this article.

  6. Have to say nice ride,keep the shiny side up and enjoy.

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