What’s your name and where are you from?
John Moorehead. I’m from Berks County Pennsylvania. The sprawling metropolis of Mohnton.
Give us the backstory on how you got into motorcycles and how long you’ve been building for.
I’ve been into motorcycles since age 15ish. I started out messing around with Hondas and making cafes out of them. When I was around 21 or so I bought my first Harley and never went back. I’ve been taking them apart and putting them back together for just as long but really “building” them the past 2 or 3 years.
Take us back to the day you found out you were selected as a builder for this year's GD, what was going through your mind?
I was at a family thing all evening glued to my phone being really anti-social. I made my wife turn on all notifications associated with The Greasy Dozen and she was actually the one who saw it first. She showed me and I couldn’t believe it. I went out to the shop and started slammin beers and calling all the homies that were about to be a part of this whole thing with me. Definitely the coolest thing I ever “won”.
Tell us about the starting platform for your build (year, make, model)
The bikes a 1977 Ironhead XLT. I got it with the hard tail already on and some cool stuff with it just not the direction I was looking to go so I sold off everything except the frame and the engine. Pretty much a blank canvas.
What was the inspiration for the build?
Inspiration for the bike just came from long 70s choppers. I have a bunch of the old magazines laying around and would look at them constantly trying to figure out how to get to that. The long radicle wild ones have always been my favorite.
Have you named the bike? If so, how did you arrive at that name?
The bikes name is The Yellow Bike. I know, but nothing else has spoken to me so that’s it for the time being. Hit me up if you got a good suggestion.
Were there any favorable moments during the build process?
One of my favorite moments from the process was when I was about 90% done with fab work and needed to make sure this motor would work before I blew the bike apart for body work. The motor came on a stand half taken apart and the only thing I knew about it was it ran when the guy took it apart so I was a little nervous. Myself and 2 buddies went through the process and sure as shit it fired right up after like 7 or so kicks. I couldn’t believe it. I had just yanked the carb and battery off my shovelhead, didn’t adjust the points it just worked. Still to this day its 2-3 kick bike. Knock on wood.
We know building a motorcycle can be challenging and everyone runs into a set back at some point. Did you have any notable setbacks that you were able to overcome?
No major set backs. Covid obviously was a set back but by the time that had come to be I already had all my parts in and it was just a month or so of sanding and shaping that stood between me and the bike getting handed off to the painter.
Throughout the build process we tend to learn new things whether it's a skill, knowledge or even something about ourselves. What are some things you’ve learned throughout building this bike?
I learned that molding a frame is a ton of work. I had well over 100 hours into just applying and sanding filler on this thing. I always knew body work sucked but figured it couldn’t be that bad. My boy Bubba taught me what to do. Every week or so he’d pop over and get me onto the next step of the process, but it really is just sanding your fingers raw, using every abrasive tool you can think of to get into every crevasse. Meanwhile your entire shop is covered in the finest dust on the planet. Not quite as glamorous as final assembly, or fine tuning.
Paint tends to be one of the first things that draws people in and then they start looking at all the other details in the build, who did your paint and what made you go with the color scheme?
Zach Boley (Bubba aka @vintagegroovepaint) helped me out every step of the way on this bike. We set off with the goal of having the bike be a cream with yellowish goldish brown dustings on the high points of all the molding. When time came to shoot the bike we quickly realized the brown-gold we were hoping for turned out to be orange. Not having the time or money to get new paint I told him to just mess around with it, see what we can make out of what we got. We wound up with this “marshmallow sunburst” that I absolutely love. The way he did the fades around the frame it really looks like the sunburst on a Gibson. I really love it and cannot thank Bubs enough.
Now that the build is wrapped up, what’s your plan? (Catching up on sleep?, ripping it around the countryside?)
No sleep. I finished the bike back in May and since have been setting up a new shop trying to step my game up in the tooling department now that I have a little bit more space. But yeah just cruising on the yellow bike is pretty much the goal every day, weather permitting.
Any plans for a new build?
I have a fully chrome swingarm shovelhead that I really love but have been slacking on getting back together for the duration of this build so I really need to get that back on the road. That’s the daily after all.
They say “It takes a village” who would you like to thank?
First I want to thank Bear and Zane at Old Bike Barn for putting on The Greasy Dozen. With the exception of my wife and daughter this really was one of the coolest things to ever happen to me. Also must thank all the sponsors. There is no possible way I could have afforded to make this bike this nice without the generous donations from these sponsors. Thank you Bubs for the paint, Wes @counterbalancecycles for the killer upholstery, Jebby for supporting all us local guys, and last but not least my first wife Katie. You have been my biggest fan and always supported me even when Im acting psychotic over some dumb wiring or whatever it may be that day.
Lastly, where can people find you (Social media)?
Photos: John Moorehead, ChopperFisher, Dean Chooch Landry, Daniel Venditto.