Barnstorm Knuckle


Sometimes getting enough time, money and motivation to build your project takes way longer than you want. The guy who owned this basket case knucklehead engine sat on it for the better part of two decades until Jake came along and breathed some life into it. Here's the owner's story:

When I bought it, it was blown up, apart, in boxes, and had been that way for the previous 16 years. I wanted it to be my daily rider, so I treated everything suspect. T&O Torque Monster flywheels were beyond my budget at the time, so I got ahold of an 80” S&S flywheel assembly and a new 74” barrels and piston set. Lakeside Machine took care of getting the heads all fixed up, springs, valves and most importantly, the rocker tins. Then we installed the wheels into the cleaned up cases (with new lower end bearings), and built the top end. Roughly, it’s a 78” motor, running the Andrews K cam and of course, solids. With the S&S Super E, she makes good power and is super reliable. I'm also running the Mallory mechanical advance electronic distributor and a Cycle Electric Generator—expensive stuff, but all those components are super dependable.



Owner: Jake Cutler

Location: Barnstorm Cycles, Spencer, MA

Engine year and make, model, modifications: 1941 HD knucklehead (it was originally a 61 c.i. EL)

Frame: V-Twin Replica 1948 Pan frame. I Wanted the stock forged look, but didn’t want to ruin a good OE frame. This frame allowed me to hack off stuff I didn’t want and add stuff in a guilt-free manner

Fork: Temporary Springer

Tire/wheel size and style: Rear is a 1954 Pan OE 16” drum; front is a wide glide center hub that I laced to a steel 16” Rim. Nothing fancy. I used to run Chen Shin tires front and rear until I got a rear flat. The sidewalls on those things were so soft that in about 30 seconds I couldn't even push the bike, let alone ride it. All I could think of was that had been my front tire I would have been dead. I switched over to Avons. They don’t fit the look of the bike as well, but the sidewalls are stiff enough that you can practically drive on them when they are flat

Favorite thing about this bike: Riding it. I loved building it and I hope to one day finish it, but in the meantime, getting in some quality road time is golden

Next modifications: Plans are in the works to finish the bike, which means building the front end, gas tank, and bars. I might actually do proper finishes on everything, or just ride it

Other mods, accessories, cool parts, etc: I run it with a jockey shift and a left side rear foot brake. I’m not sure why, but it keeps it interesting. Also, the front-mounted, vertical oil tank solves the issue of really hot oil temps. With the tank out front, even after riding all day on in 90-degree weather, I can put my bare hand on that tank and it’s comfortably warm to the touch.

Thanks: I want to thank my good friend P.Q. for having the lapse in judgment to sell me the motor. He also was a huge help in getting it back into a solid running state. Thanks to my fiancé Amy for liking this bike the best and always choosing it for our rides together, even though it’s probably the most uncomfortable bike possible for her. She's a badass and I love her. A huge thanks to my dad for helping out on every aspect of this project. Thanks also to John at Lakeside Machine, and Danny Burmer.

Check out more of Jake's work here.

Editor's Note: We've been sitting on this feature for so long that Jake found time to finish his own tank by hand and prefers it over the one in most of the other photos. Thanks to Josh Gilbow for shooting this feature during Gypsy Run 2011

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Commented on 4-25-2012 At 05:12 am

That exhaust sure is interesting and different - any story on it?

Commented on 4-25-2012 At 06:10 am

the exhaust was the first thing that caught my eye, simple, functional and well formed- and the facyt that is isn't a carbon copy of every other 2into1 is nice. Overall a classy ol' bike, nice job.

Commented on 4-25-2012 At 06:29 am

Really dig it! I see the forks are a temporary set, what is the plan, VL springer? The only thing that isn't my favorite is the seat. I love the bike look until I see the seat, with all the patina and nooks and crannies all over the bike it would be nice to see some texture (read: wear LOL) on the seat. Otherwise Great bike! Love the oil tank location and the exhaust very creative!

Commented on 4-25-2012 At 08:43 am

Dig the new tank. Flows much better. Sweet!

Commented on 4-25-2012 At 09:11 am

Way to go Jake! Tim

Commented on 4-25-2012 At 09:31 am

Jaw-dropping. Just mesmerizing. What's the story with the exhaust?

Commented on 4-25-2012 At 10:33 am

Steampunk meets MadMax?
It should be in the movies.

Commented on 4-25-2012 At 12:19 pm

Seet rusty ride man!

Commented on 4-25-2012 At 12:20 pm

I love this bike! It looks great, guys! I'd really like to see it with an original springer on the front, but over-all it's a rad design and looks like it'd be a blast to ride!!

Commented on 4-25-2012 At 12:36 pm

love the rust.

and the exhaust.

and especially the hand clutch shifter set-up

Wonder if he's concerned about that oil tank restricting airflow to the cooling fins though? Seems like it's putting extra heat right where you don't want it—directly in front of the barrel.

Might be cooling the oil better with the bag up front, but it won't matter for long if the cylinder isn't getting the airflow it needs.

Rotating the oil can sideways and locating it lower might be a better idea, but then it won't look as cool...dammit!

Commented on 4-25-2012 At 07:47 pm

Hey guys, thanks fior all the positive feedback, I appreciate it.

as for the exhaust..i wanted to do something a little weird with it...used builtwell exhaust builders kit and a stock style collector and cut it up. .. ..changed the inlet from a single port in the front to two ports coming in from the top...the cap on the front of the collector is a hand turned aluminum cap...I also pulled the baffle out of the collector and drilled some additional holes in the rear on either side of the fin to add a little volume and flow. The system works very well despite its angular design. basically i wanted it to have elements of the stock knuckle exhaust, but with a twist....

as for the oil bag in front blocking air flow to the front of the engine...i was also concerned about that at first....but have found that it has not affected the operating temperatures at all (after checking with a temp guage @ front head before and after the change in tank ) and, as I said in the article, i have actually seen a significant reduction in overall oil temps with the tank out there, overall, its a safe, functional set up thats pretty clean.

as for the seat...i also dont love it...but its the slimmest 2-up set up ive got right now..and Amy and I ride it A its a compromise...i will make a nice little solo seat for it eventiually..but whats the rush.

if anyone has anymore questions, please let me know, I am happy to answer them.


Commented on 4-26-2012 At 04:25 am

it was just brought to my attention that I miss typed "Biltwell" whoops!
I was pretty much asleep when I responded last night. Sorry!

Commented on 4-26-2012 At 04:03 pm

Amazing Knuck! I'm diggin the exhaust and I love the fact you improved upon the horsepower too. I've always wanted a knuckle, but don't want to sacrifice power. great Job!

Commented on 11-8-2012 At 12:41 pm

Diggin the rusted look, and that its also not a paint job that's made to look rusted out.

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