This machine has been a labor of love for two and a half years. Since the fall of 2008, nearly every part on Kim Boyle's "Fingertight" panhead has been inspected, replaced, rebuilt, redesigned, fabbed from scratch or tweaked in some way. Kim has a hypercritical eye and several of the pieces were made multiple times before he was satisfied. Valuable advice and help came from Benchmark partner and friend Pat McCormack. With his extensive experience as a machinist, Patrick was able to pitch in and help Kim solve many challenges along the way.
With a background in the style-conscious scenes of motocross, BMX and snowboarding, Mr. Boyle had no intention of crafting a cookie-cutter, cool-guy chopper. Instead, relying on a his varied influences he built exactly what he wanted, following no one else's template. Period correct? Hardly. Correct for any period is more like it. Combinations like disc brakes and panhead motors often get criticized for looking out of whack, but on this bike they look natural and broadcast the intent: Kim's bike is built to be ridden. These photos were taken after the bike had only accumulated about 50 break-in miles, but Kim has no reservations about riding it once he's sure it's 100-percent ready. "It's a motorcycle." he says. "I'm planning on riding the shit out of it."
For the few bits Kim had to farm out, he didn't cut corners, he went straight to the best. Seat by Xian Leather. Paint by Blue Moon. Tanks by Brandon at Mullins. Engine by Moreland's. The stance of the bike is spot on and makes it appear so simple and sorted. It's when you get up close and absorb some of the many details that you get a glimpse into the richness of the build. Not content with mass-produced parts, Boyle hand-crafted many of the small bits that other guys might be happy to just buy from a catalog of carve out of angle iron and forget about. Check things like the exhaust brackets, the headlight mount, the front brakeline hanger, molded taillight, the mid-controls, sprocket bolt washers and the jockey shift handle. Each piece has hours of labor and was hand-shaped with simple tools: a grinder, a Dremmel, some files, a polishing wheel and of course, elbow grease.
The man-hours Kim injected into the project add up and make it easy to understand why the build time was almost three years of constant work. Kim finally put a deadline on the bike and swore he was going to debut it at Born Free II. Many a late night was spent in the shop leading up to the summer's biggest and best bike show, but he made it. The hard work paid off, and Fingertight was awarded the "Best Competition Style" by none other than Jeff Wright from COC. Such accolades seem a fitting reward for both the motorcycle and its builder.
You can see more of Kim's work on BCM blog and on the Benchmark website. Also, keep an eye out for a feature in Street Chopper magazine.