Ryan McGill's Small Bunyan


You’ve probably noticed the new Submit Your Bike tab on the main page of the website. You can provide your bike or nominate someone to receive the light. Isaac Whalen did the latter, which surprised me as most folks want the light for themselves! Here are just some of the kind words Isaac sent in, ”I would like to submit my good friend Ryan McGill's 1976 XLCH Ironhead Sportster for a possible feature on ChopCult. Ryan is a solid dude, and his bike is one of the few true-blue choppers in the Washington, D.C. area. I think that his bike would make a great feature, because not only does it embody the lean, simplicity of the classic chopper, it also has a very rich backstory involving many members of the D.C. and Florida motorcycle community. AND it rocks a killer paint scheme." So Isaac sent in the story below along with the photos. Enjoy!



"North America is full of elusive beasts that are only captured in fuzzy, out-of-focus pictures. The Pacific Northwest has Bigfoot, New Jersey has the Jersey Devil, and Mexico has El Chupacabra. I offer you another subject for your next campfire story. It hails from the humid swamps of Washington, D.C. It’s loud, covered in fish scales, and can be seen bombing around the streets both day and night. I speak of course of Ryan McGill’s Ironhead chopper.


The motorcycle scene here in D.C. is in its early stages and is a huge melting pot. Mopeds, cafe racers, street “legal” dirt bikes, scramblers, brat-style, stock. It’s all here. Only choppers remain elusive. Maybe it’s the immense amount of potholes that deters the classic hardtail. Maybe it’s the traffic or the lack of cheap garage space. Either way, when a genuine, bonafide classic chopper pulls up to your local hang-out in broad daylight, you do what any self-respecting ChopCult reader does: you walk up to the owner and strike up a conversation.


I first met Ryan and his bike outside the Dunn Lewis shop (D.C.’s only local moto-collective space). At least this is what I tell everyone. I first saw Ryan’s bike on Instagram, and after a bit of creeping, hoped that we would eventually run into each other. When we finally did, I had to pretend I didn’t know anything about him and asked if I could take some pictures of his bike. He said “knock yourself out” which I took as an invitation to do so, and hopefully not as a thinly-veiled threat. We exchanged contact info and agreed to do something more official shortly. Fast-forward several months, and when my friends and I started our local ‘zine to try and highlight the diversity of D.C.’s bike life, I instantly contacted Ryan. After several rounds of phone tag, we were able to align our schedules for a shoot.


Many people talk the talk when it comes to old motorcycles, but when the chips are down some people lament not having a more reliable ride. Ryan is not one of those people. When we met up for the shoot, his throttle jammed. Without missing a beat, he whipped out his tools, pulled everything apart, opened his zip-lock baggie of spare parts, and fixed everything. All while carrying on a conversation with me about how he’d only ever sell this bike if it was the last thing to prevent him from “living on the streets.” Three kicks later, we were off to the shoot location.


When I later posted a picture of his bike on my Instagram page, several of my other motorcycle friends were amazed. Some told me about how they’d “seen that bike around” but didn’t know anything about it, or it’s owner. Another recognized Ryan at a bar and struck up a conversation with him. For me, this is what motorcycles are all about. You can think you know every aspect of the community, but there are still rad people out there you have yet to meet.


So if you ever come and visit the nation’s capital keep your camera handy and one eye on the streets. When you hear the roar of an Ironhead coming your way, you may just get a chance to see one of D.C. rarest motorcycle sights. Either that or it's a very lost El Chupacabra." -Isaac

Owner name, location: Ryan McGill. Washington, D.C.

Bike Name: Small Bunyan

Engine, year and make, model, modifications: 1976 Harley Davidson XLCH 1000, S&S Super carb. Brand new Cycle Electric generator with built-in rectifier (no more getting stranded!…mostly).

Frame: David Bird bolt on hardtail, stock rake.

Forks: Stock frontend.

Tire/wheel size and style: 16” Avon Mark 21 rear/ Avon SpeedMaster front



Favorite thing about this bike:The narrow and short appearance. Don’t worry about the bars being too skinny for city riding. You just gotta lean a lot.

Next modification will be: Adding a springer front end and fixing the throttle sleeve. After that, just keeping it running and on the road.



Other mods, accessories, cool parts, etc.: Lane splitter handlebars were built by Wagner Fabrication. Horseshoe oil tank.

Any building or riding story or info you'd like to include: That time my throttle started to stick on ye ol' chopper, and I got stuck in front of a dog grooming shop. So I go in and ask if they have any lubricant. I got a big fat “NO!” Although, the young man at the front desk slid me some chapstick on the sly and it got me home. Always be resourceful. And choose your words wisely.



Thanks to Still Borne, USA. Steve Fisher, Wagner Fab, Spirit Street Cycles, Zarkin Froods, that petshop guy with the chapstick, and the original builder down in Florida who started the whole thing.



Big thanks to Isaac for his help and thanks to Ryan for allowing us to feature his bike here. If you would like to submit your bike, kindly enter here. Please support the Lay Low and Prosper ‘zine by checking out the website and giving them a follow on Instagram.



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Commented on 7-20-2021 At 12:26 pm

As much as I love seeing pics of showroom clean bikes just out of the shop and finished, seeing a well ridden bike like this this is what I love. Just a nice classic slim chop with that David Bird hardtail.

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