If you visit Hank Young’s motorcycle shop Facebook page, Young Choppers and Hot Rods, the tagline reads, “Providing bikes for the industry to copy since 2001.” Hank Young has been building hot rods and choppers for 35 years now, and is one of the best fabricators and designers in the world. He’s numerous awards both here in the States and across the pond in Europe, and has been featured on shows like The Discovery Channel’s Biker Build-Off.
Hailing from Marietta, GA, Hank Young has little to no limitations when it comes to anything involving metal, wheels and motors. Hank has been around metal for a long time, due to his dad working as an aerospace machinist and his grandfather also working with metal. It wasn’t a stretch envisioning Hank having talent with the material.
Hank taught himself how to weld when he was just eight years old. By the time he was 10, he was considered an expert welder, and his path to building cars and motorcycles was pretty clear. His continued hard work earned Hank a national following for his custom automotive creations, but motorcycles, at this point, were just a hobby. Beginning in the early ’90s, he would build custom Indians and Harleys for himself and family members. However, it wasn’t long before motorcycles became his full-time focus.
At the core of Hank’s builds is the unmistakeable fact that he makes as much of the bike by hand as possible. You rarely find off-the-shelf, bolt-on parts on his bikes, as he prefers to shape, cut and weld by hand. This pride in workmanship can be seen in every Hank Young creation.
We recently got a chance to see some of the Barber Museum motorcycle collection at the Crawford Automtroive Museum in Cleveland, where among many early American motorcycles they also had some custom bikes displayed. Of course, Hank’s 2007 Lakewood Special was one that caught our eye immediately.
Setup on a custom crate and positioned under perfect lighting was this custom motorcycle that Young built during his time on Discovery Channel’s Biker Build-Off. The style of the Lakewood Special is “retro,” starting with the use of a 1961 Harley-Davidson Panhead motor.
The front suspension is a 1940s “Springer” design and the rear suspension is controlled by an axle leaf spring from an old ‘40s Ford truck. The headlight on the bike comes from a classic Essex automobile and the air cleaner is a radiator cap from an old farm tractor.
Nothing on this build is mass produced. In Hank’s signature style, the bike features a use of old parts skillfully crafted to produce a very unique machine. Simply calling this bike a special construction doesn’t even come close to doing it justice. We came across a quote about Hank’s motorcycles that describe the builds well…
“Young’s motorcycles are neither replicas nor facsimiles. They are the tangible evidence of an imagination that evokes something old by reinventing it. In other words, motorcycles never looked better before.” – Tom Zimberoff, Art of the Chopper.com. And we couldn’t agree more!
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