Built for Otis Chandler
1962 Harley Davidson 'Billy Bike' Recreation 1993
Engine no. 62FL6743
While the "Captain America" chopper got top billing in the movie Easy Rider, it was the sidekick machine ridden by the late Dennis Hopper's character Billy that won the hearts of real riders. Where Peter Fonda's iconic chopper was all stretched out and gangly-looking, the "Billy Bike" was tighter drawn, with a conservative 6-inch fork extension compared to the Captain's 12-inch-over setup. The sissybar was barely there certainly not the high-rise cloud-scratcher fitted to Fonda's ride. Mufflers were shorty duals, not zoomy fishtails. The Billy Bike even ran a front brake while the other motorcycle made do with a stopperless spool hub. It was simply a more restrained, more rideable custom.
Beau Allen Pacheco was editing Big Twin magazine in the mid-1990s when this recreation of the Billy Bike was commissioned by Los Angeles Times publishing tycoon and inveterate bike/car collector Otis Chandler. "Watching the movie for the first time, my eyes were riveted on the Captain America bike," he remembers. "But afterward, the more I thought about it, the Billy Bike is the one I imagined myself riding through the countryside. Captain America looks fragile, like a gazelle. The Billy Bike looks like it was made to ride."
Just like the Captain America recreation, it took many hours of research to get the Billy Bike clone up to Chandler's expectations. The fuel tank is from a Mustang motorbike, for instance, but had to be heavily reworked, and the pearlescent yellow flames were applied three times before Chandler and crew were finally satisfied they matched the movie bike's paint job. Detail work abounds. A correct brass-body Linkert carburetor was found; it wears two signature Billy Bike items: an air cleaner made from a drilled distributor cap and a long looping throttle cable left dangling in the breeze.
While the Captain America copy was one of the main attractions of the Guggenheim Museum's blockbuster "The Art of the Motorcycle" exhibition in the U.S. and abroad, the Billy Bike was less well-traveled but did make the rounds. It was displayed alongside its more famous brother bike at the "Heroes of Harley-Davidson" exhibition at the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, the "Born to Ride" display at the Saratoga Automobile Museum, and "Wheelz" at the Columbus College of Arts & Design. Both bikes have been featured in magazine articles.
Obtained in the late 1990s by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, the Billy Bike replica is now offered at auction, with proceeds going to assist the foundation. Like the Captain America replica, this motorcycle was built to be ridden but after years of static display would benefit from a light recommissioning and general safety check before being fully road-ready.
- Please note, the title for this Lot is in transit.