American Iron Magazine March 2016

As we drove away from the "Bronson" reunion in June 2012 we were awestruck by the overwhelming enthusiasm that this fine group of people had for everything that was related to the television series, from memorabilia to video copies of the series and even exact replicas of the motorcycle that was used.  They displayed it all!  They spend much of their time teaching others about the message that the series tried to convey to young people back in the day.  I became more and more enthusiastic and in order to cement my connection with my new friends I decided to build an exact replica of the "Bronson" Sportster.

I soon discovered that although it is very possible to build the bike by myself it would be almost impossible to do without the specific knowledge that my new friends especially Peter and Billy had to offer.  Also it was imperative that I would have to follow the guidelines that Boot’s had outlined in JimBronson.com.

Restorations can be a lot of fun and a challenge but when you add period correct modifications and customizing to the mix, things can get a little more challenging to say the least!  The first thing that you need is the bike.  A 1968/69 or 1970 XLH Sportster that is as stock as possible. Ironically because I could not find one available at the time I had to start by buying hard to find parts that I would need.  I started by buying the exhaust system and chain guard.  Almost a year later I returned to a seller that Boot’s directed me to a year before and bought his bike that was located in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The bike was a fine running machine but was in much need of a good mechanical and cosmetic makeover.  I decided to leave the engine as is but I sent the entire unit to John Brinkworth at Buffalo Harley Davidson to rebuild the "dry" clutch and add the kick starter.  I installed a new seat that was made by Bar Industries in the same style that they used to make the original seats that they provided for the TV bikes. The front wheel was provided by Peter and the rear by Bill Morris of Bills Custom Cycles in Pennsylvania.  Both were complete with hubs and laced with stainless steel spokes.  A new rear fender was in order from J&P Cycles since the original had numerous vibration cracks and a new one would be much easier to bob.

The tail light assembly was provided by Sporty Specialties and Billy did a top notch job fabricating the sissy bar.  The original tank was not correct so I installed a new one with a liner that was compatible with modern fuels.  This would not be a true replica if I did not use an authentic "TCB" Rock in the assembly process!  I fabricated the front fender struts from aluminum and they were fitted to the correct vintage chrome fender that was provided by John Brinkworth.  All the chrome work including re-chroming the entire exhaust system was accomplished by Niagara Custom Plating.

It is very difficult to see in the series but there was mounted a Harley Davidson tank badge on a polished primary cover on the bike. To accomplish this I purchased another cover on Ebay, shaved and polished it, and mounted the tank badge.

The exact "Bronson Red" paint was provided by John Pierce/Colorwrite and applied by Fineline Restoration of East Aurora, NY.  About 100 parts had to be stripped of chrome and cadmium plated to bring back the original finish.

There is one thing that I incorporated in this restoration that I think will make the bike safer and easier to ride in the present day. When the bike was customized for the movie they eliminated the turn signals, oil pressure and high beam indicating lights to give it a sportier look.  I was able to incorporate these features and not permanently alter the look of the bike to any noticeable degree!

When I rewired the bike I fabricated a small terminal box that is mounted behind the headlight.  In this box are all the connections needed for removable turn signals, flasher, handlebar switch, oil pressure and hi beam indicator lights.  I fabricated front turn signals that bolt on to the triple trees and plug into the box and also rear turn signals that mount on and plug into the fender struts.  All four signals are easily removable and the bike was not altered to accommodate them.

There are also small signal beepers concealed within the speedometer housing.  The system works great when I am on the road and except for the period correct handlebar switch the bike looks authentic when it is displayed at the Buffalo Southtowns Harley Davidson Dealership during the winter months.  If anyone would like any further information concerning this bike you may email me ...

Mark's Bronson Bike is currently on display at Buffalo Harley Davidson this winter 2016 through spring.