«

»

“Captain America” Tribute Harley-Davidson

CaptainAmBike_01

With the very recent passing of film maker, bike builder and social activist Cliff Vaughs, we feature the Captain America motorcycle this week.

Some say the Captain America motorcycle is the most famous motorcycle in the world, but it probably vies for that status with Rollie Free’s Vincent, maybe Burt Munro’s Indian. Regardless, the 1969 film Easy Rider is familiar and important to many from the baby boom era, and especially those who ride motorcycles. Most feel the film Easy Rider and the Captain America motorcycle hold great meaning, many references.

While the idea for the film Easy Rider  was created in the mind of Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper to bring to the fore motorcycling, freedom and some underlying social problems in America, it did much more and remains an important independent film. Peter Fonda got the idea to make a modern “western” centered around two bikers traveling around America and eventually being shot while riding in the South. Fonda contacted his friend Dennis Hopper and together they made the idea into a movie they called The Loners. Hopper was directing, Fonda producing, but they both starred in the film and wrote it. There are two stories on where the film’s name came from; most likely bike builder Cliff Vaughs came up with it, or the film’s screenwriter, Terry Southern.

The chopper craze was well on its way by the late 1960′s but this film solidified and popularized the form internationally, and for a time the message the film and this motorcycle put forth. The high rise handlebar, “American Flag” peanut tank, “panhead” motor and “rigid” chrome frame, extended fork, skinny front tire, fat rear, plus the stepped seat and sissy bar became the right elements of the chopper in this era, though some preferred an extended girder or springer fork.

The bike pictured is a very good replica of one of two matching bikes, props made for the 1969 cult classic motion picture. Peter Fonda, playing Wyatt, rode the bike dubbed Captain America. In the course of filming the final scene, one of the two Captain America bikes is crashed as Fonda is shot while riding it. The crashed bike, now restored, is the only Captain America bike known to exist and currently lives in California. Fonda designed the bikes then commissioned them from highly experienced builders Cliff Vaughs, a film maker in his own right who very recently passed away, and Ben Hardy.

This Captain America tribute bike, and a Billy Bike replica, plus Easy Rider movie posters are all on display at the National Motorcycle Museum.

Specifications:

  • Engine - Air-Cooled, Overhead Valve, 45 Degree V-Twin
  • Bore & Stroke – 3.44″ x 4.00″
  • Displacement – 74 Cubic Inches / 1208 cc’s
  • Compression Ratio – 8: 1
  • Carburetion – 1.30″ Schebler
  • Horsepower – 52
  • Primary – Duplex Chain
  • Transmission – 4-Speed, Hand Shift
  • Clutch – Dry, Foot operated
  • Final Drive – Chain
  • Brakes – Drum, Rear
  • Electrics – Battery, Coil & Points
  • Frame – Steel Tubular
  • Fork – 12 Inch Extended Hydraulic
  • Rear Suspension – Rigid
  • Wheels/Tires -  3.00 x 21 Inches / 5.00 x 16
  • Wheelbase – 72 Inches
  • Weight – 540 Pounds
  • Top Speed – 95 mph

On Loan to the National Motorcycle Museum

<
>

13 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. Darel Fike

    Hand shift and foot clutch on Captain America chopper, you must have a replica cause that ain’t the bike you have pictured!
    This one is hand clutch and foot shift.

  2. Ken Jackson

    It’s too bad you opted to show just the right side of the motorcycle. Lots of us would have liked to examine the other side up close.

  3. Mark

    I imagine closer examination will show a Linkert rather than a Schebler. Didn`t see where they said what year pan motor it has either.

  4. John P. Attanasio

    I thought that Dan Hagerty ( Grizzlee Adams) was one of the builders of the Captain American chopper!!

  5. Mark Mederski

    Thanks for writing. We always appreciate a little feedback to our Featured Motorcycle stories.

    In recent years a lot has come to light regarding the origins of the bikes in the film Easy Rider, and author and historian Paul d’Orleans is responsible for some serious high quality research on the topic. His recent book, THE CHOPPER, THE REAL STORY is recommended reading. Cliff Vaughs and Ben Hardy are the respected designer/builders, though others contributed to the machines used in the film. A visit to Vaughs’ shop by Fonda and Hopper to discuss the motorcycles, props for the film, is where it all started. d’Orleans research even credits Vaughs with the name of the film.

    As we mention in the headline the bike at the National Motorcycle Museum is a TRIBUTE and the original bike from the film, the one that was crashed and later pieced together by Dan Hagerty, is the only real movie bike known to survive and lives in California. That real bike WAS for many years on display at the Museum, is no longer there.

    So when you visit the Museum, as we state, you will see this tribute bike, not one of the real movie bikes. Regardless, the vision of the two bikes are what counts, what will bring back to those familiar with the story line the very important messages delivered in the film, EASY RIDER.

  6. John

    I didn’t like the movie at all. I was leaving June of ’70 right after graduation for Navy boot camp at 17 y.o., but I sure did want that scoot. I’ve been ridin Harleys since I was 14, If I make it ’til December it’ll be 50 years.

  7. Chuck Thomas

    I remember riding to see Easy Rider when it first came at a local San Diego theater. Loved the movie cause’ I’d just ridin’ a chopped 1950 pan head ( 6 ft of exhaust pipe from the front head to the back fish tail ) from Illinois to San Diego California in 1966. Some riding buddy’s and I rode to the movie at a local theater… after the movie we went to leave and my bike would not start. I had to have one of my friends get ti started ( How embarrassing ) They don’t away’s start on the first kick, but they away’s start on the last kick.

  8. Mike Swadener

    The bike in the movie had hand clutch and foot shift.

  9. Peter Church

    Last summer I took a ride from upstate NY to Theodore Roosevelt National Park (NP), Glacier NP, Yellowstone NP, Grand Teton NP, Bearthooth Pass, Bighorn National Forest, Black Hills, Custer, Sturgis 75th, Badlands, and made a stop at the National Motorcycle Museum and saw this bike. Sure, it’s a replica, but a pretty good one – thanks for having the museum with this, and all the other bikes you have, it’s a nice stop along the road in Anamosa Iowa when riding through on my bike.
    For all the complainers criticizing the bike as not being original base don the photo’s, sell your bike trailers and get out and ride across this beautiful country and make your own memories rather than live off the back of Peter Fonda and others. BTW, this bike is from a movie.

    At any rate, at the time of this writing (7/2016), Iv’e rolled 73,000 miles on my 2012 Suzuki DL650 VStrom, through 41 States and alot of National Parks. Next month I’m heading up to a wilderness area northwest of Ottawa (Canada) to ride in hundreds of miles of dirt roads thru the forest.

    If you aren’t riding, someone else is, and I’d bet she is having a better life than you, so get out and ride folks!

    Peter
    Upstate NY
    1962 Model Human Being

  10. FirstOctavia

    I see you don’t monetize your website, don’t waste your traffic, you can earn extra bucks
    every month because you’ve got high quality content. If you want to know how to make extra bucks, search for: Mrdalekjd methods for $$$

  11. horse power

    MYSELF AND OTHER WRENCHES HAVE DONE ALMOST THREE YEARS OF RESEARCH ON THE ” CAPTAIN AMERICAN CHOPPER”.
    IT HAS BEEN IN THE FINAL BUILDING STAGE FOR THE PAST SIX MONTHS.
    MY RESEARCH HAS BROUGHT ME TO SO MANY ARTICLES AND VIDEO AND TALKING TO CLIFFORD VAUGHS BEFORE HE DIED LAST YEAR, ON THE DO’S AND DON’TS OF THIS BIKE. CLIFFORD LIVED IN SOUTHERN CAL WHEN HE PASTED.
    THE COMMENTS ABOVE ARE CORRECT, THAT IT’S A HAND CLUTCH , WITH FOOT SHIFTING.ALSO THE “LEGS” ARE NOT CORRECT. AND YOUR SHOWING TWO DIFFERENT BIKES,..THE PAINT ON THE TANK IS TO ME THE MOST IMPORTANT COMPONENT OF THIS BUILD. EXCUSE ME FOR SAYING, THE STRIPES ARE WRONG, AND THE STARS ARE NOT THE CORRECT NUMBER.
    JUST ALITTLE BIT OF INSIDERS INFO; THE STARS WERE PASTED ON THE TANK ON PAINTED ON THE TANK
    THE AS CLOSE AS POSSIBLE CAPTAIN AMERICAN CHOPPER WILL BE REVEALED IN SEATTLE SUMMER OF 2018
    BELIEVE ME, THIS IS AS CLOSE AS YOU WILL EVER SEE “CAPTAIN AMERICAN CHOPPER” IN THE WORLD.
    HASTAG:CAPTAIN AMERICAN CHOPPER. I’M JUST NOW PUBLISHING THE FINAL BUILD

    1. bill burkett

      so how many stars are on the tank.thanks bill

  12. LolitaBiggie

    Hi admin, i’ve been reading your site for some time and I really like coming back here.
    I can see that you probably don’t make money on your site.

    I know one simple method of earning money, I think you will like it.
    Search google for: dracko’s tricks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>