The Devil is in the Detail

“The 10,000-hour rule”. Have you heard of it before? It’s a theory made popular by Malcolm Gladwell, who writes in his book titled Outliersthat 10,000 hours or ten years in any endeavour is the key to being a world-class master in any chosen field. Is this a true statement? Or not? Experience and success tend to go hand-in-hand, and if you know Jason Parker from Jason Parker Race Cars, you can’t help but believe it’s true. 

Jason is a custom bike builder. More specifically, he is well known for building choppers and has been doing so for the better part of twenty-five plus years. “When I first opened my shop, I was the guy that built race cars and hot rods but dabbled in bikes. Now, I’m the guy that builds bikes and dabbles in cars,” chuckles Jason. The shop ( & @panheads_forever on Instagram), located in Brampton, Ontario, is a gearhead’s wonderland of bikes, frames, engines, and vintage cars. Jason not only builds his bikes, but he’s also well known internationally for his fabrication and pristine engine work, which is sought after by other bike builders. His preference for the bikes he builds leans toward circa 1969 and older Panheads, Knuckleheads, and Shovelheads. His objective is always to keep his builds “period correct” but do so with the highest level of fitment and finish, and outstanding fabrication work with the results being true to the times, but better than what you would have seen during that period. Jason is an absolute stickler for details and craftsmanship, and that comes from years of doing what he does best, without compromise.

Before building this bike, Jason was going through a stressful period in his life with various personal and health issues that he was dealing with at the time. He had just gotten his passport, and he went on his very first, and only, vacation in his life. Four days of much needed R&R and a swim in the ocean gave his mind and body a break, which was exactly what the doctor ordered. He came back completely refreshed, rejuvenated, and decided to express his newfound energy by building a Panhead chopper. 

Like all great creators and artists, inspiration can, and will, come from the most unexpected places. The inspiration usually comes from the artist thinking outside of the box, and as a result, they accomplish something that they may not ordinarily create. Take this Shovelhead as an example. The initial inspiration for this bike was from an old B&W photo he had seen of this dude passed out and hunched over on a Flathead chopper. It’s hard to tell whether it was the overall composition of the photo that Jason drew inspiration from, or whether it was from the actual bike. Still, the interesting thing about this build is that the bike in the picture doesn’t even resemble the one that Jason ended up putting together. However, some similarities do exist, like the Springer front end and a small tank and funky tank design, which were probably the only similarities that spawned the inspiration that lead to this build. The creative mind works in mysterious ways.

The Shovelhead, built in 2012, is just as relevant today as it was the day it was completed, almost eight years ago. Even though Jason has been building bikes like these his entire career, this one in particular was mostly responsible for the explosion of attention his shop received locally around the province. The style of the bike, the level of finish and the craftsmanship, and Shovelhead motor / Panhead frame combination really stood out from the crowd. He has done many builds since for clients who saw, and loved the look of this bike. 

Initially, Jason had the 53’ Panhead frame and Panhead motor in mind for the new bike. As he was wrapping his big arms around the chosen Panhead motor, the late 70’s Shovelhead caught his eye. With his renewed creative energy, he decided, on the spot, to go with his gut feeling and went with the Shovelhead to power his new build. He recalls his friend Trevor saying to him, “Hey, what are you doing? You grabbed the wrong motor.” Jason didn’t reply and proceeded to manipulate and maneuver the motor into position within the frame. He immediately loved the look and the line of the nose cone Shovelhead motor in the wishbone Panhead frame and promptly replied, “Fuck, that looks great! I’m doing this.” 

Every stage of hand-building this bike was like a dream because of the creative state of mind he was in. Everything just seemed to flow as it took only a month to complete, without the finishing touches. Jason went nuts on the rebuilding of the motor from the inside out, as he always does, including the polished head and cases, solidifying his reputation for doing rock-solid, reliable motors. Practically every part of this bike has been reworked, fabricated, or heavily modified to his will, right down to every bolt, whether it be chrome or stainless, has been personally filed and polished to his high standard of perfection. 

Take the sissy bar as an example. He didn’t build 3 or 4 versions to make it look right; it took one try and, BOOM! It was perfect for the look of the bike. The same went for the handmade custom exhaust pipes with cocktail shaker ends. The cool looking 60s Wassell peanut tank was heavily modified as well, by moving the petcock to the back of the tank as he always does, then cutting the tunnel out and changing the shape of the tunnel to maximize on fuel. The Springer front end, although he wanted it to look stock for the final look, was not. It was a bunch of cut off pieces from various Knucklehead Springer front ends that he had collected and tucked away over the years, which he built new inserts for, and assembled into one piece. The handlebars were probably the most challenging, in terms of it not flowing right away with the look of the bike. When he finally landed the look of the bars, they were also custom-made, with custom risers made to look like they were removable but were actually welded together. They’re not your typical chopper looking type bars, but Jason liked it and to this day, he says they are the most comfortable bars he’s ever experienced. As Jason puts it, “I’ll never forget how smooth and natural feeling and satisfying this bike was to put together.”

The finishing touches to the bike were completed with amazing chrome work by Metal Coaters, in Brampton, and the simple and unadorned, but brilliant, paint job by Matt Black Paint. The paint scheme, an all glossy black bike with a single orange flame outlined by white pinstriping (by Rollie Guertin) is something that Jason had been dying to do for a very long time. It turned out exactly as he had envisioned it. Little touches like the orange fleck paint, which is leftover paint from a previous 62’ Panhead he had previously built, are what contributes to each and every build being personal for Jason. 

When you take a look at any of Jason’s creations, you will notice that all of the attention to detail (seen or not seen), all of the workmanship and fitment is next-level quality work. This is because he is absolutely no-nonsense, and non-negotiable, about his work. His motto when building is “restrain with extreme attention to details.” Jason doesn’t add any fads of the month, or goofy add-ons to his builds just for the sake of it. Instead, he keeps his builds clean, period-correct where possible, and always mechanically solid. Jason’s biggest pet peeves are bikes that look nice, but don’t run reliably. He says that “bikes are built to be ridden.” Therefore, Jason’s greatest gratification is to see his bikes on the road, running stronger than ever, being ridden by the same owners that originally bought the bike with “shit eatin’ grins” on their faces. Because let’s face it, once you get a machine like that, you’re not giving it up. So if you’re fortunate enough to own a Jason Parker bike, then you’re one lucky S.O.B. 

By the way, the cover bike on this month’s issue of Revolution Mag is Jason’s Shovelhead shop, which also features the stunning model, @ToxicVision, looking devilishly alluring, don’t you think? She, too, is a badass rider and a client of Jason Parker Race Cars. 

So you see, the devil is, indeed, in the detail.

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