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Common Tread

Stuff that doesn't suck: Just add Bacon

Sep 25, 2015

The motorcycle world is filled with tiny slivers of awesomeness that most people never see.  Like Dave Bacon, and the tasty metal creations he makes.

This story is part of our series called "Stuff that doesn't suck." In the moto world, we all see things that aren't major news, but still make us stop and say, "You know, that doesn't suck." Whether it's an inspired customization or an act of kindness or generosity, we want to shine a light on the good stuff in motorcycling. Seen something that doesn't suck? Tell us about it. Send an e-mail to

Bacon introduces himself to everyone by only his surname. He looks like the guy your mother told you to stay away from. Towering and mean-looking, covered in tattoos, Bacon intimidates most people simply with his commanding physical presence.

Bacon has a 1973 Shovel parked outside his laundry room, a Pan chopper project in his dining room, and a few other bikes tucked around the house. Of course, that doesn't include the ones in the yard. This guy TIG welds in his living room. He's the type of rider who thinks laying down a few hundred miles on a weekend is a "good start." Bacon's not a saint, but his devotion to motorcycles is saintly.

Bacon may look intimidating, but I think I am more frightened of what my wife would do if I attempted fabrication inside our house. Photo by Lemmy.

Dave's also a chopper guy through and through. He builds, rides, and fixes, then repeats the cycle. His specialty is metalworking.

Bacon's TIG-welding skill is evident in the parts he builds and modifies for his 'sickles. Over the years, Bacon's learned to coax, cajole, and generally sweet-talk metal into doing things that stray far from the norm. Recently, Bacon modified a Sportster peanut tank for one of his Panheads. It's subtle, but the shelf cut into the sheetmetal gives the tank a whole different flavor. Bacon elevated an ordinary old Sporty tank into an object worthy of pause and consideration.

Keystone oil tank
The oil tank has a spot to hold the battery snugly in place. Photo by Lemmy.
welding Keystone oil tank
Bacon puts finishing touches on the "Keystone" oil tank and battery box combo. Photo by Lemmy.

Let's examine another project. Recently, a customer requested something special for his 1939 Flathead chopper. Being that the customer is from Pennsylvania, Bacon whipped up an oil tank and battery box combo to show off some Keystone State pride. Bacon estimates he has about 80 hours into the tank, and while he would change a few things about it, the results were stellar. The battery fits snugly inside, cradled from the onslaught of Harley vibes.

The details are worth noticing. Photo by Lemmy.

gash tank
Not your typical modified Sportster tank. Photo by Lemmy.
His latest piece is a number he calls the "gash tank." Bacon sectioned in a center channel on a standard peanut-style tank and dished in the sides. However, instead of a normal "flip and weld" dish job, he collapsed in the top of the dishes, and welded in a filler panel so the dish is gradual. To top that off, he added a bit more roundness to the sides of the tank — just enough that an observant eye notices the base has been plumped up.

It's a really sharp-lookin' tank, sure to draw a few stares. Of course, most people will think it's just a catalog item, and that's just fine by Bacon. If your fabrication was good enough folks thought it was store-bought, I bet you'd be pretty proud, too.