THE RED DEVIL – Richard Ruck’s Show-winning Shovel
The amazing motorcycle you are no doubt drooling all over belongs to Richard Ruck of Tampa, Florida. I had the pleasure of giving Richard the Editor’s Choice Award at the Easyriders Bike Show last year and had Michael Lichter shoot this scoot for a feature. Sadly, Easyriders was purchased by a Canadian company that wanted the brand for their fashion blue jeans and the magazine died a hideous death. Fast forward to today when the illustrious Erick Runyon has photographed this sweet scooter for your demented perusal.
Rich grew up around motorcycles in the Catskills. He was a wild child and his dad bribed him to get good grades by getting him on a 1982 YZ50 dirt bike. “I loved that thing,” Rich remembers. “I couldn’t wait to get home from school every day and ride that thing.”
Rich was a motocross guy until he was 18 and the dirt bike flair can still be seen in many of his custom Harley builds. He went to college for business management and ended up moving to Florida 24 years ago. “I was tired of only being able to ride one month out of the year, so I moved to a place where I can ride year ‘round,” Rich tells us.
Then in the mid-’90’s a friend bought a Harley Fat Boy and let Rich ride it. “It was the first time I was ever on a big V-Twin and it changed my life. I got bitten by the Harley bug hard! I was hooked.” He went to Daytona Bike Week and was dreaming of owning his own big twin. “I bought a few old Harleys and did the bolt-on thing for a while,” Rich says. But with every bike, his bike building skills progressed until he was building full-on, ground-up customs. “I love old iron and you used to be able to buy an old Shovelhead for a few grand.”
Rich currently works for a hospital in the Engineering Department, but when he gets home, he is building bikes out of his garage. “It’s my passion,” he says. “I think about bikes from the moment I wake up, until I hit the hay every day.” And that passion has been the inspiration for cool customs like the ride you see here that he calls The Red Devil. “I used to watch shows like The Great Biker Build-Off and would watch those guys kick those bikes over for 2 days before they would light. I thought, ‘Man, just reset the timing!’ But then, when I first finished this Shovel, it was the first time I used a mag, I did some things different, there I was out in the garage, kicking this thing until my knee throbbed. I named it The Red Devil right after that.”
Those days of kicking until he was blue in the face are over now. His good friend Rob Schwellinger of R&R Cycles helped him rebuild the motor from the ground on up. “Rob let me be his apprentice. He is a true wizard when it comes to dealing with old motors.” Naturally, the boys hopped the mill up a bit. “It runs like a sewing machine now!”
Always cruising eBay and Craig’s List for old Shovels with titles, Rich started this bike project as a motor, a tranny and a frame from a 1975 H-D. “I’ve been inspired by allot of the old school bobber and chopper builders, like Indian Larry, Paul Cox, Ryan at Paper Street and I love Jeff Cochran’s bikes,” Rich says, “and a lot of the look in my previous builds were heavily inspired for him, I was going for something a little different in this one but some of the parts such as the shifter and brakes are from Jeff Cochran’s Speedking Racing. The axle plates are from John at Hardtail Choppers Inc., the springer is a Harley inline and that’s an Avon Speedmaster on the front wheel. “I made the mid-controls, narrowed the back fender and the Sportster tank, and built the exhaust.” The chain drive is by Lakeside Customs, the seat is by Biltwell and the handlebars and oil bag are from Anthony at Tin Works.
Rich handled most of the polishing on the motor and tranny himself but brought in a heavy hitter when it came time for paint. “The frame was powdercoated candy over chrome and I wanted the paint on the tank and rear fender to match that look exactly.” Rich says that Scott at Attitude Paint was up for the challenge. “He did a full gloss black and then sprayed the candy paint over it. It looks like a Christmas ornament when you see it in the sun.”
“Bikes are my passion,” Rich concludes. “And I like to take my time with my bike builds. I love to make parts from scratch and keep learning. I don’t have any big plans to have my own full time shop. Right now it’s something I love to do when I’m not working at the hospital. I don’t want to squash my passion for bikes. I don’t want this to become a job that I don’t like.”
Amen to that! You can follow Rich’s builds at itllridechoppers on Instagram.
Images by Erick Runyon