Readers Ride – Painkiller
Rich Pitoniak’s Shovelhead Calling Card
No less of a motorcycle legend than Mondo Porras of Denver’s Choppers calls Rich Pitoniak “Shovelhead Rich.” A lifelong biker and machinist by trade, Rich is a long time mechanic and passionate gearhead out of Westfield, Massachusetts. “Painkiller” is the name of Rich’s dazzling 1967 Shovelhead chopper seen here, a bike he’s owned for 25 years.
The scooter has been reincarnated a few times in different frames, but when Rich started his business, Pitoniak’s Custom Cycles in 2004, he wanted to build a bike to be a calling card for his shop. And what a calling card! Painkiller was created in the style that Rich likes best; a classic old school, less-is-more chopper.
The Shovel motor sits in a 1948 Harley-Davidson wishbone frame and has a H-D ratchet top 4-speed transmission. A Rivera Pro Clutch with a 3-inch primary belt drive puts the power to the ground. The engine is a 74-incher with a mild port and polish job. Rich is running an Andrews A2 grind cam and fire is lit with a Vulcan Engineering Electronic distributor single fire ignition fed by a Harley CV carburetor, breathing out of a set of 1 ¾-inch drag pipes.
The triple trees are 5 degree raked trees that Rich designed and machined himself with a set of 41mm, 2-inches over stock forks. Wheels are 80 spoke wrapped with Pirelli tires and the brakes include a 4-piston Performance Machine caliper up front and a H-D 4-piston in back. The leather seat was done by Black Canyon Leather. Being a machinist, Rich likes the contrast of polished aluminum, chrome, copper and brass. We do too!
This bike is a rider and Rich rides the hell out of Painkiller. Even as a daily rider, it still wins awards wherever it goes. The brass components and black cloak of paint are a beautiful combination, that paint is PPG triple black with Gold Leaf flames, expertly handled by Spike’s Paint. Rich tells us that Painkiller is the favorite of his four Shovelheads. We think he has a great eye for design and he even shot the photos you ae looking at himself, working with model Stephanie Lucille to provide the sexy icing on this painkilling motorized cake.
Pitoniak’s Custom Cycles’ specialty is engine and bike building. As a machinist, Rich really enjoys engine building with a main focus on paying attention to tolerances and reliability, primarily working on Panheads, Shovelheads and Evos. You can find Rich’s shop Pitoniak’s Custom Cycles on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and www.pitoniakcycle.com
—Rich and Chopper Daddy
Photos: Rich Pitoniak
Model: Stephanie Lucille