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Converting Your Foot Shifter and Hand Clutch to a Jockey Shifter and Clutch

Written by  July 31, 2008

Over the past two months I have been working on a project that not only consumed me but also made me feel as though I had completed one of the best projects I have ever been a part of. Back in April 2008 I was asked to be a team lead on an extreme makeover project for a 1982 XL 1000 Sportster for Staff Sergeant Daniel Gilyeat who had served two terms in Iraq and came home disabled. Many of you may recognize this Marine's name because he was also one of the latest recipient of ABC's Extreme Home Makeover.

I was totally thrilled to just get the bike running because that is what I do, and I had no problem with that task. However, being the person that I am, I needed to take this further and make this an extreme bike makeover. When it comes to a project of this magnitude I consult my trusty Editor-in-Chief Mike Schweder and Wally Lafond for their experience and opinions. What we came up with was a bike that could be ridden and also be reliable and functional. With the help of several Cycle Connections advertisers, I assembled a team of professionals that would go the distance. Their efforts would make a dream come true for a man who truly deserves to be back on the road and feel normal again!

Many people are disabled in this country and one thing that we all take for granted is the ability to ride a motorcycle. So what do you do if you are missing a limb or the ability to ride? You find a crew that can make this a reality again. I started with the crew at Bear’s Hiway Classics in Avondale, Missouri because of the work they do in the late model Harley-Davidsons. Jon Gallagher was the primary fabricator on this project and brought big vision to the table. John has his plate full each and every day with trying to balance his life, but he also has a lady in the background who stands beside him, as well as Travis Wright, his shop foreman. Travis and Jon really opened my eyes when it came to what was required to change a simple “get–it-running” situation to the extreme makeover project that had overtaken us. This was a total restore project that required a team of professionals, and I wanted to share with you the shifter and clutch conversion process as explained by Mr. Jon "Money Shot" Gallagher:

This shifter had complications that big V-Twins won't due to the location of the shifting point. On big V-Twins the shifting point is behind the primary; it is easier to tuck the linkage in to avoid obstructing the leg. When you're building any pivot style hand shifter the throw should always be a concern. The longer the distance from the pivot point to shift rod, the shorter the throw. There is no point in building it if it isn't comfortable to ride. Be sure that the shifter does not put the shift arm in a bind by making sure it moves exactly in its original travel pattern. Choosing a pivot point is very important; the motor mount is usually the easiest and quickest place to pivot the shifter. Seamless tubing works well, or, as I did in this case, a used piston wrist pin worked well. Be sure that the full throw of the shifter clears throughout its full movement. In order to make a clutch lever work on the shifter it has to have a solid mounting point. Your average clutch lever is made to mount on a one inch bar so the easiest way to mount the clutch lever that I have found is to weld a small piece of one inch tubing onto the shift rod and mount the clutch vertically to this piece. This will allow you to use a shorter clutch cable and adjust it the same way as if it was in the stock location.

Clearly, there are many others who could benefit from this service that Jon, Chris, and Bear’s Hiway Classics provided for our disabled Marine. Why is it that more of the Midwest doesn’t take advantage of this service? The only conclusion I could come up is that nobody knows that Bear and his staff have this capability and do this kind of work. It’s time to spread the word.

Fabrication is an art and there is not a textbook that can be written when it comes to this type customization. It is a vision shared by all persons involved. I have had the luxury of being exposed to a group of people shared the vision and delivered beyond all expectations!

B-safe out there!

Dave Miller