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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Bill Balcer 1927 HD MODEL S

It's always a crying shame when you see a vintage single engine race bike from the earliest years of the 1900's just sitting in a museum, collectting dust, and never get ridden or seeing the light of day. Bill Balcer, a Cleveland native restores vintage bikes and actually lets them breath fresh air outside by doing what they are intended to do; he rides them. When we sent Bill an invite for the show I wasn't sure what he would have in store for the show but I knew it would be incredible. Lo and behold he sent me these photos a few weeks ago of this freshly restored and absolutely beautiful 1927 Harley-Davidson Model S "Peashooter" dual port overhead valve factory racer. A purest when it comes to finding period correct and original parts, this bike is perfect in every single way. Bill's attention to details is superb and I can't wait to hear the motor fire. Make sure to come see Bill's amazing restoration in person on May 9th at Fuel Cleveland. I asked Bill a few questions and this is what came of it, enjoy!

-Mikey Revolt

When did your own shop start up for you?

B: I started my own shop in 2008, after rolling the dice and leaving a dealership I was at for 5 years or so. Prior to that I was in Florida for a few years working at a dealership and attending the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute. 

Have you always been a Cleveland Native?

B: I sure have. 

How long have you been building motorcycles?

B: I have into things on two wheels my whole life for the most part.. I was pretty heavy into BMX and motocross in my younger years. I'd just kept racing and always fix my own broken stuff. After high school, I moved down to Florida and went to MMI. I am 30 now so that's a good chunk of my life.

Any history in your family when it comes to motorcycles?

B: My dad has had a '72 Super Glide since the year it came out. My earliest motorcycle memory is holding on to the gas caps when I was real little sitting on the gas tank as he rode me up and down the street. My dad works in real estate and just told me growing up "Don't do what I do." With that advice and my early memories of holding onto those gas caps as tight as I could, I started my own path into the motorcycle world. I also heard stories of my great grandfather doing hill climbs but I have never been lucky enough to find any pictures or anything more than that. 

What is your favorite bike you have ever built and why?
B: Maybe, Virginia, the 1950 Harley servi car I got from a customer that had it sitting in his back yard chained to a claw foot bathtub since before I was born. It just sticks out in my head because I really just enjoy riding it. It's the only bike I have that handles great in the snow and I can take it out year round in the Cleveland winters. It just has good character.

What was the most insane bike you have ever worked on?

B: I'm not to sure about this one... maybe Harley dragster.

Who or what inspires your style? You have a lot of timeless bikes that look vintage yet new. Is there a certain time period you like better for motorcycles?

B: Anything pre-war and American. I really like the deco period for motorcycles and early racing bikes, basically all of them. The weirder, the better I guess. 

What is the most challenging thing for you when it comes to building a bike?
B: I would have to say finding the parts and when you do, hoping you have the money for them but then you have to hope the guy who has them will actually sell them too. I am a big believer in original parts, some of that stuff is just getting really hard to find.

How many bikes have you restored and built from the ground up?

B: Not too sure on this one. There is not nearly as many vintage bikes as newer bikes when it comes to actual work... I do a lot of custom stuff for customers and wrecks/ frame replacements. I stick to the vintage stuff for my personal bikes.

Where has been your favorite place to ride motorcycles?

B: No real place sticks in my mind, I guess anywhere with friends, it normally always ends up being a good time or just to go get some ice cream with the Mrs.

If you could own only one bike, what would it be and why?

B: There are way too many great bikes have been created for this question and I could think for hours on it but I guess I would more than likely say a 1937 knucklehead. It's a great bike you can go anywhere on. the 61'' motors run great. A 37 has several upgrades over the 36, equally as rare I would say, I like the paint job better though, still has that cool dash w/ gauges instead of lights. Truly an awesome bike.

What's one place you would jump on a bike right now and just go?

B: Wauseon Taco Wagon!

Is there any favorite tool you love to use more then any other?

B: Harley factory original tools, I'm always looking for ones I don't have yet. The factory frame straightening tool is a really cool one. 

What’s next for you, any big plans in the works?

B:There is always big big plans but I would just like to spend more time with my lady, ride with my friends and maybe a little racing too.

Anyone you would like to give shout outs to or thank?

B: I'm just grateful to have the lady I have and the friends / family I do. They are all the best.

You can see more of Bill's bikes at his website www.balcerperformance.com and be sure to check out his beautiful 1927 Peashooter at Fuel Cleveland on May 9th!

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