Union Speed And Style’s 1947 Harley EL Battled With The Best

The highest-placing American bike at the 2018 AMD World Championships

The journey started back in 2016 with a victory at the Championship of the Americas, a big custom bike battle held at the AIMExpo when it was still in Orlando, Florida. The win earned Jordan Dickinson of Union Speed and Style an all-expenses-paid trip to the prestigious 2018 AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building in Cologne, Germany. The victory doesn’t come without high expectations though. Fortunately, Dickinson’s skills are world-class and his entry into the 2018 AMD competition was pure Americana, from its 74ci Knucklehead engine to the bike’s styling cues, which were inspired by vintage Harley hill climbers and racers. And while many of the AMD Freestyle entries emphasize form more than function, Dickinson’s 1947 EL is undoubtedly a runner.

Union Speed and Style’s Knuckle is so tight that it’s easy to overlook the bounty of handmade parts, from the hardtail frame to the twin pipes to the tins. The fact that Dickinson hammered the gas and oil tanks, dash piece, fender, and fender struts by hand out of rolled sheet steel makes you appreciate his work even more. You’d be hard-pressed to find a tidier set of handlebars than those on this custom EL.

1947 Harley EL Custom

Jordan Dickinson’s entry in the 2018 AMD World Championship is handcrafted to have the feel of a 1940’s concept bike that never happened.

Onno Wieringa/AMD World Championships

Since his work would be representing American custom builders at the AMDs, Dickinson believed it was important to share the progression of the build, so he chronicled it on Facebook. Some of his excerpts demonstrate both the insane amount of work he put into the build and the thought processes behind it.

Relic Kustoms custom gas tank

Relic Kustoms laid down period-perfect hues for the hand-hammered steel fuel tank.

Onno Wieringa/AMD World Championships

“I originally started building this bike for Born-Free 7 to display in a bare metal state and showed it like that for a couple years until the timing was right to finish it completely. At any rate, we started by making a one-off frame that was inspired somewhat by the Joe Petrali Knucklehead land speed bike. We made all of the ‘forgings’ to look similar to what would be found in that era and put our spin on a new one-off design.

custom EL fender mounts

Talk about details. Those very cool fender mounts tie into the tank top panel design.

Onno Wieringa/AMD World Championships

“The only component on the bike that was a factory component (outside of the engine and transmission) was this VL fork that we narrowed. @oohhello got involved with the build and drew up a set of fork components for the rear legs just like originals except about 1 inch narrower than stock. Then I had my good buddy @pearsoncustoms machine the pieces out. After he was all done I welded the components together and textured them up to look like factory forgings and welded the rear fork legs back together. The front fork legs were narrowed and textured back out as well.

functioning 74ci Knucklehead engine

Union Speed and Style’s “SourKraut” is a runner, with a functioning 74ci Knucklehead engine at the heart of it all.

Onno Wieringa/AMD World Championships

“Most people will probably think that’s a factory fender. The fender is completely handmade from regular cold rolled steel sheet. But if you know old Harley tin, you see a mash-up of styling from JD-era side skirts (hence the bead) and a simplistic Knucklehead-style edge flange. I kept the fender more of a bob job because I still wanted it to fit like it should for a custom bike, short and tight. The fender struts I wanted to look like a pressed or formed piece of flat stock… They too were hammered out of flat sheet steel.”

factory Harley VL front end

The frame and all components are handmade. Dickinson says the front end is a factory Harley VL that was narrowed 1 inch by machining new connecting braces.

Onno Wieringa/AMD World Championships

Although Union Speed and Style ended up taking eighth place in the Freestyle class at the 2018 AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building, Dickinson said the experience was amazing, and that the show was much bigger than expected. To be named in the same breath as the top 10 builders in the world speaks volumes about the caliber of Dickinson’s work.

super-clean springer front

SourKraut’s super-clean springer front with even-tidier handlebars. No clutter here.

Onno Wieringa/AMD World Championships


Bike Name: SourKraut
Builder: Jordan Dickinson
Owner: Jesse Dickinson
Year/Model: 1947/Harley-Davidson EL
Engine Make/Size: Harley-Davidson/74ci
Frame Make/Type: Union Speed and Style/one-off
Rake: 29-degree stretch
Front End: Narrowed Harley VL
Drivetrain: 4-speed
Front Wheels: Harley 19-in. rim and Union Speed Spool Hub
Rear Wheels: Harley 16-in.
Front Tires: Coker 4.00 x 19
Rear Tires: Allstate 5.00 x 16
Front Brakes: None
Rear Brakes: Harley mechanical drum
Exhaust: Union Speed and Style one-off
Painter: Relic Kustoms
Chroming/Plating: J&D Plating (nickel plating) and Twin City Plating