Part engineering, part construction and part research, for Sedalia resident Park Denny, transforming spare and new parts from old bicycles and motorcycles has led to the creation of works of art.
Denny, whose bikes have been featured at events and in magazines across the United States, said the interest in constructing the bikes began after watching a television series, “Harley and the Davidsons.”
“The bikes are based on a true story, ‘Harley and the Davidsons,’” Denny said. “The show charts the birth of this iconic bike during a time of great social and technological change beginning at the turn of the 20th century.
“The ‘Mirage’ is patterned after Steve McQueen’s 1915 cyclone board track racer,” Denny noted. “These bikes had no throttle cable, no clutch, no brakes and would do over 100 mph on a wooden circle track.”
Denny recently had the opportunity to watch the bikes race when he traveled to Daytona in early March.
Tracking down the components and fabricating additional pieces is the challenge, according to the craftsman.
“The process of building the bike was very satisfying,” Denny explained. “I feel I got to experience some of the feeling as the original builders.
“From laying the drawing out to watching it fall apart as I was tack welding the pieces in place, the challenge was to use the parts that were to scale, and use the right paint color and scheme,” he added. “That in turn leads people to asking, ‘what year is it and how fast will it run?”’
Those are questions Denny said he is never prepared to answer, “nor will I ever be.”
In the case of the Mirage, the seat is from France, the air cleaner off a Maico motorcycle.
“The handlebars are from a Harley-Davidson Super Glide motorcycle from ‘Independent Cycle’ and the handle bar grips are shell casing from the A-10 Warthog,” Denny explained. “The carb is off of a 1949 Packard and I found the kill button from the end of a hacksaw blade.”
While Denny purchased the wheels, tires and sprocket at Pro-Velo Cycle Sport in Sedalia, many of the parts Denny fabricates himself including the frame, which is made from 1.25 tubing, as well as the gas tank he constructed from the same material. The motor was fabricated from 16-gauge black iron and the cylinders are from 16-ounce copper.
It takes about four months to put a bike together, Denny said.
”I have donated the Mirage to the Rookie Class of ’79 as a fundraiser,” Denny said. “They support the American Motorcycle Association injured riders and their family fund.”
Details of where and when the Mirage will be auctioned or raffled off are pending, but individuals can visit www.Facebook.com/amaft79 if they would like to contribute to the fund.
The Mirage has been featured in Wide Open magazine’s “Bike Show 2017” edition. The bike also has won a number of awards including first place at the SMA Bike Show in the Special Construction category; first place at the 2017 Sweet Springs Car and Bike Show in the Special Construction category; first place at the D.A.R.E. Car and Bike Show in the Special Construction category; and placed in the top five in the 2018 bike show sponsored by Yeager’s Cycle Sales.
Denny has constructed other bikes including the Mimick, which he has already sold. More bikes are planned.
“Whenever anyone asks me about them, I just answer ‘it is motorcycle art,’” Denny said. “As one person stated, ’I know it is art, but how fast will it run?’”