Branden Wildvank’s 1949 Panhead Chopper
When our friend Branden got out of the Navy and sold his Evo Sporty, he decided to build a sick pan chop. On a recent weekend ride we cornered him and got some photos of the this Golden Goose. I asked him for some specs and whatnot so we could show it off on the blog and he sent this well-crafted origin story instead.
My name is Branden and this is my bike. It’s a ’49 Panhead in a Paughco frame.
I met the Biltwell guys at an Earth Day festival in a massage circle in 2005. At the time, I was the replacement singer for Nirvana. Dave Grohl and I ended up parting ways shortly after because ‘As a right-handed guitarist, I wasn’t believable in that position’. Anyway, whatever… We got to talking about how crazy the vintage ¾ helmet market was. Dudes were paying over $200 for thrashed helmets. Bill and McGoo were talking about dipping their feet into helmet production but were getting stalled out on names for their new venture.
They wanted people to know they were making a well-built product. The short list of names they came up with included ‘Helmy the Helmet Company’ and ‘Queen Elizabeth’s Glittery Helmet Show’. Obviously, both those names are trash and I got them to focus on their brand message/identity. “Well built products are what you’re going for, how about a name that reflects that better instead of these crazy sophomoric punker names?”. I continued on, “Well-built is something I can use here. I say we just put the name down, flip it and reverse it.” Thus, Biltwell was born after my very real advice in a situation that definitely happened.
Branden is quite a story teller and we love him and his bike.
Also… you might have noticed a couple new Gringo S color that may or may not be coming in 2019…