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Benjamin F. "Ben" Hardy was an African-American custom motorcycle builder who made the Captain America and Billy choppers for the 1969 Peter Fonda road movie Easy Rider.
The Captain America bike, made from a then 20-year-old, heavily customized Harley-Davidson panhead is considered one of the most iconic motorcycles ever built, one which captured the zeitgeist of a generation and became an anti-establishment symbol.
Working with another Black motorcycle builder, coordinator Cliff Vaughs, Hardy built two 'Billy' bikes and three 'Captain Americas', one of which was destroyed in the making of the movie, the rest of which were stolen. The 'Billy' bike was typical of the custom motorcycles Black bikers were riding at the time.
Hardy and Vaughs remained largely unknown and uncredited for 25 years as they were not accepted as being equal due to their color and, as African-Americans, were not welcomed into the mainstream white motorcycle world in the USA.
Known locally as "Benny" and "King of Bikes" Ben Hardy's Motorcycle Service was located at 1168 E. Florence in Los Angeles. He was a mentor to many of the local motorcyclists in South Central, Los Angeles.
His work was featured in the “Black Chrome” exhibition at the California African-American Museum.
Pictured abov, actor Peter Fonda riding the Captain America motorcycle built by Ben Hardy.
The film featured two choppers: Peter Fonda's iconic Captain America machine and the lesser-known, red-and-flamed "Billy Bike" ridden by co-star Dennis Hopper. Both bikes were conceived by Fonda and constructed by African-American bike-builders Cliff Vaughs and Ben Hardy of Hardy Motorcycle Service in Los Angeles. The pair built four choppers total-two of each style-from a quartet of retired LAPD Harley-Davidson FLs purchased at auction for $500 each.
Read full story at: https://www.motorcyclistonline.com/captain-america-motorcycle-to-sp...;
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