Meet Evil Spirit Engineering’s Rose Mary

Written by  By Monk Pacheco Photos by Jack “Don’t ever try and stop me” Cofano Tuesday, 12 September 2017 16:41
Published in Ultra Customs
   Oh, introductions can be so tedious and usually the introductee’s name is lost to me as it’s being said. But sometimes, like with this time warp Berdoo chopper named Rose Mary that Michael Barragan of Evil Spirit Engineering in Burbank, California, built for our viewing pleasure, I couldn’t forget his or the bike’s name if I tried. The look of chopper shock and awe is tattooed onto my brain. And, if I was told Michael found this bike under a tarp sometime in the late ‘70s and had just carefully preserved it since, I wouldn’t doubt it. I’d just think, “Wow! Look at that thing!” followed by something Samuel L. Jackson is famous for saying.  


   The shock value of a radical chopper of the ‘60s and ‘70s can’t be underestimated or really understood by someone who hadn’t experienced it during that silly, yet wonderful time period. Catching a glimpse of something like Rose Mary cruising down the street would be enough to stop anyone in their tracks. Understanding what you just saw would probably come later after your brain digested what just rode by. Seeing a radical chopper especially one with the late Denver Mullins and Freddie Hernandez signature Berdoo chopper style only makes your brain spin a little faster in your head. To me, the Berdoo look usually credited to Denver and Freddie during the Denver’s Choppers/San Bernardino period almost defines “chopper” and has had a quiet, but die-hard underground Berdoo movement that’s seemingly gaining a little more momentum with every show. Young builders aren’t afraid to go old and old builders don’t care what anybody thinks and just build what pleases them.


    If they were giving out advanced degrees in Old School, Rose Mary would have her doctorate in history. There’s just a lot of history wrapped up in a design like this and it takes someone with a respect for it to pull it off like the real thing and not an Old School theme bike. There’s a fine line between the two and if you cross it, it’s just another so-called Old School-inspired bike. Michael kept this true to the real chopper faith by approaching this build in a manner like what was really happening when people built a chopper back when man had just walked on the moon. First he started with a real 1947 Harley Knucklehead frame, not a replica or just some sort of modern tubing special, and proceeded to cut it up and stretch it to what he wanted just like the early guys did. Cutting up a real ’47 Harley frame might drive a lot of people crazy today with all the new interest in restoring bikes for collections and resale, but that was how it was done and that was the only way Michael was going to do it.


   Same goes for that nutty Knucklehead which looks just wild now, but was a horrible basketcase when Michael first got it. It was almost an insult to baskets to refer to it as a basketcase it was such a pile. To me, it kinda had the look like it had been found in a well. There were also two rear heads in that lousy basket and that led to another conundrum. Michael could either find a front head for a Knucklehead somewhere or work with what he had just like the builders who were working during Old School did. Here’s the Reader’s Digest version: After acquiring another rear cylinder, he reversed the intake and exhaust ports along with a bunch of other little odd jobs that needed to be done to install dual Linkert carbs on the beautifully restored Knuck. Take a look at Mr. Cofano’s engine photos of this engine and be sure to blow them up to see all the hard work and glorious details that went into this engine build.


   Well we’ve skipped over the elephant in this Internet room and that this bike takes the term “rigid” to a whole new level for most people. Yeah, yeah, yeah, obviously anybody with the tiniest bit of chopper knowledge can see this bike has a rigid frame, but Michael’s Berdoo staple of a solid steel front end with the emphasis on “solid” as in no suspension, unmovable, or rigid as we like to call it. The handlebar tubing under the grips extends all the way to the front axle with only a couple of triple trees keeping things on the up and up. The closest thing I’ve ever ridden to something like this was some of the early chopper period small-tubing, super-extended hydraulic forks which didn’t move in any direction other than bending and sticking solidly in place just like Michael’s solid fork. Hey, neither are my personal perfect choice, but damn it, Rose Mary’s got quite a set of long legs and they look fabulous.


   Michael really came into his own with things like the front fuel tank mount or the dreamy molding going on at the steering neck, the down tubes, and top engine mounts to mention a few. They just flow around while doing their job quietly, but positively. I guess you can have form and function at the same time. Michael had to have spent a lot of time just staring and thinking and staring and thinking some more until he had exactly what he was going for. You know, come to think of it, I did a lot of staring and thinking back in the ‘60s too so maybe that’s just a sign of the times.


    Keeping the ‘60s flow flowing is the exquisite paint work of Buckwild Design with a paint scheme that’s sure to induce a fun flashback or two. I’m not exactly sure who or whether more than one person was responsible for the color choices and actual design, but it was in the hands of someone who was a true student of those times. It’s a color combo I’d never think of, but it’s a combo I like now that I’ve seen it done.

    There are tons of other period details like the industrial on/off switch on the tank or the tiny sissy bar or the heavily-notched twin pipe exhaust kept totally inside the frame. Oh, and don’t forget the diamond-stitched seat cover or the one drum brake responsible for stopping this whole rig or the lack of electric start. That last one could be the deal breaker for most riders today, but that’s how Evil Spirit Engineering and Michael Barragan roll.


   If you’d like to find out more about Evil Spirit Engineering for yourself, make sure your headband’s not too tight and click on

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