Turns out the Frame I picked up with my Shovel project is in fact a little piece of local history. I first heard the name, Kevin Starke, at this years Cyclemania. Some guy I was talking to said he had an old Starke Manufacturing frame in his garage and wanted to know if I was interested. I then started hearing the name again when I started looking for an ID on the frame that came with my Shovel. After doing some research and chatting with a few folks from the interweb forums I've started piecing together a bit of Starke's legacy.
In the late '70's Starke Manufacturing operated out of a small shop in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Far as I can tell they mostly built a few different rigid frames for big twins. These frames have a few unique features that make them identifiable.
First the positioning of the squished tube connected to the motor mount.
Second, the axle plate design and finally the necks are stamped with SM0xxxx (Starke Manufacturing co.). All accounts I've found suggest these were excellent frames and quite sought after during the '80's.
By the late 80's SM co. had closed it'd doors and Starke had moved one province over. In the early '90's Kevin Starke started a new venture out of Red Deer Alberta called Tripoli Manufacturing. Tripoli manufactured several frames including rigid and very popular Softails.
Tripoli sold a lot of frames through SUMAX in New York. My first responce from Sumax representatives simply said, "what are you looking for and why?" After removing suspicions that I was after some dirt or money owed on old Kevin Starke I convinced Max from SUMAX to shed a little light on their partnership with Tripoli.
Kevin made frames for us in the early 90's. He made an excellent Softail frame. At the time Harley had long waiting times to get a bike, dealers were building them with his frames. We were lucky to work with him on some one off exotic frames... some even went into production: Rubbermounted Softail, Rubbermounted Sportster Softail, Rubbermounted Rigid and a Shovelhead Softail. When he passed away, so did his business. He was jovial and had a keen mind for engineering.
Kevin Starke died in the late '90's, but from the fragments of his life that exist on the web it sounds like he had a passion for his work and knew how to have a good time. I'm pretty pleased to find out that my Shovel project has got a little more local flavor than most and I'm looking forward to putting a Saskatchewan made frame back on the prairie highways in the future.