If you wait long enough and buy enough bikes, you eventually will see bikes you have owned, or ones you had a chance to buy. I like to think when I can buy an old bike back; it’s like its coming home. Like an old friend that has long left the home town. One that has come to stay for a while, making a new life for them self, it’s always good to see an old bike again. I got a call to buy an Ultra Classic off an old customer named Mike. I had sold this guy a cool shovelhead a few years back, and remember the bike. I bought it from a guy named Terry who loves to read the mag (The Horse BC). Terry built the shovel from swap meet parts. The frame was a swing arm pan frame that was molded and racked out, the front end was a 33mm about 4 over. It was a kick only bike and an 80 inch shovel! It was a beautiful shovelhead at the shop, I told Mike I didn’t really want to buy the ultra but I would love that shovel! Mike quickly said “Nope! Not for sale!!” So I lied a bit and told him I’d come look at the ultra. In the back of my head I was going to buy that shovel back! Mike lived way out in the country down a long dirt road. He lived in a house with a horse pasture, and one horse running around named Boots. The bikes where in the basement of the house, you could enter from the garage in the back of house down in the horse pasture; I should mention that mike had 5 bikes total. To get to the gate that let you into the pasture, we had to drive the truck down a hill that, without 4x4 we would not of made it back up (well with 4x4 and a tractor.) Once we made it down the hill and though the gate, and fought off the horse. I made it into the basement only to see Josh chasing boots though the pasture. Josh drove a plow truck out there to tow the trailer, his plow truck had little flags on the end of the plow, Boots had bit one and ripped it off the mount, Boots was chewing it as Josh chased him around the yard. Josh eventually got it back and came inside. Mikes basement is a maze, while wondering around Josh came across the Shovelhead. He called out for us, trying to find Mike and me that was all I need to change the conversation. The bike was in horrible shape, Mike had towed it home on an open trailer, on a wet day and there was salt still on the road (In Michigan we use salt to melt the snow off the road). All the chrome was rusted; all the polished parts were oxidized. Not to mention all the dust the bike collocated from just sitting for two years. Mike was in shock, he knew the bike would be dusty but all the rust and oxidation. After that he was happy to sell the bike back to me, in hopes I’d get her back to her former glory. We loaded the trailer, and hooked the truck in 4x4 but it wasn’t enough to get out of the pasture. Mike had to hook up his tractor to us and pull the truck and trailer out of the pasture, though the gate and up the hill. (I’m sorry I didn’t get any pictures, Josh was the one in the mud hooking up the truck, sorry buddy.) The shovelhead now sits in my shop on display, not as a bike gone bad but as a cool barn find. Customers always come in and check it out; I never thought dirt would make a bike look cool. If you read Turn and Burn a lot, a few issues back you remember a Shovelhead Drag bike I found on one of our parts scores. Chris was the guy who owed it, it was his and his dad’s bike, and they raced together. Chris at the time didn’t want to sell the bike. But time goes on, people want different things in life, Chris wanted to move north and need money for a cabin. I was happy to help; truth is I never stop thinking about the drag bike. I love drag racing and I can remember going to the Harley Drags over the years it was always a blast. To have the honor of owning a real drag bike was awesome! Chris walked me though the startup, how much air to put in the air shifter, and the safety shut offs. The bike had no charging system on it so the battery on the bike is just for the ignition, a car battery is carted up to the line, then hooked up to the bike though a connector on the side of the bike, and this is how you start it. It has a Barnett clutch it in, after you lunch the bike you just hit a button and with the air shifter it without pulling in the clutch. It is an amazing machine, the best part….. It’s a shovelhead!!
Saturday, July 8, 2017
Swap Meet! With today’s internet and Facebook selling sites, swap meets are becoming less and less. When I started out in the bike shop business some 20 years ago, that’s all we had. I can remember setting up in Detroit at the State Fair Grounds. Three buildings full of parts and apparel. It was a place where you could piece together a whole bike in one day. Over the last few years swap meets seem to be coming few and far between. There isn’t many left here in Michigan, I seem to be driving out the state to get to the good ones. But there is still one or two meets here. I set up at a few swaps now a day’s. My buddy, Bubba of Bubba’s Tri City Cycles took over one of the swap meets near us. Bubba has been in business longer than me, and he has been doing the swap meet scene for a even longer time. One thing that has happened was that vendors started bring brand new clothes and parts to meets. This is not a swap meet in my eyes, it’s a fee market. Swap meets are old parts. When I heard Bubba had took over a meet, my hopes were high that he would stop vendors like that from coming to his show. I couldn’t have been more right, when I called about getting space the first thing out of his mouth was “what are you bring?” I replied “old Parts”. To which he said “good cuz I already got a t-shirt guy we don’t need any more apparel, parts only!!” The day of the meet Shovelhead Joe, My buddy Mike Chapman, Josh and I set out early. It was still dark on the roads; the trip was about an hour from my shop at a Convention center in Birch Run Michigan. We were one of the first venders to arrive. Bubba’s wife was just setting up to let venders in. As we checked in I could see in the back a bunch of guys already set up from the night before. I was feeling pretty good that this was going to be a good meet. Buddy led us around to the back of the building so we could drive our truck and trailer right in side. It didn’t take us long to unload, with three guys it makes it nice and easy. I of course over seen all the guys working, making sure everything was in just the right spot, and taking with other venders. As the time grew closer to open time, most all the vender space were full. The gates let open and the people poured inside to see the show. I almost didn’t have time to take any pictures, we were busy taking with customers, passing out business cards and just generally having a good time. What a better way to spend a Sunday but with friends, beer and old motorcycles. Speaking of old motorcycles I did find a cool 95 Softail nostalgia, just a beautiful bike. Only one problem I had to take this old Yamaha XS1100 along with it. The Yamaha was painted up nice and had a few cool parts on it, so what the hell I took it. On the way home Josh asked “uncle Boomer what are we going to do with this old Metric?” I thought for a moment and replied “young grass hopper we are going to the Smoke out this year, its one hell of a party. Everyone that goes there does something big, why don’t we give it away like at Bike Night?? Well to say the least Josh was on Board. So that’s right we are giving a FREE bike away at the Smoke Out this year. All you have to do is stop by our booth and on the last day we will pull a name for the winner! I will also be looking for bikes to buy so if you got an old bike lying around stop by, your old scoot might be the next bike in Turn and Burn!!