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Rants & Raves Index
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The Road King and The Chopper


The following story is true, names and places have been changed. Those of you who are featured in this story will have no problem telling who you are. For the rest of the world, just check it out…

Every year about a week before Sturgis there’s a small gathering of some of the more obscure biker tribes. You won’t find any of the “big name” clubs here, but you will find patch-holders from around the country and all the folks in attendance seem to share a common bond. We’ll call this event the Tranquility Run – simply because it happens in a peaceful, sleepy town and I generally go away more tranquil than when I got there.

I’ve been going to the Tranquility Run for about 13 years. So I was a lot younger and far more aggressive scooter rider than I am now. The interesting thing here is that I’ve had the opportunity to observe a whole group of my buddies “mature” and I notice some interesting trends. These trends have to do with the motorcycles we build and ride, and since that’s what ChoppersRule is all about, I thought I’d share these musing with you.

Right before the Run I bought a new bike – well, new to me anyway. She’s a beautiful red and white Road King with about 7000 miles on her. I couldn’t have done it without Wendy – who really made it all possible. Now, I hear you groaning out there and saying things like “Warren sells out and buys a Road Toad” etc. etc. BUT there’s a few things you should know. First off, she ain’t even close to stock: big bore kit, trick heads, trick cams, trick ignition – she will flat up and kick your ass down the road. Ninety plus ain’t even breathing hard for this babe. Second, I DID NOT sell my chopper to buy this new prize, and I’m NOT selling the chop – period.

Now, we also have an old sidecar rig that I rebuilt, and that’s what we usually take to the Tranquility Run because our son goes with us for the fun and games. Hey, this motorcycle thing is about family, folks. So off we go to the run with our sidehack rig on a trailer ready for a few days of R&R with 500 or so of our closest friends.

We’ve only been there a few minutes when up pulls Thor, a good buddy who loves shovelhead choppers like no man I’ve ever seen. We’re talking ape-hangin’ and wrenchin’ all the way across the US rather than mess with those new-fangled Evos. Only Thor pulls up on an ElectraGlide sporting an Evo. I’m floored! Come to find out that Thor just put a new belt drive on his shovel and converted it to kick-only. He was getting ready to take off cross-country when another friend of his called him up and offered him a killer deal on the ElectraGlide. Thinking “what the f…”, he purchased the Glide and hopped on for the long journey. Now he’s planning even more radical modifications to the shovel when he gets home.

The next day we decide to go on a little putt with Prophet and Vikki. I went to Arizona Bike Week earlier this year with these folks (click HERE to check it out). Prophet has a killer shovel chop that almost tore my kneecap off. BUT – here he is at this run on a FLT he picked up for comfort’s sake. If things go right, he tells me, he’s gonna hang on to the shovel chopper and just use the FLT for long cruises. It’s got cool mods and a lotta character for a bagger. We spent the day riding around on our baggers talking about choppers – hmmmmm!

Inked Bob is a legend in his own time. He has one of the coolest pans I’ve ever seen. Sometimes it’s two tone, sometimes it’s painted, sometimes it’s primered but the fact of the matter is – he rides it all over hell. I’ve heard about a trip he made to Sturgis where he barfed a belt 150 miles outside of town and rode in bitch (and back!) to get a belt for the pan. Rumor has it he snoozed most of the way.

So no one is more shocked that I when Inked Bob pulls up on a full-boat dresser evo! Asking around I come to find out that Bob has sold the swingarm frame from the pan and rebuilt the entire thing as a radical chopper. Are you seeing a trend here? There is a common thread – and because I’m writing this and you’re not I’m gonna tell you what I think it is.

We love choppers and we love to ride. But the fact is we’re not getting any younger here – so vacations spent wrenching in the middle of nowhere or riding hundreds of miles on roadside-fabricated parts just don’t seem to make sense anymore. I wanna ride when I wanna ride, and I wanna wrench when I wanna wrench. These days I don’t want every trip to turn into an endurance contest of man against machine.

So what’s the point of the Road King and the Chopper? Seems everybody I know now has a few scooters – and as they acquire the long distance machine they make RADICAL plans for the chopper. In fact, I think I’ll be doing more stuff to the chopper than I would have had it been my only scooter. When you step back and think about it, this trend is actually GOOD for chopper building – it sets us free to experiment and go farther in our customizing than we could before.

Some might say I’m blowing smoke or makin’ excuses – but the fact on the face of the matter is that I’ve got a cool set of upswept fishtails in the rafters that are gonna look pretty sweet on the chopper now that I can take those damn bags off. I’ve got plans – and so do Thor, Prophet and Inked Bob. And it’s all about choppers, my friend.

warren@choppersrule.com