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One for the Road: Big love

By Shadow

“Why do you need another motorcycle?” This is the question often asked of me by non-riding friends and family members. My response is usually something along the lines of, “Why do you need so many pairs of shoes?” But a retort like that doesn’t really explain the phenomenon known as motorcycle addiction. It’s not really a need, per se, nor is it a desire. It’s more like an obsession followed by the compulsion… at least for me.

Like most of us, I started with just one, gradually adding more over the years while only letting go of one along the way. My latest acquisition was my 2017 Road King, and I thought that would hold me over for a very long time. After all, I’ve only got a one-car garage (my SUV was banished to the outdoors years ago), and with three bikes in there, it was getting a little crowded. But as I’ve gotten more and more involved in the motorcycle scene, I began to succumb to the allure of antique bikes, eventually joining the Antique Motorcycle Club of America. Maybe it’s my age (I suppose I could consider myself, well, historic, having been born in the mid-20th century), or maybe it’s just that most of the dedicated and generous AMCA members are so willing to share their knowledge of old iron with anyone interested, but I’ve felt a real sense of belonging within the AMCA. Except that I still didn’t have a vintage bike.

Over the past year or so, I began to put out word I was looking to buy or build something, but I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted. A Knucklehead motor is a thing of beauty, as is a Panhead. Flatheads are always an option, especially Servi-Cars which I always thought were pretty cool. I considered an Ironhead, then a Shovelhead, but I just couldn’t make up my mind. Last year, during a trip I made to the West Coast, my dear friend Kiwi Mike convincingly laid out all the virtues—and there are many—of old Indians. Yet on the other side of the spectrum, I’ve always wanted an FXR; I believe that frame is the best Harley has ever built.

Only over the last few months have I narrowed down my choices and begun searching in earnest. As soon as my friends saw that I was serious, I started getting leads on some bikes that were available. In mid-July, Rob Nussbaum, fellow AMCA Colonial Chapter member and proprietor of Retrocycle, an independent shop in Boonton, New Jersey, specializing in vintage bikes, alerted me to a 1982 FXRS for sale. I immediately contacted the seller and arranged to see the machine.

When I got to the meet spot, I saw that the bike was even nicer than the photos. It was nearly all-original, and had only 28,000-some miles. Seems like the owner had kept the bike in tip-top shape through the years, and I left with visions of the black-and-orange beauty invading my every thought. Later that same day, Rob told me about a 1981 Low Rider in North Jersey, which I rode over to see immediately. This one didn’t hold a candle to the FXRS I’d seen the day before.

That night, strains from the Jimi Hendrix song “Foxy Lady” popped into my head and began working their way into my brain. “You know you’re a cute little heartbreaker. You know you’re a sweet little lovemaker.” The music wouldn’t stop. “I’ve made up my mind. I’m tired of wasting all my precious time. You’ve got to be mine, all mine.”

“I wanna take you home.” Alright! After a quick discussion with Rob, I made an offer, and the seller and I agreed on a price. A few days later, Rob and I headed to Central Jersey in his truck and trailer to pick up the bike. “I’m comin’ to get ya Foxy Lady.”

We took her back to Retrocycle where a few little odds and ends need to be done before I ride her any distance. Rob also suggested that his tech Ryan thoroughly inspect the bike, although I’m fairly confident it’s in good shape as far as safety is concerned.

She has only a few components that aren’t stock, such as the exhaust, rear suspension, petcock, and handlebars, although the original buckhorns are in the box of parts that came with the bike. Jimi sings, “I won’t do you no harm,” so for now, I’ll just ride her and enjoy her in her (mostly) natural state. That is, when I get back from Sturgis. I’m leaving in three days and not being able to spend some quality time with her until later in the month is making me crazy! Although there’s always excitement when I buy a new bike, this time is different. Usually it takes some time before a bike’s name becomes apparent. I’ve had the Road King for nine months and I still don’t know what to call her. But this one? She told me her name before she was even in my possession. I guess it was meant to be.

Thanks to my friends Skeeter, James, Rob, and all the others who have guided me even if I’ve sometimes chosen to not to heed their advice. Still, my favorite Facebook comment comes from a guy named Ray, who’s obviously had years of experience with the early Shovels. Ray wrote, “Love it ride it hate it curse it push it ride it some more have a drink thank the man above for getting you home safe take a nap and start all over again.” I’ve got all the manuals on order and I plan to spend time in the shop learning the wiles of my new companion, Foxy Lady. I can’t wait for us to begin our journey together.

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