Howdy! Grab a chair an’ a beer! I hate to admit it, but age is startin’ to catch up to me. Like a lot of us ol’ dogs, my brain tells me that I’m still in my 20s, 10 feet tall an’ bulletproof, but my body says “Nawwwww, I’m not goin’ for that crap anymore. Yer old!” My ol’ grandpappy used ta say, “If I’d known I was gonna live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself,” an’ now I know what he meant. I’ve been ridin’ since 1962, and I’ve had about every kind of motorcycle you can imagine, from 50cc Japanese bikes to rigid-frame Shovelhead strokers that would kick ya into low orbit if you weren’t careful, an’ turn your kidneys into sushi on a rough road. God only knows how many miles I’ve ridden, through every kind of storm, heat, an’ road conditions you can imagine, and never gave a thought to this ol’ body lettin’ me down. That is, until a while back. I have arthritis and stenosis in my lower back that raises hell with the nerves, and after I ride for 50 miles or so, I have a hard time gettin’ my legs to do what I want ’em to, like pulling my feet off the pegs to hold my lard ass up at stops. Droppin’ the bike at an intersection would be embarrassing, and pickin’ it up would be a struggle, but Reggie an’ I ride in a pack all the time, an’ it could put our friends in danger as well, which I won’t do. Am I gonna quit ridin’? hell no! Sooooo, I did something I never thought I’d do. I bought a Tri-Glide. Yeah, a friggin’ three-wheeled concession to age an’ infirmity. I’m not embarrassed ridin’ it, because I’ve paid my dues for over 60 years of back roads, butterfly guts, bar fights, an’ everything that goes along with the lifestyle, and if that’s the only way I can keep riding long distance, so be it. I can still bar hop on my Softail, but I have to admit that this Road Glide on steroids is pretty comfortable. I found a pristine trike with only 11,000 miles on the clock, and Arlen Ness had already provided around eight grand in wheels an’ other accessories for the last owner, who only put 600 miles on it in four years. It sure is a pretty thing, I must admit; black as a sack of black cats, an’ shiny as the devil’s eyeballs. When I first laid eyes on it, it pulled me in like a mermaid’s siren song. It’s a bit spooky on windin’ roads right now, but I’ll get used to it before long.
Back when Reggie got paralyzed, Harley-Davidson didn’t offer trikes, and we discussed several options, including the Voyager bolt-on training wheels, and a sidehack, but settled on a aftermarket trike kit. She’s been on the beast for 11 years now, an’ rides the livin’ hell out of it, as anybody who’s ever ridden with us will attest to. It kept her in the wind, an’ that’s what mine will do for me. None of us are getting’ any younger, and even Arlen Ness built a radical custom sidehack for his trip to Sturgis last year. I know I’ll catch some flak for addin’ that extra wheel, an’ I can’t stop ’em, but I can still damn sure break ’em of the habit!
Three-wheelers weren’t just for meter maids, an’ I remember back in the ’60s, trikes were a big thing. There were a ton of old Servi-Cars out there being customized, an’ ridden everywhere. They were a mainstay at bike shows, an’ had everything from a giant German helmet to an outhouse attached to ’em. They were even immortalized in Bob Seger’s song, “Fire Lake”; “Who’s gonna ride that chrome three-wheeler… all the way to Fire Lake?” Ed “Big Daddy” Roth customized a bunch of them, and David Mann included them in a lot of his immortal artwork. They’ve graced the pages of most motorcycle magazines, and even have their own page on Bandit’s Bikernet.com.
Back about 1965, a guy who lived down the street had several old 45” Servi-Cars, and offered me one, running, for a hundred bucks, but back then, that was big money for a 16-year-old snot-nosed punk who wore black stretch Levis, a black turtleneck, an’ Beatle boots. I probably woulda killed myself on it anyway, but at the time, the only thing I saw was a Harley, an’ I wanted it bad!
Back in the present tense, I told Reggie if I was going to spend a lot of time on a trike, it would have to be a damn cool one, an’ thanks to Arlen’s creativity, this one is pure eye candy. When I got my paws on it, its days as a garage queen were over, since I fully intend to ride the wheels off the damn thing. Yeah, I’m in the process of buildin’ another chopper, an’ I haven’t relegated two wheels to the ash heap of history, but I do want my ridin’ companions to feel confident that they won’t have me fallin’ in their lap at a stop sign. At least not when I’m sober!
See ya on the road!