Me, My Bev & Our Harleys
Me and the wife been riding hogs for nearly forty years. I’m on a classic V-Rod. Bought that baby in ’97. This genius decided to cross the engineering of a Porsche with a Harley. Ended up with the very first liquid cooled, fuel injected, overhead cam 60 degree Harley V-twin. My Bev was on a Switchback. This was only after finally getting her to admit that ’76 Shovelhead was done. It was her first hog and she wanted it to be her last. But after a bad fall, even she couldn’t deny that her beloved bike was ready for pasture. Even the best Harley-Davidson repair manuals couldn’t help. Still, she couldn’t bear parting with it. It’s sitting in our garage. For a long time, she went out there with a chamois to wipe it down.
We lived for those manuals. Keeping a hog can be an expensive hobby, especially if you choose to not know anything about them. I learned that the hard way. We not only had pretty much every Harley repair manual ever, I’d say we keep at least six of them somewhere on our hogs at all times. I read them the way some people read Entertainment Weekly and USA Today.
The only reason that Shovelhead lasted as long as it did was because I got my hands dirty. And after I told Bev it would be cheaper to just get a new bike, she started collecting and reading Harley-Davidson repair manuals. The Harley-Davidson Shovelhead FL, FXE, FLH, FXEF, FXB, FLHS, FXS, FXSB, FX, FXWG Repair Manual and the Harley Shovelhead, Evolution Repair Manual 1970-1999 became her bibles. I never admitted it, but she’d gotten pretty good at identifying issues and getting them fixed. And she was able to do it faster than I could. I always said it was because she had smaller, girl hands. She’d look me square in the eye and say something like, What don’t you go inside and get me a cold beer, missy? And I always did.
After I retired, we started a little side business out of the garage. Our (her?) reputation for getting hogs running spread. We once had a guy come all the way out from Butte to rebuild an old Big Twin from the 60s he’d found in a junk yard. That led to a bunch of Harley restorations. I can’t tell you how many times the wife and I clicked a couple of brews with a little giggle. We wondered what any of these people would think if they knew before starting any project, we went to one of the Harley-Davidson repair manuals and got pretty much everything we needed.
One morning I couldn’t sleep. Hadn’t slept well in a long time. Found myself out in the garage looking at that Shovelhead, glistening like brand new but unable to go three yards. Next thing I knew I was on one knee seeing what I could do. I kept referring to her Shovelhead Harley-Davidson repair manuals. I ended up tinkering with this and seeing what happened if I replaced that. It took a few months, but I got that thing running.
I only ride it once a week, when I visit my sweet Bev’s gravesite.