My First HOG: The Painted Pig

My first Harley Davidson motorcycle

You never forget your first! Your first beer, your first girl, your first kiss, your “first time”, your first wife, your first divorce, your first Harley, the list goes on. Here is a story about my first Harley which is similar to the story of my first wife, and my second wife too for that matter!

My first Harley was a story of love and heartbreak. We had some great times together, but the relationship ended in an expensive break up. Not much different than my first two marriages. I lost more on the bike than I did on the two divorces combined.

In 2005 I had become a hard core biker wanna be. I blame it on the Discovery Channel. I think I could have resisted the urge to return to motorcycling if I had not been brain washed by the hugely successful Motorcycle Mania, American Chopper and Biker Build Off series. Speed Channel didn’t help with its lineup of motorcycle shows either. I was visiting motorcycle trade shows and dealerships with a frenzy. I wanted to be part of the custom motorcycle scene but due to apartment living and finances it wasn’t practical. As a printing salesman I incorporated this habit into my life under the excuse that these were my customers. My first sales were a biker babe calendar and poster to DC Cruisers in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

A coworker that rode sport bikes was aware of my inner yearning for a Harley and approached me about a bike for sale that he felt was meant for me. His car mechanic had a Harley for sale. He urged me to check it out. What harm could come by checking it out?

I visited the grungy transmission shop in northern Delaware to see the bike. In the back corner of the garage was a lowered flamed out customized black 1990 883 Hugger. When you lower a hugger, you have a really low slung bike which fit me great being of short stature. The classic flame job on the large bob tank was awesome and I still remember it fondly to this day. The tank was adorned with two Kuryakyn aircraft style gas caps. It had a cool bobbed fender which combined with the tank made this bike look very unsportster like. The rear wheel was a solid slotted disc style wheel with a large spoke rim up front. There were skulls strategically placed on the petcock, derby cover and license plate holder. The engine was rebuilt bored out and sported an S&S carb kit. Vance & Hines pipes completed the performance package. Chrome glistened on the oil tank, back rest and drag bars. I was in love! For a mere six grand I could have a one of a kind high performance custom!

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The mechanic who bought it from a fellow mechanic assured me the bike was “like new” and had a new S&S engine that was the same displacement as the larger Harleys. It was my dream to own a custom Harley and this one fit me like a glove. Unlike a brand new sportster I wouldn’t be snubbed by old school bikers on this gem. Everyone would admire my bike, it was classic, it was customized, it was cool! My girlfriend (now my wife) encouraged me to follow my dream and buy the bike. So with a little encouragement I did! My dream came true. I was the proud owner of unique Harley Davidson!

Here come the expenses! First I wanted this bike to get a thorough check up by a Harley Davidson dealership. Secondly I didn’t want my prized one of kind bike to get stolen so I had an expensive alarm system with pager installed. The dealership gave it a thorough going over and rewired the whole bike, replaced many parts and charged me close to two grand. The alarm system cost me four hundred bucks more. A few days after getting the bike back from the Harley dealership it blew a valve. This was an expensive repair. When I got the bike back it still wasn’t right. It suffered from electrical problems. Some problems were caused by the wires under the fender rubbing the rear tire since this bike was lowered. Most of the problems were caused by the magnets inside the recharging system having come unglued from whatever part was supposed to hold them in place. Even after having this fixed the bike wouldn’t recharge. I put the bike away dead for the winter. In the spring I installed a new battery. Apparently the mechanic who put this abomination of a bike together rewired the bike with the battery terminals reversed from their original position! I fried the electrical system by installing the battery negative to positive and positive to negative. That caused a horrible smell and another costly repair job. Every time something needed repair I would think, this is it. It’s finally going to be one hundred percent! All those repairs cost me a bunch of money. The alarm system, mirrors, new seat and six matching chrome foot pegs I installed added at least another thousand to the damage. The fifteen year old Sportster looked great but rarely worked for more than a week. She leaked oil from a cracked oil tank mount and only had four gears. This mechanical disaster had cost me well more than a new Sporty would have!

I finally decided to cut my losses and sell the painted pig. Only problem was after putting an ad in the paper the electrical system was still pulling its old tricks and letting the battery die. How could I sell it if it won’t even start for a potential buyer? Did I really want to dump this bike on someone else? No, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t put someone else through this kind of heartbreak.

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One beautiful spring day I decided to take a personal day off from work. The bike started up that day but I didn’t know if it would leave me stranded if I turned it off. I rode to Hannums Harley Davidson in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. It only took one test ride on a new 2006 Sportster 1200C with Rinehart pipes and I was smitten! Do you believe in love at first ride? I do. I received three thousand for trade in on the old bitch and never saw her again. I lost my shirt on that old Sportster but it didn’t matter. I owned a brand new Harley Davidson 1200C that rumbled like pure heaven. Her Rinehart pipes made music to my ears. My new bike wouldn’t leave me stranded. She was fast and I would love her just the way she was. No modifications this time. Well, just some chrome foot pegs. Owning a new Harley Davidson was a dream come true! Pure biker delight!

3 Responses to “My First HOG: The Painted Pig”

  1. Good riddance to old bitches! 😉

  2. That’s quite a story!

    It was exactly the kind of nightmare scenario I nearly ended up in. Like you, I felt the calling, but the expense of a trophy house, the wife & 3 kids didn’t leave much for the “Harley Fund.” This nearly led me to buy an older bike that had been beefed up, just as you did. Thank God I knew a few experienced bikers who warned me to steer clear of such deals. The funny thing is, they said almost exactly what you did. A new/slightly used Sporty from a dealer would cost me less than a mechanical disaster!

    I spent 8 grand on an ’04 1200 Custom last July with about 2k miles on her. It was like new. Not only did the old school bikers in my HOG chapter not spurn me, I’ve gotten loads of compliments on it. The re-designed Sportster is no “broad’s bike” anymore – in fact I’ve had it mistaken for a Dyna quite a few times.

    Sorry u learned such an expensive lesson!

    Ride Safe – Joker

  3. Thanks for your comment Joker. I’m glad someone out there has found my motorcycle blog.

    I loved the ’06 1200 Custom I bought at Hannums. I felt weird trading in a perfectly good Sporty 1 year later for a Dyna Low Rider at Mikes Famous. The Sporty was awesome. I miss the torque and racing from one stop light to the next like short little drag races. Forward controls felt very cool. Took me awhile to get used to mid mounts again.

    Once in awhile my wife lets me buzz around on her 883 Hugger. That’s a fun ride too!