Exploring the Unknown

Exploring the Unknown
Representing the 99%!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Is it Just Me or Did My Gas Cap Fly Off?

& His 1976 H-D Shovelhead
Here is a little tale of Bangladeshi and his 1976 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead. I met Ruptanu on craigslist of all places. He had placed an ad in hopes of attracting someone kind enough to help him out with a predicament he found himself in. You see, here in La Belle Province motorcyclist on learner permits cannot ride unaccompanied. They literally have to have a full licensed rider riding along side of them with their own motorcycle. It makes little sense of course, it's not like I would be able to prevent any learner from a catastrophic collision. To be honest, even if we were talking about driving a car here I would be just as inclined to jump out of the car, regardless of speed, in order to avoid any collision. So I am essentially useless other than of course than to satisfy the government powers that be. Fortunately for Ruptanu, I answered his ad and not some sex offender looking to rob him of both his innocence and his motorcycle!

Get Some Nuts!
After three weeks or so of corresponding today was the big day! The day every cyclist loves and knows all too well. The day you go to collect your bike. Unlike a used car, unless of course your talking about a certified classic (i.e. 69 Dodge Charger anybody?! droooool....), collecting your bike regardless of vintage or type is as exciting as it was the first time you.... well, you get the idea! ;-) It's an assortment of feelings not withstanding a climax when your baby is literally in your possession and you know she legally belongs to you. Ruptanu was glowing when I picked him up downtown at Starbucks. Though I wasn't sure what to make of all this myself at first it wasn't long before I found myself sharing in his excitement. This would be Ruptanu's first motorcycle, a gutsy choice given that this was a thirty-four year old bike. Mechanically dis-inclined with a penchant for Frappe's and Latte's, a vision of Mr. T popped into my mind. Mr. T would be proud, Ruptanu had gotten some nuts and now was going to rest them squarely on a '76 Shovelhead with his head held high!

The boy was even willing to ride 'bitch' all the way to Chateauguay, where the bike was waiting for him. When we arrived at the seller's house I got the impression that Jesse James could have been in the back shed wrenching on some panhead. Ruptanu was rightfully fixated on his newly acquired purchase. As he found himself fondling his new ride the seller brought me into the back where some hidden gems were being kept for the right buyer, so to speak!

H-D Panhead
Asking Price: $20, 000
It won first place in the Bike & Tattoo Show in Quebec this year.
This was the Seller's first Harley-Davidson ever!
He has 'given' it to his nephew providing his nephew
wrenches her back to a clean bill of health....
(Nephew was nowhere to be seen unfortunately... sheesh, youth today, eh?!)
Another H-D Gem
Asking Price: $10, 000
After gawking at the seller's family jewels (no pun intended...) it was time to get back to the matter at hand. From a distance I must confess I thought Ruptanu had gotten himself a steal of a deal. The bike is beautiful and seemed to glean in the sun. Ruptanu was understandably giddy and eager to hit the road. I am not at liberty to say what Ruptanu paid but suffice it to say there is a lot of work to be done to the bike before it could be reasonably considered road worthy! As the seller approached Ruptanu he reminded him that he would have to fill up on gas before heading back. (Cheeky Bugger!) He then reminded Ruptanu that he was going to need a new battery, tires and possibly plugs. That sinking suspicion began to kick in almost immediately after arriving but now our seller seemed to be confirming a few things. 

Ruptanu's '76 Shovelhead -
aka The Loaner
Good-byes were made with the seller and off we went down the street. Ruptanu seemed uncertain of himself on the bike but alas, this was the second time he had ever been on it. It wasn't long before I noticed Ruptanu was trailing further and further behind. He had stalled at nearly every stop sign we came upon! Once at the gas station Ruptanu parked next to me and asked the question I knew had been on his mind the entire time: "So what do you think?"

Some Black Heat Tape Would Clean the Pipes Up Nicely!

At this point please remember that Ruptanu has already bought and paid for this bike! Also, we do not know each other and frankly, how many strangers do you know would meet up on the fly to collect a car together? No, the world of motorcycling is a special place. Despite the club politics and egos, we really are just a bunch of swell fellas who are nothing if not like minded when it comes to two wheels. However, in my efforts to be honest, albeit in a positive way, I could see Ruptanu's eyes beginning to tear up. Just kidding, he was fine! In fact, he was a really good sport about it all actually. He went into this with his eyes wide open! Although, until I had pointed out that the bike had been dropped on its right side and probably on its left side at some point in recent history, he hadn't noticed the bend in his bars.

Springer Seat Would Provide Added Comfort!
I decided it was time to test Ruptanu's skills and off we headed towards Montreal, where after a quick lunch and a ride back to his place yielded some unexpected surprises. "We have to turn back!" he said to me at a set of traffic lights. "I lost my one of my gas caps!" So we backtracked until I eventually spotted the aging gas cap hiding under a white SUV's wheel base just waiting for its demise. As I placed it back on his tank I could see some fellas across the street finding enjoyment in Ruptanu's mishap. Later his tank bib was coming undone all the while he kept stalling along the way. 

Keep Calm, Carry On, with a stiff upper lip Ruptanu was surprisingly as amused as I was at this point as we rode along happily. "Are my pipes really loud?" He asked. "No", I replied regretfully. "Do you think my tires could last the summer?" he asked hopefully. "No" I replied regretfully. "Can you change my tires?" he asked me. "No" I replied regretfully. "Do you think I could do long distance rides with the bike as it is now?" he asked with a glint of hope in his voice. I looked at him, then at his bike, then at him again... "No" I replied all the more heartbroken for him. 

It wasn't really until Ruptanu allowed me a chance to ride the shovelhead that I understood then and there what the allure of this bike really was. This is the story of a neglected Shovelhead that has been thrown together with various parts and who has finally found its proper home with a young Bangladeshi who is willing to put the time, sweat, tears, and love (not to mention a bucket load of blood I am sure) into bringing her back to her former glory days. So I wish my young friend all the best of luck with his new love. I will, of course, be there ready to help him in any way that I can. However, inevitably, three's a crowd when it comes to matters of the heart! :-)


  1. ..great bedtime story...

  2. Hi Mario,

    Interesting enough, was wondering if you are in liberty to say what his last name is, as I am also from Bangladesh. I find it interesting there are people from my country attempting biking in Canada, I haven't seen too many from that side of the world. Who knows, maybe he'll join to the group for future rides.

    Also, please do let me know if you plan any official/unofficial rides. I shall make time...! Even without a time machine.


    1. I'll put you both in touch and you can find out for yourself! :-)

  3. "here in La Belle Province motorcyclist on learner permits cannot ride unaccompanied. They literally have to have a full licensed rider riding along side of them with their own motorcycle."

    That is possibly the most insane thing I've heard all month! Every source I've ever heard recommends that a novice rider not engage in group rides until they've got a fair few hours experience under their belts.

    I wonder if ab initio pilots are required to fly in formation as well...

    1. Hi,

      I couldn't agree more! I know that in other provinces like Ontario, this isn't the case. However, Quebec figures that by doing this it will make it more difficult for people to get their 6A license and hence discourage people from motorcycling.

      Of course, officially they say its because its safer and that it will lead to a better rider. There is some truth to that but when they charge $655 a year for your plates and you still have to get private insurance on top of that...well enough said!

      The riding schools and the SAAQ charge $75.00 an hour apparently just to practice before your road test, which can only be taken ekeven months after completing a closed track test... Ok, my rant is dine for now... :-)

  4. I just read the story, what an adventure...well, one more happy rider or at least will be...LOL


  5. Hi,
    When He buys his tires he should get a quote from Pete's, it's well know by many of Us on the West Island. They are across from the Flying J in Vaudreuil beside the R.V. dealer.
    Cheers, Brian of the Dragon Riders.

    1. Cheers, I have forwarded him this information! Have a great week!

  6. Hey Mario,

    I woke up with the surprise of my name in the world wide web. I am the kind of the person, who likes to hide from everything let alone WWW. However, I was happy reading your blog. Just when I clicked on the link, for some strange reason, my internet stalled just like my HD. I ran towards my router to fix the issue. It was nothing much, just needed a restart. No sooner I got my connection back, I was gobbling your rant about my HD and its gas cap. I must tell you, I was nervous in the beginning, thinking that the world will get to know my ignorance about the basics of bike, that too a vintage HD. Naturally speaking a little knowledge is expected from a person, who likes to deal with vintage machines. Like the seller said, they are like old ladies. And I didn't have any idea what so ever, about my old lady before starting a relationship with her. A joke indeed.

    But when I reached at the end of your article, I felt great, thinking that, every great journey starts with a single step. And there you go I took my first step. Even though I probably have slipped (?) in my first step.
    Anyway, thank you so very much again for everything and your blog. It was very nice. Thanks for the tire information as well. I am ready whenever you are free so that we can take the bike to pete stop. I have just come back from canadian tire, they are out of stock on bike cover (in fact no canadian tire in montreal has them at the moment), they don't have the battery for the bike as well. Regarding engine oil, I wasn't sure which one to buy so I didn't. They gave me the choice of a particular brand with two stroke or four stroke engine oil. If I can do everything when I change the tires, it will be great.

    In the morning I went to stroke my bike like you do to your new lover, and felt so very tempted to ride her, even if I get a ticket, but I resisted her temptation. See you soon.


    1. Hi Ruptanu,

      You most certainly did not make the wrong decision! On the contrary, I think its probably the best thing that you could have done for yourself. This is a beautiful bike and one that will help you grow as both a rider and a motorcyclist. I hoped that the message was received in my blog and also, more importantly, you need to understand that we have all been exactly where you are at this very point in time! I started off exactly as you did as did every person who ventured into the world of motorcycles to some extent or another. Be proud, stand tall and enjoy your baby. I could tell yesterday she was 'happy' that you had found her.

      I mean't what I wrote, by the end of all of this you are going to be one hell of a wrencher and one hell of a motorcyclist. You became a real biker the moment you decided to take a chance on an old girl looking for love.... it just took her 34 years to find it with you! I will get back to you in relation to the list of things you need and yes, call the guy regarding the tires and see when you can go in to get the tires put on. Consider me, if nothing else, your friend in arms when it comes to getting this girl back to her proper status.

      Write soon and ride safe...!


  7. Very good story, best of luck to him.


  8. Enjoyed it.Maybe a little more because for ten years I owned the first year shovel head 1966.Only wrong thing I saw was the pic calling the hardtail chopper with ape hangers a shovel.Its a panhead motor 1948-1965.


    1. Cheers! That is interesting actually, I must have misunderstood the owner who was selling it. I was lucky to get out of there with my wallet as he was desperate to sell.


  9. Great read! You write similiarly to the way I write.... Poor feller... I can just imagine 'you' as this story was unfolding...

    Speaking of stories I have one to take to our local paper tomorrow to hopefully have published...it will B my 4th.......


  10. Bug -
    My first bike was an old 79 Yammy XS650, that I still have and enjoy.

    After I bought it, I realized that the friend I bought it from had never wrenched on a bike before, and this had been a project for him. I spent years fixing little bugs that I found all over it, many from an inexperienced mechanic (probably my friend).

    I finally completely disassembled it, rewired it, did some major upgrades on the electrical system, rebuilt the suspension and engine, repainted it..... and through all that work - I never regretted buying it for one second....

    I hope your friend has as much fun as I have!


    1. As of this summer my friend still rides that Harley-Davidson and despite the rattled teeth, still smiles from ear to ear. Alas, your right, it's as much about the process as it is the outcome.

      Though he did worry me at the beginning of the summer when he asked if it was legal to fabricate his very own helmet from scratch! lol...