& 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!
|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.
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! :-)