Over the last 40 years my friends and I vacation at the same spot up in Northern Wisconsin, the St Croix Inn. My buddies started a ritual of stopping at “The Poodle Bar” before arrival at the St Croix a few miles down the road. After a few drinks and talking with the locals one guy mentioned a bike he had that he was thinking of selling. Knowing I’m always on the lookout for a buy my friends got the guy's number and handed it off to me.
I called the guy, John, and asked if I could come take a look. Stashed in the corner of his garage was a covered bike. Under the cover was a pristine 1964 Harley-Davidson FLH Panhead. John was the original owner and kept the bike original and untouched since 1964. He even had original tires on the bike. He was a mechanic back in the day and got wholesale prices on parts so he figured he’d buy some extra Harley tires for the future.
Here I’m looking at a 1964 Harley that looked like it came out of a time capsule. I wanted to hear it run. John pulled out his old tractor because it had a 6 volt electrical system that he used to jump the bike’s battery (also a 6 volt system). A couple of kicks and the old girl started right up. Needless to say we came to agreement on the price and I trailered that bike home.
I got a new battery and tires – didn’t want to ride on those 1964 tires – and rode the bike during Harley’s 110th anniversary here in Milwaukee. I remember pulling up to a stop light next to a guy on a wild, loud, custom Harley.
He looked at my bike with admiration, “nice bike”.
"Thanks", I asked, “can you hear it running?”
“No” he said.
I smiled and said, “yeah... I know”.