Everyone remembers his first ride on a motorcycle. Not your neighbor's minibike or some janky scooter: I'm talking about Real American Iron. Wayne Ahlquist and his brother Jason at Acme Choppers tasted two-wheeled excitement for the first time aboard this. Harley's panhead-powered Hydra Glide set new standards for performance and handling from the MoCo by introducing telescopic forks to the engineering equation.
When Wayne and Jason's Uncle Joe DeRosa treated them to their first double-digit blast over New England tarmac as young boys, the bike-building brothers were hooked. Thirty-something years later, that cherry-poppin' panhead is still in the family.
Before he passed away, Wayne and Jason bought their uncle's Harley to keep the machine in the family. Uncle Joe bought the bike when he was 18, and gave Wayne and Jason their first rides when they were eight and six, respectively. The brothers changed a few bits on the beloved Hydra Glide after their uncle's death, but it's the same machine Wayne remembers blasting around on when he was a kid.
My own first taste of two-wheeled freedom on tarmac came aboard my Uncle Greg's CB450 around '73 or '74. I'd ridden minibikes before then, but that jade green rice burner was the fastest machine I'd ever seen. Uncle Greg and I must have looked like two monkeys fucking a football on Honda's diminutive street bike, but it didn't matter. With my chubby little hands clenching his even chubbier midsection, Uncle Greg and I speeded around the neighborhood like fugitives from a NAMBLA party.
Wayne and Jason's love affair with their uncle's Hydra Glide has only strengthened with time. "Jay and I share the bike now, which means we mostly share working on it. It's an old panhead, after all." I don't know what became of my Uncle Greg's CB450—it's probably rusting away in some Florida swamp—but I remember poking around that thing like it was yesterday.
To all the uncles of America, thanks for introducing your nephews to the virtues of two-wheeled freedom.