By Blane Johns
I've been thinking a lot lately, probably just like everyone else, about how the times they are a-changin’. But that's just how life goes; things always keep rolling, but I admit, I do find myself reminiscing more than usual lately. These days I have enjoyed digging up fond memories of our motorcycle ancestry's earlier times, recalling all the cool, old-school shops that used to inhabit this country and the characters that frequented them. They were all different and unique for sure, but they were all the same in a lotta ways, too. So with this bit of writing, I decided to pay tribute to all the independent shops that are still trying to survive. Shops that have been around before the Motor Company morphed into the sprawling behemoth it is these days. Small-town shops that were thriving back in the day when XLCH Ironheads and Superglide Shovelheads still sat out front, and you were greeted upon arrival with a friendly nod and the sweet smell of 50 weight oil and exhaust. You would find the usual regulars huddled around a bike, discussing the best way to adjust pushrods with a young man who had just bought his first Ironhead Sportster. Then after the lesson, give him shit for riding a sporty. I was that guy, heck I think we were all that guy at some point in time.
Debates raged on whether an S&S or Linkert was a better carb, and there was always that one guy who ran a Weber or Dell' Orto pitching his two-cents in. The matter of who the most bad-ass painter and pinstriper around was always discussed. At the top of our list, we always had Pino Tafoya. Pino could free-hand airbrush an Aztec warrior, lay down some heavy metal-flake flames, and then stripe them with his eyes closed. There was, and still is, a wealth of knowledge stored in these old-school shops that randomly dot America. There remain some gray-haired Harley wizards dutifully turning wrenches, keeping the culture alive. These hallowed places, trying to tough it out, need your support now more than ever. This is a profile of one of them.
This is true of a slice of Americana. Blue-collar, hard-working, honest Americana.
This is Fast Eddie.