Phil Parker's Motorcycle Journey

Background:
I grew up in what was then the small citrus town of
Corona, California,which is located about 15 miles due East of Disneyland (Anaheim). Corona, which means "crown" in Spanish, is surrounded by a ring of mountains, hense the name. Isolated from the hustle and bustle of booming Orange County by the Santa Ana Mountain range, Corona was once the "lemon capital of the world". There was once tens of thousands of acres of both lemon and orange groves in the area. It was the ideal location to have been raised. There was little reason to leave the area. Within 60 miles, which was 60 minutes by car at one time, you could travel to the west at be at Newport Beach, to the North, you'd be skiing at Mount Baldy. Sixty miles to the East - Palm Springs and the deserts and to the South East, Joshua Tree National Monument. It was ideal motorcycle country. A warm climate allowed year round riding. The nearby foothills were excellent for dirt bike riding and the nearby desserts were perfect for cross country terrain. Nearby Lake Elsinor held the then famous Lake Elsinor 500, where even Steve McQueen rode to top honors.

When we first moved there as a child around 1955, the town had a population of approximately 14,500. Today, that number has jumped to more than 135,000. Sadly, this growth is taking away one of Corona's most beautiful features, it's orange groves.

Well - lets get on with the reason you're reading this page - My Motorcycles.

1963 Honda 250 Scrambler - The First Ride on a motorcycle

Though I used to ride in fields and on dirt roads on my friends minibikes and we beat the crap out of Honda first Honda 50 step through ("You'll meet the nicest people on a Honda), I cut my teeth riding a real motorcycle on my oldest brothers Honda 250 Scrambler. The sound created by the dual upswept pipes was unmistakable. At age 13, I use to put a large longcoat, sit up tall and look old enough to ride legal. The fact was that I didn't even know the shift pattern. I'd be crusing at about 35 mph at night (I would only ride at night) and shift - the wrong way. That engine would scream. It was so much fun. This bike gave me the original bug.

 

 

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PHASE 1 - AGE 15
MY First Motorcycle - The Dirt Bike Years

125 Enduro AT-1

I purchased my first bike at age 15 1/2 in 1968. It was a brand new Yamaha 125 Enduro. As I recall, it was only a few hundred dollars. Boy oh boy - did I have a blast on it. Shortly thereafter, a good friend converted it to a 175 cc machine and polished the ports to make it faster - all for 2 six-packs of beer. I bought the parts, he provided the labor. Not a bad deal.

The next modifications were tuned exhaust (the loud ones that they don't allow any more). For the street, I would attach a silencer to quite it down. A compression release provide a mechanism to slow the bike down using the engine's back pressure as a decelerating force. Front motocross fenders were later added, as were racing handle bars.

I learned to ride the dirt with this bike. We often rode and played Motorcycle Sock Tag on the terraced lots of building developments that were being constructed. Do you remember the terraced lots that the kids rode their bikes on in the movie "ET". That kind of terraced lots provided great jumping areas. We then progressed to climbing big hills and then finally, migrated to riding the desert. Boy was it a blast.

 

Click to Enlarge ViewPHASE 2
The Upgrade Kit

360 Enduro RT-1
A couple of years later, I purchased a 1971 Yamaha 360 Enduro RT-1 street legal dirt bike. It was a 2-cycle, single-cylinder monster that provided tons of torque. It could climb almost any hill, regardless of the terrain. In the desert, you wouldn't want to get in back of this guy, as he could throw up a solid wall of rocks on takeoff. It was a fairly lightweight bike and a large engine for a dirt bike.

My Visit To Boston for the Bicentennial lasted longer than I expected
In 1975, my girlfriend was attending UC Irvine. With her grandmother passing away that year, she became homesick and decided that she would return to the "City of Sin - You Never Come Back, the Way You Went In". She was referring to Lynn, Mass, a city located on the North Shore of Boston. In 1976, I left Corona with her to visit the Boston area. She had had enough of explosive growth of Southern California and I didn't blame her. The smog was getting awful and was said to be equivalent to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. She asked me if I wanted to come, and I took the opportunity to visit the other side of the country, not to mention take part in our nations 200th birthday in one of the oldest colonial towns in the nation - Boston.

I had read so much about about the Bicentennial in National Geographic. The Tall Ships were visiting the city over the Fourth of July and I would be there. The magazine noted that it would be next to impossible to get housing during this major even, but I would have a place to rest my head. I couldn't wait to see the Tall Ships - so I packed up the 1968 Volvo 122. The car in the link is similar to what I owned, but not nearly as nice as the Volvo that I owned. My 122 was a real cream puff with a mere 150,000 miles on her, we headed across America headed to Boston in late February of 1976. Strange thing was that I really didn't know exactly where Boston was, and when I looked, I was shocked to see how far North it was, but I was eager to go. I don't think I could have picked a much further destination coming from Southern Calif.

Well, the visit turned out to be much more than a visit. I liked the place and after a while, I got a job at the Generous Electric (GE - Jet Engine Group), I decided to stay. About a year later, I married that girl. Like most, we settled down and after a while, bought our home (which we recently sold), and started our family. As you may have guessed, the bike never made it East and it would be a long time before I would ride again.

As time evolved, we had kids - two daughters to be exact. My girlshave now grown up to be young ladies and both have graduated from college and are now out on their own. As the girls were getting older and doing their own thing, I felt the urge to ride again. That urge grew stronger with each new Spring coming, and like the Harley ad in the magazine said, "When you doing yard work, do you feel yourself having to look up when you hear a Harley coming up the street." When I read that, the ad had my name on it. Oh how I could relate. My eyes were like a radar tracking an incoming missile. I had to have one.

Over the decades, I had kept one thing active that I knew I would use again some day - my motorcycle license. It was never allowed to lapse.

There was one thing I wasn't keen on doing in New England and that was to ride dirt bikes. I so did love riding dirt in California. I guess I was spoiled with riding A-plus terrain for miles and miles without fences. That was then. Its all changed now. As for New England, I just couldn't imagine riding on power line land with narrow, and very rocky. They simply didn't turn me on and couldn't be compared to the great foothills of Corona or the wide-open desert spaces.


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MANY YEARS LATER - I'M BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN

1999 Honda Shadow 750 ACE:
Well - after raising two wonderful daughters and waiting some 25 years, I started to feel that constant pull of the open road again. I had always heard that those that have ridden always have the spirit of the open road living deep within the souls. Well - its true.

Though the Winters aren't too bad here in New England, a long winter can bring out " Spring Fever" when the weather starts to improve. When it starts to warm up, the blood starts to get invigorated. In the early Spring of 1999, I had been cooped up long enough and wanted to get out on one of those Spring days, so, the wife and I decided to go out and look at some furniture - not to buy, but rather to get out of the house. After visiting several furniture stores, I saw that one of the local function halls was hosting their annual Spring Motorcycle Shows where a number of local motorcycle dealers were showing off this years models. Yehaa.... I couldn't believe how good they looked. The only bike brand missing was Harley Davidson, however, one bike caught my eye. It was a 1999 Honda Shadow 750 ACE (American Classic Edition). My wife said that If I wanted it, I should get it. Say no more. That's all I had to hear. Bang... It was done. One of my friends called it a Hardly Davidson. It was a great machine, but it wasn't a Harley, and I felt it over time.

In short time, I had added a number of accessories to the bike. When this model came out, there wasn't that many accessories for the ACE 750. Over time, I put a lot of worry-free miles on this bike, but after several years of riding it, I could feel the pull to a larger machine.


Click for Enlarge ViewPHASE 3
GETTING HOOKED ON "THE REAL THING"

On a recent trip to Florida in Feb.., 2002, I made it a point to rent a Harley.

When I got to the rental office, I had wanted to rent a Fatboy, but none were available. As it turned out, Bike Week in Daytona was just beginning and most of the bikes were already spoken for. The closest thing to a big Harley was a nice, burgandee colored Road King. That would have to do. When I sat on it, it was so big and heavy. I thought it was going to be a bear to ride. Prior to that, I had never ridden "the real thing."

As it turned out, I loved the convenience of having lockable side bags. I also have enjoyed the comfort of having a windshield, even better that it could be detached quickly, but the one thing I recalled from my Honda was that each time I took the windshield off, it stayed off for only a day, and then it was right back on. A windshield is a must if you like to ride on long runs or you live in a colder climate.

When I sat on the Road King, it was just so massive and heavy. There was no plastic in this bad boy. I knew I could ride it, but I thought that it was going to be a bear to maneuver. Prior to that, I had never ridden "the real thing", but to my surprise, it was a breeze to ride and in fact, it tracked like an arrow. It drove itself and I was shocked how smooth of a ride that it provided. Everyone thinks a Harley shakes so much that they rattle apart. Maybe the old ones did, but not now.

From that moment on, I knew, or at least, thought that I wanted a Road King - well at least that's what I thought.

Renting that Harley for a 24-hour period changed my life. I knew I wanted a Harley.


PHASE 4
MY FIRST HARLEY - HOW AND WHY I BECAME A BAGGER MAN

Once I decided on trading up to a Harley, I knew I had to be right the first time. The price of these bad boys forces you to know what you want so that you don't have to do it again the next year.

As I noted earlier, I had always wanted a Harley FAT BOY - you know, the one that Arnold rode in Terminator. There were, however, a few things that I didn't like about them. They didn't look that good with side bags and a windshield, and I knew that I wanted both. That meant that for me that the Fat Boy was primarily designed for short tips around town, but boy do they look good in near stock condition.

The bags were a minimum requirement. I knew then that I was a bagger man, i.e. Electra Glide (EG), Road Glide or Road Kings. After visiting numerous dealers, I found constantly checking out the Electra Glides. Not the big touring models, but the Electra Glide STD or Classic models - the ones without the large touring luggage packs behind the passenger seat. Why the EG? Because they had a slot for a factory installed radio. I had always ridden my Honda with my ear plugs attached to my sports radio or MP3 player. I love riding to my favorite music. It's like meditation, but better.

I had looked at the Road Glide, but felt that the design was a little to radical for me. The EG simply had cleaner lines. The Electra Glide had the lockable bags, the windshield and the bonus of a radio. It was also very comfortable. With its adjustable air shocks, rubber isolated engine and floorboards, the machine was smooth. The only thing I didn't like the EG was the huge couch that H/D called a seat. My ass isn't that big. Maybe most riders girls have big asses that require a sofa to carry the wide load. I couldn't have it and knew that it would have to come off when I found the right bike. What was H/D designers thinking when they chose this seat. My guess is that it could be acceptable to many, but most would want to upgrade to another, more stylish seat, i.e. spend money on Harley Davidson accessories.

The picture that appeared on CycleTrader.com.  Click for enlarged viewAfter visiting every Harley dealer within 100 miles, I couldn't believe how pricey they were. They were all being sold for more than list price and the dealers that sold at list were all sold out. I finally started to look elsewhere on the web and I found my dream bike at CycleTrader.com. It was everything I had been dreaming of and much more - and the price was great. Oddly enough, the bike was owned by a young mechanical engineer who worked for guess who - Harley Davidson. In fact, he worked at the Harley Tomahawk (Wisc) Fiberglass plant.

What I found out is that Harley employees have a nice perk. They get to purchase one Harley per year at list minus 20%. That means that they ride them for one year and then sell them at more than they purchased the bike. He was selling his eleven month old Electra Glide STD (FLHT) that he had begun to customize.

With a Frequent Flyer airline ticket, I asked many questions, asked for more details and saw a few more pictures. flew to Wisc to check it out. I normally wouldn't have done this, but the price of Harley's in the Boston area made it worth the trip.

After checking it out, I bought the bike and had it shipped home un-crated via Atlas Van Lines, Motorcycle Division. I highly recommend them for moving your bike. I recommend that you have it shipped to an Allied warehouse. You'll save a lot of money. It arrived as planned and things haven't been the same. That was March, 2002.

The bike came with most everything I wanted, but I have added a few items to finish her off. The bike come with Harley Performance Pipes with the baffle removed. It was loud - too loud in fact. It barked instead of rumbled. What was he thinking? I eventually put on the stock pipes that the owner had given me, but knocked out the baffle and drilled it out to deepen the tone and to make it a tad louder than stock. Soon, I'll install Wild Pigs Pipes. They rumble great and offer an unmistakable deep pitched tone.

That first season, I rode my Black Bagger almost 10,000 miles. I love riding her and she has been amazing. Cruising at 80 MPH is effortless.


My Black Bagger After A Little Makeover.
My 2001 Harley Davidson Electra Glide STD (Model FLHT)
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You can get the Electra Glide STD in any color you want - Black, black, or black. I chose black...

Here is the "Black Bagger" as she now stands.
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Left side view
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The rear end. Don't get behind her !!
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Detail view of my 7" Black Thunder Shield with etched skulls.
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A view of the motor and Kuryakan Hypercharger.
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Frontal View
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Related Links

Recent Motorcycle Runs I've Attended

Harley Electra Glide Garage Forum - A Great Forum for Harley Electra Glides

Parts List for my Harley - A detailed list, part numbers, prices and more specifically, my comments over time.


Movie Recommendation

Catch Me if you Can (Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio)

Antwone Fisher (Denzel Washington)


On Any Sunday, by Bruce Brown.
Academy Award Nominee

Clouds of dust and the roar of engines accompany man and machine racing against the track, racing against each other, and perhaps racing against the very essence of speed itself. In 1971 a man and a camera captured this as never before. The filmmaker was Bruce Brown. The Academy Award nominated film was ""On Any Sunday"".

With narration by co-producer Steve McQueen (who also races in some of its segments), director Bruce Brown (best-known for his poetic surfing documentary, Endless Summer) takes us into the incredibly varied and physically demanding world of motorcycle racing with Dick Mann, Gene Romero and Dave Aldana. Shot during a two-year period and edited from over 150 hours of footage, the film sets a new standard in motorcycle racing photography, and the film's action is enhanced by Dominic Frontiere's musical score. Along with other types of racing, Moto-Cross racing from the wilds of northern Canada (where wheels have two-inch steel spikes for traction in ice) to the Mojave desert is shown. While some European motorcycle racing is shown, such as the English Trials, most of the film concentrates on the American racing scene. Footage of the day-to-day life of McQueen, sportsman Malcom Smith and champion Mert Lawwill, as they participate in the racing circuit, helps to tie the film together.


You are visitor number: - Hah !


May the sun always be to your back, the road remain dry and clean, and that you always return home safe.

Drop me a line if you have any questions.

Phil Parker