I met J.W. during Oklahoma Bike Week at Sparks America in June, 2005. I was amazed to see him riding his beautiful chopper in all of the bike games from slow ride to barrel race. Like the other competitors, he was having a blast. After the games, he invited me to meet other members of his club and visit with him in his r.v.
CC: What is your occupation, J.W.?
J.W.: I’m a truck driver for the U.S. Postal Service.
CC: Why do you ride?
J.W.: I have been riding bikes from the age of 12, and now it is just a part of me that I enjoy the most.
CC: What was your first bike?
J.W.: My first bike was a Honda 50, but my first street legal bike was a Kawasaki L.T.D, 250.
CC: How many bikes have you owned?
J.W.: I guess thirteen or so.
CC: How many bikes do you currently own?
J.W.: I have two.
CC: Please describe your “primary” bike.
J.W.: I ride and show both of my bikes about equally. One is a 1999 Kawasaki Drifter with 47,000 miles on it, and the other is a custom-built chopper with 11,000 miles. The Drifter has a custom three-layer paint job with murals and two sets of flames. The flat black flames are under the cobalt blue paint from the House of Colors. Chromalusion flames are on top of the blue, and four murals are underneath. The motor has a Hypercharger. The forks, crash bars, fender rails, backrest brackets, and motor cover are all painted in purple base coat with Chromalusion top coat. The seat has the stock base but has been recut for more back support and built up to match the tank. The passenger seat was built up for more comfort for my wife, and there are flames on both seats and the backrest. It won at Darryl Starbird Shows three times last year.
As for the chopper, the frame is from Oklahoma-based Racing Innovations. The fenders and oil tank are from Jesse James. I got the fuel tank off the wall at Kinetic Playground Motorcycle Shop in Tulsa. The 113 c.i. engine and matching six-speed transmission are from Engine Tech Company. The motor has a 4 inch bore and 4.5 inch stroke with forged pistons, 10.2:1 compression, and is rated at 110 horsepower. The camshaft has a 264 duration with 0.625 inch lift with torque of 120 ft-lb. On the dyno, it shows 91 horsepower with 94 ft-lb of torque at the rear wheel. It’s not finished yet, but I’m working on it.
CC: What do you like most about your bikes?
J.W.: They are both paid for. You just can’t stop looking at them, and they are a lot of fun to ride.
CC: What is your dream bike?
J.W.: I’m still working on that.
CC: What is your most memorable riding experience?
J.W.: The 2000 Freedom Ride with over 15,000 bikes. It was awesome!
CC: What is your least memorable riding experience?
J.W.: I was on my way to an A.B.A.T.E. bike show on March 22, 2001, when I was hit by a bus that was going south in the northbound lane. It totaled my bike and damned near killed me and my 15-year-old son.
CC: To what motorcycle clubs or organizations do you belong?
J.W.: I am the South Central Chapter President of the U.S. Veterans Bike and Street Rod Association. My area includes Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Louisiana.
CC: Please recap your military career.
J.W.: I joined the Army at age 17, right out of high school. I went to Fort Dix , New Jersey, for basic training and A.I.T. Then Fort Benning, Georgia, for jump school, ranger, school, pathfinder school, and ordinance school. I was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, with the 540 Special Forces Group. In 1987 I was recruited by the Old Guard. That’s the unit that escorts Presidents and diplomats, guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and handles military burials. I went to Korea in 1990 and retired in 1995 with a disability.
CC: Which motorcycle rallies & events have you attended and which is your favorite?
J.W.: So many I have lost track, but my favorite is Sparks America in Oklahoma..
CC: Which is your favorite bike night location and why?
J.W.: Blues City Bar in Tulsa, because all brands of bikes and colors are welcome.
CC: Do you have any tattoos?
J.W.: I have four tattoos on my arms. Three are military, and one represents my Indian heritage.
CC: Do you prefer riding in a group or by yourself?
J.W.: I enjoy riding with our veterans as a group. It always starts with just us but we often seem to pick up a rider or two along the way. On some days we get a dozen or two when we are out bar-hopping. Sometimes I like to be by myself and just wander.
CC: Just for fun, which of your riding buddies is the best rider? How about the worst?
J.W.: Bobby is the best rider because he hasn’t been in a major accident yet, and he is the worst rider because he hasn’t lived through a major accident.
CC: J.W., I enjoyed meeting you and look forward to seeing you at lots of future events. Thanks for the interview.
Story and Photos by Stripe