Readers and their Rides

James Dean Lentz - Just Hanging Out

Written by  January 31, 2004

Have you ever seen a bike with 47 ½” ape hangers? If not, now you have! The first time I saw this bike, which is owned by James Dean Lentz of St. Charles, Missouri, was last year at Yeager’s annual bike show in Sedalia, Missouri. Every August, a group of us ride down to Sedalia for the annual AMA Grand National Dirt Track Series races, and every year we stop by Larry Yeager’s shop to check out the bikes.

I’ve seen a lot of ape hangers in my day, but when I saw this bike, I just had to take a few moment to check it out. At first glance…even at second glance, it doesn’t look like there is any way in hell anyone could possibly reach the grips on this bike while sitting on the seat (hence the name, ape hangers).

Not only can owner, James, reach the grips, but he can ride this bike like nobody’s business! He even rode in the parade around the Sedalia dirt track later that evening, with thousands of astonished onlookers cheering as he rode by.

After the continuous crowd around James’ bike thinned out a bit, I took the opportunity to ask him a few questions about him and his unique bike, snapped a few photos, and gave him my business card. He called me a few months later and agreed to an interview.

CC: Other than attracting a crowd every where you ride, what do you do for a living?

James: I’m a plumber.

CC: What motivates you to ride?

James: I’ve always liked the feeling of being in the breeze.

CC: How long have you been riding?

James: About 12 years.

CC: What was your first bike?

James: A '74 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead.

CC: How many bikes have you owned?

James: Four.

CC: How many bikes do you currently own?

James: Two.

CC: What is the year, make, and model of your primary bike?

James: It’s a 1987 Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail. This past October, I changed the colors of my bike again; this time to yellow with multi-colored flames.

CC: What do you like most about your bike and why?

James: The suicide clutch with jockey shift. It counter-acts the ape hangers.

CC: What is your dream bike?

James: My Heritage.

CC: What is your most memorable riding experience?

James: That’s a tough question. I guess it would be a ride we took from St. Charles, Missouri to Atlanta, Georgia.

CC: What is your least memorable riding experience and why?

James: I was riding with my old best friend and his girlfriend to Kansas City, and they took off without letting me know. I thought they were broke down or lost until three hours later when they finally called and told me they went on to a motel because they wanted to watch TV. I think they just wanted to “spoon.”

CC: Ha! No doubt! Do you belong to any motorcycle clubs or organizations?

James: I belong to the Freedom of Road Riders (FORR).

CC: Which motorcycle rallies & events have you attended, which is your favorite and why?

James: The Dam Homecoming, the Sedalia dirt drags and the ABATE Bean Blossom Boogie in Indiana, which is every third weekend in July. The Boogie is my favorite. I’ve been there the last six years in a row. People have gotten to know me over the years, because of how my bike keeps changing and when I race it on their track. They just can’t believe I actually ride all the way from Missouri with my 47 1/2' ape hangers. My picture was even on the all access pass last year, which was way cool. I got to go backstage with the bands.

CC: Awesome! So, where is your favorite bike night location and why?

James: Cadillac Jacks in Bridgton, Missouri. It’s a good meeting place, plenty of bike parking, live music and good food.

CC: Do you have any tattoos, and if so, which is your favorite?

James: I have five. My favorite is the one on my forearm, which is a tattoo of my bike with the words “sentenced to life behind these bars.”

CC: Do you prefer riding in a group or by yourself?
James: Both.

CC: Who are some of your closest riding buddies?

James: Tim, Josh, Dave, Dan, and Radar.

CC: Just for fun, which of your riding buddies is the best rider?

James: Tim.

CC: Just for fun, which of your riding buddies is the worst rider?

James: Tim and Radar.

Story and photo by Mike Schweder