Readers and their Rides

John Thurman and His ’92 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy

Written by  November 30, 2006

Meet John Thurman from McArthur, California. John e-mailed me a few weeks ago to let me know how much he enjoys our magazine and sent me a photo of his 1992 Fat Boy, which he has totally customized. I was so impressed that I gather some additional information about him and his bike to feature in the Readers & Their Rides section of this issue. So, here ya go!

CC: John, what is your occupation?
John: I’m a gunsmith.

CC: Do you have any hobbies other than motorcycling?
John: Yes, along with guns (of course), I enjoy hunting ,fishing and taking care of my seven year-old boy.

CC: Why do you ride?
John: There’s nothing in the world that quite compares to the feeling of freedom one gets from riding an American-made motorcycle.

CC: How long have you been riding?
John:Approximately 25 years.

CC: What was your first bike?
John: It was a 1956 Harley-Davidson Panhead.

CC: How many bikes have you owned?
John: I’d say around 16 or so. Eight Harleys and eight various other bikes.

CC: How many bikes do you currently own?
John: Just my 2002 Fat Boy.

CC: What do you like most about your Fat Boy?
John: I love the fact that technically we have advanced to the point in motorcycle building and frame design that you can have a bike with the pure rigid frame look of yesteryear, but yet the smoothness in ride that could only be afforded to us as consumers thru technology. With the advent of rubber mounting and the advancements we have had in recent years in shock design, even guys like myself who have had multiple back operations can ride a motorcycle that’s as sooth if not smoother riding than most cars these days. Plus, I’ll have to admit that my Fat Boy gets a lot of looks and collects a crowd everywhere we go. I sort of get a kick out of that!

CC: What is your dream bike?
John: My dream bike was my 1956 Panhead. Personally, I always loved the looks of the old school bikes.

CC: What is your most memorable riding experience?
John: My most memorable riding experience? That’s really hard to pinpoint. I’ve been riding most of my life, and about 99% of my riding is something I’d always love to remember.


CC: Fair enough. So do you have a least memorable riding experience?
John: My least memorable riding experience would be when I wrecked my 1972 Shovelhead chopper. It was an absolute gorgeous day, and I decided to go for a putt. It had been raining earlier in the morning, and the air was clean and crisp, and my old chopper was just begging to get out in the wind. I had been on the road for about 45 minutes in Sacramento, California, when a half dozen guys in an old beat-up low-rider ran a red light at Center Parkway and Mack road, and I T-boned them in the rear quarter panel at about 45 mph. Needless to say the bike stopped and I flew over the trunk, smacked head-first into the blacktop and slid 145 feet on the wet road. I didn’t sustain any injuries except for a headache and a bit of road rash, but what really got me is the fact that the other parties didn’t have any insurance or even a driver’s license.

CC: To what motorcycle clubs or organizations do you belong?
John: I’m a gold member with United Bikers Of Northern California, a member of the MMA and I’m in the process of starting a club here in Northern California.

CC: Which motorcycle rallies & events have you attended and which is your favorite?
John: Really, there’s to many to list. I try to go to just about everything I can. Being my own boss, I can pretty well make my own hours, so I go to everything I can. I would have to say though if I had to pick just one, I’d have to say my favorite would be Street Vibrations, which takes place in Reno Nevada.

CC: Do you have a favorite bike night hangout?
John: My favorite night location for biking is anyplace!

CC: Do you have any tattoos, and if so, which is your favorite?
John: I have 10 for now. Eventually there are several more I’m planning on getting. My favorite would be the tattoo I have on my right inside forearm of an eagle gripping a banner in its claws with my wife’s name.

CC: Do you have a favorite tattoo artist?
John: My favorite tattoo artist would be my bro “Kyle” at Silver Screen Tattoo in Oroville, California because his work is the absolute best I’ve ever seen. Ill never go to anyone else!

CC: Do you prefer riding in a group or by yourself?
John: Either way is good with me as long as I’m on the back of some American iron!

CC: Who are some of your closest riding buddies?
John: Hard to say. I’ll let that one go at the risk of getting ganged up on. Ha, Ha!

CC: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
John: HMM…that’s another hard one. I don’t know if it’s really a fact or topic, but I would have to say to everyone out there, helmet laws suck! Personally, I feel that wearing one, even though if it wasn’t for my wearing of a helmet I would have had my skull crushed, should be a matter of choice, not a mandatory thing forced in our face by the government. It should be your decision, not theirs. Ride safe, and keep the shiny side up!

Interview by Mike Schweder

Photos provided by John Thurman