'76 Harley Davidson SS175

Sorry, no picture yet.

I saw a classified ad in the paper one day. This was while I was still in high school, I think. No, actually, I think I might have just started University. I forget. Anyway, it was the middle of winter, and there was an ad in the paper for an antique motorcycle -- a 1923 somethingorother. I don't remember what it was, but it was something British, I remember that much. I called and went to look at it.

The owner stored it in his shed. I'm not sure the word 'it' really applies here, because 'it' implies a unity that definitely didn't apply. There was a frame which the guy's wife had painted bright blue, and a few broken pieces of an engine. The other parts -- pedals and such, were strewn about. Yes, pedals. It was just a bicycle with a motor. The engine, had there been enough pieces to be an engine, was probably less than 50cc's. Anyway, the guy decided he wanted to show me the basket or something and another bike was in the way. I hadn't really noticed this other bike, because it was largely covered with trash, but when he picked it up and shoved it across the shed so that it rolled about 5 feet and crashed into a pile of junk, I noticed. It was (you guessed it) the SS175. My Rapido was running well by now, so I was obsessed with little Harleys. I had to have it. I offered the guy $175.00, which he was delighted to take. He also insisted that I take away some Suzuki street bike (well, that's what he said they were) remnants (a piece of fender, and some other useless bits,) which I have long ago lost.

I didn't really look at it until it was home in my parent's garage. I found there were several air cleaner parts missing, the taillight lenses were cracked, the battery was a rock of ice, and the engine was seized. Downer. On the up side, the bike had less than 1000 miles on the odometer! The weather was too cold to work on it, so I removed the carburetor to clean it, and the bike sat until spring.

Sub-anecdote: My girlfriend at the time came over for supper one evening and helped me clean that carburetor. I remember it as one of our most romantic, genuinely bonding experiences -- we talked and laughed and grew closer as we scrubbed that carb. She, on the other hand, remembers it as one of the truly horrible ordeals of her life. Fortunately I haven't had any carburetor problems since, otherwise I'm not sure our relationship would have survived. Well, actually, it didn't. The girlfriend later became my wife, then became my ex-wife. So it goes.

That spring, I went to work on the bike. I thawed out the battery, and miraculously it held a charge. The engine turned out not to be seized at all, it had simply inhaled a bit of water and the resulting lump of ice kept the crank from moving. A minor crack in the frame at sidestand mount was fixed by a friend with an arc welder. I made some air cleaner parts out of foam rubber and metal screen and held the works together with a threaded rod. I filled the tank with fresh gas. I opened the enrichening valve, turned the key on, and kicked it. Brrap! Kicked it again. BrrrapApApRing-A-DingDingDingDingDingDing! It ran!

And it still does, almost 10 years later. I've since cleaned it up, and purchased new taillight lenses and air cleaner parts from Charleston Custom Cycle. It looks like new, and still has little more than 1000 miles on it.

It is NOT for sale, and it never will be. I will keep it forever.