Ode To An Old Friend

Article By: Chris Callen

Photos By: Melissa Shoemaker

Originally Published In The February 2019 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

You know, there is just nothing in the world like an old friend to make you feel good when times get tough. The exact medicine that you get from that kind of familiarity. Well, sir, that is the story of this old ‘75 FLH that was a good friend to the man that bought her new and the man who would give her a second home. Rick Fairless. You have heard the name Rick Fairless and his Strokers Dallas a time or two by now. Some and may or may not have heard a story of how I first wrote about Rick, and he reflected to the first time you knew motorcycles were cool. It was when you could do a cross up wheelie while shooting a peace sign. I knew right then we would be friends for a lifetime because he loved this thing of ours the way I do. Rick has made a name for himself with serious stretched out choppers with Sugar Bear front ends, and his signature tie-dyed paint schemes. For that, he established himself as a true original. When you talk to Fairless, at least when I do, you get to know a down to earth man who just loves the motorcycle scene and has found a life in it for himself.

When I saw Rick in Sturgis with this somewhat plain black FLH, I knew there had to be a story. Otherwise, he would have been on one of his choppers ripping through the black hills. It turns out that he was on a time machine and the story I got had to be brought to our readers. You see, Rick runs across all types of people at Strokers. Having been to his place, I can imagine it would be quite like running an adult day care center at times. But from it, he gets to meet some people who have changed his life forever. One such person was David Caulkins. David showed up at Strokers one day, in his late seventies and still riding the very bike he bought new back in 1975. It had the old buddy seat on it and Rick to a liking to him right away. However, watching him get on and off the bike made Rick nervous. On several occasions, he  mentioned to David that should consider getting something a little more modern if he wanted to continue riding. To David, this bike was more than just a piece of metal; it was his oldest friend. Of course, there was no way he ever wanted to leave his old buddy behind, so he just kept on doing the best he could with it. About the time the man turned 82 he found himself back at Rick’s because the bike was just getting harder and harder to ride. Rick helped him pick out a Road King that he had for sale and despite the Road King being several thousand dollars more than the value of that old FLH; Rick told him that they would just trade even. Of course, David had one item in the contract, and that was Rick could never get rid of the ‘75. Fairless agreed, and the bike went in the back of the shop and got covered up as a someday project.

Years later Rick got a call from David’s son. Apparently his father’s health was declining, and he was living in a nursing home. He asked Rick if it would be ok for him to bring his father by for a visit with the old FLH. David had a picture in his wallet from 1976 of him and the bike on Main Street in Sturgis, he was awfully proud of that photo and showed it off. As he rolled up to her in his wheelchair, David asked for some assistance to put his hand on the bike for one last rub of he sheet metal. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room. As the man sat back down rick promised him that he would take the bike apart and make her like new again.

The very next day Fairless found himself alone in part of the shop with the bike on the lift, keeping his word to the old boy. Rick cleaned it up and did everything he needed in order to have a reliable, running motorcycle. In some ways, this was not only a trip back in time for the bike and David but Rick as well. You see, as the bike was finished Rick found himself on it more and more often. It reminded him of a simpler time when he was a young man, and these old bikes were in everyone’s garage. Struggling with some health issues of his own, Rick would take the ‘75 to doctor appointments, making the best of a bad situation he learned that the ride at least was something to look forward to. It helped him clear  his head and made him feel forty years younger as he rolled along. Unfortunately, David Caulkins passed away just a month after Rick got the bike back in proper condition and this article is an ode to an old friend… David, the bike, and of course, my old friend Rick. May we all be so lucky to have love in our hearts at the end.

TECH SHEET

Owner: Rick Fairless

City/State: Dallas, TX

Builder: Rick Fairless-Strokers Dallas

Year: 1975

Model: Electra Glide

Value: Priceless

Time: 30 Days

Engine

Year: 1979

Model: Shovelhead

Builder: Harley-Davidson

Ignition: Points

Displacement: 74”

Pistons: Harley-Davidson

Heads: Harley-Davidson

Carb: S&S

Cam: Harley-Davidson

Air Cleaner: S&S

Exhaust: Paughco Fishtail

Primary: Harley-Davidson

Transmission

Year: 1975

Make: Harley-Davidson

Shifting: 4 Speed

Frame

Year: 1975

Model: FL

Rake: Stock

Stretch: Stock

Forks

Builder: Harley-Davidson

Type: 41mm FL

Triple Trees: Harley-Davidson

Extension: None

Wheels

Front Wheel: Drag 40 Spoke

Size: 16”

Tire: Metzeler

Front Brake: Harley-Davidson

Rear Wheel: Drag 40 Spoke

Size: 16”

Tire: Metzeler

Rear Brake: Harley-Davidson

Paint

Painter: Harley-Davidson

Color: Black

Type: Original

Graphics: None

chroming: MECLEC

Accessories

Bars: Flanders

Risers: Nope

Hand Controls: Harley-Davidson

Foot Controls: Harley-Davidson

Gas Tank(S): Harley-Davidson

Oil Tank: Harley-Davidson

Front Fender: Harley-Davidson

Rear Fender: Harley-Davidson

Seat: RFSD

Headlight: Harley-Davidson

Tail Light: Harley-Davidson

Speedp: Harley-Davidson

Photographer: Melissa Shoemaker

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