Jack Larrison remembers a time, during the '60s, when bikers built motorcycles out of their own basements, partly because it was cheaper, but also because it was a good excuse to get drunk with friends.
Those days are sadly gone, says Larrison, the owner of Shady Jack's Saloon, a biker bar on North Broadway. As biking has gotten more serious, he says, dealers are more protective on the building process. "Nowadays they all put up an invisible shield around their backrooms," he tells Daily RFT. "And you can't even walk in the door with beer on your breath. I wanted to protest that."
So, to bring back the old tradition, Larrison decided a couple weeks ago to make Monday and Tuesday evenings "Old School Bike Build" nights at his bar.
The saloon also operates as a motorcycle-parts store, operated by a man named Stein. (Asked for his full name, he said "just Stein.") All are welcome to help cobble the chopper together, he says, even those who've never revved an engine before.
"We want to show guys that this is a process you can do in your own garage," says Stein. "We're not out to build a giant monstrosity; we just want to build a bike you can ride and scratch up a little bit."
Bike-building hours are advertised as 6:30 to 10 p.m., but feel free to swing by anytime. The project should last for another month (you might want to call ahead of time), but Larrison is in no rush.
"We bullshit for two and a half hours, and work for an hour," says Larrison. "We don't care how much gets done each night. We drink more beer than anything."
Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club
Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.
Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.
Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.