IN 2000 I bought a brand new FXDWG, and by April 2001 I crashed it in New Plymouth. A tourist in a campervan had taken me out at an intersection; I was only doing 40 km/h at the time when he failed to give way to me. I broke all my ribs on the left side, broke a couple of fingers, but worst of all, I busted two discs in my back and shattered the 2nd vertebrae.
I was a truck driver at the time, doing line haul all over the North Island, and I spent a long time in the seat bouncing around. I was in recovery for two years four months, getting really bored. I tried driving again but it was uncomfortable after a hour or so. My doctor said it might be a good time to change my career. I was only 26-years-old.
I made the decision to change direction. I wanted to sell new Harleys. I thought this would be easy—I was wrong! It was harder than expected as there are only six Harley-Davidson dealers in New Zealand.
I rang the dealers closer to me, 3 hours away, and told them I would like a job selling bikes. To cut a long story short, they all said no, except the dealer in Christchurch, so on a ‘maybe’ I flew to Christchurch and this was when I met Dianne Kennedy, the Manager of Eric Wood Motorcycles. I wandered on into her office, sat down and told her what I wanted to do. Dianne mentioned that lots of Harley riders would like a job of this nature, there was no job at the time, but in a few months there could be.
That was enough for me to fly home, pack up and move to Christchurch.
Week after week, I went into the shop asking about the job. Dianne kept saying not yet, come back in two weeks, so I did. I kept hearing ‘not yet’ every two weeks for months but I hung in there. I was not giving in.
In March 2004 I got a phone call from Dianne. One of her salesman was on holiday for a month and asked if I would like to come in while he was away. I was there within the hour, and that month I sold 12 bikes.
Yep, I am still here selling bikes today and doing pretty good. Eric Wood Motorcycles suits me down to the ground, and the team here are great to work with. We are situated at 35 Manchester, Christchurch, so if you’re over here, make sure you stop by.
My bike is a Harley-Davidson FXSTI. When it turned up at the shop it had my name on it. It came straight out of the box and into our workshop to be pulled down.
I asked Isaac Fisher, our apprentice motorcycle mechanic at Eric Wood Motorcycles, if he wanted to help me put it together, and any ideas he had would be appreciated. For a young fella, he’s only 19-years-old, he takes pride in his work and is very thorough.
The bike was pulled down, and the tank and guards were given to Dean Lawrence, a local painter here in Christchurch. Dean does all our custom paint jobs.
We pulled the front-end off and fitted 5 degree triple trees and 4-inch-overs. I didn’t want to go too long in the forks; New Zealand has some of the best riding roads, lots of corners, and I still wanted this bike to handle well. Four-inch chubby risers with 16 inch high apehangers were bolted on too.
Isaac said we should chrome the rocker covers, oil tank, primary cover, timer cover, etc. I agreed and he made it happen. They were sent to Gisborne in the North Island.
LED lights were fitted, blue down one side and red down the other, and look very effective at night.
The fishtail mufflers came from Oz; the header pipes and heat shields were made locally. Steve Aitken has an engineer’s shop just down the road and I asked him to make the pipes fit my bike so I could get a pillion on it. It was a mission, and the only way we could do it was to overlap the fishtails.
I spoke to Isaac about the back rest bar. I told him I wanted it high; he laughed. We measured it up and designed it, then went to Steve who bent it up for me.
Isaac put the bike back together, and over the next few months he fine-tuned it.
I’ve had a few Harleys but this bike is by far the coolest bike I have ridden. Most of my mates have ridden it and they think it’s all good. It went on the road of January 2006 and I have since clocked up 20,000 km. I am really happy with it—I wanted a new bike with an old school look and that’s what I have.
pics by Jules @ Top Gun; words by Wayne Potter