Warning: This is a very wordy blog! Sorry… I had a lot to say….
Well, the Las Vegas Bikefest is over and we have all taken our bikes and gone home. But what a wild ride it was while we were there.
First you have to imagine that my bike was placed in the “Radical” group. Really? You should have seen the competition. Outrageous would be the word for all but my sweet little black darling with the two little wheels on the front. Man was she out-of-place! But what was amazing is that right off the bat, we drew a crowd. Kelly, Jason’s fiance, was out there talking and demonstrating but the people were coming so fast that I got out there and helped. We talked to people and handed out my cards and the wooden nickles for Hellcat Customs.
It didn’t surprise me that the majority of the interest was with the older crowd, in the same age bracket as the main group for single vehicle fatalities (see here). That was actually what prompted me to start advocating for an alternative riding method that will give the rider the same or similar thrill as riding a standard two-wheeled motorcycle but with an added bit of safety. Then my motorcycle club, Rose City MC, lost one of its long-standing members and a very longtime rider who got the front tire of the bike into gravel around a curve on a road that he had traveled for decades. That just cemented what I already knew…. as we get older, our abilities diminish a little more as time passes. I don’t see as well, I’m not as quick as I used to be, and I can’t hear for crap! Along with that, I’m just not as strong as I used to be. So, whats a girl to do? Call the one guy that can build anything…. which wasnt how this story begins so I digress;
I started on Twitter when I started the website Motorcycle Travel America.com and did it to find other motorcycle people. And, wow, did I. That is where I became familiar with Jason Sarratt of Hellcat Customs. I did my homework to find out a little bit about him and was impressed with what I found. I needed an artist to do some specialty artwork on one of my bikes and wanted portrait work. That isn’t the easiest thing to do and if it doesn’t come out right, it doesn’t look good. After seeing some of his work and realizing how delicate it was, I was sold. Let me just remind you all… he painted Dorothy… remember. I wasnt disappointed in fact, I was thrilled!
So, here comes a time in my business world that will require a company vehicle and I have given considerable thought to the fact that I want something different for the long rides and with a spin for me to use to get my point across about older riders. I did so much research and found two really fine adaptations that might have worked for me. One was Mystery Design in Dallas, Texas and the other was Tilting Motor Works in Marysville, Washington. Both were excellent products and both tilted! Sorry, I just can’t give up the lean… So, after much research and consideration, I decided to let Jason purchase a bike for me and called Tilting Motor Works to order a kit to be sent to him. Unfortunately, the kits were only for the HD Road King and to make a conversion to the kit to fit the Sportster I had already purchased would have taken 6-8 months to complete and then longer to attach it to the bike. That would be too late to put it in the LV Bikefest as well. Fortunately for me…. Jason has a remarkable mind and has been doing what he does for a very long time! I had many a conversation with Jason about his past experience and was always impressed and so, we decided to go ahead and let him make the most of his remarkable mind! Here is a rundown of what he has been doing up until now;
He started out under hoods and around motorcycles in highschool and did a mc repair class as a trade school elective. Later he started as a Tech with Honda of America and did repairs and reports back to the factory on “at risk lemon law” cars and correcting design flaws on the mechanical side. Some of his duties led him to develop a lot of repairs to correct engineering issues. He had an admirable record of averaging 8-10 cars a day for 6 days a week and only had one come back with an error that couldn’t be remedied. He even helped write test questions for Honda to use to hire Research and Development Techs, like he was.
I asked him about his education and the answer certainly didn’t surprise me… He said,”I went to school to start a mechanical engineering degree and quit when the professor couldn’t answer the questions I asked. I figured he had nothing to teach me!”.
And so, the story began and the story still continues today.
Now the thing I learned at this particular show with the revealing of my little 3 wheeled wonder is that there is a definite interest in the design… but with more than just older riders. The interest with men wanting their women to come look at it and their delight at what they saw was overwhelming. The comment from the ladies was always the same…”now that bike I would ride!”. The stability that the front end offers is just what some women need to make them feel like they could ride it themselves. Heck, she stands with no kickstand. And that brings us a third group and the one that blew me away.
I was standing with a crowd and noticed a man on the fringe examining the bike. And then he walked off abruptly. It looked quite suspicious! He came back in about 10 minutes with a woman in an electric wheelchair and said to her, “I think you can ride that, what do you think?”. She said the same thing I had heard all day…”I could ride that bike!”. We had a gentleman that had only 20% use of one knee.. he loved the design and even sat on it to give it a try. Last but not least was a young man who lost nearly all the use of his one arm in a motorcycle accident. He didn’t want to give up riding and got really excited about the thought of being able to ride again and this bike design could be altered to make riding available to even a guy with only partial use of one arm. The excitement in the crowd got us excited. Jason was really happy to think that he could do some good with the design to benefit people. He’s just that way, God bless his heart!
This could open a lot of doors for Jason and give riding back to people who thought they had lost the option of riding something other than a rigid trike or a CanAm Spider. Not that there is anything wrong with those options but, its nice to know there is something more. So here is to innovation, here is to Jason’s beautiful mind, and here is to the future. Stay tuned…. there is a lot more to come!
Lady Godiva….. feeling very grateful!
Next up… the newest ideas for the reverse trike. What until you hear who Jason is talking design ideas with!!