John Arth of Minneapolis readily admits his 1922 Harley-Davidson JD is no longer up to long-distance treks to the Sturgis motorcycle rally.
“It’s a trailer queen, because if it does go down, it’s down. There’s no fixing it,” he said of the vintage iron, which draws plenty of appreciation amid all the modern motorcycles on Sturgis’ Main Street.
The 1,200cc (about 74 cubic inches) engine is almost, but not quite, original, he said.
“It’s as good as a 95-year-old bike can be,” he said. “You kinda baby it and hope it don’t break down.”
When the bike does need a replacement part for a major fix, Arth relies on a friend in the Minneapolis area, a mechanic he calls a “wizard.”
“He can get it going for me. He can either make parts or find them,” he said.
Arth, 60, bought the old Harley after a more than a two-year search for the owner of the machine, originally spotted in a driveway in the Twin Cities. It turned out the bike was owned by a woman who was the boss of a friend’s brother-in-law. The bike was her father’s.
Arth had to promise to give the woman a ride on the bike when he got it running again. While the machine is not for the open road, Arth will do short jaunts “to happy hours and the pizza joint,” he said.
“I ride it quite a bit,” he said.