Someone really should tell Little John Kuklisin that it’s mostly okay to put yourself ahead of your bike when you both hit the pavement. Totaled motorcycles can be replaced with a trip to a dealership. Totaled riders? Not so much. Unless, of course, said biker is a vampire. And not the wussified, sparkly kind with feelings, either.
Luckily, Little John only tempted Fate on September 6, 2011, instead of actually meeting it. Having just serviced his ’98 Softail/Street Glide hybrid, he hit the road after telling his wife he’d be right back, “and then we will load up for our road trip to North Carolina.” He hadn’t gone mile one on that shakedown cruise before a car pulled out in front of him, giving John just enough warning to think “Oh, shit. This is gonna hurt.”
That is, if by “hurt” you mean, “damn near FUBAR.” Not that Little John knew, though. Shock can work wonders like that. As he lay there in the street, his first thought wasn’t of his injuries but his bike’s: “Tell my wife I’m okay and to stop up here and get my bike to Tank’s.” Tank is the lifelong buddy who painted Little John’s motorcycle for him.
When the EMT’s got to the scene they tried to tell John he needed Lifeflight but he begged to differ: “I told them to just drop me off at the med center.” A good laugh later they responded with, “No, seriously though, you’re really hurt.”
Once his bike was off the scene, Little John either caved in or shock wore off. Either way, next stop was the hospital, where he demanded his wife get him a laptop so he could find a replacement scoot. Serious injury trauma isn’t in his book of reasons to cancel a ride. I can understand his logic. There are more than 200 bones in the human foot, but you only need a few of them to work a shift lever.
“Honey,” she responded. “You do realize you will be in the ICU for a while, right?”
We don’t know if he got that laptop but he certainly didn’t get a bike for the trip, sadly. Five days later, Little John made the call to his good friend, Brett, to let him know John and his wife were a no-go for the trip.
That didn’t stop him from looking for a new motorcycle, though. After another nine days, John finally went home after promising the doctors he’d stay in bed for the next 30-plus days. Once that horrible boredom was over and John was allowed to start walking, his buddies, Barry and Dale, would kidnap him to go bike shopping. Their motive wasn’t all that altruistic, though, as John observed. “Those chicken shits were using me as an excuse to find new bikes for themselves.” Good lookin’ out, guys.
Little John looked everywhere for Ebay deals, dealer sites online, and for listings by pro builders and private sellers alike. That’s how he discovered the 2010 CVO Softail that became his next pride and joy.
John came across it on the Klock Werks site. He dialed up the shop, told them he wanted the bike, and explained his plans to change it. Brian Klock called him back an hour later to go over the details. (Ostensibly, it was Brian’s, but really, Laura Klock owned it.) John and Brian hit it off, had a good talk, and then got down to business. At its heart, Little John’s scheme called for transforming a CVO Softail into a Road Glide. Yes, I know. “Why not just buy the Road Glide and call it a day?” Because Road Glides aren’t made to fit short guys like John Kuklisin and I, Gigantor. For starters, the frame dimensions are more of a stretch than what you’d find with a Dyna or a Softail. Throw in all of the bulk that comes with a touring Harley, and you compound our dilemma. Swinging all that weight around can be problematic when the controls are a challenging reach (especially at low speed when threading traffic). Normally, we just work it out and suck it up, but why do that when you don’t have to?
John told Brian Klock he also wanted the bike to look as factory as possible. After they went over all of the details of what John was looking for, Brian asked if he could make them happen. Once Klock had a price quote, Little John told him that if Brian could get it done for the Cleveland IMS show, the job was his. It’s not like this is the first time Brian Klock has had to beat, well, a clock, so he agreed to John’s conditions.
All throughout the metamorphosis, Klock Werks gave Little John updates via phone calls and photographs. Not just to show him the progress, but also whenever they had questions. The build was smooth sailing for the most part. Unfortunately the paint work on the fairing took a little longer than anyone thought it would, so Little John’s bike missed Cleveland. It didn’t miss the Cinci dealer show, though.
Brian called John and asked if he would want to show the bike for K&N Filters during the Cincinnati event. His response was an enthusiastic, “Hell yeah.” This was also the first time John, Brian, and the Softglide would all meet in person. John’s buddies also stepped out of the woodwork to see his new scoot: “Even Dale and Barry got weekend passes to go,” John said. Tank from Tuff Cycle, who’d painted Little John’s slain steed, made it to the show too.
All throughout the weekend John’s new Softail snuck up on people. Brian Klock did such a thorough job gene splicing it into a Road Glide, people took double takes and spent time arguing over what the bike actually was—Road Glide? Softail? In the end, none of that really matters since it’s John’s pride and joy and he’s the one who actually gets to ride it. Little John wanted us to extend his thanks to his wife, Kelly, daughter, Nikki, son, Sean, and all the rest of his family and friends for their help and support during his recovery, as well as friends Klock Werks and K&N for their help with his machine. HB