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Sitting on a lift at Don’s Speed Shop in Fort Madison last winter was a red Softail that looked surprisingly familiar, and a better look around the side showed it to be quite a famous machine indeed. This bike when new in 1993, was pictured all throughout the V-Twin universe by DRAG Specialties as a “Hotop designed catalog cover bike”.
Sitting on the lift some many moons later, the bike appeared dated and looked like it had been used quite a bit and not cared for much. Don was happy to have the bike back in his hands, I think more for sentimental reasons that for its market value. Many of the bolt on accessories were prototypes of a series that never saw final production and by that measure were valuable, I suppose.
Standing in front of the tired bike in his shop while it was on the lift, he described the changes that were going to take place based on his wife’s input, and they all seemed pretty mild compared to what I thought might happen to this mullet machine from the 90’s. I saw a dated Softail, I didn't see a clean sleek looking cruiser – I kind of dismissed the project.
Until Don called to say the bike was done, it’s makeover complete, and that it had come out “ok." Now understand please, that an “ok” in Hotop parlance is akin to a raving out of control thumbs up endorsement from most folks – I wanted to see the machine and since we were staying closeby in Spearfish during Sturgis, we’d arrange to do a view and shoot session.
Don and I connected at 730 o’dark during Sturgis Bike Week and he followed me up to the highway so I could get a few riding shots and we could get to the spot I had in mind to shoot the machine, towards WY. Riding next to Don to get some shots was great – I mean, here is a hero, a genuine OG of the V-Twin customizing scene and we were cruising together on the highway alone. Far out, I love this job.
We got to my secret spot, I shot the bike, it was still early and we had a 20min ride back to Spearfish. Don looked at me , asked “are we done” to which I responded yes and as we rolled onto the ramp back East, it all changed. Aggressive is the way I’d characterize Don’s riding style when the leash is off. All of a sudden I am up to triple digits to trying to keep up with this sleepy Softail and its OG owner. Yeeha, welcome to Don’s world.
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