"It's not about what kind of bike you ride, or how far you go, or how tough you think you are... "J. Joshua Placa
Byron Johnson's 2008 Street Glide
Those of us who earn our pay in the moto-mag business are sometimes asked the imponderable question: "What, after all, really is a `biker'?" I'm not sure what makes anyone think we're qualified to know the answer. Maybe it's the piles of miles we've ridden, or all the makes and models we've been privileged to ride, or the places we've been. But the answer is simple really--a biker is someone who cannot be denied the ride, come hell or high water. Byron "B-Real" Johnson is a biker.
It's not about what kind of bike you ride, or how far you go, or how tough you think you are; it's about living life where it is felt the most, embracing this bit of controlled madness we call motorcycling. Neither rain nor sleet nor gloom of night will keep a real rider from the road; or in Byron's case, a crash he shouldn't have survived.
The Dallas mail-carrier was rolling helmet-less down the southbound side of busy Route 75 last Sept. 19 on his 2008 Street Glide, which was only three months removed from the showroom. It was a sunny and pleasant Friday afternoon and B-Real was looking forward to meeting up with his club members for a weekend ride. Instead, he rendezvoused with a flying mattress at 70 mph.
"We know not to ride behind trucks, especially ones carrying open loads," said Byron, 39, who is a co-founder of the Dallas-based Soul Rydaz MC. "But suddenly a couple of cars ahead of me started slowing down. I thought there was some debris in the road. A mattress had fallen off a pickup, got picked up by the wind, flew over the top of a car and caught me as I was trying to change lanes." Byron was thrown some 25 feet from his bike, landed on the interstate and thought his life was over.
"All the cars were locking brakes behind me so I figured I was going to get it from both ends as I'm rolling and tumbling. I tried to ball myself up and tuck and roll. Guess it worked pretty good." It's a miracle he's alive.
Byron suffered contusions and bruises, a sprained ankle, twisted foot, and severe road rash to his right knee and hand. After three weeks flat on his back, he got up and got his smashed bike to respected builder, Mike DuSold, of DuSold Designs.
Amazingly, the crumpled Street Glide was repairable. During his bed rest, Byron made the best use of the time by scouring motorcycle mags and the Internet for ideas. "I didn't want to overdo it," said Byron. I wanted it slick, I wanted it clean, I wanted a two-tone paint job, and I definitely didn't want what everybody else had. I sat down with Mike, gave him my vision and just told him to do his thing."
Byron wanted to keep the engine stock, which was a good idea since DuSold specializes in paint and fabrication work. And so commenced a wheel-to-wheel cosmetic reconstruction. The frame came out of the accident straight, but DuSold had to repair the highway bar tabs, which bent along with the bar as the bike bounced down the highway.
Wiring was run through the new Chubby handlebar, the tank was stretched, new pipes and pop-up gas cap installed, as were extended hard bags with built-in taillights, PM grips and floorboards, chrome where there wasn't any before, and custom fenders.
The bike got a tangelo/cream paint job, including inside the fairing and the wheels (except for the lips for a better tire fit) and a DuSold handmade alligator seat that was built to fit the new tank and rear fender. Byron topped it off with a license plate that reads, "Eye No," meaning he knows how damn good the bike looks. "One of Mike's guys, Aaron, pronounced the bike `Bentley Clean' after it was done."
DuSold completed the project in roughly three months, a pretty quick resurrection of a wreck that had looked to be just another salvage yard donor. As for Byron, a good-natured, religious man, and a former high school wide receiver, "I'm back, feeling pretty good. I can't run, but I'm fine otherwise. As a postman, I walk about three to four miles per day, I still lift weights and that helps my body a lot." And he has taken to wearing a helmet, a big tangelo and cream one (except for this photoshoot).
So, Mr. Johnson, you kissed a flying mattress at 70 mph and lived to tell about it, what are you going to do now? "Soon as this story is published, I'm throwing a big old party. This stuff doesn't happen all the time, so I think a celebration, you know about the rebirth of the bike and still being alive, getting right back on and all, pushing it out there, that would be a good thing."
|BUILD TIME||Three months|
|WHEELS, TIRES, AND BRAKES|
|BUILDER/SIZE||RC Components/ 21-inch|
|BUILDER/SIZE||RC Components/ 18-inch|
|COLORS||Tangelo and cream|
|POWDER COATING||DuSold Designs|
|FRONT FENDER||Klock Werks|
|GAS TANK||H-D/ DuSold Designs|
|GAS CAP||DuSold Designs|
|HANDLEBARS||Wild 1 Chubbys 12-inch|
|HAND CONTROLS||Chrome H-D|
|FOOT CONTROLS||Performance Machine|
|TURN SIGNALS||Flush mounted in bags|
|LICENSE||Mounted in fender|