The 1981 Mel Brooks film The History of the World, Part 1 includes a famous line from King Louis XVI who exclaims, “It’s good to be the king,” as his character takes advantage of one of the perks of his lofty title. Harley’s Road King also takes advantage of its position within the Motor Company’s model lineup; it’s one of the few bikes that can do it all—it has the show-bike potential looks of the Softail and the handling and storage capabilities of larger baggers.
Jim Franklin, from Kansas City, Kansas, and the owner of this bike, had always been a Softail kind of guy, but as he became older (and wiser), he decided to get a Road King. “Bags on a bike are really nice to have here in the Midwest. I don’t have to pack a backpack with warmer clothes for when the weather changes throughout the day—and it changes rapidly out here,” Jim said. “Baggers aren’t just for grandpas anymore.” He picked up a used, but barely broken-in 2010 King with only 200 miles clocked on the odometer. Within a few months he had bolted on a few parts that he liked, but quickly decided he ought to take the bike to a professional to have it personalized the way he envisioned it in his mind. Bolt-on parts just weren’t doing it for him.
Through friends he met at local bike shows, Jim had heard of Turkey Creek Cycles and was impressed with the work he had seen. Eventually he found the shop and made fast friends with owners Paul Harper, Chris Campbell, and Dave Carrel. “One of the first things people usually ask me when they hear the name of the shop is, ‘Why did you name it Turkey Creek Cycles?’” Paul said. “The shop is actually a stone’s throw away from a decent-sized stream named Turkey Creek. Plus, the name is unique, so people always remember it.” Initially, Jim only wanted a little fender work done on the bike. After they finished that first job, he felt confident with their work and decided to let the shop modify the entire bike.
And modify the entire bike they did. Turkey Creek’s work speaks volumes, and it should come as no surprise that the shop owners have a long history of bike building—even though the shop has only been around for a few years. Paul worked at KC Creations for more than 10 years, Chris worked at Panzer, KC Creations and Accurate Engineering, and Dave and his father have run a paint shop in the area for close to 50 years. “I moved to this area in 2008 and started working on bikes in the extra space behind a paint shop as a hobby. Over time, I moved my tools in there and word of mouth spread. Chris was at Accurate Engineering and moved back to town to be near his family and we partnered up and moved to a bigger building. Dave was running his paint shop (and still is), and we all felt it was a good idea to put our skills together to form the best shop in the area. We’ve all known each other for a long time and our skills are complementary,” Paul said. Now they turn out about 15 to 20 bikes a year with varying degrees of customization.
It was September when Jim left the King in the capable hands of the guys at Turkey Creek. “There’s not much riding out here during the winter, so I figured I could part with the bike for a few months while they worked on it,” Jim said. First, they raised the bike’s performance to stage-one status with an aftermarket pipe, intake, and EFI controller. The bike’s wheels and rotors were then upgraded along with the suspension. Next, they did the sheetmetal mods and customization, and finally the paint. “I wanted a solid red. Not pink and not maroon, but red. I figure it took me about month to figure out the paint color. As far as the paint scheme was concerned, it couldn’t be too flashy or incorporate graphics that would be out of style in a year—I wanted something classy and timeless,” Jim said. They brought that paint scheme all the way to the tips of the handlebars with 3M “Clear Bra” material underneath the see-through grips. “I got my hands on a big sheet of that 3M stuff and covered any parts that might get hit with gravel. Then, when it gets chewed-up from being on the road, I can peel it right off and replace it,” Jim said.
Early in the following year and well before the riding season, Turkey Creek had the bike finished and ready. “He’s become more of a friend than a customer since we first started working on his bike. But, then that’s kind of our style—as a general rule we want the majority of our customers to become our friends. We like creating that family-type relationship with everyone,” Paul said. During the build, Jim started photographing and chronicling the activities at the shop, regularly posting on their Facebook page and keeping track of other customers’ bikes as they were built or customized. “I know I speak for the other owners when I say that we really appreciate Jim’s friendship and everything he does for the shop,” Paul said.
These days, Jim is out and riding all the time, even more than when he only rode Softails.” I ride the bike all over the place. If there’s a local show, I ride it in. I didn’t want this bike to just be looked at, collecting dust in my garage. Sure it’s pretty, but I don’t mind abusing it once in a while or getting caught in bad weather,” Jim said. “It’s good to be on a King.”