2007 H-D Road King
Earlier this year I received a few phone calls on my super-secret office line from someone named Debby. Her messages went something like this, "hi, this is Debby (again), and I wanted to show you a bike I built for my husband Tony." I must admit I prefer e-mail to phone calls, especially when I don't know someone. I'm not sure how Debby got my number but she was quite persistent. I finally managed to call her back and listen to her story, how her and her husband run a dairy farm in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and the Road King she built. After a short conversation Debby sent me some photos of Tony's bike.
I was impressed with what I saw and the task of getting it photographed was our next step. The only problem was Debby and Tony live about 400 miles north of my L.A. headquarters. No problem for the Farias though; they'd just load up the trailer, drive all day for me to shoot the bike and then drive back home during the heart of Southern California rush hour.
Over the course of five months Debby and her close circle of friends turned Tony's Road King into a sweet ride. It definitely helped Debby deal with the pain of her loss and get her mind in a happier place. Debby's mom's name was Aileen Rocha, pronounced "I Lean Wrote Cha." Debby explained that her mom was a very cool and classy lady and always looked her best, so it was fitting that Tony and Debby named the bike Aileen. When Tony takes the bike for a ride he always says he's taking Aileen out to show her off.
I'm really fortunate to have crossed paths with Debby and Tony. It was a real pleasure to spend time with them and to bring you their story and bike.
We met up at West Coast Choppers in Long Beach because Debby wanted to say hi to Jesse James. After we met it turned out that Debby isn't just a fan that wanted to meet Jesse but that they know each other. I learned that this wasn't the first bike Debby had built or even the first featured in a major magazine. Although this is her first bagger, Debby had two different Fat Boys featured in HOT BIKE and Hot Rod Bikes. Her biking history goes even farther back to 8 years old as she grew up on a dairy and was tooling around on her dad's mini Honda. As soon as Debby turned 18 while working at a Suzuki dealer, she got into AMA sanctioned dirt track racing. She literally bumped elbows with some of the best, like Doug Chandler, Chris Carr, Jimbo Felice, and many others. As years went on it was time to slow down and let the body heal, so Debby got into promoting AMA races. For about a year she tried to find something other than bikes that would get her excited. She missed the riding and wrenching so much she promised to never step away from two wheels again.
Debby figured the only thing she hadn't done was own a Harley. It was 1997 and the H-D boom was full-on. So Debby's first Harley became her 67th motorcycle. She enjoyed the new faces and the vast amount of aftermarket parts available to customize her bike. Now it was 2008, five Harleys later and Tony's '07 Road King sat outside the cow barn.
Debby had just gone through a really tough year losing both her brother and mother. The losses hit Debby pretty hard but with Tony's support she never gave up hope. Part of her healing process was redoing Tony's bike-he wanted Debby to go at it full force, a sky's the limit kind of deal. Tony figured it would be good therapy for Debby to get through her pain and to focus on something positive.
During the next few months Debby and the Drag Specialties' catalog became best of friends. Her local parts people Michele Crawford and Nate Larios helped Debby with the ordering and availability of parts. She called her friend Eddie Lewis and asked him if he wanted to help out on the project. Eddie handled the motor teardown and helped get everything up and running.
Debby has always been partial to all black bikes but wanted to add flair to this job. She hooked up with Horatio, owner of Kreative Koncepts, and she told him she wanted it all: more than just black, with flames, scallops, silver flake, etc. Denise Corbett laid down the striping and Ernie Ramseys wrapped up all the extra King pieces with high gloss black.
For many of the accessories, such as the wheels and brakes, Debby had only one requirement: they had to be Performance Machine. She was drawn to Roland Sands' designs and his racing background was equally appealing to Debby. She modified the forks to run a single six-piston caliper and a big disc to keep the wheel as uncluttered as possible yet still have big braking power.