Readers and their Rides

James Taylor and His '85 Purple Slammer

Written by  August 31, 2006

Yup, that’s right James Taylor, just like the singer. Thirty-six year old James is probably better known by his friends as Easy Ricer, a nickname garnered by his penchant for turning various metric bikes into full fledged choppers. What started out as a means to tease James eventually stuck, but James doesn’t mind, he likes it.

His scooter The Purple Slammer is a slightly modified 1985 Harley-Davidson FLTC Tour Glide Classic. James gave me permission to use some of his photographs, so the pictures included will show the bike from its origins as a humble tour bike to what is seen today running coast to coast and over both hill and dale. (And anyone else who gets in the way.)

James has been a motorcycle mechanic for the past eight or so years and his main hobbies are, you guessed it, riding and building motorcycles. He has built eight so far. I met James when I needed service on my Road King. I was impressed by his knowledge and recommendations of how to care for my bike. Since I write for a magazine, I can generally tell when someone is repeating something they have read, or heard in a passing conversation. James wasn’t like that at all. The way he spoke could only have come from first hand experience. I likened it to a vet talking about war; you can’t talk about it if you weren’t there.

James has been riding since he was 15. His first bike was a Honda 175 that his mother took away from him because he was getting a little wild with it. He didn’t ride for many years, but started again in 1999 and has been going strong since. (And judging from some of the pictures he showed me, he still gets a little wild.)

“It’s just me, God and the bike.” James said when asked why he liked to ride. And though he says that all of his rides are memorable, he really liked his recent ride from Texas to Kentucky to visit family. The roads are fantastic in Kentucky. When asked about his worst ride, he replied that would have to be when he went to visit the Vietnam moving wall on Memorial Day 2002. James ran into one of our famous Texas hail storms with no windshield, no leathers and obviously not much luck. From the way he tells it, I can picture him being fairly well beat up as he walked into a local bar at the end of the trip.

When asked about his dream bike, he replied, “A rigid panhead bobber, I will build it one of these days.” That’s James.

Modifications to the Purple Slammer:
S&S 96 IST
S&S exhaust
Thunderheart electrics
Mustang saddle
Hand-built 7.5 gallon gas tank
Paint by Juan Vargas
Upgrade brakes
Road King nacelle
Sumax fenders
Andrews gear set
Lowered two inches
Kuryakyn grips and pegs

Story and photos by Michael Lousha

Additional photos courtesy of James Taylor