Nestled in the shadow of majestic Mount Rainier, and near the foothills of the Cascades, lies the small but bustling historic logging town of Enumclaw, home to Northwest Motorcycles & Service, a family owned and operated business that retains the classic, old school feel of a small town bike shop. Owners Brian and Kate Caddy are an energetic and fun-loving couple that truly enjoy what they do.
On a beautiful and sunny July summer day, Northwest Motorcycles & Service hosted their first FXR Rally and Bike Show. Arriving after an early morning 75 mile ride from the Puget Sound, I lucked out and scored a parking spot right in front of the shop.
The mouth-watering smell of the burgers and hotdogs cooking on the grill of their BBQ instantly hit me and sparked my hunger. I popped into their store for a moment, and was greeted with a friendly welcome by co-owner Kate, who pointed out her husband, Brian, across the street in the rally area. The rally and bike show was set up across the street from their shop, in a spacious tree-lined parking lot. A handful of vendors lined the eating area, filled with rally-goers chatting and laughing with friends, old and new.
Finding Brian at one of the tables talking with friends, he gladly took a moment to introduce himself and give me a brief tour of the event. His excitement never waned as he showed me around and I had to ask the burning question I’ve had since I heard about this event…
“Why an FXR Rally?” Brian wished to celebrate everything that is the FXR. In Brian’s words, “The FXR was a bike built by a team of people at Harley-Davidson, Eric Buell being the most well-known. The bike’s geometry is excellent. The handling characteristics are well above the rest of the Harley-Davidson models. The frames were hand-finished, and can support tons of horsepower. The FXR was the predecessor to a lot of the bikes we see on the road today.”
A Little FXR History – Although the life-span of the Harley-Davidson FXR was relatively short-lived, it gained a following almost immediately upon production. Developed in the early 70’s, the FX was considered to be the first factory ‘custom’ bike, “FX” meaning “Factory Experimental.” The FX mated the big twin chassis (FLH) to Sportster (XLH) components, namely the front end.
The FXR was first introduced in 1982, featured the first rubber-mounted motors and five-speed transmissions, whereas the original FX line still had solid-mount motors and four-speed transmissions. The FXR’s were popular due to their re-engineered frames that were stiff and solid, with plenty of ground clearance for better maneuverability and easier handling. The bikes were more compact than the other big twin models and offered a more thrilling riding experience. Models such as the Super Glide, Low Glide and Low Rider continued to gain popularity. In the early 90’s, Harley-Davidson shifted their focus from the FXR to the Dyna models, much to the disappointment of the FXR fans. The FXR made a momentary return in the late 90’s, then disappeared again.
Back to the Festivities – The NWMC Bike Show featured about a couple dozen FXR’s, some stock and some customized. Another dozen or so bikes filled out the rest of the bike show, including Panheads, Shovels, Softails, and even a couple metrics sprinkled into the mix. The categories for awards were People’s Choice, Best FXR, Best Custom, and my favorite, Most Likely to Need A Tow! The trophies for each category were all quite impressive as they were handmade from various motorcycle parts – rotors, cylinder heads, chains, gears, piston rods, etc.
One of the stars of the bike show was Brian’s most-recent build, a 1984 FXRT Sport Glide, with a Twin Cam 113” built on an EVO 88” platform with no frame modifications. He kept most all of the stock sheet metal from the Sport Glide. It features FXRP (Police Special) floorboards, a late-model Sportster dual-disk front end, and custom paint.
To emphasize Brian’s fun-loving character, it is necessary to point out part of the “disclaimer” on the bike show entry form which read: “Bike Show classes will be judged solely on the personal preferences of the judges… We do not claim judges are experts on the subject matter and may not be completely sober at all times… This is a fun event. Good Luck!”
And the Winner is – the People’s Choice award went to Robert Bartley and his 1964 H-D Panhead, Best FXR was Robben VanWinkle and his 1985 H-D FXR Custom, the Best Custom was a 2000 H-D Heritage Softail owned by Chris Johnson, and finally, Most Likely to Need A Tow went to Bryson Lovell with his 1983 H-D Wide Glide Shovelhead. Congratulations to all the winners!
Although it may have been a smaller turn out this first year for bike show entries or attendees, the FXR Rally still had a very good showing and will likely continue to expand as word gets out about this uncommon model-driven event. Being a long-time fan of the FXR’s, it was great to see so many in one place and the camaraderie of the owners was as unique as the bikes themselves. This event is one that will surely continue to grow.
At the end of the day I spoke with Brian who said, “The rally, I think, was a success for being our first one. The final count for FXR’s was 24! I figured about 350 people stopped by throughout the day. I hope to get over 40 FXR’s next year.”
Brian has been working on Harley’s for about 15 years, and has been in and around the motorsports industry for years, starting in Arizona in off-road and production machine shops. He attended the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute (MMI) in Orlando, FL in 2003 and has been working hard at it ever since. He’s had numerous builds over the years along with his mechanical service work. Brian says, “I love to watch a bike become something. What got me started was a bike Lucky’s Choppers built for my Dad in the early 2000’s.”
If you’re in the area, stop by, say “Hi!” to Brian and Kate, and check them out at 1450 Cole Street in Enumclaw, find them online at northwestmotorcyclesandservice.com or like them on Facebook. Be sure to tell them you saw them in Quick Throttle!